December 20, 1968–November 7, 2015
“You’re the nudge.”
This simple revelation comes near the conclusion of Sandra Moran’s epic work Nudge. It points to a certain, yet unseen outcome that stunned the book’s protagonist, Sarah Sheppard. But the pronouncement came as no surprise to the reader, or to any of us who were fortunate enough to know and love the book’s charismatic author. Reading Nudge, we perceived that something extraordinary was happening—that things could unfold in no other way. And that we, too, were bearing witness to a sequence of events that would change the way we understood the shared landscape of our lives—and our literature—for generations to come.
That’s where the rubber meets the road in this landmark work of fiction. And that’s where the rubber met the road in the short but profound life of Sandra Moran. Through her writing and by her example, she made us look deeper within and further afield than we were accustomed to do. She adopted themes and explored ideas that illustrated and amplified the ways we are bound to each other as wayfaring pilgrims—but that also lay bare the historical, spiritual, and ideological differences that conspire to keep us apart.
We are like and unlike. We are real and imagined. We are kind and we are cruel. We are enlightened and we are unredeemed. We are whole and we are flawed. But mostly, we are human. And through Sandra Moran’s process of careful, insightful observation—employing the best practices of art and science—we began to understand ourselves, and our plodding journey through time. Under her tutelage we learned that with very good luck and the just the right dose of perspective, we have the potential to live our lives without repeating the same mistakes that got us where we are.
This was the mantra of Sandra Moran, the author, the scholar, the teacher, the woman, and the ultimate observer of humankind. It is certain that her published works, Letters Never Sent, Nudge, The Addendum, All We Lack and the forthcoming State of Grace will continue to gain recognition as seminal works in the canon of our literature. These books herald the arrival of the next wave in our collective discourse. And they presage a period where we begin as a culture to turn our gazes inward, and reflect on the stories and histories that have boldly carried us to this crossroads along our march into history. Under Sandra Moran’s microscope, ruminations about where we will go take a backseat to a thoughtful and engaging examination of how we arrived—here, in this new place, where we finally are at liberty to ask the questions.
Sandra carried her great curiosity into realms beyond the pages of her books. She was first, last, and always a scholar and a teacher. Her fieldwork encompassed more than the anthropological digs and classroom exercises that informed and motivated her students and enriched her writing. Her legacy as one of our best emissaries of serious lesbian fiction, and her unselfish drive and willingness to teach, talk, travel, and share the best and brightest of our stories and our shared histories with all manner of audiences has opened countless new channels of accessibility for readers who previously would not have looked twice at LGBTQ fiction.
I was honored to be her colleague. I was blessed to call her friend. And I will forever remain humbled to have been among the many legions of readers and writers who benefited from her hard work, her great mind, her endless generosity of spirit, and her unparalleled talent and vision.
Rest in peace, my dear friend. You left us far too soon. But the gift of your words, the warmth, energy, and goodness of your spirit, and the passion you brought to everything you did will be a legacy that endures forever.
A native Kansan, Sandra Moran was born on December 20, 1968. Her varied employment history spoke to her sense of intellectual adventure. She worked as a political speechwriter, a newspaper journalist, and an archaeological tour manager. In addition to her writing career, Sandra served as an assistant adjunct professor of anthropology at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. Sandra was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in October, and passed away in hospice care on November 7, less than a month later. She is survived by her best friend, soulmate, and spouse, Cheryl Pletcher.
Memorial donations can be made to the Golden Crown Literary Society Sandra Moran Scholarship Fund.