I learned last week that author Leslie Esdaile Banks is gravely ill. The news saddened me because Leslie is such a beautiful person. I’ve met a lot of terrific people over the past seven years at writers’ conferences, workshops, and conventions, but few shine so brightly as Leslie.
I first met Leslie about five years ago at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference. Her workshop was lively and informative; the story she told of how she got started as a writer would make an entertaining book. When Leslie took the time to talk to me individually about the selection I’d submitted, I discovered what a positive and supportive person she is. (This does not mean that she held back from frankly telling me where I had gone wrong — something of great value to any writer.) Leslie went out to lunch at a Chinese restaurant with a large group of us, and a lively outing that was too!
After the convention, Leslie and I connected on Facebook. I next saw her at Philcon, where she graciously sat down to eat a quick dinner with me and another fan before heading home because her daughter needed to use the car. I’ve met her a number of times over the years at Writers’ Coffeehouses, conferences, and conventions. She invariably greets me with warmth, pleasure, and a big hug.
The last time Leslie presented a workshop at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference, I sent her a message asking if she had plans for lunch. She responded that, because of a looming deadline, she could only be present for her workshops and the banquet on Saturday evening. She suggested we sit together then. When that evening arrived, however, Leslie found that the convention organizers had reserved a spot for her at a table which had no open seats. She apologized profusely. I did not feel slighted, and I had made some new friends with whom I could sit.
After everyone had taken seats, Leslie came over to me and told me there was now a seat next to her at the table. She did not say so, but I suspect she convinced someone else to move so that we could sit together as she’d suggested. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me, and it’s a perfect example of the kind of big-hearted person Leslie is.
This week came the news that Leslie has late stage adrenal cancer, a rare and serious disease. For information about this disease, some good sites are: University of Miami Department of Urology, the Cleveland Clinic, and Endocrineweb.
Leslie’s medical bills are mounting. Friends have started a fund to help pay for these. Contributions can be sent to the address below:
Police and Fire Federal Credit Union
901 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107-2404
(215) 931-0300 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (215) 931-0300 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
If you live in or near Philadelphia, donations may be taken directly to any Police and Fire Federal Credit Union branch. Please be sure to note the account number.
An auctionhas also been organized to help pay Leslie’s medical expenses.
Please keep Leslie in your thoughts and prayers.