Jenna's Page
Jenna Felice, Tor Books Editor 
(1/9/1976 - 3/10/2001)

Intro and Pictures        Words from friends         Memorial Fund 

enna Felice suffered what the doctors are now calling a massive allergic reaction compounded by asthma on March 4. She died on March 10, having never emerged from her coma. She was never alone as she was surrounded by friends throughout.

Jenna is survived by her sister Vanessa, and her friend and lifepartner Rob Killheffer. Rob and Jenna were together in one way or another since she was 17 and the Killheffer family came to stay with her in the hospital.

I talked to former Del Rey Diva Publicist and a close friend of Jenna's, Eleanor Lang,  the day after Jenna died. Ellie wanted everyone who knew Jenna, and perhaps even more everyone who didn't have the chance to, to know that Jenna's last days were full of the same celebration of love and community that she poured out to everyone she had known. 

Though Jenna lay in a coma, friends came in an endless stream, never leaving her alone, reading aloud (Harry Potter) talking to her, playing her music through headphones, raging privately at the horror visited on her and sharing their love with a person who gave unstintingly of her own. In her hospital room there was a book that many who came to visit wrote in, and I'm hoping to be able to share some of those thoughts as well.

I'm hoping to add more friend's thoughts and pictures to this page, so please feel free to send them to me. Stop back often to say hello to Jenna, who remains very much a part of us as long as she is remembered...and will always be someone easy to remember.

Jenna Felice with Rob Killheffer, New Years Eve 2000

Looking at Jenna's face, smiling out of these pictures, one thing speaks to me as certain. Jenna didn't waste life, she embraced it. That, the books that she helped get published, the joy they gave, and the host of friends that remain to share her spirit are the tip of a legacy from a life worth living.

When someone like Jenna dies, someone full of joy and love, it always seems that the world has lost an irreplaceable measure of both. The challenge to those who remain is to not squander theirs, but to share it as she would have. 

To all who knew her better than I, my condolences.

Ernest Lilley 3/11/2001
Editor, SFRevu
editor@sfrevu.com
Should anyone want to use these pictures, they are more than welcome. All I ask is that the link to this page be included where they are published and SFRevu is credited. 
This page will stay up at least a year, and hopefully much longer.
(link: http://www.sfrevu.com/2001/9949%20Jenna%20Felice/jenna_felice.htm)  
© Ernest Lilley/SFRevu 2001

Boskone 2000

Boskone 2000 - Jenna wth Alexander Jablakov

SFWA New Yorker Recpetion 2000 - Ellen Datlow w Jenna

SFWA New Yorker Recpetion 2000 - TOR Group Photo


Memorial Fund 

 

 

 
A memorial fund has been established for Jenna, to pay all medical, death, and remaining (taxes, bills) expenses. All remaining funds, if any, will be transferred into a trust for Vanessa Felice's education.

Make checks payable to:

The Jenna Felice Memorial Fund

Mail to :

The Jenna Felice Memorial Fund
c/o Jason Killheffer
68 Manorwood Drive
Branford, CT 06405

Information on Vanessa's education fund, for those who wish to contribute directly, should be available very soon.

If you need more information about the funds, contact: 

Eleanor J. Lang
Public Relations Manager
Reciprocal
eleanlan@reciprocal.com

 
 

 

 

Words from friends

Patrick Nielsen Hayden - Waiting  / Jo Walton / Maggie Flinn

 

Patrick Nielsen Hayden - Waiting

 

Photo Courtesy of Ashley GraysonWhen I talk about Jenna Felice, I often use the phrase "feral child." And I don't mean anything untoward by it; indeed, I mean it as a compliment. I mean she's someone who, despite her youth, has spent more years taking care of herself than many people a decade older than her. By the time Jenna she in her early teens, almost everyone in her birth family was dead or in jail. She more or less raised her younger sister herself. I don't know a lot about this part of her life, aside from a magazine essay she once wrote (and sold) about being the survivor of a family destroyed by AIDS. For me, the camera first zooms in on Jenna in 1992, when she came to Tor as an intern from Hunter College High School. She was sixteen.

She was a terrific intern -- mouthy, funny, perceptive, immensely practical and direct. A great fit for Tor, an organization that tends to favor self-starters. Which is another way of saying we tend to be less efficiently organized than we ought to be, so that the kind of people who flourish at Tor tend to be people with a certain kind of confidence and flair -- people willing to roll up their sleeves and remake the universe as seems sensible to them. Jenna had that kind of fearlessness from the start.

