Lois Lowry's Blog
RIP Margaret Mahy
The world has lost the illustrious Margaret Mahy and it is a huge loss indeed. I met her once (more on that in a moment) in New Zealand, where she lived, but didn't know her. But if what I have been told about her is true...that she had two children without a husband, back in the days before it was trendy to do that!...and that she built her own house with her own hands...then I deem her surely super-human and am amazed that she was not able to stave off death.
I was surprised, reading an obituary, to find that she was only a year older than I am; I had always assumed she was considerably older, I guess because the magnitude of her work, both in quality and quantity, was so much greater than mine.
Some years ago I did a lengthy book tour of both Australia and New Zealand, and when I was in Christchurch, speaking in a public library, I noticed the rather dramatic looking woman in the audience...could she have been wearing a long black cape, or has my memory fantasized that? In any case, she was notable in appearance. I didn't know who she was but during the Q-&-A after my talk, she rose to her feet and expressed outrage at something. She had read a book of mine, a book called RABBLE STARKEY, which was quite new then, I think, and she had quite liked it. Liked it enough that she bought another book of mine, one called THE ROAD AHEAD.
I was startled, because I had never written a book called THE ROAD AHEAD. But she had brought it with her and held it up...waved it about...and I could see that it did, indeed, have my name on it as the author.
The reson for her outrage was because the text inside was exactly the same as the text in RABBLE STARKEY. Apparently the Australian publisher, without teling me, had changed the title. THE ROAD AHEAD is, actually, a good title for the book. And they had put quite a nice jacket on it.
But nonetheless, Margaret Mahy had spent her hard-earned money on a book and bought a book that she already owned, and she was pissed. I stammered a sort of apology and tried to protest my innocence but I think she was still annoyed.
Darn. I would have liked to become friends with her. But I didn't. And now the opportunity is gone.
I think my favorite of her books was one that my grandchildren loved, a picture book called THE GREAT WHITE MAN-EATING SHARK.