Last week I learned that my agent, Wendy Weil, had died suddenly of a heart attack. The loss came as an incredible shock--even though she was 72, she was healthy and vibrant. She seemed much much younger than her years.
Wendy took me on as her client in 2005 with only part of what would become The Girl Who Fell From the Sky complete. The day she said she wanted to represent me I jublilated over a fancy dinner with my mentor and friend Michael Pettit who had made the introduction. And of course, I called my mom and said: "I have an agent, Mor! And she is Alice Walker's original agent! She doesn't even need new clients!" I was certain that I would be signing a contract for 6-figures just because she repped me.
Over the course of the next 2.5 years Wendy sent the manuscript to close to three dozen publishing houses--all of them rejected the manuscript. But she never stopped believing in me and the work. She said to me once: "It doesn't matter how many rejections we get, we just need to find the one gatekeeper to say yes. We just haven't found the gatekeeper yet."
I think Wendy was happier than I was when I won the Bellwether Prize and the book contract. And I know she was incredibly proud of the final product that was published and elated about the amazing critical and commercial success that the book received.
The last time I saw Wendy was at the Book Expo in June. She was beaming from the front row as I shared the stage with Barbara Kingsolver, Hillary Jordan and the new Bellwether winner Susan Nussbaum. It was a wonderful moment and I felt so happy that she could share it with me.
Wendy was a literary titan, and a smart, and gentle and beautiful soul. I will miss her, my champion, greatly. You can read about her amazingly accomplished life and all the love that her clients and colleagues had for her in this lovely article.