So when, a few years later, I needed a new full-time, on-staff editorial assistant, Jenna was the obvious choice. And an outstanding assistant she turned out to be. In a very real sense a senior book editor is only as good as his or her assistant, and Jenna was very good indeed. She made it her business to know everybody, not just at Tor (where our growth has long outstripped my ability to remember who all the new faces are) but all the people who get stuff done in the service departments of St. Martin's and Holtzbrinck. Jenna could make the bureaucracy jump through hoops of fire. Packages held up at a Canadian customs broker? Warehouse making it hard to mail Nebula- nominated books to everyone in SFWA? Need to cut a check instantly and ship it by overnight mail to Brazil? Jenna knew how to make it happen. She was Radar O'Reilly with a tough, sometimes dismissive, often exasperated, always funny, and very Brooklyn attitude.

And she's smart. All through this time she was working with Rob Killheffer on CENTURY, the excellent (if maddeningly infrequent) small-press magazine of ambitious, edgy SF. She was an insightful editorial reader for me. She has canny self-taught taste and judgment. She has a knack for spotting talented people and making friends with them. She can be kind, and she can be tough. Being a good editor entails all of these qualities. That she had them was evident when she was an intern and when she was my assistant. So in the natural course of things, eventually she was promoted, becoming a full editor at 21 -- the youngest in the SF book industry today.

Which under the best of circumstances would be a stressful thing to be. And real life never happens under the best of circumstances. Jenna can also be dismissive, tactless, and wrongheaded. I've wanted to drop-kick her out the 14th floor of the Flatiron Building at times. No doubt she's wanted to do the same to me. We are very similar in some ways, and baffle one another in others. Our relationship as friends and colleagues has always been a little wary, punctuated by moments of hilarious self-recognition. Every so often, we've had the refreshing ability to call one another on each other's bullshit.

Fade to present.

Sunday evening, as she was alone in her apartment preparing to go out, Jenna -- always a severe asthmatic -- suffered a sudden, sharp, nearly overwhelming asthma attack. She managed to call 911, and then evidently staggered to the front door of some neighbors who are medical students. They administered immediate first aid, but when the ambulance arrived just a few minutes later, she was no longer breathing and her extremities were blue. She was intubated in the ambulance. When the ambulance arrived at the ER just a few blocks away, she was going into cardiac arrest.

The ER people did what ER people do; and well, as far as we can tell. Her heart was restarted. She went into seizure, twice; she was then sedated in order to prevent her from tearing the intubation free.

36 hours later, she's still unconscious in critical condition. Her color, we're told, is good; her blood is fine; her internal organs all work. She is, however, entirely unresponsive. Is it simply because of the sedation? Could be. But her brain spent several minutes -- we don't know exactly how many -- starved of oxygen.

The doctors and nurses -- I haven't spoken directly to any of them, but I have first-hand reports of conversations with them -- have been blunt. We don't know how damaged she is. Neither the best nor the worst outcomes are at all out of the question.

We don't know if she's still there.

I want her to still be there.

I don't know what's realistic to hope for.

I don't know whether to start mourning, to pray, to yell at the sky.

We won't really know for days to come.

I walk past Jenna's office at Tor and the light is on and the first thing I think in that first microsecond is "Oh, good, Jenna's back," and of course it turns out to be someone else in there looking for something, and all the insupportable, barely real, impossible-to- encompass news of the last day and a half comes back to me.

I want her to open her eyes and say something rude and be really appalled by this piece of writing I'm about to post. I want her back. 

 

-- Patrick Nielsen Hayden 
(posted to rec.arts.sf.fandom on 3/6/01
when the outcome was not yet known)

Jo Walton  
Jo is a Welsh writer; author of the recent Tor novel THE KING'S PEACE

 

Jenna Felice is standing
behind a stall in Confluence.
She is talking with passion
about Century, about fiction
caring and confident,
and I decide I like her.

Memory, bronze that moment.
Let it fall into time
marked an end, not a beginning,
a stifled promise;
a friendship that was just a bud
which now can never flower.

How it hurts to cast you
into the past tense.
Bronzed into memories
frozen in old attitudes
closed away from change
that melts the living like lost wax.

It hurts us, not you.
The past encloses you like shrinkwrap
no present tides can touch you
you are borne away behind
nothing can hurt you now,
nobody can reach you.

What burns us you cannot know
that life goes on, goes forward
empty of your presence
and we must go on with it
missing you always
leaving you behind.

It catches in the voice
when we must say of you "she was"
and never, now, "she is"
the things unsaid,
the things you'd want to know
that we can never tell you.

It does not help to rage
to fight life as it sweeps us on.
All we can do is live each day
knowing this day may yet be all we have
for us and for our friends
and call our memories precious.

 

-- Jo Walton 3/11/01 (posted to rec.arts.sf.fandom, Sunday, March 11, 2001)

 

Maggie Flinn, MD

  Having the exquisite honor of knowing Jenna I will always be grateful for her presence in my life. Cliché I know, while she graced the world with her presence, she brought such brightness and joy to so many, myself included, I now find the world a darker, sadder place in which to exist. Cliché again, the clear night sky shines down more brightly upon us all as her spirit continues to glitter and glow, never to be forgotten. - Maggie Flinn  
 
 

© 2001 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu