Saying Farewell to Leslie (L.A.) Banks

A blog by Sheila English

Leslie Esdaile Banks
Leslie Esdaile Banks

A bright star has gone out. August 2, 2011 at age 51 Leslie Esdaile Banks passed away.  She fought the late stage adrenal cancer she was diagnosed with only a few short months ago, but that battle was lost.

 

Leslie lived in the Philadelphia area where her life was an adventure. She wrote over 40 books, was a loving mother, friend, daughter,  mentor and active member of the community. She had a wonderful sense of humor and made everyone around her smile.

 

Today we share some of the stories from friends and fans of their feelings and experiences of Leslie. And we invite you to share them as well.

 

From one of her oldest and dearest friends, Tina Wise:

I am among the most fortunate of women to be able to say that Leslie was so much more to me than a friend – she was my spirit sister, and I will miss her terribly. But I have to say that the outpouring of affection for Leslie just serves to validate what I’ve know for many, many years. Leslie was that rare combination of beauty, talent and stunning intellect, tempered by humility and a generous love for all people with a heart as open as the sun.

And I am so very honored to say that she was my friend. And that friendship was an amazing blessing to me. Thank you all for thinking of me and her family.
God Bless,
Tina R. Wise

Angel Winston:
Leslie you will be missed. A heart makes a promise before it fades away an argury of fulfilling love and then the heart dies. Leslie must have fulfilled the destiny the Lord had for her as he has called her home. So everyone smile cause we know SHE is. With a tear in my eye and a smile on my face I’ll miss u much Leslie.

Cordenia Paige:

Leslie and Cordenia
Leslie and Cordenia

I was introduced to her work by Ms. Beverly Jenkins & Ms. Jenkins’ fans in BevLand (her yahoo group). I stated that Vampire stories gave me nitemares & BevJenkins fan, Kathy Hardy Jones gifted me w/ the 1st 4 books of Ms. Banks’ Vampire Seductress series! Ms. Banks stories read like MOVIES – so, VIVID & Alive! I was blessed to meet & be hugged by her twice in this life time! Still can’t believe that AMAZINGLY warm & talented author has left the earthly realm. I guess the Heavens need a talented author to keep them as riveted as she kept us! Continued prayers to her family, friends & fans!

Sierra Hurtt-Akselrod:

I met Leslie as a fan of her work and we quickly bonded as friends. She was a remarkable woman, an inspiration to many and a shining light in the world. Her absence has left a hole in my heart.

Anne Elizabeth:
Laughter! Leslie’s laugh is unforgettable! Her personality lights up a room and her smile invites everyone to the party.  From the first moment someone meets her, you know she is special, unique, and the true definition of joy; and I’ll never forget the first time I met her.  At a RWA conference in a workshop where she was taking about fiction and how it could be smart – intelligent and intriguing – then she launched into chatting about one of her favorite books (and mine), Dante’s Divine Comedy.  With that bright grin on her face, she whipped the audience into such enthusiasm they flocked to her…following her out the door.  She had me…at that smile and that book, because she was willing to challenge herself, her readers and her friends, and unwilling to step back from the celebration of the written word. Leslie taught me to dig deeper, trust myself and go with the more intriguing focus, and always embrace that joy!

Janice and Leslie
Janice and Leslie

Janice Gable Bashman:
Leslie was a force of nature and a wonderful person who touched so many lives. I will never, ever forget her smile, her warmth, her friendship. 

Michele Bardsley
I met Leslie at a Romantic Times Convention several years ago. We sat next to each other at the author book fair, and she was a riot. Not only that, she was all kinds of interested in me–pretty much a nobody, but man oh man, she made me feel like a somebody. That was the year before my first Broken Heart novel came out, and I asked Leslie if she might have the time to give me an author quote. She said yes (well, from Leslie, it was more like Yes!!!). And the next year, when the novel actually came out, we found ourselves seatmates at the RT Book Fair again–and she spent more time telling her fans how hilarious my book was–and literally shoving it into their hands–than she did talking about her own work.

Leslie was magnificent.

Jackie Kessler:
Two years ago, Leslie and I were on a terrific RT reader panel, along with Dakota, which was basically American Idol: The Cover Model Edition. L.A. acted like Randy Jackson, and she was hilarious. It was an awesome panel in no small part because of her. The audience was in stitches. That was the only time I met her. She was lovely and funny and warm, just an amazing lady to talk to. The world is a poorer place without her.

