This blog post is overdue by several weeks.
The truth is: I was too sad to write it. Some time ago, I blogged about my literary agent, Dorothy Lumley, known to her friends as Dot. You can find that original post here.
Dot became my agent in January 1991, almost 23 years ago. She died this month. She knew she was dying, but she went on working up to the last with extraordinary courage and stoical acceptance. Her last communication with me, about a business matter, was just a week before she died.
Right now I feel as though I’m a boat without a rudder. She was my guide and my advisor for so long. When no one else seemed to have faith in my writing, she was there, confident that one day I would be published, telling me I had what it takes, that I wrote good stories. Rejection followed rejection but she never lost faith in me as a writer. It was her confidence that enabled me to keep trying. I often wonder whether I would have given up if it hadn’t been for her. I owe her so much.
When she took me on I was living in Austria. And then in Tunisia. And then in Malaysia. And finally here in Australia. Whenever I was in Britain, I made a point of meeting up with her, but there weren’t that many opportunities. How many over the years? Six, seven? Not enough. The last time my daughter drove me down from where we were staying in Cardiff to Torquay, where Dot lived. We had lunch together, and she wore a pashmina I had sent her as a present a year or so earlier; I was touched at the thoughtfulness of that courtesy.
In our last exchange of e-mails, she hinted that she didn’t think she had that much longer. For that reason I sent her the first few pages of the proofs of my next book, The Lascar’s Dagger. I am so glad I did, because she didn’t live long enough to see the book itself. It was just the title page, the maps, and then this, the dedication:
to whom I owe more than I can possibly say
Vale, Dot. I’ll miss you.