October 20, 2011

Thank You Sara, Thank You Faraday

Imagination decides everything. Blaise Pascal

Sara Douglass 1957 - 2011 - Australian Fantasy Author Image Source

B:        Reflexive memory is a funny thing.  All the strange, half remembered, half-ridiculous little pieces that flutter into your mind and then disappear again, just as quickly. Reflexive memory is also a source of frustration. I seem, never to be able, to remember the littlest, most important part of the memory.

Where has this morose little morsel developed from you might wonder. To answer, I can only give a name. Sara Douglass.

I think I was about 20 or 21 when an uncle introduced me to her first book BattleAxe. I was hooked from the first sentence and by the end of the book I could think of nothing but getting a copy of the second book, which, luckily, he owned.

This was another world full of magical beings that I could identify with, even though they were so very different from me. I wanted nothing more than to be an Icarii. This series of books was also the first in which I strongly wished for the death of one of the main characters. Faraday. How that woman annoyed me. Perfect at everything. No flaws. Irritating beyond measure. It was with relief I read one day, that Sara also hated her. Image.

Shortly after I began reading the series, I met one of my best friends, co-blogger and co-author of this post. http://surelysarah.blogspot.com/>Surely Sarah.  She sat next to me in an anthropology tutorial and I saw she was reading BattleAxe and before I new it, I was asking her if she hated Faraday yet. Like most of the other memories around this, I cannot entirely remember what her answer was. I think she said not yet, and that I said, you will. It was an odd way to start a friendship but over a decade later it seems to have worked.

S:         “Don’t you just HATE Faraday?”

I looked up from my copy of "Battleaxe" – it was a girl addressing me. I probably looked at her in complete incomprehension. I tend to get completely lost in any book I’m reading.  But then I realized she was talking about the main character in the Sara Douglass novel I held in my hand. I was a first year uni student and I was early for my first tutorial for Introduction to Anthropology. I knew no-one at all and had been avoiding talking to people by burying my nose in Douglass’ tome.

The girl promptly sat down next to me and we started to talk about the series. Her name was Brooke, and she had already read all the series and probably the next one. Being only halfway through the first book I had no real fixed opinion about Faraday either way, but Brooke was adamant that she was an insipid half-wit who was possibly the most annoying character in literary history.  As it turned out, she was right – even the author later famously wrote that she would like to drop a spiked pumpkin on Faraday’s head.

The most important point was that I had made a friend, and it was all because of Sara Douglass, her insipid Faraday and the Axis trilogy.  I went on to read the rest of that series and the next. Brooke continued to read everything Sara Douglass ever wrote and we always shared a love of reading.

I was deeply saddened last week to hear of Douglass’ passing as a result of ovarian cancer. Always close with her fans, she will be dearly missed not only for her wonderful writing, but her sense of humour and the encouragement she always offered to those who were budding authors. I recall in the early days of the internet, she was very involved in her website and I found it a wonderful resource not only for interacting with other fans, but for writing tips as well.

The writing world has lost a great author and friend - but her legacy lives on through all of those who share a love of her work.

The book that started it all...

B:        I don’t really know what to say about Sara. I never met her. I never spoke to her. I only knew about her from her website and blog. And I realise I am writing about her in the past tense. Sara Douglass left this life on 26 September 2011. I find that with the number of deaths surrounding me this year I cannot bring myself to write more.