2.24.2011

"That’s it for now, friends."

Lisa (far left) with friends


It's a sad, empty time for everyone who knew L.K. Madigan. Last month, Lisa announced her pancreatic cancer and wrote her goodbye to the online world. Yesterday, she said goodbye.

So many wonderful blog posts and stories are popping up — from her agent Jennifer Laughran, Lisa Schroeder, Sara Zarr, Laini Taylor, Kristen Kittscher (to name but a few). I especially loved this one from Nina LaCour, who was a finalist for the William C. Morris award the year that Lisa won it for Flash Burnout. In it, Nina describes Lisa reaching out to her and the other nominees with a friendly, happy, astonished, congratulatory email.

Lisa reached out to a lot of people. Myself included.

I met Lisa as I met most of my early author friends, through Laini Taylor. Lisa and Laini are both a part of the wonderful community of kidlit writers in Portland. Laini had mentioned me on her blog, and Lisa had followed the link and posted a comment here. I visited her website, fell in love with her humor and grace, and we became online friends.

I loved her writing, and she loved mine. I celebrated her successes, and she celebrated mine.

It was easy to like Lisa Madigan.

But we didn't become close until things grew hard for me, which is, I think, the mark of a true friend. I don't like to talk about it in great detail, but last year was very difficult. I struggled on every level it was possible to struggle on. Lisa recognized what was happening and reached out to me through email. And she helped guide me through those new and scary times. She was the ear I needed, and she was listening.

We became regular correspondents, and I never received an email from her that did not make me laugh out loud.

One of my favorite stories about Lisa is when she sent me an advanced copy of her second book, The Mermaid's Mirror. We'd been bemoaning the agony of the world having access to our imperfect, unfinished work (minor copyedits still occur after an ARC), so I laughed when her copy arrived, and I discovered that she had actually hand-written in her new edits onto the book's pages.

I was laughing, of course, because that was EXACTLY what I would have done! Her attached note was hilarious, confirming that she felt comfortable sharing it with me because she knew I was a kindred perfectionist spirit.

One of her edits pointed out a verb which she was worried she'd overused. Two or three of this verb were cut from the final copy, and every time I've seen or written this word since, I have thought about her and smiled. Normally, this is the type of writer-ly secret that I would protect, but I can't help but feel that this word is very, very appropriate right now:

LINGER

Yes, these memories will linger. Selfishly, I cannot believe that I will never receive another email from her. That I will never meet her in person. But I cannot begin to fathom the loss felt by her real-life friends, her coworkers, and, especially, her family. If she could bring this much happiness to this many people online, I imagine her circle was ten times as wide in the real world.

There's really not much more to say.

Lisa's friend April Henry posted a way to help out her family here. And if you didn't know Lisa, I highly recommend meeting her through her words. Flash Burnout is a great pick for fans of gritty, funny contemporary, and The Mermaid's Mirror is perfect for anyone who likes beautiful, lyrical fantasy.


(For the first time, I'm closing the comments to this post. I'm not sure why. It just feels weird.)