Bridget Zinn

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Bridget Zinn

One of the Upstart Crow fold passed away early yesterday morning, and we here are still reeling and red-eyed from the news. Our love and support go out to her husband, Barrett, and to Bridget’s family and friends, who are legion.

As one should have expected about someone dubbed the World’s Fastest Librarian, Bridget Zinn departed the scene earlier and faster than anyone could have ever imagined. And the world is a poorer, dimmer, duller place for her absence. We will miss her. I will miss her.

[Below, a video'd thank you she'd made after an auction to raise money for her fight against cancer. It is how I always see her in my mind's eye.]

At times like these, one can’t help but realize how shabbily inadequate words are when it comes to grief. Sad just doesn’t cut it. No how no way. Doesn’t come anywhere near to capturing the weighty emptiness we feel. And to amp things up with adverbs—well, that sort of lousy writing she wouldn’t stand for.

Bridget was a friend as well as a client, but when I think of her, what comes to mind still is my first read of her debut novel, Poison. It is a bright, funny, sweet wonder of a book, and I’d printed out the manuscript and taken it with me home from the office because I just couldn’t stop reading. I startled my fellow subway passengers by barking out laughter every few minutes. You’ll get to read it one of these days—we later sold it at auction to Hyperion. The story is a fantasy about a girl fugitive who fancies herself tough-as-nails until she finds love, humility, and more through an unexpected partnership with a wee enchanted piglet named Rosie.

Like Bridget, her novel is warm, breezily witty, full of a large-hearted love for her characters and the world. And oh god, but she and it are funny. A giddy joy saturates every page of the manuscript—a joy, I realized, that came from Bridget herself.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, Bridget handled it with a courage that I found hard to fathom. How could she be so happy? So carefree? So effortlessly sweet and funny? She had an optimism about her, I learned, because that’s who she was. Even after the diagnosis, she was for the most part happy and an inspiration to us all on how to live. She and her longtime boyfriend, Barrett, got married, and they bought their dream house in Portland, the city they loved. (And where, when I’d visit, they’d take me to beautiful spots I’d have never found otherwise.) She’d sold her book and was hard at work on the sequel, as well as another novel about one of her favorite things in the world: Shoes. It’s a cliche, but Bridget was so full of zest and life that she made the cancer almost seem beside the point.

Which is why yesterday’s news was so devastating, so unexpected, so unjust. There was little enough in the world already to made it a worthwhile place; now there’s a whole lot less.

We have all been so fortunate to have Bridget in our lives and never understood that until this moment, even though what we’re dealing with now is the exact opposite of good fortune. It’s precisely the sort of meaningful contradiction that Bridget, whose novel is rife with ironic (and often amusing) twists of fate, would have appreciated.

  1. A lovely tribute. As you said, sad just doesn’t cut it.

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  2. What an amazing spirit. I’m happy for you that you had the chance to know her… and am sad (and angry) when people who shine so bright leave far too early.

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  3. “How could she be so happy? So carefree? So effortlessly sweet and funny? She had an optimism about her, I learned, because that’s who she was.”

    And that is what makes the hurt and shock so body numbing. I read her posts from last week and what a joy was there. So filled with the beauty around her, it brought my own memories of watching and being with my mom as she went through the same battle. I can tell you this, Chris, Bridget and my mom’s bodies may have lost that battle, but their spirit, energy, pure joy in life? _Never_. Sending all of you at Upstart and Bridget’s family my best. And a hug too, because right now I know this hurts like hell.

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  4. Bridget inspired love in people who had only just met her, so her absence leaves longing and a gaping hole in those of us who knew her, a hole no one else can ever fill. Bridg, we were lucky to know ye. And we’ll miss you more than words can ever, ever say.

    Thanks, Michael for the lovely tribute to her, the Queen of Joy.

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  5. Beautiful post, Michael. Bridget would have smiled and laughed in several spots – I laughed, despite everything, at the thought of Rosie…

    You’re right on, sad doesn’t quiet cut it, and yet there it is.

