When I came in to work yesterday, my colleague Peter Cannon shared some sad news: author, editor, and PW reviewer Melissa Mia Hall died of a heart attack on January 28th. Melissa had been reviewing for PW as long as I have, almost nine years now, and was a quick reader and prolific writer who contributed extensively to our fiction sections and was always happy to read in any genre and meet a tight deadline. Readers who keep an eye on our contributor lists will notice that Melissa’s name appeared in nearly every issue. We’re all quite stunned and saddened that she’s gone.
The memorial service will take place on Saturday Feb. 12, 11am at St John’s Episcopal in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Peter wrote a moving eulogy for Melissa, and has graciously given me permission to post it on Genreville.
I never met Melissa Mia Hall, and I spoke to her only once or twice on the phone, but I feel as if I knew her as well as any friend. She began reviewing for PW in 2002, referred to me by a mutual New York friend, horror writer Ted Klein, who published her first story when he was the editor of Twilight Zone magazine. Melissa contributed hundreds of reviews to PW, in all different genres, as well as dozens of Q&As. In recent years, ever reliable and diligent, she was reviewing three books a week for me, mostly light, cozy mysteries.
Melissa started the new year on a hopeful note. Early in January, she e-mailed that she had a funeral to attend, but a wedding soon after. Her birthday was coming up. The mild Texas weather cheered her. She needed to go over one of her novels before shipping it to a U.K. editor for a read. She still had no word from the agent who had her funny mystery, but she was already plotting a sequel just in case. She had another agent waiting if the first one wasn’t interested. She was excited about a new blog she’d launched devoted to author interviews.
The last week of January, Melissa reported that she’d thrown out her back trying to lift her dog, Daisy. Poor Daisy could not get onto her bed at night unassisted, so Melissa had to make a bed for the animal on the floor. Daisy was upset, but the cat of course was gloating because she had no problems jumping up on the bed.
At various times over the years Melissa mentioned how she would like to visit Ted and me in New York, but money was always tight and that trip never happened. I envy those who knew her in person. Still, it was my privilege to have been one of her editors. I will miss her. —Peter Cannon