I saw in The telegraph that Phyllis A Whitney died on 8 February 2008. You can read the NY Times obit here. She was 104 and a great writer. At one time she was called the Queen of American Gothics, and was considered to rank up there with Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. I know that as a teenager I devoured her books. Because she also wrote mystery stories for children, she was a crossover author author for me. Someone that I read as a child and then later. A bit like Elizabeth Goudge.
She also wrote several books on writing that I used take out adnauseum from the library. She made me believe that I could write. She also gave the wonderful advice about carrying a notebook and jotting ideas down. I could never quite manage her system, but it certainly gave me hope. She was also admanat that poeple ought to live and to travel. Ms Whitney travel extensively and used her travels in her writing. She called her trips -- book hunting expeditions.
So in short she was an early writing hero
Once a librarian at my local library had written to a number of different authors, including Ms Whitney asking for reading reccomendation. Phyllis Whitney reccomended Barbara Micheals and Elizabeth Peters. I can read the librarian's pencil -- they are the same person. At the time, I was busy reading Barbara Micheals gothics and so happily discovered her writing as Elizabeth Peters, just at the time Amelia Peabody first appeared in print. And then because Rosemunde Pilcher was shelved near Elizabeth Peters, I discovered her as well -- this was in the late 1970s.
So I wanted to give my heart felt thanks to Phyllis A Whitney -- for the many hours of pleasurable reading and for all the knowledge of craft that her books imparted. She was a woman who believed in the value of persistence, and of honing your craft. And of paying it forward, of imparting her knowledge in the hopes that it might help someone else. I know she helped me.