Monday, September 28, 2009

Kate Duffy


Kate Duffy, longtime Kensington editor, has died.

This sucks.

I didn't know Kate, but met her a couple of times. She always struck me as a blunt, down-to-earth, funny as hell woman, and I'd heard her skills as an editor were terrific. She never hesitated to say what she thought, and to me, that was so damn refreshing.

I first met her at the Florida Romance Writers convention in 2007. Kate was on a panel with other editors and agents, doing a Floridian Idol. Writers would give, anonymously, a few pages and the panel would critique them.

Brave souls.

I remember one particular entry that was extremely racist and offensive. The others on the panel were delicate in their comments, but Kate laid it out on the line. She clearly said how offensive it was.

Go Kate.

I met her again at Heather Graham's Writers for New Orleans in 2007, the very first year Heather organized the conference. Kate did an impromptu session with the audience, sitting down with us instead of speaking at the podium, and telling us what she liked, what was up and coming at Kensington, and what she looked for in books.

It was fun, it was open and honest, and I thought, "Damn, as an editor she might be tough, but you'd know where you stood." Even though I had nothing to send to her, as I was already under contract with another house, I wanted to submit to her just to see what she'd say.

I never did, and I regret that now.

I heard she was getting treatments for cancer. If they can find a cure for this horrible and heart-breaking disease in my lifetime, it won't be soon enough. Just last week, I found out a couple of co-workers have cancer, and a friend's father was diagnosed with lung cancer and another friend just had surgery for cancer.

Kate Duffy. A helluva editor, smart, witty woman, and a good person.

She'll be sorely missed in the publishing world.

My condolences to her family, her authors, her coworkers, and her friends.


Cassandra said...

Hi Bonnie,

I just got the news about Kate and feel shell-shocked. I didn't know she had cancer and had been so sick this year. :-(

I never met her face-to-face, but I had chatted with her online before and many many moons ago, sent her a manuscript which she returned with the nicest R I've ever received.

My heart goes out to her family and close friends. I know she will be missed.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

I did 12 books with Kate. She understood creativity and writers and always encouraged me to write about what I love.
Peace, Kate.
- Trish MacGregor

Toni Lea Andrews said...

I remember the incident you describe (I was the one who had to read the anonymously submitted racist entry aloud, if you recall)but I have a really funny recollection, too.

Heather Graham made Kate be the "back-up dancer" for me at a Karaoke party. Heather, who calls Kate "Doo-FAY," was very close with her.

Kate did the whole "act" without cracking a smile, doing some hysterical dance moves.

It was being video taped -- I wonder if Heather has a copy. I'd love to see it.

Phyllis Humphrey said...

I met Kate once at a party for Kensington authors during an RWA Conference. and we only spoke briefly. Later, I sent her a new book (which she rejected) because I liked her and wanted to work with her. My condolences to her personal and publishing family.

Mary Ricksen said...

Here, Here, couldn't have said it better,

Bonnie Vanak said...

Cassandra, thanks for sharing your memory of Kate. I've heard how she gave the nicest rejections.

Trish, how fortunate you were able to work so closely with her! I'm sure you have many good memories. Thanks for stopping by.

Hey Toni, LOL on the "back-up" dancer.

Phyllis, I wish I had sent her something as well. Thanks for sharing.

Hey Mary, thanks for your comment.