Remembering Kimberly Murphy Smith - A Piece Of My Mind
“We're reaching for death
on the end of a candle
We're trying for something
that's already found us”
- Jim Morrison
You don't forget those who you meet going up, you may meet them going down—Anon.
Many writers have ideas in their notes, notebooks, iPad files, etcetera and never use them. In a way, this column is that for me. It is hard for me to write these words as I type them from my computer. I am crying as I type these words, but I need to write this.
Always remember this column is called “A Piece of My Mind”. I try to discuss things in a writer bent. Today’s column is more personal than usual for me. So please indulge me for my sharing with you.
Let me start at the beginning. That usually is a good place to start. My writer/editor Jeanne Evans called me on January 16, 2014. There is nothing strange about that, we usually talk about twice to three times a week on the phone. We’ve known each other for twenty years, so we check up on each other.
However, today's call was different. She said “Bennet, are you sitting down?” Her voice sounded panicked. In that brief micro second of time, millions thoughts passed through my mind. I thought something may have happened to her husband. I suddenly felt a tension in my shoulders, as I said in a weak voice “Sure”.
The last time someone asked if I was sitting down, my aunt Barbara told me of my father's (David Pomerantz) death. That phrase seems to relate to death to me. Today was no exception.
Jeanne blurted out “Kim is Dead!”
The Kim was Kimberly Murphy Smith. She was a writer, editor and former publisher of Power Star Magazine.
I was dumbfounded “What...who..how?”. My mind reeled in many directions. Shock, confusion, disbelief, and sorrow overcame me. I was overwhelmed by all of this at the same time. Many will tell you I am usually never speechless. Well that is normally...but in this instant I was! I knew Jeanne wasn't joking. I took a deep breath.
Death is a great equalizer. We talk about it a lot. Morbid as it sounds. We revel in a famous person passing on Facebook, but forget them when they were alive.
When someone dies in their twenties or early thirties, many tend to say 'He had such a short life...He had so much to live for...He was so young.” When someone dies in their eighties, we usually comment that “They had a long life...they did so much. At least their journey is over and they are at peace.” Nevertheless, when someone dies and they are in your own age group, you feel your own mortality and sometimes you are at a loss for words.
Jeanne spoke “Bennet, are you there?”
I let out a tiny audible “I am here. Jeanne. Let’s talk later. I love ya!” and I hung up.
A memory flooded out of me. Kim and I saw each other a few weeks before, she looked as fine as she could be. Kim had a few health problems over the last few years, but she was in great spirits and full of life. I wondered what happened and how she died.
I looked up the articles about what happened on the Internet.
Here is one of them.
According to newspaper accounts, there was an electrical fire in the upstairs level of her condo. She was asleep in the downstairs bedroom. She inhaled a lot of smoke. The EMTs and fire department got her out of the building, but could not revive her.
Now someone may ask why devote a column to a friend. Kim did not give me my start in this business, she gave me the greatest gift. About twenty five years ago I was writing for AUDIOWORLD, Washington Entertainment and Affaire De Coeur. However I was feeling empty, unfulfilled as writer. I felt a lull in my fiction writing.
Many people may down the idea of fan fiction (or fanfic as it was labeled). I enjoyed reading others playing in other people universes. At that time, Pocket books was releasing licensed classic Star Trek novels. In 1987, there was a second Star Trek that was catching on fire called Star Trek the Next Generation. Star Wars Return of The Jedi was four years before and it was still was discussed in fan circles. Science Fiction was building a large fan base. Many were writing fan stories. They would spring up in fan based publications like Power Star magazine.
I toyed with an idea... A Sherlock Holmes / Wild Wild West (the 1960's TV show, not the Will Smith movie) novella. I wrote a piece, Night of the Shylock, in 10 days between my other columns. I felt a new life playing in another person's universe. I had no place to put my novella. You must remember in this period in history, the internet was an infant. There were a few AOL fan chat rooms when fans discussed their favorite shows and story ideas. You have to understand E-publishing and Facebook were miles and miles and years and years away from the goal line. Many fan pubs (called fanzine) were copied and stapled together.
I met Kim at Balti-con in 1987. We talk about old television shows. We talked for hours and never bored each other. I don't know why but I mentioned my novella. She said send it to me.
About a week later, I did. I was not expecting the happy phone call she gave me. Kim said “Night of the Shylock will be printed in the October 1987 issue of Power Star magazine.” Kim never considered Power Star magazine a fanzine, it was a magazine. She held her magazine to magazine standards.
With Power Star magazine, I stretched my fiction skills. I played in the universes of MacGyver, Quantum Leap and Star Trek Voyager. Those stories are a faded memory now. It was Kim who really help me grow as a writer. In a way, I owe her a large debt for taking a chance on my fiction.
Kim was a very private person. There are sometime I would watch her, as she would sit in a spot and observe. She would cringe for any real spotlight shone upon her. She would rather watch others around her radiant, rather than show attention to herself.
RIP - I will miss you dearly, my friend. You inspired me then and even now. You gave me a chance to explore my 'Strange New Worlds' in my fiction writing. I hope I can inspire many others in the future, as you did for me...I am trying too!
Until next time, reach for the stars
Columnist: Bennet Pomerantz has covered the Audio medium for the last 20 years. He has syndicated newspaper columns, AUDIOWORLD and "Movies of Your Mind", in Affaire De Coeur Magazine. In which he showcase his vast and diverse knowledge of the spoken word medium.
He is also known as a media review critic (books, music, graphic novels, DVDs, CDs) in his weekly syndicated newspaper column "A Piece of the Page". He also is a ranked media reviewer for Amazon.com. http://www.facebook.com/bennet.pomerantz1 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org