It’s now eight weeks since I got the news that Cliff had passed away. It is still extremely hard and I continue to feel his loss keenly. So keenly, in fact, it’s taken me this long to write this post.
It might strike some as bombastic to say that without Cliff I’d not be published, but it’s the truth. I had made the shift from fanfiction to original before I got to know him, but the stories sat on my hard drive, unfinished. I was still writing fanfic and one of the ways I got to know the characters was by reading interviews with the actors that played them. I was reading an interview that Gateworld had done with Cliff around five years before when I read a simple, but life-changing comment.
[…] as an actor [connecting at conventions] is so important, because without the viewers, we wouldn’t have a job. If you don’t have people watching you, you’re not an actor.
I realised that writing only made me a writer – to become an author, I needed readers. Straight off that realisation, I hunted down open submissions and found one for apocalypse romance. I wrote IRONHAVEN in 20 days, just making the closing date. It was turned down from that anthology, but it didn’t matter – I’d finished a book. The next day following the rejection, I submitted it elsewhere, this time being offered a contract.
The hero in IRONHAVEN is named Lucien Hoyt, his surname stolen with little guilt from the character Cliff would have played had DUST been commisioned. And so it goes – TIN CAT’s Hunter Gray might not sound like it, but he’s “dressed like Blade,” or Baal in Continuum. And then there’s ARCHANGEL.
Cliff often said he played villains because “heroes were boring.” I bet him I could write one that wasn’t, but it wasn’t until NCIS: Los Angeles that Gabriel Kemp was born. Again, I stole the character name. Heck, I stole the episode title. Gabe was not a good man. Though I never dug deep into his past, he’s left for dead because of his underworld dealings. Even offered a second chance, he tries to do things his own way. He’s hard and stubborn, and he doesn’t need a pretty young woman complicating his life, thank you very much.
I wrote about half of ARCHANGEL as a script. What I’d have done with it, I’ve no idea, but Gabe was always Cliff. Once I decided to turn the story into a book, I even asked him about cover art. Sadly, it proved beyond my means. But that was one of things discussed at Chevron, during that precious forty minutes that changed my life. I have carried his comments about my stories being “only e-books” ever since. One does not forget a scolding from Cliff Simon, no matter how mild. Ahem.
ARCHANGEL wasn't the last to “star” him – AMAZING GRACE is poorly disguised fanfiction with as many Stargate references as I could squeeze into without getting called out. I’m not sure if he read it. I kind of hope so, because I think it would have amused him.