Joan Lingard, author of 60 novels for both adults and children, including the popular Kevin and Sadie series, died July 12, the Bookseller reported. She was 90. Lingard's career spanned five decades, with her most recent children's book, Trouble on Cable Street, released in 2014. Other titles include the novels The Kiss, Encarnita's Journey and After You've Gone. Her debut novel, The Twelfth Day of July, the first of the Kevin and Sadie series, is set in Belfast during the Troubles and was originally published in 1970.
Lindsey Fraser, her literary agent, said: "I read Joan's novels as a teenager, sold her books as a bookseller, worked with her at Scottish Book Trust and had the privilege of being her literary agent. She was always inspiring and forthright, and she trusted her readers--children and adults--with big ideas and authentic emotions delivered through watertight plots. She was clever and focused--thank goodness she used her considerable talents to write novels."
Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin Random House Children's, noted that Lingard "was an incredible writer who gave us some of the most important stories of her time. For her YA titles on our list, the Kevin and Sadie books are essential reading. A love story set during the troubles in Northern Ireland, the emotions she shared, the situation she portrayed so vividly still resonate with young people today."
A member of Scottish PEN, Lingard established Scottish Writers Against the Bomb and in the 1970s was a member of the committee that spearheaded the idea of a book festival in Edinburgh. Among her many honors, she won the 2009 Royal Mail Award for Scottish Children's Books, and in 1998 was awarded an MBE for services to literature.
Lingard "was known to generations of teenagers in Northern Ireland as the creator of Belfast's own pair of star-crossed lovers, Catholic Kevin and Protestant Sadie, and followed their adventures in a series of five books," the Irish Times reported.
Northern Irish writer Jan Carson said the "Kevin and Sadie books, an absolute staple of our school book boxes, were my very first experience of encountering characters who sounded like me and came from the same part of the world as me. Lingard played an enormously instrumental role in reminding so many of us Northern Irish creatives that our stories were valid, interesting and worth exploring. As such, we should all be incredibly grateful for the legacy she leaves behind."