Dying, in Other Words by British author Maggie Gee has been a keeper since 1984 when I attended a two-week writing seminar in London hosted by Northeastern University. Our instructors included Gary Goshgarian, Stephen King, Tabitha King, P.D. James, Robert B. Parker, William Martin, and the imcomparable Maggie Gee. Dying, in Other Words was Maggie Gee's first published novel, and it is my first signed book: "For Valerie, All best wishes for your own writing. Maggie."
I've read that inscription many times. It's carried me through the worst of rejections, the panic of acceptance, and it's become a sincere wish I've done my best to impart to other writers, especially when I've been asked to sign my own published work.
Some of my strongest memories from that conference include Stephen King jumping out of a dark hallway shouting "Boo!", scaring me and a fellow student out of our wits; Tabitha King breaking the heel off her shoe right before class (yes, famous people have those days too!); and having coffee with Maggie Gee. What an afternoon that was. She was wonderful, patiently answering all my eager and innocent questions about agents and writing schedules and Angela Carter (it turned out they knew each other). But best of all, she encouraged me to write, to never give up, to make my dreams real.
Every day that I sit down to write I can't help but think of that glorious conference, thirty years ago this summer, and how much Maggie's words and style have influenced and inspired me. I'm also reminded how important it is for professional writers and artists to remain generous, to pass on the baton whenever possible: You can do it.
One last thing: Besides being a keeper for the reasons above, Dying in Other Words is a REALLY GOOD BOOK! A surreal and edgy murder mystery, it gets 5 stars from me--read it!