In the Dark Ages when as a young lad I left home to find fame and fortune in the big city, I also left friends behind and I think it was then that I realized just how important it is to have people in your life you truly relate to. I was lucky, being that the early part of my life was spent in the theatre. In that world, friendships are easily made. You share so many things...the rehearsal space, the dressing room, the same digs on tour, sometimes the same bed - but more of that later.
Friends can be a part of your maturing, of molding you into the person you are to become, much more so, sometimes, than family. That was especially true in my case. Leaving home at an early age, being a wee bit naive, can leave a person quite vulnerable, open to making the wrong kind of friendship, and in retrospect I suppose I had my fair share of those. Strange, how in the so many years that have past, I can't remember those names. They are just vague shadows, relegated to the occasional, 'Wonder what happened to so and so?'
Enduring friendships are rare and precious things,made up of people you will never forget even though time and distance make it less possible to meet on a regular basis.When I came to the US, once again I left friends behind, but because of my ties to the theatre, new friends were made, and I found myself in the enviable position of having the 'worldwide web' of friends. Just from my stint at the London Palladium I am still in touch with friends in Vancouver, Cape Town, Connecticut, Glasgow, Madrid, London and Los Angeles.
A few years ago we had a grand reunion and while we were no longer the sprightly young things that pranced across the London stages, we still had the energy to have a damned good time, recount hilarious memories of the past and drink a lot of champagne toasts., to those who could not be with us.
Losing friends, as time takes its toll, is a harrowing experience. Suddenly the one you'd meet for morning coffee, or pick up the phone just to talk to when you're feeling down, is no longer there, and that gap in one's life is very hard to fill. Sometimes, it never completely is, because some friends are just irreplaceable.
Out of friendship can come love, and not just the platonic kind. Before I settled down with my first long time lover, I was a bit of a rover. Guys I knew as friends would sometimes morph into something more. I found out that could be dangerous when you're in a tight crowd. Gossip and jealousy can be the order of the day, especially when on tour and practically living in one another's pockets. Nevertheless, I have some really hot memories of those times when I was regarded as 'fresh meat', and even found my way into the pants of a couple of 'stars', who of course shall remain nameless.
Friendship plays a large part in all my books. Even the vampires demand love and loyalty from their minions. I had a letter from a reader who told me I had created a wonderful family of vampires - don't know what Bram Stoker would have thought of that, but friendship leading to love is a constant theme in my stories.The line from the song Beautiful Friendship still resonates for me - "This is the end of a beautiful friendship, and just the beginning of love".