Last week, I receive the terrible news that speculative author Valjeanne Jeffers passed away. It was news that hit hard, because she was a friend and one of what I call the original crew. She was one of the first authors I met when I joined the Black Science Fiction Society, and we immediately hit it off. I think it was because of her friendly personality and that she was a Southern girl at heart. For whatever the reason, it was the beginning of a friendship that spanned my entire writing experience until now.
Not only was Valjeanne a talented author, she was always down for new writing challenges. I once challenged her to write a science fiction poem, something I'd never read before. She responded with 'Leviathan,' an amazing poem which I used for the inspiration of a short story of the same name. When Charles Saunders and I announced the Griots anthology, Valjeanne was one of the first authors to submit. As a matter of fact, Valjeanne had stories in almost every anthology I published. The only ones she wasn't in were the ones she didn't submit to. As an editor, Valjeanne was an author you could always count on to deliver a great story; as a friend she was a kind, straightforward person. She was also very supportive of other authors, providing support, encouragement and advice for new authors and peers alike.
When I first met her, she went by the moniker 'Sister Moon.' It was a name I would use whenever I hadn't spoken to her for a while or to set the tone for a casual conversation. We saw each other at the various cons in Atlanta, where we would joke around and discuss serious topics as well. It was at these events where I met her children, and she met mine. I'm old school, and despite knowing people for years on line, I don't really know you unless I've met you face to face. I'm happy to say that I got the chance to know Valjeanne.
Over the past few years I hadn't communicated directly with Valjeanne, but I felt her presence through mutual friends. When I received the news of her illness and soon afterwards her passing, I regretted not having reached out to her, if just to see how things were going. I'm going to miss her deeply.