Ralph M. Vicinanza, 1950-2010

by wjw on October 1, 2010

My agent, Ralph Vicinanza, died suddenly over the weekend from an apparent brain aneurysm.  He was in good condition and vibrant health, but an aneurysm can kill you at any age, and this one did.

At some point around 1992, I was sold to Ralph by my former agent.  (Odd to think that this sort of thing happens in this day and age.)  My former agent had decided to leave the business entirely, and he contacted Ralph, who agreed to represent me and also agreed to buy out that agent’s 10% of my backlist.

He did ask my permission first.  I had never met Ralph, and so I got a list of his other clients and started to call them.  The first I called was Robert Silverberg.  “In my forty years of publishing,” he intoned in his magisterial way, “I have never met a more talented and intelligent representative.”

I never saw the point in calling any of the others on the list.

And what a list it was!  Stephen King, Robert Heinlein, Kim Stanley Robinson, Connie Willis, Gregory Benford, David Brin, Joe Haldeman, Nancy Kress, Robert Sawyer, Jack Vance . . . I couldn’t have found myself in more stellar company.

Ralph helped grow my career and introduce my work into foreign markets, and as a result my income from foreign sales often tops my domestic sales.  When I had to hire a lawyer to threaten Penguin Books, Ralph was in there pitching, and eventually helped settle the issue so that I got more money from a better publisher.

Ralph was a high-powered guy.  He did his best to make me a high-powered writer.  And when my career was on the skids some years ago, he worked hard to get me a new deal and a new publisher.

He loaned me money when I was broke.  I can’t say that about anyone else who didn’t happen to be my parents.

When I had a problem, Ralph listened.  He cared.  He got results.

I’m going to miss him a lot.

Ralf the Dog October 1, 2010 at 6:53 am

It is sad when good people die. It is even more so when they are a friend or a mentor.

Anonymous October 1, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I’m sorry to hear the loss of your agent and friend. It sounds like he was a true gem in many aspects of your life.

Dave October 1, 2010 at 8:30 pm

He will be missed! My wife is his niece. Since I came into his family,he has showed me nothing but love. He would aways make me feel comfortable,and treated me like I was one of his own. Nothing ever went to his head. I miss his loud laugh,but most of all,I miss him. He was a great man,who would do anything for his family! I wish my daughter could know who he is.

wjw October 2, 2010 at 4:14 am

Dave, my sincere condolences to you, y0ur wife, and her family.

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