I was so very sorry to hear yesterday that Sheila Quigley has died quite suddenly at the age of 72. The newspaper report I've read indicates that although her health declined very rapidly in a matter of a few days, this was not a virus-related tragedy. She was such a vibrant personality that it is hard to believe she is no longer with us.
Sheila's life story was remarkable. A straight-talking former factory worker, she secured a £300k deal for her first two books when she was in her 50s, a brilliant achievement that understandably gained national attention. I got to know her through meetings of the northern chapter of the Crime Writers' Association.
I wrote a blog post about her back in 2009, and I always enjoyed her company. She was a much more outgoing person than me and very different from me as a writer (not least in having secured such a massive deal!). Perhaps because of this, I found that appearing with her at events seemed to work really well. On one occasion she dropped me a line about her delight over a new publishing deal she'd secured, observing that "there are so many broken-hearted authors around.", which remains truer than many on the outside might think.
The last time I was with her was at a bookshop event in Merseyside. She'd travelled, with members of her family, all the way from her home in the north east for that one event. It was an illustration of her commitment to her writing. We had a good time together that evening as always. I shall remember her not only with affection but with admiration.