Yikes, I’m getting behind on my fan mail — I can only marvel at how Santa must feel! How in the North Pole does he keep up with it?
I know! Santa has those eager little helpers.
I’ve got to get me some . . . Elvises!
Wait, hold on. That’s not right. I mean: cute little Elfs elves.
Urm. Hmmm. I was thinking something more along the lines of this . . .
(Excuse me, my wife is on the phone. This won’t take a minute.)
“What’s that, honey? I can’t . . . could you stop screaming . . . no, it was a joke . . . I’m just . . . PUT DOWN THE GOLF CLUB . . . yes, dear . . . yes, dear . . . you know I’d never . . . [CLICK] honey? . . . sugar lips? . . . dumpling?”
Oh, hey, I’m back! Gee, this is awkward. Actually, I’ve decided that life might be more peaceful around here if my helper looked like this . . .
In any event, let’s answer some mail before I get into any more trouble!
Dear James Preller,
My name is Aditya. I am 9 years old. I live in Hong Kong. I go to Glenealy School.
I am one of your greatest fan! I love your books especially The Jigsaw Jones Mysteries.They are the best books I have ever read! I have read so many of your books right now.
I want to ask; Do you have a friend called ‘Milla Yeh’ like Jigsaw Jones? And is your dog SLOBBERY like Jigsaw’s dog?
I hope to get a reply from you,
From one of your greatest fan.
Thanks for your email. It’s so cool to hear from you all the way from Hong Kong!
That’s far away from where I live, in upstate New York. I just looked at the website for your school — it seems like a happy place. Do you wear a blue-and-white checkered shirt? When I was in elementary school, I had to wear green pants, a white shirt, and a green tie. Every day. For six long years.
I hate the color green. Sigh.
I have a friend named Phoebe Yeh, who is very proud of her Chinese heritage. I worked with Phoebe many years ago at Scholastic. She is now a very important editor at HarperCollins. I don’t think she minded that I stole her last name for my books. It was my way on honoring her a little bit.
As for the name Mila, boy, that’s caused a lot of confusion over the years. I once knew a girl name Mila (pronounced My-La), and I always thought it was a nice, unusual name. But I realize that some people pronounce it Me-la, such as the actress Mila Kunis. Anyway, that’s often how I come up with names for characters. I borrow them from people I know, kids I meet on school visits, or from old baseball players (Joey Pignattano, for example). Who knows, maybe I’ll steal your name one day. Aditya sounds like a swell name for a new character. Do you think she’d be nice?
There was a slobbering dog I remember from my childhood, owned by a kid around the block, Harry McCrystal (that’s a great name, too, by the way — funny how some names just feel right). Harry’s dog was this huge, black, clumsy Newfoundland — and it drooled slime all day long. It was a gentle dog. Harmless. But on hot summer days, watch out, or he’d slime you something awful.
Have you ever seen one?
Pretty cute, huh? That’s exactly the image I had in my mind when I wrote the first Jigsaw Jones book. But the illustrator had a slightly different idea. My current dog, Daisy, is a golden doodle. She’s not too smart, but I’m happy to report that she does not SLOBBER.
Thanks for writing, Aditya . . . all the way from Hong Kong!