A sad loss for the writing community

April 14, 2022

Autumn House Press was deeply saddened to learn of the recent loss of our beloved author Melissa Wiley.

Through her writing, Melissa sought endlessly for truth and meaning in the face of loss with humility, compassion, and curiosity. We were honored to publish her second essay collection, Skull Cathedral: A Vestigial Anatomy, which was longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, in 2020. This collection is one-of-a-kind and a testament to the immense gifts Melissa possessed as a writer, and we will forever remain proud champions of her work and the legacy she left.

The intimate bonds that we, as editors, develop with our authors are difficult to explain, and this loss has been unexpected and difficult to process. It feels as though words are inadequate, and yet, words are what we have and are essential to the relationship we built with Melissa. In that spirit, we wanted to take a moment to honor Melissa through her words:

. . . more life always stirs inside any given person or ecosystem than ever becomes visible on the surface. Beneath the skin of every human body, the appendix attached to our own intestines serves as evidence of our ongoing evolution, proof no species can stay stagnant but must continue adapting to life’s ceaseless need for movement.

As we grieve, our thoughts are with Melissa’s family and loved ones—particularly her sister, Melanie, and husband, Robert, whom she wrote about with such love—in both the mourning of her passing and in a celebration of her life. We send our condolences, and we cherish Melissa’s life.

To read more about Melissa’s life and to share your condolences, please visit the Shelbyville News.

Filed under: Author Update