Last night I heard that Tanith Lee had died.
I was fortunate enough to meet her at WFC in Brighton in 2013 and to be on a panel with her; I was even more fortunate to have corresponded with her for some interviews for the Stephen Jones anthology Fearie Tales. I was quite nervous about meeting her – life has taught me that meeting your heroes is seldom a very good idea – but she was lovely. She was open and generous and supportive – not something one encounters every day in the writing world. She was flamboyant and divine and very, very clever. I had been reading her work since I was about fifteen, so it was a bit like getting to meet God.
I asked her if she wouldn’t mind doing another interview for the Lair of the Evil Drs Brain, and she was happy to oblige. I asked Kathleen Jennings to do a sketch, and said “You MUST draw her in the black feathered Servalan dress!” And Kathleen did – see, here? When I sent the link to Tanith, she was delighted and asked “Do you think the artist would mind if I printed the sketch off and stuck it over my desk?” I told her the artist and I would be utterly ecstatic if she did.
Quite apart from the astonishing range of her writing, her generosity to younger writers and her fans, and the trails she blazed for women writers that many of us tread a little more easily today, she was kind. And that is a rare gem of a thing, like the woman herself. I shall be re-reading Night’s Master this week, the first Tanith Lee book I ever read.
My heart still feels a little broken.