Roxanne Conrad, who wrote under the names Rachel Caine, Roxanne Longstreet, and Julie Fortune, died at the age of 58. Her family announced her passing in a message sent out to fans on November 1st, noting that she had been fighting an aggressive form of soft tissue sarcoma.
Born in 1962, Conrad published her debut novel, Stormriders, set in the same world as the Shadow World roleplaying game, and published a handful of novels in the 1990s. However, it was after 2000 that her career really took off, and over its entire course, she published 56 novels and numerous short stories.
Conrad was probably best known as Rachel Caine, publishing a number of urban fantasy novels under the name, starting with her Weather Warden, which kicked off in 2003 with Ill Wind and continued for eight more installments. She had planned a 10th installment of the series, funding the book through Kickstarter, only to cancel the project after her health took a turn for the worst.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Roxanne Conrad/Rachel Caine. A message from her loved ones: https://t.co/FH1oZhpA5B
— Rachel Caine is not writing currently. (@rachelcaine) November 1, 2020
She followed up with another major series in 2006: The Morganville Vampires, a YA urban fantasy / vampire series, which began with Glass Houses and ran for a total of 15 installments. She sold the rights for a television adaptation, but eventually turned to Kickstarter to produce a webseries along with Geek & Sundry in 2014.
In a 2006 interview, Conrad explained that she had resisted writing early in her career. “Oh, I wrote in secret, in private, and finally in 1991 a friend of mine sent me to go “talk to some writers” because he couldn’t believe that I wrote so much and didn’t plan to do anything with it,” noting that she had her sights set on a career as a musician. “Writing was just something I did for fun.”
But conversations with those writers changed her mind: “[…] after talking to those writers, I got so excited about it that it began to take over my life, and finally I decided I had to make a decision about which dream to follow. I chose the writing. Must have been the right choice, because within a year, I’d sold my first book.” In 2008, she retired from her day job to focus on writing.
Conrad’s family say that she will have a virtual memorial service at some point in the next couple of weeks, and in lieu of flowers, have asked for people to make a donation to either the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Emergency Medical Fund, or the Dallas-based Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center.