Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In which we reluctantly say good-bye to L.A. Banks

Leslie Esdaile Banks died this morning.

You probably knew her as New York Times Bestselling Author L.A. Banks. A few months ago, she was diagnosed with late stage adrenal cancer. If you Google that medical nightmare, then you will know what Leslie probably knew--life is too damned short, so live well and live joyously.

I met Leslie at a Romantic Times Convention several years ago. We sat next to each other at the author book fair, and she was a riot. Not only that, she was all kinds of interested in me--pretty much a nobody, but man oh man, she made me feel like a somebody. That was the year before my first Broken Heart novel came out, and I asked Leslie if she might have the time to give me an author quote. She said yes (well, from Leslie, it was more like Yes!!!). And the next year, when the novel actually came out, we found ourselves seatmates at the RT Book Fair again--and she spent more time telling her fans how hilarious my book was--and literally shoving it into their hands--than she did talking about her own work.

Leslie was magnificent.

We at the League spent some time talking about our memories of Leslie, and here are few we'd like to share:

Jackie Kessler: Two years ago, Leslie and I were on a terrific RT reader panel, along with Dakota, which was basically American Idol: The Cover Model Edition. L.A. acted like Randy Jackson, and she was hilarious. It was an awesome panel in no small part because of her. The audience was in stitches. That was the only time I met her. She was lovely and funny and warm, just an amazing lady to talk to. The world is a poorer place without her.

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Stacia Kane: I met Leslie at my first RT ever, in Orlando. There was a dinner for St. Martins authors and Caitlin Kittredge asked me to go along with her; I was all nervous and felt really awkward, since at the time I only had small-press stuff released. And I was totally stunned that L.A. Banks was there.

Caitlin introduced me to her, and she gave me this big hug and said how great it was to meet me. She had no idea who I was, of course; that was just the kind of person she was, the kind who would hug a fellow writer they've never met before, who would ask about my upcoming series and say nice things about it and genuinely be interested.

This is a horrible loss.

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Dakota Cassidy: I met her a day or so before a panel I was supposed to do with her (one of my first at RT), and I didn't know who she was. But that didn't last long because LA made you feel like you'd always known her. From that moment on, we were friends. We emailed back and forth--she gave me a quote for my book. Later, Jackie and I did the Idol based panel with her at RT where she was Randy Jackson. It was one of the best RT memories I have because she was right in there with me and Jackie just five minutes prior to it beginning, trying to figure out how to keep that panel from imploding.And she was a total riot.

She was an awesome human being.

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J.F. Lewis: Shortly before I was published, I met Leslie at Dragon*con. I was carrying around the cover to my first book like a proud father and she gave me a hug and said, "You're in the club." That was the only time I got to spend time with her, but with that brief I interaction, she made me feel very welcome.

She was a very nice lady and the world is dimmed by her departure.

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Mario Acevedo: At RT2009 in Orlando, LA went out of her way to introduce herself to me. She was a class act.

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Jeanne Stein: I met Leslie first at a book fair in Georgia. She was warm, welcoming and so funny, she had a us all in stitches. I didn't know her well, but I her knew her well enough to really like her. She will be missed.

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Richelle Mead: You know, in this profession, we all scurry over good sales numbers and reviews and all that. Leslie had those things, but what's really had the greatest impact on all of us are these meetings we had with her. Everyone (myself included) has a story where we were just blown away by how down to earth and kind she was, especially to those just entering the profession. Books are a great legacy to leave, but I think it's a greater thing for someone to be remembered for the kind of person they were.

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Leslie's joy encompassed you with same ferocity as her arms did when she hugged you. And she hugged everyone. And she laughed a lot. And she made everyone she talked to feel like they mattered.

Leslie was one of those people with an inner light so bright and warm, you couldn't help but be drawn toward it. I think the best way we can honor her is to follow her example.

Instead of impatience, choose kindness.
Instead of silence, choose laughter.
Instead of talking, choose listening.

If there is an opportunity to spotlight yourself, turn it instead upon someone else. Be the person who makes others feel good by showing genuine interest. Be compassionate.

Live well, and live joyously.

7 comments:

Tynga said...

I was so very sad to hear this news earlier today, I had just bought a whole bunch of her books 3 days ago =(
My condolences to her friends and family.

JM said...

Great post. I never had the chance to meet her, but I've heard fantastic things about her. I'm so sorry for her family.

Danny said...

Sadly, I had very little contact with Leslie, but her personality was larger than life and resonated to all those around her. Rest in peace, special lady.

Paper Cut Reviewer said...

Wow your words are so touching. I'm so sad I never had the chance to meet such a remarkably talented author like Leslie. I recently started getting into her books so to hear about her passing is very very sad news. My heart and prayers go out to her family and friends. May she rest in peace and may we all remember how wonderful a person she was.

Debi Murray said...

I met Leslie at Club RT (Pittsburgh or Orlando? Can't remember which!) while drooling over Mona Betz' jewelry. Every subsequent year, I'd be at Mona's corner of Club RT, I'd look up and there would be Leslie, laughing because we picked the same time to look over Mona's stash. Such a class act! She will be missed...by a lot of people. I know that I will be standing in Club RT next year, I'll look up expecting to see Leslie again, and I'll get a little pain in my heart when I remember she won't be there to laugh with me.

But I do know this...wherever she is now, it will be a better place because she is there.

The Frizzy Hooker said...

I have a half dozen of her books lying around my house. I hope she will be remembered for her amazing series and the way she wrote her lore.

~THE OPTIMISTIC PESSIMIST ~ said...

Leslie was a kind and gentle soul. I had the great pleasure to get to meet her a handful of times. Each time she not only remembered my name, she went out of her way to make everyone she met feel special.
Leslie made the vampire ball twice as much fun for the girls who sat at our table.
Leslie also took it upon her self to keep in touch over the years just to say hi. She was and will always be a class act.
I will never forget the joy she added to my life.
Her joyous spirit will be missed.

Who the HELL Do We Think We Are?

We're a bunch of paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors who occasionally blog, make filthy jokes and prowl the halls of conferences and conventions with switchblades!

Current roster: Mario Acevedo, Michele Bardsley, Sonya Bateman, Dakota Cassidy, Carolyn Crane, Molly Harper, Kevin Hearne, Mark Henry, Stacia Kane, Jackie Kessler, J.F. Lewis, Daniel Marks, Richelle Mead, Kelly Meding, Allison Pang, Nicole Peeler, Kat Richardson, Michelle Rowen, Diana Rowland, Jeanne C. Stein, K.A. Stewart, Anton Strout, and Jaye Wells

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