Like a Box of Chocolates, 2015

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of Andre Norton, Grand Dame of SF.

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been a decade since Miss Andre left us. When Jay asked me to contribute something to the Andre Norton Books site, I thought it only fitting to offer him the essay I wrote at the time, my eulogy of sorts, entitled “Like a Box of Chocolates.”

Despite her physical absence, Miss Andre’s grandmotherly presence, her nuggets of wisdom, her complete faith in who I was and who I would be…these remain with me. As does the very important decision I made the day she died.

In 2011, I had the honor of presenting the Andre Norton Award at the SFWA Nebula Awards ceremony. In 2013 and 2014, I was nominated for the Andre Norton Award. One of these days, I will win that damned thing and make her proud. Because that’s how these stories are meant to end.

The day I met Andre Norton, she did most of the talking.

David Drake had told me to get in touch with her because “she has no idea what she means to the science fiction community.” I thought he was full of beans. How could a woman as huge and prolific and groundbreaking as Andre Norton not know that?

So I got over my fear and hand wrote her a messy letter on plain white paper and included a picture of me, David, John Ringo, David Coe, and my friends Leigh and Kristi at the 2002 Southern Festival of Books. It wasn’t a gushy fan letter, it was more like a letter I would write to my grandmother. I told her what was going on with me and who I was…that I heard she had a library in town, and I thought that was wonderful. She had been sick so I wished her well. I don’t even remember the rest of what I rambled on about.

She wrote me a card back, inviting me to come see the library, High Hallack, after the holidays. I still remember staring at the envelope, at my address in what I assumed was Miss Andre’s handwriting. At her cute return address label sticker. Normal handwriting, normal sticker…just like every human being on the planet.

But I didn’t go.

Click here to read “Like a Box of Chocolates” — originally posted on this blog on March 18, 2005.

Norton photo