Today I heard the sad news of your passing. I know you were never much of a one for being fussed over, but I want to let you know how much your friendship meant to me as a crime fiction reader and writer.
When I first ‘met’ you, I was a rookie blogger with a book I’d just gotten published. You, with so much knowledge about crime fiction, were still kind enough to read and comment on my blog. What an honour that was, especially since your own blog Petrona was such a superb crime fiction review blog. And when you also said nice things about my books even though I never asked you to get them or read them, well, I can’t describe how proud that made me. You gave me faith that I could actually make something of myself as a writer of crime fiction.
And let me tell you if I may why your kindness about my work and my blog meant so much to me. You had the highest standards for yourself as a reader of crime fiction and as a blogger. You had high standards too for other bloggers and for authors of crime fiction. Your support of my work was such a special honour because you didn’t support just anybody in order to curry favour or get lots of ARCs of books. You made careful choices about the work you liked and didn’t, and I wish I had told you – but hopefully you knew – what a privilege it was to know you liked mine.
It wasn’t just your kindness about my work either that I remember gratefully. You welcomed me into the online crime fiction reading and writing community and made me feel I was among friends, even though I wasn’t (and may never be) famous or powerful. Even when I made embarrassing mistakes on my blog or in our online book discussions, you never made me feel less for it. We laughed together about it and went on.
And that’s another thing I remember about you, Maxine – your delightful sense of humour. I remember the jokes we used to make about the publishing world, ‘blockbuster’ best-sellers, stupid politics and lots of other things too. I loved your wit. You made me smile, sometimes when a lot of other things were going wrong. What’s especially amazing to me is that you made me smile even when things were going wrong for you. A lot of people would have griped and complained at life’s sorrow; you didn’t. You saw the absurd in life and shared that with us.
I also want to thank you, Maxine, for your integrity and your honesty. One of the reasons you earned so much respect from those of us in the crime fiction community is that you were always upfront, forthright and true-blue. Those qualities led us to trust you and never once did you betray that trust.
You brought so much to the world of books in general and crime fiction in particular, Maxine. That world is less now because of your passing. I will always remember you. Every time I read a new-to-me author (especially a Scandinavian author), I’ll think of you. Whenever I read a book review, follow up on a new development in the publishing industry or check out an article on new trends in crime fiction, I’ll think of you. And I promise, you will be in my thoughts as I write and blog, too. How could you not be?
I have lost a friend and the crime fiction world has lost one of its lights. But I am grateful and honoured to have known you, Maxine. Thank you for reaching out. May you know peace and may your family have strength and healing.
Maxine Clarke – Crime fiction expert, top-notch blogger and most of all, friend.
For me the Union Jack is flying at half mast.