This post is in memory of Maxine Clarke, generous friend of crime fiction and crime writers, and an integral part of the crime fiction community, who passed on ten years ago today as this is posted. I was proud to call her a friend, even though we never met in person. Those of us who knew her can tell you all about her wit, intelligence, skills, and the way she held us together as a community. She is much missed.
It’s hard to believe that ten years have gone by since your passing. It doesn’t seem that it could be that long. I hope you know that I miss you and think of you often. The world has changed a lot since you left it; so many things have happened. In some ways, it looks quite different, and I wonder what you would have made of some of the social, technological, and political changes we’ve all been through. Knowing you, you’d have sensible ideas about it all, and I’d have loved to hear them.
You may not be aware of it, but you left behind a rich legacy for our crime fiction community. The CWA now sponsors an award in your memory – the Petrona Award. I think you’d be pleased; it’s given to the best in translated Scandinavian crime fiction, and there’ve been some very worthy winners. There’ve been some terrific Dagger winners, too, as well as winners of the Ngaio Marsh Award for the best in New Zealand crime fiction (That was just a couple of years old when you passed; it’s still going strong). And of course, there are other awards as well.
There’s other excellent crime fiction out there, too. You always knew, though, that awards don’t necessarily mean that a book is excellent, and there are plenty of excellent books that don’t really get noticed. Fortunately, there are some very high-quality blogs that talk about, as you used to call it, intelligent crime fiction. Your blog voice at Petrona is sorely missed, though, especially among those of us who knew you. I’d have loved to get your views on what’s being published these days. Some of it really is good; some of it….well, anyway, I always appreciated your candor about what you read.
We still have an active crime fiction blogging community. You drew us together, and many of us are still in touch. Technology has changed, so it’s not the same sort of connection we used to have. Still, we’re connected. And there are new voices in the community, and that’s wonderful, too. We still learn from each other, and that’s, I’m sure, what you would have wanted.
As for me? I’ve had a few books published since you passed, and I’m working on another now. I would have loved to have your input on them, not to be praised (although that would be great) but to get your insights. You were always so kind about reading and reviewing books from ‘nobody’ authors like me, and I hope you knew just how encouraging that was. You taught me a lot about the genre, and I still remember some of the things you used to write about it. I’m still blogging, too, and your memory has had a lot to do with that. I do my best to make sure my blog lives up to the high bar you set; someday I hope it will.
You will always be a part of the crime fiction community, even for those who never met you. You enriched it (and us), and your legacy will live on. Thinking of you and wishing your family well…
*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Pink Floyd’s Time.