COREA, Maine — Louis A. Meyer, better known as L.A. Meyer, the best-selling author of the popular Jacky Faber young adult adventure book series, died July 29 at his home in the Hancock County town of Corea after a long battle with lymphoma. He was 72.
Mary “Jacky” Faber — known as “Bloody Jack” in the books — is a character Meyer created in the early 2000s after listening to George Fowler’s “New Potatoes” radio program on WERU 89.9 FM. The show had featured British and Celtic folk songs about girls who dressed up as men in order to get aboard a sailing ship.
“These songs generally end up with the girl being found out quickly and threatened with being thrown overboard, but all ends happily when she either marries the boy or the captain,” and Meyer, in an essay posted on his website. “It occurred to me, however, to wonder what it would be like if the girl, instead of seeking to be with her lover, connives to get on board a British warship in order to just eat regularly and have a place to stay.”
Jacky Faber made her debut in 2002, with “Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary Jacky Faber, Ship’s Boy.” Meyer’s scrappy, smart, outspoken protagonist is thrown into the middle of real historical events in the early 19th century. The story resonated with preteens and young teenagers, so much so that Meyer published nine more books in the series, from the “Bloody Jack” follow-up “Curse of the Blue Tattoo” in 2004 to “Boston Jacky” in 2013.
“She’s just a feral child at the beginning, who wants to survive at any cost,” Meyer said in a 2005 Bangor Daily News article. “She’s not burdened by the morals of the time. She’s just loyal to her gang. I never wanted to have her do anything a small girl couldn’t do. She’s clever, but not terrifically brave. She has no use for the boys’ concept of honor. She just wants to keep her head down when the firing starts.”
Meyer also wrote several children’s books in the 1970s. In addition, he was a painter, earning a Master of Fine Arts in painting from Boston University. He showcased much of his work at Clair de Loon, a retail gallery he and his wife, Annetje Lawrence Meyer, owned in Bar Harbor for more than 30 years.
Before moving to Maine, Meyer worked as an art teacher in a Massachusetts high school and lived on a houseboat with his wife in Fort Myers, Florida, where they also owned an art gallery.
Meyer, born in 1942 in Pennsylvania, summered in Maine with his wife for more than 40 years. In 1998, the couple moved to Corea. They owned and operated the Clair de Loon until late 2013, when the shop had to close because of Meyer’s illness.
The final book in the Jacky Faber series, “Wild Rover No More,” is set to be published in September 2014 by Meyer’s longtime publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Speaking of his fan base — mostly middle-school-age girls — he said he preferred their approval to many of those in the art world.
“All my life, at cocktail parties or art openings, I’ve been hearing ‘I love your stuff,’ and I just shrug it off,” Meyer said in the same 2005 article. “But when a sixth-grade girl says ‘I love your books,’ that gets to me.”
Meyer is survived by his wife, Annetje, and two sons, Matthew Meyer and wife, Helen, and Nathaniel Meyer, both of Portland.
“I will always be grateful to Lou for treating me like a queen, for his involvement in our children’s lives, for our many adventures together and for making sure we never had a dull life,” Annetje Meyer said in a statement to the BDN. “He was a magnificent Renaissance man.”