Posted by Ian
I recently picked up Night Swimming by the young Australian author Steph Bowe. I had bought it last year for my youngest daughter, but in typical parental style had been too busy to read it myself. When I did finally get to it, I enjoyed it very much, and idly searched for Steph’s biography to find out more about her. I was shocked to find that she had died of leukaemia on 20th January, and that she had been diagnosed only last year. Steph was just 25, between my two oldest daughters in age. She has published three young adult novels; ironically, her first (Girl Saves Boy) had a dying protagonist.
While I know little of her life, the more I read about Steph, and listened to recordings of her speaking, the more I felt the loss of someone who had clearly been a bright light of the Australian YA scene, and someone with enormous potential. I found her commentary funny, thoughtful and generous, her love of the Australian YA scene sincere and resonant with my own feelings, her maturity awe-inspiring and her novels entertaining and full of heart. We need more people like that, not fewer. When I think about what might have been, I’m deeply saddened for the loss of the charismatic personality that would have continued to infuse her writing, the wisdom she would have brought to the field, the books that she doubtless would have written, and the general loss of someone who seemed to represent the good that human beings can bring to the world. No doubt her friends and family are devastated and her readership is bereft. Steph, if you’re around in the ether, I hope you had a great time while you were here, and thank you so much for your life, your published work, your blog and other contributions. We’ll make sure that Girl Saves Boy, All This May End, and Night Swimming maintain their rightful place in Australian YA literature and are not forgotten.
It scarcely seems necessary to ask if others have been touched by Steph’s work and her life.