After moving to a new city last summer and not getting a full-time teaching position, I found myself with a lot of extra time. I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time, took up Zumba, and created a blog. I also decided to do something that I had thought about for a long time, but never had the time to sit down and do: I sent out a bunch of letters to some of my favorite authors. I wanted to let them know how much I enjoyed their books and appreciated their work. I shared part of a letter I wrote in an earlier post about Caroline B. Cooney. I found the addresses on various places around the web. I typed up cute letters and put them in the mail…and then I never heard from any of the authors. Not a mass-produced postcard response or anything.
I’ll have to admit, I was a bit disappointed. I’m not trying to book an author for an event or anything, but I’d like some kind of confirmation that my letter made it to its intended audience. I remember writing to celebrities in elementary school when we learned about letter writing, and we all got something back from the people we wrote to (I wrote to Patricia Richardson, aka Jill Taylor from the 90s classic TV show Home Improvement. I must not have been able to find Jonathan Taylor Thomas’s address!).
The only author I did manage to reach was Katherine Neville, author of The Eight. I sent her an e-mail (which means that perhaps my letter writing was a bit too old-fashioned) and she sent a response back lickety-split. I told her how much I enjoyed her novels and that until her next book came out, I was busy reading Steve Berry’s books. She wrote back:
In an age of social media and staying connected to your customers, I figured more authors would be willing to respond to a reader’s letter. Is this just wishful thinking on my part? I’d love to have a response from an author I’ve admired.
Has anyone else tried to contact an author before? Were you successful? Any tips on how can I find more up-to-date addresses? Or should I give up on the letter approach and contact authors through e-mail or their blogs?
Entry #19 – Favorite author: What author do you gravitate towards in the bookstore or library? Which author can you not get enough books from? Or maybe they’ve only written one book, but it changed your life.
Growing up, my very favorite author would have to be Caroline B. Cooney. This past summer, I decided to send a piece of fan-mail to this author who was an important part of my life. I don’t know if she actually read my letter or not, but I thought it was important to express my thanks for her novels. Check out a bit of the letter I sent:
I picked up The Face on the Milk Carton in middle school and became a Caroline B. Cooney fan for life. “Cooney” was the first bookshelf I always checked at the library or bookstore, and I voraciously read your body of work. I realize now how lucky I was to have parents who valued reading and were able to fund my book habit. I have read at least 40 of your titles and personally own 30 of the books. I remember ordering some of the trickier to find titles on e-bay when I was in college. I also have The Face on the Milk Carton starring Kellie Martin and Edward Herrmann recorded on VHS!
Besides The Face on the Milk Carton series, some of my favorite books are The Time Travelers Quartet, Driver’s Ed, and The Terrorist. I enjoy your books because of the slightly-unusual character names, the fast-paced and suspenseful action, and the relatable main characters. I’ve never seen my own face on a milk carton, stolen a stop sign, handled smallpox scabs, or traveled back in time, but for some reason, I believe what the characters are doing and feel for them. I cheer them on when they make good choices and groan when they do the wrong thing. Your books provided the adventure I needed in my life.
Even though I am now twenty-seven years old, I still enjoy picking up your books. In fact, I just read Three Black Swans and Code Orange this summer. It has taken me fifteen years to send this piece of fan-mail, but I wanted to let you know how much I admire you as an author. I will continue to recommend your books to my friends and students.
As an adult, I still gravitate towards Young Adult Literature, so I admire authors like Ally Condie, Kristin Cashore, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, Carrie Jones, and Marissa Meyer. When it comes to more “grown up” books, I’m a fan of authors Steve Berry, Katherine Neville, Paullina Simons, and Gillian Flynn. The biggest bummer is finding an author I really like, and then discovering that the author has only written one book!
Who are your favorite authors?
Entry #15 – Re-read: This is a book that you have read more than once.
As an English teacher, I’ve re-read my fair share of books. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read Romeo & Juliet, The Outsiders, The Miracle Worker, or Holes. When it comes to reading for pleasure rather than for lesson planning, I tend to shy away from re-reading. There are so many books I want to read that I don’t have time to re-read. I don’t have the tattered book that I carry with me everywhere and read once a year. Despite this, I was surprised at the growing list of books that I have re-read.
1. The China Garden by Liz Berry……Read 5 times
This title is always my response when I’m asked what my favorite book is. I’ll talk about it more in a later post. All you need to know now is that it’s wonderful…and I kind of want to re-read it again soon!
2. The Giver by Lois Lowry……….Read 4 times
This is a Young Adult classic. I used it with my seventh graders last year, but I’ve also read it plenty of times on my own. I love the world of “sameness” that Lowry has created and Jonah’s realization that his world is not as perfect as he once thought. It’s the original dystopian novel.
3. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger………….Read 2 times
Don’t we all wish we could travel through time? In Niffenegger’s novel, she shows readers a darker side to time travel through the romance of Henry and Clare. Cool fact: Niffenegger is not only a talented writer (she wrote the creepy novel Her Fearful Symmetry, too), but she’s also an artist. She creates stories and artwork for visual and graphic novels. See some of her work for the story Raven Girl here.
4. Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth…Read 2 times
It should be no surprise from my previous posts that I adored Divergent and Insurgent. I took a break from reading during November to focus on my NaNoWriMo novel, but I wasn’t very good at staying away from books! I told myself, “I’ll just re-read Insurgent so I’ll be ready to read Allegiant…” and then I decided I might as well re-read Divergent too! I was pleased to discover they were just as good as I had remembered.
5. The Terrorist by Caroline B. Cooney……………Read 2 times
Cooney was my favorite author as a teen. I read The Face on The Milk Carton and became hooked on Cooney’s ability to create believable teen characters who were going through crazy things like discovering they had been kidnapped, or might have unleashed smallpox on the world from an old scab in a book, or traveled back in time. Her books were short and could be read quickly. I always made a beeline for the “C” shelf at Barnes & Noble, eager to pick out another one of her novels. Even as an adult, I wander over to the shelf to find out if Cooney has written anything new. I recently re-read The Terrorist on my Kindle Fire. Even though the book was published in 1997, the subject matter (a kid from an international school in London is killed by a bomb) still feels relevant.
How about you? What books do you find yourself re-reading?