Best-selling Australian fantasy writer Sara Douglass has died, aged 54, from ovarian cancer.
HarperCollins publishing director Shona Martyn believed Douglass led the way for female fantasy writers.
“At the time that she was signed most fantasy writers around the world were men but Australian women particularly have become very significant fantasy writers and I think she gave confidence not only to a lot of female writers – she was very supportive of female writers – but also to a lot of readers …” Ms Martyn said.
Douglass, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, was the first Australian author signed to HarperCollins’ Voyager Fantasy list in 1995.
Her book, BattleAxe, sold almost one million copies in Australia alone, Ms Martyn said.
Penola-born Douglass published a number of fantasy series, including The Axis Trilogy, as well as stand-alone fiction, non-fiction and a collection of short stories.
On the Harper Voyager Facebook site today, Voyager publisher Stephanie Smith wrote: “Sara Douglass was an extraordinary woman and one of the world’s greatest storytellers.
“I cannot express the personal sorrow I feel at the loss of Sara from our lives. It was an honour and a joy to receive her new manuscripts and to work as her editor.
“Although an intensely private person, she was always generous with advice and encouragement to other writers and in her communication with everyone who visited her websites.”
Douglass’s fans have sent their condolences to her family and friends via the Facebook Sara Douglass Official Fan Page.
One fan wrote: “You gave me so many hours of enjoyment while I flew through your books to find out what happened next … you will be forever missed, but never forgotten.”
While another described Douglass as an amazing woman and author.
Douglass, whose birth name was Sara Warneke, moved to Adelaide when she was seven. She worked as a nurse then studied at Adelaide University, where she received a PhD in Early Modern English history.
She later moved to Cornelian Bay, Tasmania. Her mother also died from ovarian cancer and Douglass wrote about her own diagnosis on her blog.
©2011 Jennifer Chapman, AAP.