I am tremendously grieved to learn of the death of Leslie Esdaile Banks, better known to her legions of fans as L.A. Banks. She was an utterly vibrant, tremendous woman and I can’t even describe how bewildering it is to refer to her in the past tense.
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.
Via RT Book Reviews, Beverly Jenkins provided info on the memorial service:
When: 11:00 A.M. Saturday, August 13, 2011
Where: Holy Apostles and The Mediator Episcopal Church
206 South 51st St.
Philadelphia, PA 19139
Leslie requested that donations be made to UNCF in lieu of flowers. Expect the service to be crowded; I think everyone who ever met Leslie loved her and will want to be there to honor her memory.