Remembering David B. Riley

I was saddened to learn last week that my friend and long-time Hadrosaur Productions contributor David B. Riley passed away unexpectedly at the beginning of the month. I first discovered David’s work when he submitted his story “The Brother” for publication in Hadrosaur Tales 2 way back in 1997. It told the story of a vampire monk, an idea I loved and I remember being pulled in by his clean, unpretentious prose.

Although David’s first submission to me involved a vampire monk, he soon started submitting stories featuring the character I believe will be his most enduring, Miles O’Malley. Miles was a down-on-his-luck cowboy in the old west who managed to get caught up in a feud between Nick Mephistopheles (AKA Satan) and Ah Puch, Mayan god of death. These stories were a lot of fun and David ultimately turned them into a novel called The Two Devils. I edited the first edition for LBF Books.

David continued to submit to me over the run of Hadrosaur Tales and his work appeared in many issues of Tales of the Talisman starting with issue 2 of that journal. From the time David first started submitting to me, I became aware of his interest in weird westerns. I knew he ran a zine called Trails: Intriguing Stories of the Wild West. I submitted a couple of stories and I was pleased when David liked them enough to publish them. This zine was just a few sheets of paper stapled together. In 2006, he decided to put together a nice, perfect bound anthology of the same name. I was delighted to appear in the anthology alongside such friends as Uncle River and Robert E. Vardeman. Not only did that prove a nice anthology to appear in, that was the first appearance of my characters Ramon Morales and Fatemeh Karimi who would headline my Clockwork Legion novels.

Although I had been corresponding with David since 1997, I first met him in person at MileHiCon in Denver, Colorado. I think that would have been in 2002. We would see each other at many conventions after that. Often we would be on panels together discussing the weird west, how the weird west intersected with steampunk, or a topic of common historical interest such as observations of Mars in the nineteenth century. David and I didn’t always agree on panels or in personal conversations, but I think we both came away from our conversations with something to think about and we took those opinions to heart.

I appeared in a few other books David edited, including Six-Guns Straight From Hell. David continued to write stories featuring characters he introduced in his Miles O’Malley Stories. I published two of his novellas in this world. One is Fallen Angel, which features Miles and the Angel Mabel. I also published his novella “The Venerable Travels of Ling Fung” as part of the collection Legends of the Dragon Cowboys.

After David retired from working in the hotel business, he moved to Tucson, Arizona. I was pleased to give him and his family a tour of Kitt Peak. Also, David became a regular speaker at Wild Wild West Con. While passing through Tucson one time, I decided to stop at a movie theater to see the latest remake of The Magnificent Seven. I was surprised when David came in. He joined me and we had fun discussing the movie afterward. I was especially gratified when David Boop, who also appeared in Tales of the Talisman and Six-Guns Straight From Hell dedicated the collection Straight Outta Dodge City to both David and me.

I’ll miss David and our discussions about the weird west. I’ll miss his comments on this blog. If you haven’t discovered his writing, I encourage you to look him up on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever you buy books.

10 comments on “Remembering David B. Riley

  1. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your writer friend. I lost one in the beginning of August.

    I remember an idea I think I got from a Ray Bradbury story. It’s this: as long as a writer’s work is being read, that writer never truly dies.

    • Thanks, Alden. He was also a fellow contributor in Exchange Students. I wouldn’t be a surprised if Ray Bradbury used the idea in a story. I heard him say it as part of an anecdote he shared during one of his speeches.

  2. Laura Givens says:

    A lovely tribute to Dave Riley. I first saw him speak on a panel with you where he read a bit of Miles O’Malley. At the end of the panel I had an itching to do something rare from a reading. I wanted to get to know this guy who looked like Jabba the Hutt at nap time and wrote with such wit and grace that i was in awe. Taking the time to get to know Dave was one of the best decisions I ever made at a con.

    • Thank you, Laura. I got to know Dave from his writing. When he came up and introduced himself at a convention, he was not the person I pictured from his words. Still, it didn’t take long for me to learn that the words matched the soul within.

  3. Pagadan says:

    I’m sorry to hear about David Riley. I was hoping for a sequel for Bonded Agent.

    • Thank you. Yes, it’s a shame that we’ll have no new David B. Riley stories. I know he did write some more stories in the Bonded Agent universe. One was published in Hadrosaur’s Exchange Students anthology.

  4. Pagadan says:

    It looked like he killed her off in a story of his I read, and I queried him about it, but he wouldn’t commit himself. Ah, I believe that’s the story i read. Thanks.

    • In science fiction and mysteries, dead isn’t always as permanent as it might be at first glance. Just ask Mr. Spock and Sherlock Holmes! I suspect David would have easily found a way to bring Sarah back for another adventure if he wanted.

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