He and I never met, but I was a fan of his through Armor, which was given to me as a Christmas present by a friend of mine back when I was a teenager. The friend knew I liked science fiction but not being a science fiction reader himself sort of just grabbed the first book whose cover caught his eye. At the time, if I recall correctly, the cover of Armor featured a man in a mechanized battle suit about to bludgeon an alien with a hefty-looking rifle. A lurid cover, to be sure, but what was inside the cover was in fact right up my alley at the time.
Then a couple of years ago I picked up the phone and it was Steakley on the other end; he had just read Old Man’s War and he just felt like calling to talk to me about it. I was pleasantly surprised and befuddled, the way you get when someone whose work you’ve admired and whom you don’t expect to know you even exist suddenly pops up and does indeed knows you exist, and likes your stuff. We had a pleasant conversation, and he mentioned he’d try to get over to ArmadilloCon, which I was was going to be at later in that year. I told him I looked forward to meeting him there.
As it turns out he didn’t go to that con, and now I’m left wishing he had managed to make it out, so I could have shaken his hand and told him in person how much I enjoyed his work. One phone call seems too little all of a sudden.