William Neale – A Tribute

Bill and his boys

It’s a sad commentary that we rarely pay tribute to someone except when he or she has passed away, and this is the situation for me with William Neale. I had tentatively scheduled an interview with him for the fall of this year (I usually plan my interview schedule 3 – 6 months in advance) and I was going to contact him about it in August. Unfortunately, that interview will now never take place because Bill passed away unexpectedly in March, so instead I’m writing what I hope is a fitting tribute to a man who many in the M/M community hold in high regard, especially his colleagues at MLR Press.

There is a note in his last book Hope from his partner of thirteen years Marty that showed what a wonderful person Bill was. Here’s an excerpt:

After thirteen years together and having seen William through the demands of corporate advertising and public relations, this was like candy to him. His eyes were bright and smile full again.

When William smiled you couldn’t help but smile along. With the
memory of his bright smile, and with the help of Kris and Keith, I asked MLR to release his last book, Hope. I’m not ready to say goodbye. To all the friends and supporters of William Neale that feel the same, this will give us a little more time.

To all the authors, fans and friends that supported William, he enjoyed you more than you could ever know, I am grateful.

Laura Baumbach, Publisher of MLR Press offered this comment about William:

William Neale was a unique man — successful, driven, savvy and shrewd. At the same time, he was kind, thoughtful and generous. These are not traits one often sees together in the same person. As I grew closer to Bill over time, I saw all these qualities shine in him. He approached his writing with the same drive for excellence that his marketing career had been blessed with, he examined and evaluated the romance community and market with the seasoned eye of a professional and he treated every worthy person he met at events and online with a consistent element of grace and insight.

I watched him spend hours with readers and fellow authors, making them each feel special while they were with him, basking in his focused attention and interest. He was a true people person, a gentleman and a gentle man. All our lives are lessened with his passing.  I believe a part of Bill will always live in his writing because it reflects that same wonderful combination of personality traits– driven, savvy, kind and thoughtful characters and story lines. Like all skilled and successful authors, Bill gave a piece of himself in his books.

William’s Editor at MLR Press Kris Jacen said this about him in his last book Hope:

William Neale passed away unexpectedly just a day after he finished Hope. But he’s not completely gone for any of us. He left us a legacy of his words that we can read time and time again.

I felt honored that he trusted me with his words but more importantly he gifted me with his friendship. You’ll be missed my friend.

Bill’s last project was being part of the organizing team for the GayRomLit Retreat 2012 and sadly, he will never see the results of his hard work. Ethan Day had this to say about him in a post about the Retreat on this site:

Bill came on board with fresh eyes following New Orleans, and was full of great ideas and a real passion for all we’d initially wanted to accomplish with GayRomLit. I’m happy to say that was something that never changed.

Bill’s unexpected passing last month was a huge shock to all of us who both knew and/or worked with him. I believe I can safely say that all of us organizing this year’s GRL are deeply saddened that Bill won’t be there to enjoy the amazing retreat he helped plan. Our time is the one thing none of us has the ability to replicate, and we’re so thankful that Bill was able to devote some of his to GayRomLit. His generosity of spirit and uniquely suited background in marketing will be sorely missed as we move forward. His cheeky little grin, good humored disposition, and friendship will be sorely missed by me.

I hope everyone attending GayRomLit in October will think of him and send a little love and a thank you his way.

In my own small way I felt I knew a little bit about William from our various emails and on-line chats about his books as well as from his comments on my reviews of two of his books which I absolutely loved: Got Your Back which is mostly about a dog, and he confessed the story was therapy for him when he lost his own “Grady;” and Christmasing With You, a holiday story that made me shed countless tears. Most of Bill’s books are reviewed on the site and I will be reviewing his latest, Hope, in a few days.

In honour of William who was a kind and gentle man, a quality that came through in his stories, I have decided to post his photo on the site with two of his faithful companions, quite a departure for me since I have never done this before but he had given of that most valuable commodity, his time, to his community and I know he loved finding a second home with his new friends at MLR Press and in the larger GBLTQ community. William wrote with heart and I don’t think I can pay him a more sincere compliment. My biggest regret is that I won’t meet him at GRL 2012 if I do make it to Albuquerque.

RIP William Neale. You will be missed!


  • A piece of my heart broke reading this tribute and all these comments. I can’t find any words to express how terribly sad I feel finding out Mr. Neale is dead. None.

    • Hi Ebi

      It’s been a long time.

      Sorry I didnt see your comment until a few mintues ago. We’re all still recovering from the shock of Bill’s passing but he left us with some wonderful memories. 🙂

  • My first book released from MLR the same day as Bill’s book “A New Normal.” He was very kind with his emails of encouragement to a novice author just starting out. I’m sorry I’ll now never meet him in person. Even from a few emails, his kindness, and his enthusiasm for writing and the community of writers was clear. He will be missed. My deepest sympathy to Marty and all of Bill’s close friends.

    • Hello Kaje

      Bill had a reputation for supporting novice writers and helping his peers, and your story proves this once again. He will be missed by everyone who knew him because of his wonderful personal qualities and I hope that Marty draws comfort from comments like yours.

  • My last communication with Bill was his encouraging me to attend the GayRomLit event in Albuquerque so that we could finally meet in person. We had been emailing from time to time ever since I reviewed his first book on Amazon. He was so gracious. I still can’t believe he is gone. He always made you feel as though you were the most important person – that’s a gift. I know I will miss him – I already do.

    It’s a very lovely tribute, Wave. All the comments speak to just how very special a person Bill was and I’m so sorry for Marty’s great loss.

    • It’s such a shame that as the old saying goes “only the good die young”. Bill’s best quality was kindness; he had an innate ability to bond with people and make them friends even though he never met them, and that’s how I felt about him. We only corresponded and I never met him but like you, I felt his warmth and he made me feel that I was important to him.

      We all miss him but Marty and his other “boys” will feel his loss keenly for the rest of their lives.

  • Thank you for putting this up, Wave. I hope (no pun intended) that all enjoy one final new glimpse into the world that Bill created. That anytime someone wants a hug from Bill they can just visit with him in one of his books.

    Bill’s boys (Marty and the dogs) are doing okay. I was privileged to call Bill a good friend and I’ve become a good friend with Marty in the past month. He has stopped by and read the comments, as have some of Bill’s RL friends, and has been touched by the comments.

    • Hi Kris
      Thanks for stopping by – I know what a busy schedule you have. It was my pleasure to do this for Bill who was always kind to me when we talked about books, not just his books.

      I hope that Marty and Bill’s RL friends found some measure of comfort in knowing that he was so loved and admired by his other friends and his writing community, as well as his fans. I know it’s tough for Marty at this time but at least he knows that the man he loved for 13 years was loved by others.

      As for Hope, I will be reviewing this book next week.

      Thanks again Kris and my deep condolences to Marty and the rest of Bill’s boys, as well as everyone at MLR Press. Give Laura a hug from me – this must be a very difficult time for her.


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I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports - especially baseball
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