Kate Wilhelm Has Left Us…

I just want to spend a minute tonight remembering one of my mentors and a fantastic person. (No reason to send me sympathy. Save that for her family at this point. And go buy her books, the greatest way to honor a writer.

I first met Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm at a convention in 1981. And then again in the summer of 1982 at Clarion writers workshop in Michigan. Then later that summer Nina Kiriki Hoffman and I made the sixteen hour round-trip drive from Moscow, Idaho to Eugene, Oregon, to sit in Damon and Kate’s living room every month for a workshop they held there.

We made that drive every month for over a year without missing, including through snowstorms and weather we should never have been driving in. (We couldn’t afford hotel rooms so when the workshop was over around 10 we drove back to Idaho.)

Kris and I saw Damon and Kate regularly after we moved to Eugene in 1987. They were always welcoming and even though both Damon and Kate thought us slightly nuts, they both supported Pulphouse Publishing in spirit and with their writings.

I wouldn’t want to try to count the wonderful hours and hours I spent listening to Kate in her living room. For a young writer like me, I loved her honest approach and ability to see a story like no one I had met before. She taught me most of all that I knew very little about the craft of writing at that point in time and she helped point the way for me to learn.

And as a fan, I loved her writing.

I know there are many who were much closer to Kate than I ever was. I think it has been a good decade since we spoke, actually, but to me, she was always a guiding light in the darkness of confusion that we call fiction writing.

And I will always remember when she said to me (while sitting at Clarion in her and Damon’s apartment), “Just keep doing what you are doing. You are on the right track.”

Those words over the decades just kept me going through some very discouraging times. I have no idea what she saw, but I am glad she saw something.

Thanks, Kate, for helping a young writer like me move forward. And to all that you did in fiction writing and to help other writers like me over the decades. You are remembered and honored.