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Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Fantasy hero Gemmell remembered
By John Jarrold
Book editor and literary agent

Author David Gemmell, who has died aged 57, was recognised as the best - and bestselling - writer of heroic fantasy.

David Gemmell/ Transworld
David Gemmell died at the age of 57 following heart bypass surgery
He created many characters who will live in the minds of his fans for decades.

When I became editorial director of Random House's SF and Fantasy imprint Legend in 1992, he had already been published there for eight years and built a very strong reputation.

In fact the imprint, which had a long history within Arrow Books, was renamed after his first novel in the late 1980s.

David told me that he had been diagnosed with cancer in the early 1980s and writing that novel, Legend, was a release for him.

It is the story of a city under siege and he came to believe that if the city survived, so would he. They both did.

John Jarrold
David felt he should write about strong - though sometimes flawed - characters
John Jarrold

I live in Hastings, as did David at that time, so we often saw each other down here, as well as talking, in those pre-email days, on the phone regularly about business matters.

We chatted about his books of course, but also about other authors' work - he was a great fan of British fantasy author Robert Holdstock, whose novel Mythago Wood won the World Fantasy Award.

Another favourite was the classic Western writer Louis L'Amour. David felt he should write about strong - though sometimes flawed - characters, who had a sense of honour and did the right thing, however difficult.

Over the years, David's sales increased and his novels always hit the bestseller lists.

He always delivered on time, which is a joy for a harried editor, and also acknowledged the people who worked on his books, which was much appreciated by copy-editors and proofreaders, among others.

Recently, he had started an acclaimed series of novels based on the Trojan War.

He died far too young.

  • John Jarrold was editorial director of thee SF and Fantasy imprints - Orbit, Legend and Earthlight - between 1988 and 2002. He now works as a literary agent, freelance editor and structural editor.

    Fantasy writer Gemmell dies at 57
    28 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
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    28 Jul 06 |  Have Your Say

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