Fan Mail Wednesday #31

Bang a gong — it’s another Fan Mail Wednesday! Here’s a good example of what it’s like to get a letter from a mob . . .

Dear Mr. Preller,

We are kindergarten, first, second and third grade students at The Albany Academies in Albany, New York.  We enjoyed reading your book, The Case of the Stinky Science Project, during Book Clubs. As part of our assignment we came up with questions we would like to ask you about the book and being an author. We look forward to meeting you during the Academies Children’s Book Festival in April.

A few of our questions are:

* How does it feel to make a really good book? * Is making books fun? * How did you become an author? * Are you working on a book right now? * How many books have you written? * What is your favorite book you have written? * What gave you the idea for the Jigsaw Jones series? * How many Jigsaw Jones books have you written? * How did you come up with all your story ideas? * What is your favorite Jigsaw Jones book? * What is the latest book in the Jigsaw Jones series? * Have you ever made a volcano that was stinky? * Did you like science when you were little? * Have you written any other series? * What is your favorite book that you have read?

Thanks for your time!

Sincerely,
Mrs. Epstein, Evan, Vishal, Jack, Nicholas, Hudson, Devan, and Douglas

Here’s my reply:

Dear Mrs. Epstein, boys, girls, hamsters:

Thanks for your note. My gosh, those are a LOT of questions, and I do have this inconvenient full-time job thingy, so I’ll pick a few to answer and hope that’s not too terribly disappointing.

How does it feel to make a really good book?

It’s a great feeling when it comes together and you think, “Yes, this is what I wanted to say, this is how I wanted to say it.” Not every book comes out that way. In fact, with me it’s usually parts of books, moments, chapters that are “really good.” But to do that for a whole entire book? I’m still trying.

Is making books fun?

No, I wouldn’t say it’s fun. A lot of different feelings go into the process, and not all of them are “happy-happy, let’s do the Dance of Joy.” I’m not complaining; I’m just saying.

How did you become an author?

I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. What’s strange is that a lot of folks who claim they want to be authors are unwilling to take that necessary step. It’s simple: Before you become an author, you must become . . . a writer.

Are you working on a book right now?

Yes. I’m pretty much always working on a book. I’m currently in the “I hate myself” stage of the writing process. I think this answer relates to a previous question about “fun.”

What is your favorite book you have written?

Six Innings. I love my new one, Bystander, coming out in Fall, 2009. It’s about bullying, set in a middle school. Very proud of that one. I like my new picture book, Mighty Casey, that’s due in March. It’s just a light-hearted, hopefully humorous look at Little League baseball at the youngest, purest level — with rhyming text, for extra buoyancy!

What is your favorite Jigsaw Jones book?

I tend to like certain moments in each book, rather than whole entire books from beginning to end. I really like the opening two chapters of Super Special #2: The Case of the Million-Dollar Mystery. But there are definitely a few that, to me, fall a little short of what I hoped they’d become. For example, in The Case of the Detective in Disguise, I tried to weave together two separate mysteries — but I think it was an experiment that failed. Yet as a writer, you learn with each failure, so in a way it was a successful experiment: I learned what didn’t work. Triumph!

Thanks for your time!

JP

P.S. For more on the Children’s Book Festival at Albany Academies, the date is April 17; click like there’s no tomorrow right here for full details.

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