Friday, September 9, 2011

In Memorium; L. A. Banks; I'm glad I knew you when.

Fast busy summer but I got caught up on a lot of blog reading (and managed to get some good writing done) while I've been gone; read up on the likes of the current Kindle Gods, Amanda Hocking, Joe Konrath, Barry Eisler and others, and the success they've had reaching readers through e-publishing.  Very inspirational stuff.

Sad news came from this as well. I learned from Joe Konrath's blog that one of my friends from Temple film school, Leslie Esdaile Banks had passed away this August after a long battle with an illness.  I've been typing and revising this post since then. I was never lifelong, best friends with Leslie but I considered her a good friend during film school and to know that she's gone now is hard for me on a few different levels.  But as she would say: "Stop making excuses and get it done."

I met her as a grad student/adjunct supervising my workshop for Intro to Comm, for my very first Temple film class back in 1996.  The film department was abuzz over her recent publishing debut: Sundance, a romance with a supernatural twist.  After I learned this we had many conversations about writing and publishing.  Almost ten years before the YA genre launching success of the first Twilight novel, Leslie envisioned romantic themed stories involving young, hip and sexy vampires, spirits and other supernatural characters.  Remembering her vivid descriptions of her story ideas then, while I now scroll through her many works listed on Amazon, is surreal to say the least.  She never attained the meteoric success of Stephanie Meyers and others like her but I'll always feel that she deserved to.  She was that far ahead of the trend.

As one of the "chosen few" published authors (and the only one I personally knew at the time) I picked her brain on publishing for hours and was amazed upon hearing some of the realities of the business after having already read countless how to get published books.  I asked about her book tour during the summer which she had mentioned during class. "How great was it being given the 'treatment' by a publisher?" She would laugh and detail how she mapped out, coordinated and paid for her own marketing tour which included bookstores, libraries and other venues.  The noted standout where she said she often received the best reception: hair salon's and beauty shops where her core market, African American females, visited.  They were the last places I thought anyone would ever go to market a book but she always stressed that: "Wherever your audience is, you go."

She was so busy as a grad student, teaching,  making her own films and as a mom and community figure.   I'd ask "How do you find time to write?" I complained about never being able to write outside of my script assignments and papers.  She would laugh again and say that "Any excuse for not writing is just that, an excuse."  Leslie told me about an interview she read on John Grisham and how he got started writing.  He was working "crazy lawyer hours" with a new family to boot.  He did however have a half hour train commute to work,  full hour a day total, alone with his laptop.  That's when he wrote "Time to Kill." 

However Leslie managed her time her results are astounding and examplary, completing over 40 quality novels since her first in 1996.  If that prolific pace were to have continued to an older age she could have caught up to the likes of Nora Roberts and maybe even gotten close to Asimov. Simply amazing.

All in all she was remarkable. She was a vivacious and passionate artist and I'll always be inspired not only by her creativity but by her persistence and work ethic.  I'll always regret not staying in contact with her the last several years and I wish her family and close friends the best.

You can learn more about her her.

Not getting any younger here, and thinking about Leslie, so back to getting some writing done.

Good times, Dave

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