The big news last week came from my agent at the Gernert Company, and was later posted by Sarah over at Galleycat, that Tracy Howell, the Gernert foreign rights director, had died at 42. Her ordeal began with a visit to the hospital for pneumonia the Friday before last, which led to complications. She seemed to have stabilized, but then suffered a stroke and passed away the following Wednesday.

As happens in life, I received news of her death in the middle of a dinner party, and wasn’t sure what to do. So I announced it to our guests, and a bleak cloud formed over the festivities.

I can’t say I knew Tracy well. We conversed via email many times, concerning foreign sales of my books, and we met in the office when I’d occasionally make it to New York. What I remember is that she was always enthusiastic; when we met, she was full of—as I interpreted it—happiness, and a satisfaction that could never approach smugness. She seemed to be exactly where she wanted to be. And I liked that. A lot.

I do know she was excellent at her job, and I have a stack of hardly deserved foreign editions to prove it.

My agent knew her far better, and he said, “She was truly the kindest and most thoughtful person I’ve known both in and out of publishing.”

She’s survived by a husband and two children.

(Originally posted at the Contemporary Nomad)