Fan Mail Wednesday #70

It’s snowing in upstate, New York! Time to break out the snow plow, because we’re still looking at a 9:40 dentist appointment for Gavin. Bummer. Let’s reach into the big barrel and see what we come up with today . . .

Dear James Preller,

I have almost read all your books but I am stuck on one book its #2 which is The Case of the Christmas Snowman. I asked my teacher if she can buy that book but she can’t find the book.

Before I go any farther I’ll tell you about myself I am turning ten, my name is Jobert, my grade is 4th and I enjoy your books.

I’ve only read The Case of the Missing Hamster and The Case of the Buried Treasure (Jigsaw Jones Super Special #1). In that book I like it how they find the time capsule and Jigsaw Jones dad put an action figure in the time capsule.

And on book #1 when they tried to find the hamster they thought Wingnut’s brother’s boa constrictor ate the hamster but actually Hermie was in the closet with her babies.

Mr. James Preller my questions for you are:

#1 What inspired you to write Jigsaw Jones?

#2 When you were a kid did you want to be a detective?

#3 When you were a kid did you want to be an author?

#4 What is your favorite book out of the books you wrote? Well that’s all my questions.

Now I’ll tell you more about myself I have black hair, my skin color is brown, I like your books and I am a shoe head.

When you write back can you please tell me about your self? Oh and I go to elementary school. Please write back soon Mr. James Preller.

Sincerely, a big fan,


I replied:

Dear Jobert,

Thanks for your letter. I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed so many of my books, especially The Case of the Buried Treasure, which is one of my favorites.

I see you asked some questions and –- hey, wait a minute — did you say you were . . . a shoe-head?

Yup, there it is. You snuck it in toward the end of the letter, as if I wouldn’t notice. I quote: “I have black hair, my skin color is brown, I like your books and I am a shoe head.”

Maybe I’m out of touch, because I don’t know if that’s a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. But, okay, hey, I’m cool with that. Some of my biggest fans — and newest friends — are shoe-heads. According to the Urban Dictionary, it means you’re in love with shoes. As Jigsaw might say, “Go figure.” I’m in love with chocolate and the sound of the electric guitar.

Okay, here comes the part of the letter when I answer your questions. Are you sitting down, all buckled up?

1. Writing a mystery series was almost an accident. I started out just writing scenes about a boy character with a vivid imagination. He pretended to be a cowboy, a scientist, an astronaut, a detective. An editor, Jean Feiwel, encouraged me to focus on the mystery element. We never expected that it would turn into 40 books.

2. I liked to spy on my brothers and sisters (I had six, total), but that was the extent of my detective work. And, oh yes, I loved to sneak around to find Christmas presents hidden in closets or under beds. By the time Christmas came, I knew about 90% of what I was going to get. I don’t think that made me a detective, exactly, more like just a nosy kid who usually found Christmas to be a little anti-climactic. That is: a letdown.

3. As a southpaw from Long Island, I wanted to pitch for the New York Mets. Too bad my fastball couldn’t break a window. I was definitely more of a “get outside” type kid than a “sit inside and read” one. I didn’t become crazy about reading until my teenage years, I guess. The writing came along at that time, too, when I started to buy journals and notebooks, writing to help sort through my teenage feelings. Actually, come to think of it, when I was very young I used to FILL notebooks with imaginary baseball games that I invented using a pair of dice.

I played hundreds of those games alone in my room, thousands maybe, kept statistics, box scores, the whole works. I know that kids today, in this age of Xbox and PlayStation, can’t relate to spending hours throwing dice and scribbling figures in a notebook, but that’s what I did. Not exactly writing, but nevertheless I had a pen and paper and I kept my mind engaged, and myself happy. Maybe those days were the early roots of my life as a writer, just that it became a comfortable place for me, alone with a pen and a piece of paper.

4. Besides the Jigsaw Jones books, I’m most proud of Six Innings. And Bystander, too (click here for a sample chapter). I have a new one coming out late this summer, Justin Fisher Declares War! (Scholastic, August, 2010), and I like it because it’s upbeat and funny — it doesn’t mean anything, just a fun bumpy ride in the amusement park. Sometimes it’s nice to keep things light.

Be well, Jobert, and have a great holiday.

P.S.: By the way, Scholastic offers a number where customers can call to request specific titles that might not be offered on recent book clubs. Your teacher you can contact Scholastic Book Clubs at 1-800-724-6527, or go to this website for more information. I hear they are receptive to customer’s requests, and will try to do everything possible to be helpful. Thanks for reading my books — and good luck with the footwear, Mr. Shoe Head!

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