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.