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  6. I didn’t know Bridget… but as I sit here finishing up the final touches of my manuscript I am taking a moment to pay tribute to a fellow writer. I clicked on her blog and was so impressed by her upbeat voice and humor in the face of Stage IV cancer. So sad.

    Two years ago, a member of my critique group passed away suddenly. I stood at her funeral and said that we’d publish for her. I’m so glad that Bridget’s novel will be in libraries soon. Her word will live on.

    All the best to her family and to you at Upstart Crow.

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  7. Your words — inadequate as words may be to describe the empty space left behind after death — touched me. Goodbye, Bridget.

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  8. I am so very sorry. This is terribly sad.

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  9. She will be so missed. I have looked forward to her debut coming out in 2012 for a while. I will never forget her.

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  10. Many condolences to you and to all who care about children’s books. Such a massive loss!

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  11. Beautiful, just like Bridget. She will be deeply missed. So glad to hear we will get to read her book and hold that little piece of her in our hands, and that her light and spirit will shine on.

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  12. Wonderful post, Michael. Bridget will continue to inspire so many of us with her beautiful spirit.

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  13. I did not know Bridget. In fact, the first I heard of her, I’m sorry to say, was yesterday when I read of her passing on Facebook. Something drew me to learn more about her. I read her blog and discovered more about who she was. I thought about her all night. I thought of her husband, family and friends, of which there were many. And rightfully so. What an incredible person she was. My heart hurts for everyone who’s life she touched. My heart hurts because she isn’t in this world anymore. The world lost an incredibly special person yesterday. I’m only sorry I didn’t get to know her. But she will hold a special place in my heart. What a truly inspirational spirit she was – and will continue to be. I look forward to her novel debut. I will gladly cherish it. Carole

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  14. Thank you for this tribute–I found it via Julie Danielson of 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast. I feel lucky to have gotten to meet and know Bridget even a little at the Kidlitcon in Portland a few years ago. This is sad news, but she continues to be an inspiration.

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  15. Thank you for saying so perfectly what so many of us are feeling. You put her bright spirit in words.

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  16. I saw this and it seems to fit this day:

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

    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
    Scribbling on the sky the message She Is Dead,
    Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
    Let the traffic policemen wear black cotten gloves.

    She was our North, our South, our East and West,
    Our working week and our Sunday rest,
    Our noon, our midnight, our talk, our song;
    We thought that love would last forever: We were 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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  17. So sorry for your loss and for her family.

    I can’t wait to read her book.

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  18. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful person. Thank you.

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  19. What a beautiful tribute! I will look forward to reading Poison and keeping Bridget’s dream alive. Thoughts and prayers with her family and all those who were touched by her.

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  20. I’m so sorry to hear this news and appreciate you sharing it with us. I wish I had been fortunate enough to know Bridget, but will look forward to reading POISON when it’s out.

    My condolences to all at Upstart Crow.

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  21. Thank you, Michael, for putting into words what an amazing person Bridget was, and the tragedy that is her way-too-early death. I keep coming back and reading this again today because, even though, as you say, words are inadequate, your words come closer to it than anything I can come up with right now. Thank you for that.

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  22. I am so very, very sorry. Your tribute makes me feel as if I knew her myself.

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  23. Bridget was a beautiful person inside and out. Well done.

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  24. I’m sorry you’re hurting, Michael, and sorry for the terrible loss of such a bright life. Words may be inadequate, but these are beautiful…a lovely tribute.

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  25. A loss of this magnitude is a loss for the world. Thanks, Michael, for your beautiful tribute and how lucky we are to have POISON to keep Bridget’s view of the world in our lives and hearts.

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  26. Although I never met Bridget personally, I’ve read wonderful things about her in the last few months. So very sorry for her family, and also for those who were fortunate enough to work with her.

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  27. I am stunned at this second loss in the Portland children’s writing community this year. Like Lisa, Bridget was a treasure to all who knew her–unfailingly generous, joyful, and dedicated to the craft of fine writing.
    Thank you Michael, not just for this lovely tribute, but for being a good friend to our Bridget and bringing her stories to print.

