Donald Westlake not only wrote great books that entertained millions of people, he wrote books that inspired people to become authors. All you have to do is look at all the heart-felt tributes from authors in the aftermath of Westlake's death yesterday to discover that.
UPDATE: My brother Tod shares his memories of an excellent panel he moderated with Westlake (I'd forgotten about that) and our conversation with him at the party…though he seems to think the chat we had lasted for three hours. The truth is, it doesn't matter how long the conversation was…because for Tod and I, it won't end, the memory and its influence will stay with us for years. And that's how I will measure it.
Westlake was pontificating, he was asking us stuff, too, we were
actually talking to Donald Westlake and he seemed perfectly
content, never mind that Lee and I were very nearly slobbering fools in
his presence. He was sweet, effusive and told us great stories for an
entire evening and then Lee and I sat in the car on the way home and
repeated all of the stories back to each other, as if we hadn't both
experienced them together.