13 May 1938 – 25 April 1989
Norma Klein, author of countless short stories and more than 30 books for young people and adults, died in April of this year. She was one of the first writers we launched in Pan Horizons and continued to be one of the most dedicated and successful writers that I worked with on our teenage series.
Her amazing outpouring of work led to some of the most daring and innovative books ever written for and about young adults. Norma dealt openly and straightforwardly with contemporary family life, the realities of childhood and adolescent sexuality as well as social issues. She was widely known for her vigorous defence of the freedom of speech, her willingness to confront critics and her generous and effective support of young people’s freedom to read books of their choice.
I remember many discussions with Norma over the question of censorship and how she would say, ‘it’s important to me that I describe real life as truthfully as I can. I can’t compromise that.’ It was this belief in the truth and her great sense of fun that made her such an exciting person to be with.
Writing was essential to Norma, as she said: ‘For me writing is an emotional process. While I am doing it, I lose track of time. I feel as though I am wherever my characters are, feeling what they are feeling. I follow them, letting them lead me where they choose to go. Were I given the choice again, I’d still become a writer. Some of the happiest moments of my life have been spent writing. I know it’s the only kind of life that has ultimately made sense to me.’
Not only was Norma a wonderful writer, but she was also a true friend, always staying in touch, always willing to help in whatever way she could. We’ll miss her.
(Norma Klein’s editor at Pan)