On January 10, 2016, I wrote a poem called “Always the Starman” dedicated to the late great David Bowie who died on that very day in 2016 – and I can still remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard of his untimely passing, and I can still remember being immediately inspired to mark the memory of one of the most famous and celebrated music artists of the 20th Century – and two days later I published the poem that I wrote on my blog for all the world to read so that they may get a sense of just how inspirational David Bowie was and still is.
Not long after David Bowie’s death, I remember that I was writing a new short story called “The Man In Black” about this mysterious character – who I didn’t truly know the identity of, nor why they were so mysterious… all I knew at that point was that whoever they were they dressed all in black, they had mysterious and powerful gifts that enabled them to appear one minute and disappear the next, they could bring animals and perhaps people back to life, and they may or may not be some kind of angel or some other supernatural being. And something else that I knew immediately was that whoever this mysterious “man in black” was he also bore an uncanny resemblance to the late great David Bowie, as some sort of tribute to him. But that was it. I originally intended to include my short story “The Man in Black” in my 2016 short story collection “Too Close To The Sun”, however for some reason I held it back… and to this day I still do not know why, what, or who stopped me from doing so – but I am so glad that they did, because from that first story there followed others that featured the same “Man in Black” who at times was known to white also depending upon when you met him. And slowly but surely I wrote more and more, until I finally found myself with seven short stories that explored who the “Man in Black/Man in White” was and why he did what he did. And to this day the stories of my short story collection “Playing God” still remain close to my heart, because within them are characters who I know and who I recognise: characters in need of being saved by a hero, a friend, a rebel, an angel, a god dressed all in black, and sometimes dressed all in white – someone who we would all wish would pay us a visit and heal the world of the present from what we are currently being plagued by.
I wrote my original poem “Always the Starman” and “The Man in Black”, the first story of my book “Playing God”, as a personal tribute to David Bowie – but the more stories that I wrote about this mysterious man who looked and sounded just like David Bowie, I also found myself uncovering many different sources of inspiration – from ancient Greek mythology to the daily torments that some people have to deal with – and I also found myself learning more about why I love writing so much: that thrill of exploration and discovery that I find every time I embark upon a writing challenge that I know will take me to places that I never imagined I would ever venture to. And that is what it is so enthralling and exciting about being a writer and an author of fiction: you never know where it is going to take you.
I will always be eternally grateful to the late great David Bowie for his music, for his creativity, and for the gift of inspiration that he gave to me – which coalesced over time into becoming a book of stories written in tribute to him, but also a tribute to hope, optimism and the gift of life that we are all blessed with which we all sometimes take for granted.
Rest in peace, David Bowie
8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016
8:17 AM was when the power went out,
and it was a minute later –
at exactly 8:18 AM –
that I heard the call, the alarm:
this distinct and loud voice
beckoning me to put on my walking boots
and take a look around at the wonders
of life and nature to be found
on any given morning when you
just choose to let go
of whatever is holding you back –
and when you have on your doorstep
a snapshot of life that is as unparalleled and unbounded
as that of the Centre of England
you simply have got to put one foot
in front of the other and explore
the Great Outdoors.