Milton T. Burton, aged 63, passed away in his sleep on December 1, 2011 at 3:30 am after a brief illness.
Simple words to say that my best friend, a man of incredible literary talent and immense curiousity, compassion, knowledge and joy, has left my life.
His renewed literary success, which began with 2005's The Rogue's Game and the subsequent The Sweet and the Dead, gave us last year's The Nights of the Red Moon and his stellar anthology of Southern noir tales, Texas Noir which was published by Down and Out Books in 2011.
It will be a posthumous release, The Devil's Odds, however, in February 2012 and his last contracted book, Mortal Remains, I guess is up in the air.
A wealth of output in a few short years from this Texas native who received critical acclaim for all his writings.
I loved, and will miss him, as a wonderful person. But beyond our personal relationship, was our relationship as writers. And not just myself, but dozens of writers have had the great pleasure of meeting Milton and participating in discussions with him, and we have all come away better writers for it. He was unfailingly supportive to those of us who were his friends. He encouraged our literary ambitions, bought our books and touted them on his blog, Obscure Destinies, and had gruff sympathy for the rejections many of us incured.
He wrote from his soul. He put everything into his books, from political leanings, to romance, to his outlook on man's inhumanity to man, his reverence of women and respect for lawmen. His characters were deftly drawn - the best of men had flaws, and the worst had redeeming qualities. There was humor and thrills, sadness and poignant recollections of bygone Texas times.
I have all his books and will cherish them now that he is gone. For anyone unfamiliar with his writing, you'd be well advised to pick up all of them. They teach many lessons about story craft and characterization. But most of all they teach that a great story can only be great if your heart is in the telling.
Milton's heart was always in the tale. He was a true bard and I will mourn his marvelous stories.
To his friends and family, and his beloved grandkids, he was a friend, father and grandfather. To the world at large? He was a writer of the highest order.