Mike Ford was one of the first “famous” people I “met” online – we would routinely chitchat, aeons ago, in a Neil Gaiman fan board, back before Neil was really big, and it was possible for him to participate in those sorts of things. At first, I didn’t put together that Mike Ford was the same person as the great, funny author of some of my favourite books, including my hands down favourite Star Trek book, How Much For Just the Planet. He was just this nice, friendly guy who didn’t mind a newbie around, and was funny and friendly and answered all the newbie questions.
The day Neil put two and two together for me was one of lots of small fireworks, as my brain overloaded on the knowledge that I’d been so casually chatting with someone I so admired. But it was also the first time, I think, that I stepped into the person I am today – who still gets tongue-tied at the thought of meeting and chatting with people she admires, but when she does it, manages to be confident and charming. I credit a lot of that to Mike.
I’d always hoped to be able to tell him that. It’s not one of those things that ever came up; the internet got big, Neil got bigger, and the little chatting area faded away. But the things we talked about stuck with me, from talking to famous people to writing silly poetry and parodies of our favourite works. I just assumed that one day I’d stumble across him, again, online, or we’d finally bump into one another at a convention, and I could shyly but confidently say thank you, and why.
And now I never will. Rest in peace, Mike.