I was at a friend’s barbecue on Saturday when an unusual email arrived on my phone with my name in the subject. It was from the wife of another Jeff Carlson:
“Some of you have already heard, but for those who have not, I am so sorry that I need to share unbelievably sad news with you all. Our beloved Jeff passed away on Monday, July 17 of a very aggressive lung cancer. We are in utter shock and disbelief.”
I never knew Jeff, but we’ve been linked for years by Amazon.com’s search algorithms. Since we’re both authors, a search for “Jeff Carlson” shows his science-fiction/thriller books, such as Plague Year and The Frozen Sky, intermingled with my technology-instruction titles. Occasionally I’d get email intended for him. A couple of months ago we actually corresponded after a fan of his books sent a message to me. When I passed it along to Jeff’s agent, he wrote back:
“Hey, wow! What a great way to meet my alter ego. I have a distant East Coast cousin who emailed a few years ago after reading Plague Year, which he said was a fun ride, but he was far more impressed that I was so prolific and smart enough to also write how-to books. Alas, I had to confess that I know diddly about Macs.”
The Internet is a funny thing. Here I am mourning someone I never knew because we share the same name and a love of words, books, and publishing. It reminds me that we’re all closer that it often seems.
My heart goes out to Jeff’s wife, children, family, and fans. I’m making a donation in his name to the Lung Cancer Alliance. I hope you’ll consider it, too.