Author Leslie Esdaile Banks Dies at 51

With more than 40 books to her name, she was also a mentor to other writers.  

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Leslie Esdaile Banks, the prolific author of a best-selling series of vampire novels, romance books, paranormal thrillers and works of nonfiction, died Tuesday at age 51. She had adrenal cancer.

Her production totaled more than 40 books, many of which were set in Philadelphia and featured African-American characters.

Banks, who wrote her vampire titles under the name L.A. Banks and also used the pseudonyms Leslie Esdaile and Leslie E. Banks, was also known for her support of other writers.

Former Daily News columnist and author Solomon Jones said that Leslie "was a mentor, always willing to help. You don't see that a lot among authors. She was also helpful to me on the business side. She was very familiar with the business world, and that helped with her success."

"She was a very loving person," Jones said. "She was known for her big hugs. When she gave you a big hug and a smile, you knew she meant it."

Leslie had a business degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and a master's in filmmaking from Temple University.

She began her writing career in 1991, when her 6-month-old daughter was burned in a day care accident and lost three fingers. She wrote her first romance novel to help with the medical bills. The book, Sundance, was published in 1996. Others followed rapidly.

"Leslie is the kind of person you can easily pick when you want an example of basic decency, humanity, compassion and conscience," said fellow writer Jonathan Maberry, founder of the writers' group the Liars Club, of which she was an active member.

As one of her many civic activities, Banks was a member of the board of trustees of the Free Library. "Leslie Banks was a passionate supporter of the Free Library of Philadelphia and an important member of the board of trustees," wrote Robert C. Helm, trustee chairman. "Her insight, creativity and generous spirit will be sorely missed by the library community ... " 

Read more at the Philadelphia Daily News.