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Tributes & MessagesNoreen Rees

I first became aware of Julia through her novel Crocodile Soup which I read whilst lying on a sunbed on Gran Canaria. The weather was wonderful but the high point of the holiday was Julia’s book. It was so quirky, totally original and I was knocked-out by her use of metaphor. It seemed to me a seminal book for writers.

A few months later, I met Julia herself. She had been asked to judge a short story competition organised by a local writing group and had chosen my story as the winner. Her encouraging comments were the catalyst which led to me leaving the comfort-blanket of the writing group, and beginning to think of myself as a writer, not a hobbyist.

I saw Julia occasionally at writing events after that, and she was unmistakable for her wide smile and sense of fun. I didn’t manage to attend every launch — Julia was so prolific a writer that there seemed so many — but shortly after the launch of Sudden Collapses in Public Places I decided to run the ‘Race for Life’ inspired by Julia’s battle with cancer.

When I e mailed to tell her I’d managed to persuade seven other women to run round Gosforth Racecourse with me, Julia publicised this on the website. We were all stars, she told us, and wished us well. I was touched that she had taken the time to tell us.

I’m planning to run ‘Race for Life’ again this year. Anyone like to join me?

Noreen Rees