Regular readers of this blog will have spotted the frequent references to my husband and partner in crime, Tom Brown. It’s his birthday today, so it seemed like a good opportunity to devote a blog to him. If you’re reading this on the website, then you will be able to see an array of art images to the right. Book covers based on photos (except Pagan Dreaming) are not his work, the rest of it is. Email subscribers might want to hop to the blog for a proper look.
I first met Tom through a publishing house about a decade ago. We connected through our work, and stayed in touch, which eventually turned into a long distance romance, then him moving to the UK to marry me.
Tom is an illustrator. Aside from my book covers, his work has adorned many other books, inside and out, posters, cards, and t-shirts at various times. He’s completed four graphic novels, and a board book (Ricky’s Spooky House). His creative work has been one of the dominant features of his life, from drawing comics in his teens, through art school, and then years of day jobs with creative projects and work on the side. Like many creative people, he wasn’t able to go directly into paying work in his career of choice. So alongside art he’s worked production lines, irrigation and golf course maintenance, he’s waited tables, made ceramic seabirds on a production line. Alongside this he’s a fine tin whistle player and an increasingly good harmony singer, and he used to act.
Biographies are an inevitable part of a creative person’s life, authors have to be ready to cough up versions of themselves at any length and little notice. To reduce a life into a paragraph tends to mean focusing on work and obvious, worldly achievements. So much of a who a person is just falls out of these versions. What we do so often is who we are to the wider world, and yet it pares away so much personhood.
Who is he to me? This man who has been my friend for a decade, my working partner for about 8 years, my husband for 4 ½ years. We’ve held, and continue to hold a number of places in each other’s lives. We’ve rescued each other from all manner of things, know something of each other at our worst and best. We have both changed a vast amount in the time of knowing each other, and much of that is as a consequence of what we’ve shared. He’s the only person I’ve ever met who I can be with all the time for days on end without craving solitude. He laughs at my jokes, accepts my foibles and fragilities, shares my concerns and hopes.
I love his quirky humour, his gothic art, and his ability to care. I know that he’s a much better person than I am – kinder, more considerate, wiser. Domesticated animals cheerfully throw themselves at him and wild birds will take food from his hands. And yet to say all of this is to barely scrape the surface, and to capture nothing at all of what it’s like to spend a day, or a year in his company.