I never got to meet Jay Lake, a fact that I’m very sorry about.
You see back in 2006 I decided to take my fiction seriously.  I was presented with an opportunity to dedicate some time to my craft and decided to go for it.  Looking back now, it’s easy to see I was right to believe in my talent as a writer.  But back then?  I thought I could just be some deluded, talentless fool who thought their idea for a book about vampires, aliens and little old ladies was the best idea ever.
I knew no-one in the industry.  I was luckier than most in that I’d had a number of articles published in print magazines and had a website a mega-shit-tonne of people read (although as those readers would agree, editing was never its strongest point in the rush to get information up) but still I had no clue of what to do or who to speak to in order to break into fiction.
Writers can be a snobby bunch.  I think a lot of it is born out of their own insecurity and the feeling that they must be doing OK because they are doing better than the next person down the line.  As a result, as unintentional as it is, within the publishing community there’s this hierarchy (a meritocracy as Jay liked to call it).  Social media has broken some of those barriers down but back in the day, it could feel very difficult to connect to other writers, to take those first few steps.
I found myself regularly reading Jay’s livejournal, because he would talk about writing and the process.  He neither lectured on a one-supposed true way, or scoffed at the idea of talking and sharing process.  He’d just engage with people.  He made me feel that this journey I’d set myself upon wasn’t just some fool’s errand.
When I was working on elements of The Four Realms and posted a livejournal post about the genesis of names, he gave me some very helpful advice that became the basis of the troll lore in The Four Realms and Thieving King.  I was extremely grateful for that.  Thieving King has a scene set in Kansas that’s been in the works for years, and whilst I’ve now been there, he put me in touch with a relation of his to give me an idea of the culture and geography.
I’d hoped that at World Fantasy Convention or Worldcon I’d be able to thank him in person, but his progressing cancer made that seem ever unlikely.  There never seemed the right time to say thank you, but I eventually got round to emailing him last year.
“I am always pleased when I hear that I’ve helped someone along the way,” he replied.  I suspect he got a lot of those emails.
And that is how one of the most popular characters in The Four Realms – the troll Joseph – got their name.
RIP Joseph E. Lake, Jr.
Check out Jay’s work at his official website: www.jaylake.com