R. I. P. Leslie Esdaile Banks (b.k.a. L. A. Banks)

In June, we published a call for donations and support and prayers for Leslie Esdaile Banks who was battling cancer.  We are sad to report that on August 2, 2011, Banks passed away.

From the website:

In Loving Memory

Leslie Ann Peterson Esdaile Banks

It is with the most profound sadness that I have to inform everyone that our most beloved sister and friend, Leslie Esdaile,August 2, 2011.

We will all miss her terribly.

The Leslie Ann Peterson Esdaile Banks Memorial Service will be held:

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

11 o’clock a.m.

at the

Holy Apostles and The Mediator Episopal Church

51st and Spruce Streets

Philadelphia, PA 19139

215-472-3000

At Leslie’s request, in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the United Negro College Fund in her memory.

The Peterson family wishes to thank you for the love and kindness you have shared with us during Leslie’s illness and her recent death. Your many messages of support, which we were able to share with Leslie, meant so much to her.

Your expressions of sympathy have brought us all great comfort in this time of grief.

Tina R. Wise

Tinarwise@gmail.com

Visit the website here.  Fanboys and fangyrls from around the web poured libations for her:

Charlie Jane Anders @ io9.com:

Leslie Esdaile Banks, who died yesterday, should be an inspiration to writers everywhere — she successfully moved between the genres of fantasy, paranormal romance, crime fiction, African American fiction, and women’s fiction, among others. And she also helped bring diversity to the worlds of fantasy and paranormal romance, mostly under the pen-name L.A. Banks.

Gregory Frost @ Tor.com:

Once again there was that glowing sun of pleasure, of pure delight. Being in her company, you never wanted to be out of it. That was true every single time we ever saw each other.

She was also the hardest working author I’ve ever known, constantly in motion, always traveling to promote her books, connecting up her fans to form a nationwide following for the Vampire Huntress series. Nine times out of ten when the Liars Club had business to discuss and emails were traded, we would all receive an auto-response from Leslie that she was (a) traveling somewhere to promote a book; or (b) on deadline and not reading emails right now.

Dara Sharif @ TheRoot.com:

It was standing room only as the gregarious Banks shared her writing process with the audience, including how she meticulously thought out the action sequences that her series are known for. She spoke of the importance of multiculturalism in her work: Showing no face on the covers of Minion and subsequent books in the series was a deliberate move to better allow all readers to feel connected to the work. (Not getting pigeonholed in the “black” section of the bookstore was likely a plus, too.)


 In any case, I approached her afterward, introducing myself and sharing what a huge fan I was of her work. To my surprise, she greeted me with the biggest hug. Soon we were talking and laughing like old friends, discussing her hometown of Philadelphia, where I had lived for a time, and the challenges faced by authors in general, but particularly by black authors. Knowing how many genres she had already mastered, I encouraged her to consider writing for children or young adults.


We exchanged cards, with promises to keep in touch, but we were only able to meet up once or twice more. Still, each time, talking with Banks was like speaking with a dear friend. An extremely talented friend.

Rose Fox @ Genreville:

I only met Leslie once or twice, so I suppose it wouldn’t be quite accurate to say that we were friends, except in the sense that she instantly befriended everyone she met. She was always reaching out: as a writer, a presenter, an activist, a colleague. Her books inspired a generation of writers and readers to diversify the overwhelmingly white landscapes of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.She introduced Barack Obama at a healthcare reform event (video and transcript here), which reminds me to note that this Saturday’s fundraiser in Philadelphia is still on and will benefit Leslie’s daughter, who has a stack of hospital bills to contend with on top of her grief. Blogs all over the web are filling up with posts from writers and readers about how Leslie changed their lives or simply showed them a little kindness and good humor when it mattered. She will be greatly, greatly missed.

If you know of others, please post links in the comments.

I found Minion the same way Dara Sharif did–the same way I found Parable of the Sower.  Browsing the stacks, I came across a book with a brown, loc’d up woman of color on the cover, her back facing us, shameless thick, holding what looked like a dagger.  A dagger?, my brain said.  I bought it.  I had no idea until now that she was writing in so many genres, under so many pseudonyms.  And–just as with Octavia Butler and Gwendolyn Brooks–I never had the opportunity to meet her.  I regret that.

Time is short, friends.  Meet your heroes today.

Donate if you can.  Her family needs all the support we can give.

Rest in peace Madame Banks.

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