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Weekend All Things Considered remembers NPR books editor Petra Mayer


We'd like to take a few minutes now to tell you about one of our much-loved colleagues who left us all too soon, Petra Mayer. She died suddenly yesterday from an apparent pulmonary embolism. She was 46 years old. Petra's title was books editor on the Arts and Culture Desk. And she was a frequent guest on NPR's podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour.


GLEN WELDON: Petra, you've read these books. What'd you make of this adaptation, this very loose adaptation?

PETRA MAYER: So yeah, I had read the books long ago, when I was a baby nerd. And I had to refresh my memory in order to prepare myself because I like to neurotically over-prepare for everything. And I got to say...

LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: You know, I loved having Petra on Pop Culture Happy Hour because she was a person whose enthusiasms were in all caps all the time.

MARTIN: That's Linda Holmes, one of the hosts of Pop Culture Happy Hour.

HOLMES: She just loved the things she loved. And she loved talking to people about the things that she loved. And all she wanted was to, like, find something that she loved that you would also love. That was kind of her passion in life, I think.

MARTIN: That's one reason books editor, Comic-Con enthusiast, baker, cat lover, or even one of her favorite words, nerd, cannot completely capture everything she brought to NPR. Prior to joining the NPR books team in 2012, she was an associate producer and director for this show, WEEKEND ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, and was a production assistant for Morning Edition and Weekend Edition Saturday. As an editor, she was committed to searching out fresh, diverse voices as authors and reviewers. NPR freelancer Amal El-Mohtar says that Petra reached out to her at a critical moment.

AMAL EL-MOHTAR, BYLINE: I was at a really, really low point. I was dirt poor. And then this just bubbly, joyful, wonderful, like, sunshine as a person came into my inbox and offered me this absolute dream gig. She felt like a miracle just kind of coming into my life.

MARTIN: El-Mohtar became not only a colleague but a close friend.

EL-MOHTAR: We got to meet each other at conventions and, you know, stay up until the wee hours of the morning talking about books and TV and "Doctor Who" and all the things that we just loved in common.

MARTIN: Petra brought so much joy to her friends and to her work. True to form, fellow NPR editor Beth Novey says the two had planned brunch yesterday morning and that Petra had promised to bake something stupidly elaborate that she'd seen on "The Great British Bake Off." She never arrived. Still, Petra's joy remains with us. And we're doing our best here to try to tell you how much she will be missed. But for that, there really are no words.


JONATHAN COULTON: (Singing) Spinning in a distant place for a thousand years, dizzy when I see your face again. Even though you move so slow, can you almost see anywhere that I might... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.