Bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey died this past weekend after a long battle with cancer. He was only 59 years old. He’d written 28 novels and a 29th, The Son of Mr. Suleman, is scheduled to arrive in bookstores on April 20th.

Dickey’s contemporary works were fueled by a distinct pride in his Black heritage; audiences celebrate him for his contributions to a community that has since come into its own. He penned entertaining and sensual romance novels, but his latest also hones in on topics particularly relevant in today’s cultural climate, just one example of the versatility and depth found throughout his abundant literary offerings.

Dickey was schooled in software development at the University of Memphis after a childhood in the same city. He then moved to LA to try his hand in the aerospace industry, but despite this pursuit, he honored his natural gifts by exploring storytelling in various forms. He realized the love and joy it could bring to both himself and others, and embraced the arts wholeheartedly to great success.

His body of work includes his highly well-received novels, but also short stories, comedy sketches he performed himself, poems, a graphic novel, and even a screenplay showcased in various local venues in the LA area. Speaking of which, LA practically becomes a recurring character throughout his novels, a vibrant and abounding source of material. Dickey’s amiability in life certainly matched the environment.

The burgeoning author’s very first short story “Thirteen” was published in the 1994 collection River Crossings: Voices of the Diaspora: An Anthology on the International Black Experience. He leaned into this achievement and welcomed the opportunity to help meet a need; Dickey’s well-crafted Black characters ring true and provide a strong foundation for his multifaceted art. In the wake of his passing, Dickey’s website has been updated to highlight the influence and impact of his writing, lauding him as “an iconic author and friend.”

Dickey won many awards, most notably a 2014 NAACP Image Award for A Wanted Woman as well as nominations for Liar’s Game, Thieves’ Paradise, The Other Woman, and Genevieve. Numerous individuals have publicly mourned Dickey and named him as an inspiration for their own creativity and expression. Dickey himself said, “It’s impossible to explain creativity. It’s like asking a bird, ‘How do you fly?’ You just do.”

There is no doubt, however, that this radiant author gave wings to many.