Thursday, August 02, 2007
Booking Through Thursday: Letters! We Get Letters
Have you ever written an author a fan letter? Did you get an answer? Did it spark a conversation? A meeting? (And, sure, I suppose that e-mails DO count . . . but I’d say no to something like a message board on which the author happens to participate.)
Once upon a time, I wrote a letter to author Don Pendleton. I was in high school at the time and something in his books inspired me to write. Or perhaps it was because there was a contact address listed in the book and I thought, why not? It's been so long that I do not remember. I do know that I enjoyed his Ashton Ford series very much. The protagonist was a private detective who had psychic abilities. I never did read his Mack Bolan series, the series for which he is most known and gave him the title of "father of the modern action/adventure." I wrote him a rather long letter, if I remember correctly, telling him how much I liked his books and telling him a little about myself. His response is one of my most treasured letters. I still have it to this day.
I often think of writing to authors. After I finish a good book, I sometimes compose letters in my head to the author, telling him or her what I got out of the book and just how much I liked it. When it comes to actually sitting down and taking the time to show my appreciation, I rarely do. Besides the fact that I often draw a blank when it comes time to putting words on a paper or into an e-mail, suddenly what I wanted to say sounds terrible. To me anyway. And would the author really care what I have to say? I have heard so much about people writing touching and soul revealing letters to authors, explaining how a particular book has impacted their lives, even changed them. My letter would pale in comparison. My letter would seem superficial and, well,dull.
Ultimately I know that is silly thinking. If I were an author and I received a letter from a fan, no matter the length or context, I would appreciate it regardless. Who wouldn't like to get a letter or an e-mail telling you how much your book was enjoyed? I imagine each letter brings a smile to the author's face. I wouldn't be so appreciative of hate mail, but that's another subject altogether.
In actuality, I have written other authors besides Don Pendleton. On the spur of the moment while visiting the authors' websites, I e-mailed Anne Perry and J.A. Jance, both of whom write mystery series I enjoy. They both wrote back, which thrilled me no end. I sent a short note to both T. Jefferson Parker and Kelley Armstrong by snail mail, although I am not sure these count because I was seeking autographed nameplates.
Although in my own mind my correspondence with these authors sparked further conversation, those one-sided conversations stayed in my head. And although I did get the chance to hear Anne Perry and J.A. Jance speak in person, I never did talk with them directly (I also heard T. Jefferson Parker speak, but that was before I'd read anything by him). I had not realized that Don Pendleton passed away in 1995 until I was visiting his website today. I might have liked to write him one more time to tell him just how much his letter has meant to me over the years.
Every now and then I come across a review on a blog that is written in the form of a letter to the author. I think it is a neat idea.
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!