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Honoring my final proofreader:

Carolyn Ardoin, 1936-2024

It’s been almost three weeks since my mom passed away, and I want to share my memories of her.

First, there’s a lot of her personality in Fenway Stevenson. Her attitude, for one—and her unshakability when she had conviction about an important topic. There’s even more of her in Bernadette Becker, which is probablyone reason she didn’t like Bernadette as much as she liked Fenway!

She was the last proofreader in the line of early readers, editors, and sensitivity readers who read my books in their various stages of pre-publication. And even in early March 2024, when she could only stay awake for a few hours a day, she still caught dozens of typos and inconsistencies in The Warehouse Coroner that everyone else had missed.

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My mom in 1997 near Carmel-by-the-Sea, a town about a hundred miles north of the fictional Estancia, where the Fenway Stevenson books are set.


When she finally realized she couldn’t live on her own and moved to Seattle to stay with my cousin, we still had weekly computer sessions over Skype. That’s me, part son, part tech support!

I found out a lot of new stuff about her when I went through her papers in the last couple of weeks. I knew she had taught English in South Korea a few years after the war ended—but I didn’t realize it was against the advice of pretty much everyone in her life. I found her journal during those months, and it’s eye-opening.

When she returned to the States, she had enough money to buy a house. This was in the early sixties, a time when no bank would give a mortgage loan to women—but she bought the house anyway.

She taught junior high school for almost forty years (which would be my personal version of hell), and taught pretty much every subject but math. (She and I shared that aversion to math; you’ll notice there are no equations in any of the Fenway novels!)

On her 80th birthday, she was diagnosed with the Steve Jobs-kind of pancreatic cancer and given three to five years to live. But she was doggedly determined to live longer. She changed her diet, listened to her doctors, and got another seven-and-a-half years instead of three-to-five. (My experience advocating for her during this time might have something to do with the frequency of evil pharmaceutical companies in my novels.)

She was the kind of person who needed to stay busy—she couldn’t even sit through a movie in the theater because she felt like she was wasting time.

And even though she HATED technology, she still managed toload my pre-release book on her Nook and proofread every single novel I wrote, from The Reluctant Coroner on—and the Woodhead & Becker series too. I knew I’d written a good book whenever she told me she had to go back and proofread because she’d gotten too caught up in the story.

My next Fenway Stevenson book will be dedicated to her.

It’s going to be weird not having her as my last proofreader.