Author Tommy Donbavand has died, his friend Barry Hutchison has confirmed, as he paid tribute to the "kind, funny, courageous and ridiculous" writer.
Donbavand, 51, was diagnosed with Stage 4 inoperable cancer in 2016. Writing on the the Tommy V Cancer blog yesterday (14th May), Hutchison said: “It saddens me enormously to say that Tommy passed away in hospital this morning. My kind, funny, courageous, ridiculous friend is no longer with us.
“It all happened quite suddenly in the end, and there was no pain. He had been taken into hospital at the weekend, but was feeling relatively good this morning, and quite positive. He was chatting to the nurses as they took tests, made a joke about taking his blood, and then he closed his eyes and was gone soon after.”
Hutchison said it was “fitting” that Donbavand’s last act on Earth was to crack a joke and put a smile on somebody’s face. He added: “At the moment, I don’t have any more information to share, other than that his family are all understandably heartbroken. Once I know more, I’ll post it here, as I know that’s what Tommy would want.”
Donbavand began blogging about the disease soon after his diagnosis and in 2017 published his entries in a book, Tommy v Cancer: One Man's Battle Against The Big C. His Scream Street series for 8-10 year-olds was published by Walker Books, sold into 18 territories, and was adapted for television by Coolabi and broadcast by the BBC. He also wrote for publishers including Walker, Macmillan, Barrington Stoke and Badger Learning, among others.
His agent, Penny Holroyde, said: "Tommy was a model author: clever, imaginative, funny, extremely hard-working, unflappable and always so gracious, polite and kind to everyone he worked with. He was a master with children at [often very large] events, other authors were in awe of how he could control, and make laugh, a hall packed with 8 and 9 year-olds. He was also extremely kind and supportive to other authors who were newer to their careers.
Jane Winterbotham, publisher at Walker Books, said: "Tommy was an exceptionally talented author with that wonderful gift for making children laugh on every page. It’s no surprise that his brilliant Scream Street and Fangs: Vampire Spy series were loved by children all round the world - and you could see from his events how much Tommy loved children. We are proud to have been his publisher, and feel lucky to have worked with such a creative and generous-spirited author. We will all miss him greatly
Danny Pearson, publisher and senior editor at Badger Learning, said: “I was saddened to hear that the incredibly talented and much loved Tommy Donbavand passed away yesterday morning.
“He was a pleasure to work with and one of my favourite authors. He worked on series such as Snow-Man, Time Trek, Once Upon Another Time..., Dark Reads, Between The Lines and Teen Reads. His book, Raven, won Badger its first ever book award. He was one of a kind.”
Librarian Dawn Finch tweeted: “The world of children’s books has lost one of the good guys. Tommy was an amazing writer and an inspiration. His messages of hope and positivity throughout his battle with cancer were very powerful. Farewell Tommy, much love to your family.”
Bev Humphrey, also a librarian, said on Twitter: “Couldn’t ever have met a lovelier bloke, bloody cancer. My heart goes out to his family."
He is survived by his wife, Kirsty, and sons, Arran and Sam. A crowdfunding campaign, set up to support the author’s family when he could no longer do school visits, has now raised 104% of its target, with the total standing at £26,033.