It is sad to learn that bestselling novelist, MWA Grand Master, and Malice Domestic Lifetime Achievement recipient Phyllis A. Whitney died of pneumonia on February 8 at the age of 104.
A two-time Edgar winner and author of some 75 books, Phyllis was a lady in every sense of the word and was known for her kindness and graciousness, especially to new writers. In conveying a sense of place in her work, few were her equal. I had the privilege of working with her, as she introduced Malice Domestic 5, and received lovely, handwritten notes from her that thanked me for making her "feel a part of things." One colleague told me that she had been an indifferent reader until she opened one of Phyllis's novels. After that, she became a voracious reader—a fine testament to Phyllis's skill as a storyteller.
In my books I've dealt not only with everyday human problems. I've written about racial prejudice. I've given young people a picture of Hiroshima as it is today. I've written about apartheid in South Africa. Not to bog down the story, remember, never to preach. But to give substance and meaning and value, so that the book can't be dismissed as "just another mystery." And, of course, to satisfy my own need to write about precepts I believe in.About the photo: Elizabeth Peters (left), Anne Perry (center), and Phyllis A. Whitney at Malice Domestic V in 1993. Photo by Laura Hyzy.
—Phyllis A. Whitney, "Writing the Juvenile Mystery." Writing Detective and Mystery Fiction. Ed. A. S. Burack. Boston: The Writer, 1967. 265.