Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Missing L.K. Madigan (1963-2011)

L.K. Madigan, the author of Flash Burnout and The Mermaid's Mirror, died on February 23rd, just weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her friend, and fellow YA author, April Henry wrote this tribute to her on her blog.

L.K. Madigan's real name was Lisa Wolfson. The title of this blog post is deliberately ambiguous. While Lisa had many friends who miss her deeply, I missed out on knowing her at all. I knew of her but, despite her living close by in southwest Portland, and having a son at the same school (different grade) as my oldest son, our paths never crossed.

She was only 47, the same age as me. Reading her website after her death, I came across these lines in her bio. "I hope to write and publish many more books in the future … I have more story ideas than time to write them all."

Typing those words brings a lump to my throat. It is the cruel dichotomy facing the writer: we are urged by all the industry professionals to go slow, to not query until all the 'i' s are dotted and the 't' s crossed, to work and work and work writing those million words until we are ready to be published. And yet... none of us knows how much time we have left. I may have fifty years; I may have fifty minutes. The sound of "Time's winged chariot" is always in our ears. Sometimes I feel a crazy sense of urgency regarding publication, the writer's chance at immortality. What if I don't make it?

Does anyone understand this?

Lisa Wolfson left us too soon. She actually felt herself to be lucky, as twenty years previously she had survived breast cancer. And, really, we are lucky--those of you who knew her, and those of us who missed out. Because her words will live on. Her books will be read.

Every time a reader picks up one of her novels, L.K. Madigan lives.

R.I.P., Lisa.

L.K. Madigan, reading at Powell's Books


  1. Oh my goodness. This post sent chills down my spine. Here's hoping for 50 more years for you!!!

  2. I'm so sorry to hear of Lisa's passing. I believe I've seen her at several writing events in the Portland/Vancouver area. It is heart-breaking.

    And yes, I understand that sense of urgency. Sometimes I find myself fighting it, but now I wonder if I should...

  3. you'll get your 50
    write on

    and so sorry to hear the sorrow in your words..personally many friends have died in the last 12 month
    life is unknown
    so love it like you know

  4. Your sorrow is palpable, your tribute poignant and compelling. And you are correct. None of us has time to waste.

  5. Thank you all for reading and for commenting. I appreciate each one of you. (I better appreciate Marie; she's my wife!)

  6. So sad and motivating at the same time. I'm going to go work on my novel now.

  7. I didn't know of Lisa's work, but I can certainly identify with the grief at her passing away at such a young age and with so much left undone.
    My husband died at age 56, only 4 weeks after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer...we had so many plans for our future together and he had so much left that he wanted to accomplish in his life.
    So I agree--we need to all make the most of whatever time we have...because we never know when our future will end. That makes me sad, but I know it is reality.

  8. Sylvia, my heart goes out to you. I knew you'd lost your husband, but I didn't know how young he was.

    I so agree with you about making the most of whatever time we have.

    Thank you for sharing this very personal part of your life.

  9. Thanks, Michael--I appreciate your understanding. I am doing my best to carry on without the 'love of my life'....I have actually resumed work on a novel that I had started years ago...now that I'm retired I do have the time to work on it, and would like to finish this and begin work on another novel...who knows--maybe someday a few people will actually read them and enjoy them....
    Keep up the good work!


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