Stacia Kane:
I met Leslie at my first RT ever, in Orlando. There was a dinner for St. Martins authors and Caitlin Kittredge asked me to go along with her; I was all nervous and felt really awkward, since at the time I only had small-press stuff released. And I was totally stunned that L.A. Banks was there.

Caitlin introduced me to her, and she gave me this big hug and said how great it was to meet me. She had no idea who I was, of course; that was just the kind of person she was, the kind who would hug a fellow writer they’ve never met before, who would ask about my upcoming series and say nice things about it and genuinely be interested.

This is a horrible loss.

Dakota Cassidy:
I met her a day or so before a panel I was supposed to do with her (one of my first at RT), and I didn’t know who she was. But that didn’t last long because LA made you feel like you’d always known her. From that moment on, we were friends. We emailed back and forth–she gave me a quote for my book. Later, Jackie and I did the Idol based panel with her at RT where she was Randy Jackson. It was one of the best RT memories I have because she was right in there with me and Jackie just five minutes prior to it beginning, trying to figure out how to keep that panel from imploding.And she was a total riot.

She was an awesome human being.

J.F. Lewis:
Shortly before I was published, I met Leslie at Dragon*con. I was carrying around the cover to my first book like a proud father and she gave me a hug and said, “You’re in the club.” That was the only time I got to spend time with her, but with that brief I interaction, she made me feel very welcome.

She was a very nice lady and the world is dimmed by her departure.

Mario Acevedo: At RT2009 in Orlando, LA went out of her way to introduce herself to me. She was a class act.

Richelle Mead:
You know, in this profession, we all scurry over good sales numbers and reviews and all that. Leslie had those things, but what’s really had the greatest impact on all of us are these meetings we had with her. Everyone (myself included) has a story where we were just blown away by how down to earth and kind she was, especially to those just entering the profession. Books are a great legacy to leave, but I think it’s a greater thing for someone to be remembered for the kind of person they were.

From the League of Reluctant Adults blog- http://reluctantadults.blogspot.com

Leslie’s joy encompassed you with same ferocity as her arms did when she hugged you. And she hugged everyone. And she laughed a lot. And she made everyone she talked to feel like they mattered.

Leslie was one of those people with an inner light so bright and warm, you couldn’t help but be drawn toward it. I think the best way we can honor her is to follow her example.

 

Instead of impatience, choose kindness.

Instead of silence, choose laughter.

Instead of talking, choose listening.

 

If there is an opportunity to spotlight yourself, turn it instead upon someone else. Be the person who makes others feel good by showing genuine interest. Be compassionate.

Live well, and live joyously.

(Re-posted with permission from the League of Reluctant Adults blog.) http://reluctantadults.blogspot.com)

Sheila Clover English:

Leslie was a vibrant and beautiful person with a vibrant and beautiful soul. She was force to be reckoned with to the point that even the President of the United States could not ignore her. Yeah, really.

Talented, funny and compassionate Leslie cared about people. She was generous in all things and she helped so many people.

Leslie was a hugger. lol You could not just walk up and say “hi”. No, she was going to hug you and you were going to like it. And you did. I did.

Leslie made you feel special even when she was being celebrated herself. She appreciated everything. She was grateful and she paid it forward at every opportunity.

I confided in her and shared with her and laughed with her. She was this light that drew you in and gave you comfort. She was amazing.

The only thing worse than the heartbreaking sadness of losing Leslie would be to have never known her at all.

I am a better person for knowing her.

Renee Bernard:

When you were with Leslie, there wasn’t a fiber of your being that
wasn’t vibrating with joy and awareness that you were in the presence
of someone great.  Without ever being intimidating or overbearing, she
was larger than life.  She was laughter and warmth and generosity
embodied.  She was everything I’ve ever aspired to be, and she never
made you feel anything but hope that all things were possible and that
every success was just one turn away. I met her at an RT convention,
and it was love at first sight.

She said I was her “fairy godmother”, but she was the one that brought
magic to the table.  Leslie was the one that made you feel transformed
and lighter just by ‘hanging out’ and hearing her laugh.  There was
magic in that laugh…

Please feel free to share your comments and stories about Leslie.

As a special tribute here is a video of Leslie done in April 2011. As part of the Reader’s Entertainment public service announcement program that launches in 2012 called “Sometimes Reading IS the Story” Leslie shared her story about reading. She loved reading and she loved her readers.

Thank you, Leslie. For everything.

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