I first read The Axis Trilogy ten years ago. We were living in our townhouse in East Brunswick, located less than fifty metres from CERES nursery. Strange as this might seem, but I particularly remember the time of day when I finished Enchanter. I’d finished work (I was only working mornings at that point) and I usually returned home of an afternoon to read or potter around. On this day I was on our old blue gingham lounge, rushing to finish the book, completely taken with the way she constructed the climatic battle sequence. Unbeknownst to me, the sun had passed over and my eyes were getting tired. Once I shut the book, in an empty, surprisingly dark room, I did something I’d never done before – I got out my stationery set (remember those? I should buy some more) and wrote an author a fan letter.
I didn’t expect anything in return, so imagine my surprise when a handwritten card arrived less than a month later, from Sara herself, thanking me and answering a few of the questions I’d asked in my letter. I joined the online community she was then running at her website. This Bulletin Board (‘BB’) was my touchstone for a long time, a group of people I could interact with in a city I’d only just arrived in and was still alien to me.
Like all communities there were the occasional tensions and spats between members, but the overall feeling I got was friendship.
I even got to meet Sara once, at an organised meetup at a pub in Southbank, almost a year after September 11 occurred, where we chatted in the almost-naturalistic-but-not-quite way people sometimes do when online and offline lives first connect.
The BB even gave Adam and I a wedding present:
But paths split, things move on, and eventually Sara closed down the BB because – if memory serves me correctly – it got too difficult to maintain. This is was prior to her move to Tasmania. Later, I heard about her diagnosis of ovarian cancer and had the quiet hope that she would be okay.
Then last month my twitter feed exploded with tributes to her passing which had occurred that morning. I felt a tear prick my eye.
She was only 54. We’ve also seen the recent passing of Steve Jobs, only 56.
Sara used the internet in a meaningful and intelligent way to connect with her fans and was generous with advice and resources (I would recommend to writers her series of posts about writing – I still to this day justify a long soak because she used to take a business-like approach to baths).
Vale Sara Warneke (pen name Sara Douglass)
This was one of the reasons why I joined up for Frocktober. Some pictures below:
I’ve asked a lot from readers this year, especially for my MND fundraiser, and I would never want to ask too much, but if you are interesting donating to ovarian cancer research, my page is here where you can.