Let me state one thing very clearly up front: I owe my writing career to Tommy Donbavand.
Tommy and I first ‘met’ nigh-on two decades ago. We were both members of Zoetrope.com, a writing website run by one Mr Francis Ford Coppola. We ended up swapping scripts and exchanging feedback, and then started keeping in regular contact via email and the then-popular chat software, ICQ.
In the years that followed we kept in pretty much daily contact, discussing ideas, critiquing each other’s work, and generally supporting each other in the quest to become full-time professional writers. We started off writing screenplays, but Tommy decided to have a bash at writing books for children, and managed to land the gig writing for Too Ghoul For School, a series that Egmont had come up with.
While working with them, he gave me the email address of the editor and suggested I get in touch about a new series they had come up with. It was called Beastly, and thanks to Tommy pointing me their way, I ended up being lead writer on the series.
After that, we began focusing on writing books for children. Tommy told me about his idea for a series about a street full of haunted houses, and I pitched him an idea about a boy whose imaginary friend from early childhood comes back and tries to kill him. Little did we know as we bounced ideas back on forth, that Scream Street and Invisible Fiends would be what finally – ten or so years after we’d started chatting – let us become full-time writers.
There is rarely a day goes by when I don’t talk to Tommy online. We still share ideas, critique each other’s work, and egg each other on to greater success. I was honoured to be the best man at Tommy’s wedding, where I spent much of my speech shamelessly promoting my own books to his assembled family and friends.
And now, Tommy is sick. Cancer. That bastard disease which took both Tommy’s parents, my mum, and which has touched pretty much every man, woman and child on the planet with its twisted tendrils of misery. He’s going through treatment at the moment, and as a result is unable to visit schools to deliver his writing workshops and author events.
As with most authors, these events form a major part of Tommy’s income, and as well as having to face this terrible disease, he also has to face the worry of not being able to provide of his family. Being a clever sort, though, he’s come up with a way he can continue to spread a love of reading and writing, while keeping a roof over the head of his family. Find out how you can take advantage of his new scheme here.
As Tommy’s friend, is has been incredibly touching to be contacted by dozens of authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers and many others over the past few weeks, asking what they can do to help support him during this difficult time. The excellent Vivienne Dacosta has been hard at work organising a blog tour, with lots of lovely bloggers and authors reviewing one of Tommy’s books in an effort to spread the word about his terrible situation.
The tour will be kicking off on the 1st of July, and we’d like to get as many bloggers to take part as we possibly can. We’ve already got a great line-up in store, but if you’d like to take part please contact Viv, who is hard at work putting the full schedule together.
Don’t have a blog? Don’t worry, you can still help spread the word about Tommy’s plight. Share his website on social media, using the hashtag #tommyvcancer. Help out via his support page. Join his Patreon. Comment on his blog. Drop him an email to let him know you’re thinking about him. It all helps. Believe me.