I wasn’t really sure about allowing Will to play online computer games because you hear so many stories about kids getting mixed up with the wrong people online. However, he really wanted to play Everquest, so I agreed on condition I would play also to see what kind of game he was involved in. Needless to say, I got hooked and we had a lot of fun playing together.
This is a little surprising because he tried to teach me how to play Zelda and finally took the game away from me after it took me three days to learn how to jump. “Here, give me that game. Don’t ever play this again. It’s just too painful to watch.”
I was a failure as a gaming mother.
Everquest, as I said, went better. Then we moved on to Dark Age of Camelot and finally to World of Warcraft. For me, the attraction was roleplaying. Will was into mastering the game. Even in Everquest, on a non-roleplaying server, I was always in character and I had a blast.
It was in WoW that I really learned how to roleplay. One of my earliest experiences was during a horde attack on an elf settlement. I stood guard at a bridge with two elves even though I was so low level I would die quickly. One of the elves hated humans. The other one was a little friendlier and welcomed my “help.”
That was where I first met Dhaymon. He was a fascinating character. The player behind Dhaymon wrote stories on the WoW forums. He finally stopped writing because his beautiful tales would quickly disappear behind stupid rants and he decided his time was better spent writing other things, like his zombie adventures. Ah, but the ones he did post were pure magic. I read them over and over because the images grabbed my imagination and wouldn’t let go. His description of rain hitting a window or battles transported me to that world and I loved him for sharing his talent with us.
I started writing a few stories and he took me under his wing. He gave me hints about making the stories deeper and evoking emotions.
He wrote his Morningstar Strain stories on his website. I wasn’t a zombie or horror fan, but the story was so much more. It was the story of real people going through traumatic times. A rough-talking character was just an average Joe trying to survive. He didn’t have any super powers. He felt pain and fear. He was like me and I identified with him and rooted for him.
Permuted Press noticed the story and wanted to publish it. Zach (Dhaymon) was so excited. He admitted he would never be anything but a midlist author, but that was good with him. He just wanted to write.
I wasn’t so sure he would always be a midlist. I thought he had a good chance to go farther.
I bought two copies of PLAGUE when it came out. They got sent to him to autograph. I wanted a personal autograph, but the message got lost in the shuffle and I just got the signature, but it was still a thrill when I got them back.
I read the book and couldn’t believe how good the story was. PLAGUE OF THE DEAD did far better than anyone expected. Zach was going to write a trilogy and people were eagerly waiting for the second book. It hit the top of the charts with Permuted and stayed there for a long time. Sales were great everywhere.
Then he started reading some of the Amazon reviews. They were great. All except a couple that sliced him to ribbons. It bothered him that people would make such hateful comments about his writing and it took the joy out of an overwhelming love for his work. We talked about that a lot. It’s sad people seem to take such perverse pleasure in inflicting pain. One of the complaints was justified. There was a mistake in directions that hadn’t been caught in edit. The reviewed went on to thoroughly trash him after that. Thankfully, his sales and the multitude of people who enjoyed his work, more than made up for those people.
I remember his creativity, his zany wit, his love of storytelling. He always made me laugh. When I started my own guild in WoW, he joined it because he knew I loved the stories and the roleplay as much as he did. It was amazing to just log into the game and have people take off on some crazy tangent. It was all ad lib, straight off the cuff and I laughed my butt off. Game Masters who wandered into one of the Pia adventures got pulled straight in whether they wanted to be or not. The ones with a sense of humor survived.
Zach helped organized story telling nights in game. People wandered by and sat down to listen to adventures related quite frequently by the elf known as Dhaymon. They didn’t realize what a treasure he was or that a bright and shining star in publishing was being born. He entertained them for the price of a bit of their time.
That’s the way it was for him. It was always the story.
I haven’t been in the game much in the last two years. Between a computer that won’t handle the game, trying to work enough to survive and finishing my own book, it just seemed that my gaming days were over.
This weekend, I checked one of my email accounts and a friend and officer in my guild sent me a message. Zach had died at home on Dec. 10.
How could this be? He’d bought some land from his father and was having the time of his life clearing it and planning for the home he wanted to build one day. His series was an unqualified success. Simon and Schuster had just recruited him. He was only 26 years old. He had his whole life ahead of him and all of his dreams were coming true.
I’ve often wondered if I am going to live long enough to write all the stories already simmering in my mind. It’s very possible I won’t. Zach should have had no doubt. He was young and vibrant. He was a talented storyteller who watered at a deep well of inspiration.
My heart breaks for the loss of a friend and the stories that we will never hear from him. What a terrible, terrible loss.
Godspeed, dear one.