I can think of a couple of letters that made a big difference to my life.
The one from Virgin Books editor Peter Darvill-Evans, stating that “if I wasn’t careful” I’d be writing one of the first original Doctor Who novels had me leaping up and down in my hallway, until I started to wonder what he meant by “careful”.
But the one I’m going with was much earlier than that, from Richard Starkings, who at the time was editor of the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, and who I’d written to for some advice on getting into comics. What he sent me in return was hand-written and ten pages long, and I kept it for decades. (I lost a lot of stuff over the years because I tended to have ex-girlfriends who wanted to burn things.) It was full of good advice. But, more than that, it assured me that to make the leap to writing professionally was possible.
Richard is, quietly, still a big deal in comics, as a letterer for just about everyone, a marketer of fonts, a file preparation guy, and the creator of his own comic, Elephantmen. He’s also the heart and soul of the business, someone who’s done every job, who’s still helping everyone to do their best. He doesn’t get enough recognition for that.
So I thought that, by remembering his letter here, I’d get to say that about him.