Carolyn Hougan passed away Sunday, January 25, at University Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

I loved Carolyn like an older sister. In the three years I knew her, I went from fan to friend.

Carolyn wrote the kind of complicated, intelligent, unputdownable books that I aspire to write. The Genesis Code is my all-time favorite, and the book that inspired me to begin writing thrillers in the first place.

For the past year, she had been acting as a mentor to me, advising and nurturing my writing career. Jim tells me she learned of my first novel sale while she was in the hospital, and I'm grateful for that, but I was so looking foward to continuing to share my progress with her, hanging out with her at ThrillerFest again this summer, and just generally leaning on her as she encouraged and cheered. Like an older sister, I thought she'd always be there.

Carolyn was warm, witty, and wise. She is sorely missed.

Washington Post obituary.

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Comment by J. Carson Black on March 24, 2007 at 1:06pm
And optimistic, fun people! They really struck a chord with me, even though I only spent one night with them.
Comment by Karen Dionne on March 24, 2007 at 6:18am
Carolyn and Jim made an online guest speaker visit to the Backspace discussion forums last fall, and while Carolyn mentioned she'd been in the hospital, she said it was nothing. I guess they wanted to keep their problems to themselves. Such marvelous, gracious people.
Comment by J. Carson Black on March 24, 2007 at 6:12am
Karen, I talked to Jim in early October, I think it was, about foreign publishers, since they did so well with them. He did mention that Carolyn had had "health problems", but that was it. I never would have guessed she was seriously ill in a million years. Spending time with them was the highlight of Thrillerfest--they were that interesting and that much fun. We could have talked all night.
Comment by Karen Dionne on March 24, 2007 at 6:09am
Hi, Jake - I was shocked too. If Carolyn was ill last fall, she never let on in our email exchanges. I only found out from Jim shortly after she'd passed away. So sad.
Comment by J. Carson Black on March 24, 2007 at 6:04am

I was shocked to read here about Carolyn's death. I met her and Jim at Thrillerfest last year, and we hit it off really well. I had no idea she had cancer. This makes me so sad. She seemed so healthy and full of life--I can hardly believe it.

Comment by Karen Dionne on March 22, 2007 at 9:53pm
Thanks for commenting, Lisa. John Case, of course, is very famous, but Jim and Carolyn Hougan were far less known. When I first read and loved The Genesis Code, I had no idea it had been written by a husband and wife team. In fact, I remember thinking, "No wonder it's so good! It was written by two people!"

I interviewed Jim and Carolyn at Bouchercon in 2005 - the interview is on their website - and that's where our friendship began. I was SO nervous! Not only because I was a huge fan, but because I'd never interviewed anyone before. But Jim and Carolyn were very kind. Later, after we became friends, I told Carolyn how nervous I was, and she said, "We could tell. We thought you were cute." :) And there was me, trying to be so professional! If you're a John Case fan, you should read the interview - it's a fun little window into how the two of them worked.

And thanks so much for the nice words about my book! I'll be sure to let you know when it comes out.
Comment by Lisa Richardson on March 22, 2007 at 3:34pm
Karen, what a wonderful memory to have. I did not realize until I read the obituary in the paper, that she and her husband were a writing team. Good luck with your book, congratulations, and I'll put it on my list of books to watch for right now!

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