11 Dec. 1954 - 25 March 2004
Memorial website created by Christy Marx.
On March 25, 2004, my best friend in the whole world drove out to the San Pedro River outside Tombstone, Arizona with a gun and took her life.
This is her memorial site. Aside from a few pages I have added, such as this one, the rest of the site is composed of her own website, as it was when she died. I've made only a few minor changes, out of necessity. Otherwise, it's a snapshot of Katherine, as she presented herself to the world, as of March 2004.
This picture was taken when she visited New Zealand, fulfilling a long-time dream. It was perhaps one of her last truly happy moments.
Note: I am now literary executor
for all of Katherine's creative works.
If you have inquiries regarding rights
to Katherine's work, please contact:
Katherine's original website.
Listen to a one hour lecture
Katherine gave at the 1997 Game
Developers Conference entitled
"The Art and Craft
WHAT KATHERINE MEANT TO ME
Peter (my husband) and I were living in Wrightwood. It was around 1986. I had become friends with a young writer named Ellen Guon, and one day Ellen came up to visit and unexpectedly brought someone else along. I was in a bad temper that day for whatever reason, irritable, and not in the mood to have a new person sprung on me. I remember this young woman perched on a kitchen stool, straight brown hair to her shoulders, glasses, not saying a word. That was Kathy Selbert.
Over the years she morphed into the bubbling, talkative Katherine Lawrence, my closest and dearest friend, my sometimes writer partner, and one of the first writers I would hire when I was a story editor.
I can't recall how the transition happened between that first, unpromising meeting at my house and all the times I stayed at her apartment in L.A. when I went down for meetings, but somewhere in there the bond was formed and it stuck. I even bought a futon sofa for her apartment, so I'd have something to sleep on.
We had a favorite routine during those visits. We'd go to Fab's at Van Nuys and Ventura for Italian food, then we'd cruise through Tower Records.
It may be that we grew close from working together in the animation field. We were both deeply involved with the AWA, the Animation Writers of America, the first attempt made by animation writers to form their own union, and we both served as officers. We moved into writing for computer games and often compared notes on that. We'd go to the GDC (Game Developers Conference) and give talks, sometimes as a team, sometimes separately, but it was always Kath who nudged me into doing it.
And you can bet I was proud of her as both a friend and as the series developer/story editor when she earned a WGA writing nomination for her "Icebound" episode of Hypernauts. We had fun hanging out together on the set while they were shooting her episode, including the infamous "towel boy" scene at the beginning. That was such a Katherine touch.
I was deeply upset when Kath decided to move to Tucson. I knew she had her reasons, but I also knew it meant I wouldn't get to see her very much. I was there to help her cram the final items into her beloved Honda, which was packed to the gills, to give her a hug and see her on her way. We were both struggling not to cry until she was gone.
After that, I mostly got to see her in San Diego at ComicCon when we would sometimes share a room. She was there for me, of course, when Peter was killed, as was Ellen, giving me friendship and support.
We had long, long talks on the phone, lots of email, but I wish I could have seen her more often. In her farewell letter to me, she remembered the happiness of one trip in particular. It was also the first thing that had come to my mind when I heard the bad news -- it was our last really great time together as girl buddies. Kath wanted to celebrate her 44th birthday at Disneyland and she wanted me to share it with her. It was a wonderful visit and we enjoyed everything to the hilt.
I will miss the long talks, the well-understood references we could drop, the joking and bantering, the whining and grousing, 18 years of shared experience struggling as writers, struggling in Hollywood, struggling with life, the wins and losses, the loves and loneliness...all of it. We revelled in being toon writers, making sound effects, using toon words. Ack ptui! Yikes!
She amazed me with her ability to identify which of my cats was meowing in the background when we were on the phone. She was nearly always right.
Kath was the one who would drag me into the latest internet activity. She got me onto GEnie, made my first webpage for me and got me into coding HTML, got me onto dm.net, and finally gave me a code for Live Journal and got me to create a page there. She would take me by the hand and lead me onward into these things. Now I'll probably lag behind with no one to push me.
She was half my memory, rather literally. I have a terrible memory for events, places, people, just about anything from the past. She had a terrific memory for such details and was constantly reminding of things I had totally forgotten. It was a joke that each year at ComicCon she'd have to remind me how to get to the airport to drop her off. Without Katherine, I've lost so much memory of the past.
I could count on hearing the words "utmost sympathies" from Kath when things went bad for me. I wish I'd had more words for her, words that would have shifted her final course. I wish I had been more aware. There was something niggling in the back of my mind all that week. I was deeply concerned when she said she'd given up on the novel she was writing. She had been so enthused and energetic about it, doing the research trips, and suddenly she dropped it. That was a big warning flag that I should have addressed much sooner.
As I see it, she had a demon voice in her head. It was a voice which I feel came from deep in her childhood and kept telling her she was a bad person, Bad Kath, a nasty person, a bitch, someone who could never do anything right. When Kath had hope, she could beat the demon voice back, but it was always there, nagging at her, tireless and incessant.
This time, the demon voice won.
She thought she was doing the "honorable" thing, that she was out of options, had nowhere to turn, no miracle about to happen to end her financial woes or her physical pains. Instead of turning to friends whom she didn't want to burden or hurt, she turned to the gun she named Morrigan.
It was so typical of her to name objects. Her computer Sleipner the 8-gigged steed, Angel the Impreza, Morrigan the gun. Morrigan the enabler. She was careful not to let me know about Morrigan. That was one big red warning flag that would I could not have ignored.
We always joked about how anal-retentive she was. She was no less so in planning her own death and carrying it out, with careful farewell letters and lists of contacts, instructions, items cleaned and neatly laid out on her dining room table with labels to return to such and such a person. So typically Katherine.
She thought she had done everything she could to minimize the pain to her friends. But she was wrong. I will never have another best friend like Katherine. She was unique.
I miss her so much.
OFFICIAL OBITUARY: I wrote this for the Animation Writers Caucus newsletter:
It's hard to know where to begin when saying good-bye to someone like Kath. She left us on March 25th, 2004, in Tucson, Arizona, and there is a hole in the universe.
She was born Kathy Selbert and adopted the name Katherine Lawrence in 1990, choosing the last name because of her deep admiration for T.E. Lawrence. Writing animation was a dream and a goal she had from the very beginning. She loved writing toons. As she put it herself on her website, "I'm still awed and thrilled by it. I consider myself the luckiest of the lucky."
Her earliest credits were Dungeons & Dragons, Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, Moondreamers and Bionic Six. Other credits included Biker Mice From Mars, Conan the Adventurer, Mighty Max, G.I. Joe Extreme, ReBoot, Shadow Raiders, X-Men: Evolution and Stargate: Infinity.
In 1996, she was nominated for Outstanding Script by the WGA for "Icebound", an episode of Hypernauts that she wrote for me. I'm not sure which one of us was prouder, but I know how much it meant to her.
Kath also did animation series development, wrote for computer games, and was the published author of several sf short stories and four non-fiction educational books for kids. We collaborated on a range of scripts and projects, including a direct-to-video animated feature.
That is a brief summary of a career. It barely touches upon Kath the avid RPG gamer, Kath the giver of excellent writing critique, Kath who loved the desert in all its seasons. She was generous with her friends and generous with her time as a WGA mentor. She gave her time and energy to the fight to improve the conditions of animation writers. She gave me eighteen years of the finest friendship I have ever known.
She leaves behind her written works and a great many grieving friends who will miss her smile, her laugh and her talent.
In a farewell letter she wrote, "It's been a good life. I've vastly exceeded my teenage dreams. 'Tis sufficient."