In Memory of Paul Quarrington

Paul Quarringtion

Paul Quarrington, photo by Irene Duma

Paul Quarrington was my mentor through the Humber School of Writers correspondence program in 2009.  He passed away a year ago on January 21 at age 56.  Much was written at the time of his passing about how wonderfully generous and hugely talented he was.  All of it so true.  I had an experience demonstrating just how generous. 

The Humber program is seven month long program wherein the student provides a manuscript for the mentor to comment on.  Paul and I were working on Tumbling After.  In about May 2009, I was getting a bit impatient since I hadn’t heard from Paul for quite a bit so I finally sent him an email – polite but written with the underlying righteousness of, “Hey, I’m paying for your feedback.”  Paul wrote back apologizing for the delay, mentioning, but not offering it up as an excuse, that he had recently been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.  Much abashed, I assured him that something else could probably be worked out with Humber, but he insisted carrying on with the work.  And he did, providing comments on all but the last pages of my novel.  But this is not the amazing part.

Paul had indicated that he would recommend the book to the HSW Literary Agency.  The normal protocol for this is an actual letter of recommendation.  While I had an email from him saying that he would do so, I had no letter.  This was the fall of 2009 and I really didn’t want to bug him about it, but my prospects were not looking good without the letter.  Plus, I self-interestedly reasoned, I had seen him perform with his (terrific) band in October – how bad could it be?  So in November I emailed him one more time to ask about the letter.  He responded immediately, apologizing that he had been so tardy but he had been laid up in a Calgary hospital, having suffered a heart attack.  He sent me a letter that night before he checked into a Toronto hospital.  Two months later he was gone.

I am still overwhelmed.

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