Bittersweet, Death and a Book Launch

Today my third novel, CodeSpell, is coming out from Penguin’s Ace division. It’s a great day for me. It’s also a very hard one. In mid-March my grandmother, Phyllis Neese, died. She had a huge role in raising me and in my becoming a science fiction and fantasy author. She was my grandmother, she was my friend, and she was one of my biggest fans. Not having her here today to see the book hurts. She was born in 1925 and she was a grand old lady on many levels.

She was the first woman to go to the tech school where she learned to repair radio equipment. She was a single mother in an era when that was even harder than it is now. She went from a rural beginning in an era before the advent of the transistor to a computer test equipment technician. She lived through a lot of hard times, both personally and with this country but she was never bitter. She embraced change her whole life and she worked hard to stay current.

She was looking forward with great anticipation to the publication of CodeSpell and the sequel that will follow next year. She was a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy and she passed that love of genre on to my mother and the both of them passed it along to me. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother and grandmother reading the Lord of the Rings to me, or Asimov’s Foundation trilogy and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am now without that.

One of her big regrets over the last two years was not having been well enough to attend any of my readings or signings and I know she would dearly have loved to be here today and to hold the book in her hands. I’ve tried to write about how I feel about her death a couple of times but it’s hurt too much. Too be honest, it hurts too much this time too, but I refuse to let this day go by without acknowledging how much this book and all of my writing owes to her, how much I owe her.

Thank you, Grandma,
I miss you, especially today,

Kelly McCullough

CodeSpell (reviews)

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There are 10 comments. Get the RSS feed for comments on this entry.

  1. 1. S.L. Farrell

    My condolences, Kelly — she was obviously one fantastic person, and you were lucky to have her in your life. May your memories of her be some comfort.

  2. 2. Joe Iriarte

    ::mists up::

    I’m sorry for your loss this year. Thank you for sharing your memory of this special person; I feel enriched for having read it.

  3. 3. Kelly McCullough

    Thanks Steve.

    Joe, you’re welcome, and thank you. It’s going to be a long hard day, and blogging this didn’t make it any easier. But it’s something I felt I had to do.

  4. 4. Natalie

    Sorry for your loss Kelly. I lost my mum in October, she’s my best friend and the one who was pushing me forward with my own writing. It’s still as painful today as it was when she left, but you keep going. Congrats on the next novel.

  5. 5. Kelly McCullough

    I appreciate the sympathy, Natalie. I have good days and bad ones. Yesterday was both.

  6. 6. Laura Reeve

    My condolences on your loss, Kelly. I know how disorienting and destabilizing death can be — my husband and I are finally getting back on track after we lost his father in January, so give yourself time…

    Good luck with CodeSpell.

  7. 7. Kelly McCullough

    Thank you, Laura. You have my condolences as well. January wasn’t all that long ago.

  8. 8. Alma Alexander

    I had a grandmother like that. AND a grandfather who was a central guiding light behind my becoming what I am today.

    I’m sorry, Kelly. I share this grief far more closely than you can know. I would have wished to have shared my own book-children with the people who loved me and believed in me so much – but mine left me long ago, twenty years ago. At the very least your own grandmother saw you take that first step, become accepted and become published in the genre she so loved. I hope the books do well for you, and I hope your memories of the extraordinary woman whom you loved and who believed in you stay always bright.

  9. 9. Kelly McCullough

    Thanks Alma,

    The losses we suffer give contrast to the triumphs, and make them the sweeter, though I don’t know that the cost is one I’d chose to bear if there were some other way to do it.


  1. CodeSpell Launch Interview at SF Novelists

Author Information

Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough is a fantasy and science fiction author. He lives in Wisconsin with his physics professor wife and a small herd of cats. His novels include the WebMage and Fallen Blade series—Penguin/ACE. His short fiction has appeared in numerous venues including Writers of the Future and Weird Tales. He also dabbles in science fiction as science education with The Chronicles of the Wandering Star—part of an NSF-funded science curriculum—and the science comic Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp, which he co-authored and co-edited—funding provided by NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. Visit site.



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