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  28. I was so happy to donate toward Brigit’s auction to help with medical bills. I thought of her just a few days ago, checked her blog, and was happy to hear that she sounded happy and moving forward, despite her clear medical difficulties. It certainly didn’t sound like her passing was imminent. Her post sounded upbeat. I can’t quite believe it. I’m glad that a cherished piece of her will live on in her writing. I can’t wait to read it.

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  29. My deepest condolences and most hopeful wishes for all who loved Bridget.

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  30. I’m so sorry. Glad that her influence will reach past the limits of her life, but sorry for her loss and for all the sadness of those who knew her.

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  31. A lovely tribute. I wish we’d had a chance to meet. Looking forward to reading her book and wishing her family peace.

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  32. The daughter of a cancer victim, I extend my deepest sympathies to all those who knew and loved Bridget. Courage to you all.

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  33. I cannot wait to read Bridget’s book. I am devastated by the loss of my friend. Such a luminous being.

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  34. [...] Here’s a lovely tribute from Upstart Crow Literary. [...]

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  35. How long do you have to know someone before you know you love her? Not long. Not very long at all. Thanks for sharing this with us, Michael.

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  36. [...] From her agent at Upstart Crow Literary [...]

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  37. [...] but a few minutes ago I found out that soon-to-be published author and fellow book club member, Bridget Zinn passed away this [...]

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  38. [...] Upstart Crow Literary, by Bridget’s agent Michael Stearns [...]

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  39. I was shocked and saddened to hear the news about sweet Bridget. She was always ready with a smile and a kind word for someone. The world will definately be a little less because of her departure. At a time like this we can only thank God for memories that will be shared forever.

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  40. Thank you.

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  41. Michael,
    Thank you for this wonderful post. she was a luminous soul who’s light will continue to shine.

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  42. This is a wonderful post Michael. I wish I had been able to know Bridget longer. I’m glad that her novel remains.

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  43. Tragic. I remember watching this beautiful video last year. So, so sad. Blessings to her family and all who knew her.

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  44. What a moving post about somebody I won’t soon forget. I didn’t know her personally but her buoyant spirit shone bright.

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  45. Michael, thank you for sharing a glimpse of Bridget’s gentle beauty. What a privilege – her legacy in words will touch so many.

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  46. [...] A remembrance of Bridget written by her agent (with a video of Bridget that shows how vibrant and funny she was) [...]

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  47. [...] Click here to see video of writer Zinn and catch a glimpse of what a lovely person she [...]

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  48. [...] Bridget wanted to make people laugh and hoped readers would enjoy spending time with the characters she created. As a librarian/writer she loved books with strong young women with aspirations. She also felt teens needed more humorous reads. She really wanted to write a book with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers’ copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads. Website | Blog | A remembrance of her by her agent [...]

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  49. [...] Bridget wanted to make people laugh and hoped readers would enjoy spending time with the characters she created. As a librarian/writer she loved books with strong young women with aspirations. She also felt teens needed more humorous reads. She really wanted to write a book with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers’ copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads. Website | Blog | A remembrance of her by her agent [...]

    Reply

  50. [...] A remembrance of Bridget written by her agent (with a video of Bridget that shows how vibrant and funny she was) [...]

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  51. [...] A remembrance of Bridget written by her agent, Michael Stearns. The post has a video of Bridget that shows how vibrant and funny she was) [...]

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  52. [...] A remembrance of Bridget written by her agent (with a video of Bridget that shows how vibrant and funny she was) [...]

    Reply

  53. [...] A remembrance of Bridget written by her agent (with a video of Bridget that shows how vibrant and funny she was) [...]

    Reply

  54. [...] A remembrance of Bridget written by her agent (with a video of Bridget that shows how vibrant and funny she was) [...]

    Reply

  55. [...] A remembrance of Bridget written by her agent (with a video of Bridget that shows how vibrant and funny she was) [...]

    Reply

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