Saturday, 23 February 2008

How I met (the real) Craig Hinton

Hi! To make up for the lost weeks, here's another segement of Time's Champion's backhistory (although I'm still ill :)).

In January 2005, I went to my second Gallifrey convention with the sole intent of meeting Craig to discuss Time's Champion. I met him after a panel discussing the (then upcoming) Series 1 of Doctor Who, along with Paul Cornell, Rob Shearman, and two other men I never found the names of (one might have been a dentist!).

Craig was as he'd described - he was average height, a bit portly, with black hair, sallow skin and black eyes with glasses, wearing jeans, a yellow shirt and black jacket - and we talked about the Valeyard. Craig said the plot of the story was easy enough to figure; it was the motivation of the Valeyard, what made him tick, that had stumped him. He told me, if anything, the Valeyard shouldn't be treated as evil, just amoral, and a lover of structure, order and procedure. The nicest thing was, whenever Craig introduced me to his colleagues, he called me his good friend. :)

For about three hours Craig and I spoke on the book, being a writer, the differences between American and English dialects and the strength of the pound vs. the dollar. Then came the time when he had to get back to his panels and we said our goodbyes. I asked if he'd ever be back to California, and he said he'd be sure to return soon.

Now, I had brought my camera and video recorder to get some pictures of Craig, but I'd forgotten to take pictures, but I figured I'd see Craig again in a year or so. However, just as I was leaving the hotel, I saw Craig standing outside the front door speaking with a person and I suddenly felt I needed to take a picture and shoot a brief video with him, just to say hi to my family. So, I did. That picture and video are the only physical memories I have of Craig now, and I cherish them so much. :)

Over the next year I plotted the book, and by August I started to write some brief scenes, including a 2 page prologue I sent to Craig which he edited, which appears in the forthcoming Shelf Life charity anthology in Craig's memory. Then, in January 2006, I started to write the actual text, while Craig began his training to be a maths teacher in the UK. He didn't make to the convention that year (nor did I) but we still continued to correspond by e-mail as always.

But throughout the year, I could tell that Craig's personal pressures and problems were catching up with him. I wasn't aware of all, nor do I want to detail those I did here, but suffice to say our original plan of co-planning the story's outline and co-writing the text became, to me, an increasingly unlikely outcome. I don't at all want it to sound as if Craig left me alone with the project or lost interest, not at all. He just slipped away from everyone.

So, I took the liberty of drafting the 2nd half of the book that Craig had never planned, with the intention of running it past him when his affairs were more in order. But by late October Craig stopped answering my e-mails. By late November he stopped posting on the Outpost Gallifrey forums. I began to worry, and sent messages to him seeing if he was all right. There was no reply.

Then, on the morning of Sunday, December 3rd, 2006, I visited Craig's author thread on the forum, and read a post from a friend of his who broke the terrible news: My and everyone's friend Craig Hinton was dead at 42.

I should stop here for now.