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"You have been my friend," replied Charlotte. "That in itself is a tremendous thing." Charlotte's Web

When I first met my friend, Patricia Tuckwiller, I did not know -- nor could I have known -- that years later her story would be so profound that I would incorporate it in a novel for the MG reader. Marble Town tells the story of young Cole Atwater whose mother, like my friend, is killed in an automobile accident. And while I, at the time, questioned too which direction to take after the loss of such an influential friend, it is Cole who many years later pointed me in the right direction. Thus, life indeed has a way of imitating art, which Oscar Wilde opined in his 1889 essay, "The Decay of Lying," theorizing that "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life." But that discussion is best left for another post.

I'm not sure that another word holds as much truth and conviction as the word "friend." It connotes an allure, an invitation, a union that is difficult to define or contain within its six letters. Its undertones of sweet, mutual affection are undeniable. And the thirst for its deep, lasting gift is unquenchable.

Pat Tuckwiller was my friend. And as the thirtieth anniversary of her death nears, she remains so. Her husband, Brad, and her children Elizabeth and Kinder are also my friends -- always. And while her life was lived with deep passion, she continues to gift immeasurable wealth to each of us, even after her death -- even today. And as I penned Marble Town, I barely scratched the surface of those extraordinary gifts. My hope is that the pieces that made their way into the story honored her in ways that even she -- a quite humbled intellectual -- would have found joy.

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