Eva died last week. She hated euphemisms, so there’ll be no talk here of ‘passing away’ or ‘on’ or ‘over’. She died. The words are as simple as they are tragic.
As well as leaving six full-length novels, two collections of short stories and a novella (not to mention extensive notes and a half-finished manuscript for future Ingrid Skyberg adventures), Eva leaves another important legacy (and I’m not talking about her pop career, but this link will give you an idea). Her true legacy is one of inspiration both to me as I carry on her work, but also to anyone else who wants to forge a career as a novelist. What Eva achieved was remarkable, yet she believed there was nothing she did that the rest of us couldn’t do too.
It wasn’t that long ago that Eva worked at the Department For Education in Westminster managing their websites. She didn’t hate it, but she knew it wasn’t what she wanted to do with her life. She had always been creative, whether with music, or art, or design or technology. She wanted more out of life and one day she simply she decided she was going to write. And, boy, did she write.
To start with, she just read. Everything she could get her hands on. Piles and stacks and miles of books. Good books and bad books, as well as the odd great one, and she learned from all of them.
Then she studied. She joined creative writing groups, she bought manuals on how to develop character, how to build plots, and how to structure a novel. She took her new career very seriously.
And then she started writing.
Her first two novels, she freely admitted, weren’t all that good and were quickly consigned to the bottom drawer. But from writing them, she learned the discipline of sitting in front of a computer and acquired the habit of filling a blank screen with words. Her third novel was The Loyal Servant. It was so good that it won the inaugural Lucy Cavendish prize for fiction and was short listed for the Alan Titchmarsh new novelist award. Eva’s new career had begun.
Eva never sought a traditional publishing deal for her books. She’d read blogs by people like Joe Konrath and was inspired to take the indie route. She had been one of the dotcom pioneers in the late 90s and had a taste for entrepreneurship: indie publishing suited her perfectly.
Then came the diagnosis. Cancer. It didn’t stop her. Two more novels were produced within months. I remember her working away in the chemo ward, keen for nothing to slow her down. Then, a year later, she found out it was terminal. Her response? To write more! Ingrid Skyberg, an FBI heroine as resolute and determined as her creator was born. In a little over a year, Eva completed three full-length Skyberg novels, a novella-length prequel and a collection of Skyberg short stories. You can see where Ingrid gets her toughness, and her brilliance, from.
Eva hated that she was dying. She was angry, and sometimes distraught, that her life was being taken just as she had finally found the thing that not only was she was good at, but that she loved to do. But there were also times when she was so thankful that she had started writing, so grateful that she had worked out how to live a better, richer, more rewarding life. She made her living from writing. It’s a dream many of us have: her legacy isn’t just her books, it’s her story. I hope I told her enough how proud I am of her, and how much in awe of her I have always felt.
So pick up her books, but also pick up where she left off. You want to write? You want more for yourself? Then let Eva inspire you.
In the past few days, I’ve been sitting in her office, trying to get my head round her notes and sorting out a few things. On her whiteboard, it just says:
Sums her up perfectly. It’s my new mantra. Maybe it could be yours too?
And now, I’ll get to work on the fourth Ingrid Skyberg FBI Thriller. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress.
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Some are less fortunate in that somewhat odd ‘club’ of cancer diagnosed people.
I consider myself one of those who is still hear to almos gloat after 8 years but I do on an almost daily basis consider those whose lives have been cut off prematurely for reasons we may never understand.
God bless Eva, from a follower of your works but more significantly, a survivor of the ‘C’ thing that threatens all of us.
A lovely post, Jo. Good luck with everything. I knew Eva through crime fiction. Please let me know what I can do to help promote Eva’s legacy.
Truly inspirational story and a lovely post. Thank you x
Thank you, Jo for this lovely post – and I hope you are doing okay. Eva was a wonderful woman and one of the most generous and supportive fellow writers I’ve encountered in what is a famously mutually supportive community – crime fiction. I’m so sad that I won’t be seeing her on the terrace at Crimefest or on the lawn at Harrogate. There will be many glasses raised to her with crimey friends in the coming months.
Fabulous, kind, industrious and creative indeed.
Thanks for this beautiful post about a lovely person, Jo. I only picked up that Eva was so ill a few weeks ago and was so sad to hear that she had died. Not much I can add to what others have said; I wish I’d got to spend more time with her and will be another raising a glass or two to her when crime writers gather.
I enjoy reading Eva’s books on long commutes and they keep me going 🙂 I am also a professional writer, so will keep her mantra in mind as a tribute and to keep her spirit alive. Very best.
Thanks for this post . I’m not sure if you remember me I’m a very old friend of Eva’s and feel very sad about the very sad news. Which must be devasting for you.
If possible and appropriate I would really welcome hearing about Eva’s life celebrations.
What an amazing inspirational woman.
Hi Linda, thanks for making contact. If you send an email to eva [at] evahudson [dot] com, I can let you know about plans for celebrating Eva’s 50th later in the year. Thanks, Jo.
I have only recently discovered the novels of Eva Hudsonand have really enjoyed the character of Ingrid Skyberg. Once I started the novel I just couldn’t put it down and am looking forward to reading the third novel in the series.
I was so shocked to hear of Eva’s death and can only send my condolences to her family and friends, whom I am sure miss her dearly.
But what a legacy she has left for you with the outlines of future stories and I hope they will give you comfort as you write the stories she wanted to share with her audience.
Dear Jo, thank you for this post. I remember meeting Eva at the Lucy Cavendish Prize Ceremony. That evening she struck me as someone who was fiercely intelligent, courageous and determined, as well as shining with talent. She was also supportive of other writers (including me), and I’ve admired her independence and strong vision as a writer ever since. Her talent lives on in the books. With condolences and very best wishes, Sophia.
I’m so sorry for your loss, Jo. Very selfishly, I’m glad that I got to hang out with you both last year at Crimefest and say a quick hello at From the Cradle launch in October and also at London Book Fair too.
Your words of encouragement above for every writer resonate with me too – keep on keeping on. Sometimes it’s hard to sit down and get the words out but knowing what Eva did has inspired me. She rocks. You rock. Stay strong, Jo x
So sorry for your loss Jo. Your post is a wonderful accolade and I wish you well in carrying on the work Eva’s started. So sad that she died so young. Much love to you, Eva’s friends and family. x
Jo, I have just heard this horrible news from Anya. So sorry to hear it. I met Eva a few times at crime writing events over the years, most recently at a book launch where I also met you.
That is a great mantra. Good luck with finishing the book & carrying on Eva’s dreams.
Sending lots of love.
I was so sorry to hear this news. I really enjoyed the book of Eva’s that I read, and look forward to reading her others. Thank you for sharing this post with us. I found it inspiration and moving. All best wishes, Lindsay
Omg… I have recently found Eva as an author and enjoyed her Ingrid Skyberg series.. Now I find out Eva has died… So sad. I’m so sorry for your loss Jo.
I will continue to look forward to any work you publish…
Best regards from New Zealand.