As readers, we all know how much authors touch our lives — some, more than others. For Novel Novice contributor and debut novelist Stephanie Lawton, one of those people was L.K. Madigan. In an exclusive guest blog today, Stephanie tells us why her first published novel Want is dedicated to L.K. Madigan.
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When you open the cover of Want, you’ll see the following:
In memory of L.K. Madigan, whose kind words meant more than
she’ll ever know.
Who was L.K.? She was Lisa Wolfson, award-winning author of Flash Burnout and The Mermaid’s Mirror. Her first book won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award in 2010; her second was a fantastic start to a new series. Unfortunately, there will never be a sequel.
Lisa passed away at 47 from pancreatic cancer in February 2011, just four months after I met her and her husband at Wordstock in Portland. She was also a 20-year breast cancer survivor, wife, and mom to a young son.
When I met her, I’d already fallen in love with her books and online personality–The Mermaid’s Mirror was our Book of the Month for October 2010. Both Sara and I adored her genuine and outgoing personality, as well as her written works. We were touched when she presented us with custom-made necklaces featuring the cover of The Mermaid’s Mirror to thank us for our support.
For me, having dinner with her and a number of other YA writers at Deschutes Brewery was one of those “defining moments” you hear Dr. Phil talk about. It was truly a book nerd’s dream come true, and just when I thought the night couldn’t get any better, Lisa asked one of the other authors to trade places so she could talk to us about Novel Novice.
“Tell me about you,” she said. “I want to hear the story of Novel Novice and how you met.” After spending two days listening to authors talk about their own books, it was surprising and refreshing to have the tables turned. When Sara and I finished telling her our story, Lisa asked if we had any intention of writing and getting published.
“Hopefully,” I told her.
I was five months into writing Want.
So when I read Lisa’s blog post, “Hard News” three months later, I was floored:
I was recently diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. It has metastasized to my liver.
I’ve tried to write this blog post in my head several times, and it never sounds right. So please … forgive the blunt words. I was going to attempt eloquence, but I can’t find any.
You often read the words, “My jaw dropped,” or “My heart stopped.” I can tell you those aren’t just expressions. When someone so full of life and seemingly healthy and vivacious acknowledges that they have months–maybe only weeks–to live, those cliches ring true. How unfair for a mom and wife to be taken from her family. How unfair that her friends and fans would never again enjoy her company, let alone her gift for poignant writing.
When she passed away a little more than a month later, I instantly knew that should Want ever get published, it would be dedicated to her memory. I also asked for her husband’s blessing to write about her legacy today. We both agreed that her name and novels deserve to be remembered and honored.
What’s more, I hope you’ll consider picking up one of her titles–I’m particularly fond of Flash Burnout. It was the first YA book I’d read that didn’t have the ending wrapped up in a neat little bow, and it freed me to write the ending I did for my own book.
So, dear Lisa, you remain in our hearts. As I embark on my own novel’s launch, I remember Blake’s words at the end of Flash Burnout:
I gasp at the wide-alive joy in my blood.