Lenore Markowitz has died. She was the area’s chief author escort, the person publishers and bookstores hired to handle and guide writers visiting Dallas-Fort Worth. She was a sweet, delightful woman, utterly dependable — and unfortunately for me as the Dallas Morning News‘ book critic — unfailingly discreet. The paper had run a story about her in 1992, and after I became book critic several years later, I thought I could do an update: Lenore was funnier than that, the author-wrangler’s job had become more pressured, more complicated as book tours and the marketing of books in general had changed.
But Lenore always refused my requests — gently, firmly, but with a laugh. Her reason was simple: Everyone wanted her job, everyone wanted to write or sell their book. When that 1992 feature ran (and a subsequent story in ’97), she said, she was inundated by calls from people asking how they could get into the business. Did she need assistants, did she know a way to contact John Grisham? Did she have any influence with literary agents, editors, publishers? Lenore didn’t need that grief again.
Lenore did talk shop, telling me stories about authors and editors and publicists, but always off the record. It was a pleasure to run across her in unexpected places — on the floor of the convention center at BookExpo in New York City, at the Galleria, in various hotel lobbies — because she was always happy to see a familiar face. Escorting authors around — and different authors had very different tours, different needs — seemed to keep her young and well-read and cheerful.
Which is why her death is such a shock.