Barbara was one of a kind. She ran away from home at 14 and rode with The Heathens motorcycle gang. She learned how to fix cars when she lived in a hippie commune in Haight-Ashbury. She was also a heroin addict, and did the kind of things that people do to support their habit. By the time she was 21, she had been jailed 13 times. Somehow, though, she got sober, became a mechanic (she had great stories about some of the celebs she had helped, including Alan Alda), and then a best-selling author.
She was the most generous woman I've ever met. When I was first published, she introduced me to important people at Amazon and Borders. We toured Oregon and LA together. I gave her feedback on her last book.
But even though she had been clean for years, she had Hepatitis C from a dirty needle. I remember getting together with her in Portland. She was complaining that she had some kind of weird adult-onset acne. It was really broken capillaries from her failing liver. She fought back, and she fought hard, with Interferon and two transplants. She was waiting on a third when she died.
Barbara and I at the 2002 Left Coast Crime. Back when she was healthy. We both did stand up comedy. The picture does not show the very famous mystery writer to my left. Although we sat at the same table, she acted as if we weren't there at all. Of course Barbara, being Barbara, knew all the gossip about her and the pretty young man who was with her.
God, I miss her.