As most Rap Sheet readers probably know, Bill has been hit recently with a health scare. He reported last week that his doctor wanted him to “check into the hospital ASAP, as he thinks I might be having kidney failure. This can’t be good.” A few days later he confided that he’d been diagnosed with a “very aggressive form” of the cancer carcinoma. “Looks bad,” he added. “Love to you all.” That note—which elicited a flurry of sympathetic comments from his fans and friends—was followed in short order by this still more worrisome one:
Hey, blog fans. I’m out of the hospital after being poked, prodded, tested. and humiliated. I’m in much worse shape than when I went in. It’s a long story. Next week I’ll try to get into [the University of Texas] M.D. Anderson [Cancer Center]. The outlook isn’t brilliant for the Mudville Nine. I might not be posting here again, so I want to say now how moved I’ve been by your comments. You guys are the best. Even if we’ve never met in person, you are truly my friends. Love to you all.Then, on Tuesday of this week, Bill reported that he had been successful in scheduling his first appointment at M.D. Anderson for today, Thursday. No word yet on the results of his tests.
I don’t know Bill well. I’ve met him during a few Bouchercons (the last time at the 2015 convention in Raleigh, North Carolina), corresponded with him on and off over the last 15 years or so, and once upon a time published an excellent piece he wrote for January Magazine about mysteries set in America’s Wild West. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to stay current with his life, thanks to his blog, which—though it often concentrates on crocodiles, Paris Hilton and Nicolas Cage, old paperback covers, baseball, vintage music and advertisements, forgotten books and movies, and people who’ve somehow tumbled across remarkable riches (while Bill has not been so lucky)—has also been deeply personal at times. I was sad to hear when his wife of 49 years, Judy, passed away back in 2014, and then delighted to learn that he’d recently adopted three abandoned kittens—the ever-mischievous “VBKs” (or Very Bad Kitties): Keanu, Ginger Tom, and Gilligan—who quickly became Internet sensations. Bill is acclaimed by those who know him better than I do as perhaps the nicest author in the Lone Star State, while his fellow writers have often thanked him for his generosity in either promoting their books or assisting them in their fiction-writing efforts. I’m sorry that I haven’t spent more time with Bill when we’ve encountered each other in the past. I only hope that the future will offer me chances to rectify that negligence. We can only hope his diagnosis is encouraging, and that he’ll be with us for a great deal longer. Borrowing a headline he’s often set atop posts having to do with remarkable turns of events, “I want to believe!”
Meanwhile, with this being Bill Crider’s birthday, it would be great if we could all send him our best and warmest wishes. You’re welcome to do so in the Comments section at the bottom of this post (I’ll let him know to look there). Or drop him a fond note at his own blog. And remember that Bill has a new novel coming out early next month, Survivors Will Be Shot Again (Minotaur), starring his series sleuth Sheriff Dan Rhodes (who is already set to make another appearance in 2017’s Dead, to Begin With, which he sent away to his agent before he learned he was ill). Since Bill might not be in the position to promote this book much, he’d probably appreciate the assistance of anyone who can help spread the word about its publication. I’ve already ordered my own copy.
Happy birthday, Bill. We’re all rooting for you!
UPDATE: It seems Bill Crider received at least one welcome present on his birthday—the fragile gift of hope. “My visit to M.D. Anderson today was a good one,” he wrote this afternoon on his Facebook page. “I like my doctor [Eleni Efstathiou] very much, and she was very optimistic about the whole situation. They still haven’t determined the exact problem, so I’ll have to undergo a whole new battery of tests. It’s too soon, then, to be sure or anything, but at the moment the future looks brighter than it did a few days ago. I’ll be getting the tests ASAP, and the doctor wants to begin treatment ASAP, too. Can’t do too much until all the test results are in, of course, but if all goes as planned, I’ll be meeting the doctor again next week for a more complete plan of action. I learned from going through Judy’s treatments that optimism can turn to despair in minutes, so I’m not getting too carried away. Still, things do look better for the moment.”
He added in a short post on his blog that his new doctor “believes I have a treatable form of prostate cancer, but that’s yet to be determined. If I do, it’s odd because some of the indicators don’t point to that. Let’s hope she's right.”