Normally when we host a book of the month at Novel Novice, we try to feature interviews and guest posts from the author. But sadly, Bridget Zinn, author of Poison, passed away two years ago from cancer. So all this week, we’ve invited other YA authors who were friends with Bridget to stop by Novel Novice as guest bloggers on her behalf.
Today, we are honored to share this post from April Henry, author of The Night She Disappeared and other books.
* * *
I met Bridget Zinn shortly after she and her then-boyfriend Barrett had moved to Portland from Wisconsin, where she had been a children’s librarian. They attended a SCWBI event together and sat behind me. We spoke at the break. Even then I was struck by her beauty and intelligence.
Bridget’s life shortly got crazy good and crazy bad, all in one month:
– She got an agent for her YA novel, Poison. Poison is about a teen girl turned reluctant assassin who must hunt down the princess of the realm (who also happens to be her former best friend), with the aid of an enchanted piglet. It’s a magical book that reminds me a lot of The Princess Bride.
– A few days later she went to a naturopath for headaches and vision problems. Her blood pressure was so off the charts that she ended up in the ER. There was a mass in her abdomen.
– Before Bridget went in for surgery to see what was up, she and Barrett were married in her hospital room by the hospital chaplain.
– She was told she had Stage Four colon cancer. As you will hear over and over again when someone is diagnosed with Stage Four, there is no Stage Five.
A few months later Poison sold at at auction, to Disney/Hyperion.
I will always remember a conversation I had with Bridget. She had been talking to someone who was complaining about something small, but which she had let ruin her whole day. Bridget said she had to bite her tongue, but that she wanted to say, “Well, did someone tell you today that you’re dying from cancer? No? Then you’re having a good day.”
Bridget was funny, smart, passionate. If I was going to use one word for her, it would be vibrant. She and Barrett made the very best of the very poor hand they had been dealt. Even though she was undergoing round after round of grueling treatment, they found excuses for parties. They got married several times. And before she went in for first chemo, there was the Fatten Bridget Up for Chemo Party. When she was hospitalized, they would made a picnic of food brought in from Trader Joes.
For a taste of how Bridget approached her cancer, here’s something she wrote:
Everyone must be thinking, Bridget, come on, aren’t you done having cancer yet? I am totally with you. I’m ready to move on to something more fun. But cancer doesn’t seem to be quite done with me yet.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve had chemotherapy every two weeks, almost non-stop. There was that little “vacation” for surgery. I’ve been over a range of treatments. On some of the less harsh treatments (chemo is no joke-less harsh does NOT mean easy), we’ve had glorious little stretches of a few days, sometimes even a week at a time when we could almost pretend that things were normal. And there were some chemo regimes that didn’t really give us much of that. But we found joy where we could and Barrett and I are talented at finding joy. The “Summer of Love” celebrations back in Wisconsin, all of the book signings, fifth Fridays and social gatherings we were able to attend back home in Portland were extraordinary high points.
Bridget’s last Facebook post, just a few days before she passed, read: “Sunshine and a brand new book. Perfect.” At her memorial, Barrett passed out bookmarks with her picture, and photos of flowers, and those words. Bridget Zinn was only 33 when she died.
Now Poison is finally out in the world. Despite the title, it’s a sweet book, with humor and romance and some surprising twists. Buy it for yourself or someone you know or your local school library. Talk it up on Facebook and Twitter (#Poison). Request it at your library. Review it on Goodreads. Bridget worked on Poison for seven years. Please don’t all that love and joy and hard work go unnoticed.