Today, I learned about the death of two publishing people I knew: Larry Ashmead and Elaine Koster. Larry was remarkable for being known as a really nice guy while still being a big cheese at HarperCollins, when I was an agent. He helped publish Isaac Asimov, Susan Isaacs and Tony Hillerman, and got The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester out into the world where it became a bestseller. He was renowned for his abilities as an editor. After his retirement, he authored a novelty book: Bertha Venation: And Hundreds of Other Funny Names of Real People.
Elaine was my boss as publisher at NAL for the two years I worked there. She was the person who made the big gamble on Stephen King for paperback, starting with his novel Carrie. In the late 1990’s, she left the publishing house to open her own literary agency and represented Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. She was sharp eyed, tough and encouraging. She put me in charge of the book auction list and rolled with the changes that came when Penguin bought up NAL/Dutton/Signet.
So that’s it, just two people who rose fairly high in the publishing world, but they weren’t rock stars. They were just people who loved books. And I’m glad I knew them in my slight way. They will be missed.