I Needed That Hug

J. Dianne Dotson
2 min readJul 14, 2021
Matt Dunford embraces J. Dianne Dotson at Mysterious Galaxy Books, July 6, 2021. Copyright J. Dianne Dotson 2021

You all know some of it, and some of you know all of it. The first part? Our ongoing collective nightmare, the pandemic that spins its way around the globe a year and a half after it began. The second part? The loss of my father.

Dad’s death continues to, and always will, affect my life. After my initial devastation, I knew I would not reach any kind of peace being on the opposite coast of where he grew up and where my parents raised me: my fatherland. And so I moved my own family across the country in the summer of 2020, during a time in which California’s fate seemed dire.

Over time, the opposite situation would prove to be true, as we all realized Tennessee was not working for us, and in some ways the return caused harm. We did our best, and it was wonderful to see family. But you know when it’s time to leave a place, and so we returned to California this month. (This time, to Pasadena.)

This coincided with the release of LUMINIFEROUS, and so the generous folks at Mysterious Galaxy Books had not only hosted a conversation between myself and Jonathan Maberry, they had set aside a time for me to personalize my books at the store.

Some of my San Diego readers and friends took notice and showed up. I took the train from Los Angeles to San Diego, got my hair done by my former stylist and spilled all my news, and was taken to the bookstore by a dear friend. It was very much like the scene in The Lord of the Rings in which Frodo is reunited with his fellow hobbit friends. An impromptu-ish reunion.

J. Dianne Dotson and friends at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego on July 6, 2021. Photo copyright J. Dianne Dotson 2021.

But I must give a special shoutout to Matt Dunford, a man with boundless enthusiasm and energy, for seizing me in his arms, lifting me up, and, well, opening the gates of catharsis.

I felt more alive that day than I had since before Dad’s passing. I felt loved, welcomed, appreciated, and joyful. On the train home, I realized I felt happy. I had forgotten what that really meant. Thank you for that hug, Matt. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Sometimes it takes going There and Back Again. Sometimes it takes a very special friend. And for that, I’m forever grateful.

J. Dianne Dotson

J. Dianne Dotson is a science fiction/fantasy/horror author, science writer, and artist. Repped by Laura Bennett. Visit jdiannedotson.com. @jdiannedotson