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When Gifted Writers Are Taken Away too Soon

jz.jpegOn Friday, February 10, one of the most prolific storytellers of our time was driving back from a book signing appearance on a snowy Michigan road.  A New York Times best selling author many times over, the writer probably was cautiously driving along reflecting on the night he had just experienced at a signing for his latest book, "The Magic Room."   A kind and gentle man, the writer didn't have to trudge out in the snow to meet his fans.  He could have cancelled - blamed it on the weather and instead, remained safe in his home with his wife and three daughters.  But he didn't and in the blink of an eye, his life was senselessly taken away.

Out of all the journalists I have worked with in my career, Jeffrey Zaslow was by far, one of the kindest. I first had the chance to work with him nearly two decades ago when he had been assigned a USA Weekend cover story on Ricki Lake, who had just launched a new talk show. As publicist for her show, I was there to help facilitate the interview and research process and what I remember back then, was that Jeff Zaslow was incredibly nice, easy going and a great listener who managed to capture the energy and excitement of that time when Ricki's popularity as a talk show host truly began to take flight.

More than 10 years later, I was at the check out line of Barnes & Noble and noticed "The Last Lecture" sitting on the counter. When I saw that Jeff Zaslow had co-authored the book, I snatched it up in an instant and literally read it in one day (crying through many parts of it). I then searched for Jeff's email address so that I could congratulate him on writing such an incredibly moving and inspirational book. And guess what? He wrote back and even said he remembered who I was and was so gracious in his response.

That's why it's no surprise that the man responsible for penning some of our nation's most well read and inspiring books, was doing what he loved the morning he died. Sharing his stories with people who appreciated his incredible gift. The world has lost an incredible person who managed to touch millions of lives with his prose. If you've never read one of Jeff's books, then visit his website and dive into "The Last Lecture," "Highest Duty," "Gabby," and now, "The Magic Room." While he was taken away from his family and friends way too soon, his legacy as a journalist and author will last for generations to come.

Posted in: Blog, News on 02/11/2012


  • Traditional publishing companies don't have the money to support book tours anymore. As a result, they leave it to their authors or speaker bureaus to craft their own tours. As a result, I'm sure that Jeff probably had scheduled this appearance and Penguin was there to support him in any way they could but short of hiring a driver, all they probably were able to do was supply books. Do not blame this on the publishing company because they don't make those kinds of demands on authors. It's unfortunate that something that was set up in a remote town cost one of the most gifted writers of our time his life.

  • dan bloom


    your post above is heartfelt and one of the best i have seen anywhere. That WAS Jeff, yes. But your headline: ''When Gifted Writers Are Taken Away too Soon''.....i feel he was not taken away. by whom? i feel his death was senseless tragic and avoidable and questions must be asked, even if they cannot be answered now. SIGH. MORE:

    WHAT IS YOUR perosnal TAKE ON MY POV? Answer! i mean as a PR professional YOU, why did

    his PR people at Penguin, plan a book tour in middle

    of winter? for a book signing with just 40 people in north Mich on a

    aTHRUSADY night.....with his PR clout, he

    couild have done one ONE big mnrong TV show on GMA or TODAY show adn

    sold 1 millionm copies..and he could go to petiseky bride

    shop and book sore in Summer time/ NO?

    of course we are all in mournign period now....but later, can we ask

    this qusetion

    WHY ON EARTH was he allowed to go on that minor minor book siogning thing?

    yes yes of coruse, he owed someone a favor, it was his kind nature to

    want to please people,. he looke dforweard to a quiet drive to thanls

    frinesd fromt he shop etc.....I understand the backstory

    but stil, i feel there is MORE here than meets the eyes, and in

    Jeff';s love, we msut ask

    i am in toch with Beth Parket at Penguin PR now...and over 100

    reporters nationwide.

    mosty agree with me....but they tell me to SHUT UP


    danny, always asking the brave questions....

  • dan bloom

    but why was a bestselling author on a cold February morning driving solo to and from a small bookstore in northern Michigan, when he did not have to do such a minor book event for his new book. He could have done an interview on Good Morning America or NPR and any other large media outlet, and he could have had a much different arc in life. It seems so sad and a pity that Jeff had to drive solo in icy conditions from Detroit to Petoskey and back just for a minor minor book signing event.

    yes, That he bothered to go there says volumnes about his own dedication to his fans and readers, so on level, bravo to Jeff for agreeing to go there to sign a few books. But on the other hand, one has to ask his publishers and PR people: why on Earth was this small book event part of his national book tour? What were people thinking? And why did he go?

  • Friday, February 10, 2012

    What if Jeffrey Zaslow had not driven to northern Michigan in the winter for a book signing for his latest book, THE MAGIC ROOM, in Petosky? Did he really have to go that far, overnight, just to sign books in a small town? SIGH and REST IN PEACE, JEFFREY: a good man gone too soon!

    i have a differen take on all this here, your POV on my POV? email or comment my blog re


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