Goodbye Barbara Seranella

For those of you who don’t know by now, the mystery community has lost a beautiful, clear and strong light.

Barbara Seranella, author of the acclaimed Munch Mancini series, died yesterday — Jan. 21, 2007 — while awaiting a liver transplant.

Though we were not close friends, I remember her with great fondness.

I met Barbara at Left Coast Crime in Pasadena. After my first-ever mystery panel, she made a point of telling me I’d done well. Later, while we stood in line for dinner, I commented on the supportive quality of the mystery community. Barbara cited statistics about the phenomenal amount of books most mystery fans read annually.

Then she said, "Why wouldn’t I support and promote you? By supporting you, I’m supporting the mystery genre."

That idea made so much sense; I’ve held it close ever since.

The last contact I had with Barbara was toward the end of November — right before she went to Ohio. She sent a group email to those of us who served on an Edgars judging committee together. She requested that we keep the possible surgery quiet.

She didn’t want to be known for her liver disease.

So, let’s not remember her for that.

Let’s celebrate her astounding literary contribution and her magnificent personal character . . . 

11 thoughts on “Goodbye Barbara Seranella

  1. Naomi

    I read somewhere–maybe in a forwarded e-mail that rather than receiving cards and gifts during her recovery from her surgeries, she wanted people to read her books. So perhaps this week–this month–this year, we should all pick up a Munch Mancini book that we haven’t read yet and enjoy.

  2. Alex Sokoloff

    Naomi, what a stellar idea.

    I met Barbara at Cape Fear Crime Festival in Wilmington in late October. She delighted everyone by skulking around in a really authentic witch hat.

    She was crusty, salty, wickedly funny and devastatingly honest.

    I’m honored to have had the time with her.

  3. louiseure

    I am rocked by this news.

    Barbara was one of the first peoople to read my latest manuscript. Her comments were kind, well thought out, and honest. It is a better book because of her.

    She was a good friend, a fabulous teacher, and an extraordinary writer.

    I already miss her.

  4. Iden Ford

    Feel free to repost the photos I took of her at B,con if you wish. I am sorry she died, it is like losing a family member from our little community. I knew she was ill when I saw her in Madison. I felt hopeful for her and her quest for health and renewal. But I knew it would be a tough road to hoe. She and Maureen got published within one month of eachother back in 1997. They met at the Monterey B’con and became friends as did I with her. I was so glad she won for her story this past year as I did feel it was superior to the others. And she was a fine writer. So sorry she’s gone.

  5. simon wood

    The news came a great shock this morning. Barbara was a great lady and I loved seeing her. the last tiome I got to chat to her at any great length was at Bouchercon and I last heard from her after she read my last book and she’d posted a review.

    She’s left a big hole in a lot of people’s lives.

  6. JT Ellison

    I didn’t know Barbara personally, but over the past months, reading about her on all of the blogs and threads, I came to know her spirit. I’m very upset at the loss.

    My heart and prayers go out to all of you who knew her well, and to her family.

  7. Daniel Hatadi

    I hope this isn’t being disrespectful, but something quite eerie happened as I was browsing through Barbara’s website.

    I clicked on the link that says, ‘See what Barbara’s reading’ and a page loaded up at

    A word appeared in the top left corner, quite unobtrusive, not announcing itself in any other way.

    It said “Nothing”.

  8. Pari Noskin Taichert

    John Newland posted this astounding poem on the blog I’d written today about death. It’s a sadly appropriate tribute to Barbara Seranella as well.

    W. H. Auden

    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,Silence the pianos and with muffled drumBring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overheadScribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

    He was my North, my South, my East and West,My working week and my Sunday rest,My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

    The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.For nothing now can ever come to any good.


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