Tag Archive for Authors who answer fan mail
This one came the old-fashioned way, so here’s a snap of it . . .
My reply . . .
It’s a mystery. Your letter is dated “September 3,” but the envelope is postmarked “21 Oct.” And here we are in November. Time flies, I guess. Or maybe it’s just a really, really long walk for you to the post office?
Anyway, we’re here now, altogether!
Thank you for reading my Jigsaw Jones books. I like your strategy: If bored, read book. Works for me, too.
The trick to the Secret Valentine, by the way, was that it centered on a gender assumption. You see this technique in other mysteries in movies, books, and television. It’s a magician’s trick, too, called a misdirection, where essentially the “trick” is to get you looking at the wrong thing. The detective assumes that the perpetrator (the person who carries out the “crime,” in this case, simply sending a card) is female. Well, not always!
I liked Jigsaw’s complaint to Mila early in the mystery: “You know what the worst part is. This girl is ruining a perfectly good holiday. I mean, I like Valentine’s Day. You get to eat cupcakes. Why does she have to drag love into it?”
So, you suggested a book title: The Case of the Neighborhood Gaser. But you neglected to describe the plot. Is this a book about someone who FARTS A LOT??!! Are you suggesting that I write an entire book about flatulence?
Scene one: Jigsaw and his friends enter a Mexican restaurant. “Tacos all around,” Joey orders . . .
Anyway, thanks for the idea.
Er, I guess.
You wrote, “If you don’t get to read my letter it’s fine.”
Too late, my friend, too late.
I’m always glad to hear from my self-proclaimed #1 fan (though, be warned, you have rivals). Thank you, too, for the Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope (SASE). I appreciate that. Stamps ain’t cheap!
Probably the book I’m happiest with, if you asked me today, is titled Blood Mountain. It’s a wilderness survival thriller. You might also like my “Scary Tales” series: Swamp Monster, One-Eyed Doll, Nightmareland, etc.
I hope this letter finds you well & in good spirits. By which I mean to say: I sincerely hope you aren’t a turkey. Thanksgiving is around the corner and things might get rough on the old ruffled feathers.
Here’s two for the price of none! The third book in my “Big Idea Gang” series, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin, seems to be getting some positive attention. Perhaps the environmental, activist message strikes a chord. Here two students in Anchorage wrote to me about it, so I thought I’d do a combo post here.
Here’s Hailey . . .
Thank you for reading my book, Bee the Change, from my “The Big Idea Gang” series.
You noticed an interesting detail in that story – how Kym, in that situation, was brave; but Lizzy, who was usually bolder and more confident, felt nervous.
It kind of flipped, right?
I think life is like that. No one can be great at everything. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. There are people who are nervous around big dogs, while other people just want to give ‘em a big hug. For the purpose of this story, it gave Kym an opportunity to shine (after Lizzy was mostly the “star” of the first book, Worst Mascot Ever).
Writing these books (there are three so far), I wanted to show how when we are faced with big problems, that it is often best to think small and make a difference in your community. There used to be a popular expression: “Think globally, act locally.” We can all become overwhelmed by the Big Problems in the world –- asking ourselves, “What difference can I possibly make?”
Hopefully in these stories I help shine a light on the small but important ways that children like you can help make the world a better, kinder, safer place in your own communities. You are our best hope for the future.
My favorite character in Bee the Change was absolutely Otis Smick. He makes me smile, and I love the way Stephen Gilpin, the illustrator, drew him.
Thanks for your sweet letter,
And here’s Mia . . .
I wonder if you go to the same school as Hailey? I’d bet a dollar that you do. Anchorage, Alaska. Wow. I’ve never been there, but it sure sounds like an adventurous place to live.
Are bears just like always eating people?
“Oh, she got eaten by bear.”
“Darn, I hate when that happens!”
Okay, probably not. But still, the Alaskan wilderness strikes me as vast and formidable and a little bit scary. What a cool place to live.
Anyway, thanks for reading Bee the Change. As you might have guessed, I am very interested in our natural environment –- I love the great outdoors, hiking and camping and exploring — and our connection to all the living creatures that share this planet with us. To quote the poet Gary Snyder: “We must try to live without causing unnecessary harm, not just to fellow humans but to all beings.”
Recently I’ve read fascinating nonfiction books about beavers, and coyotes, and buffalo. It’s just something I enjoy and care about. Some time ago I read about “colony collapse disorder” and became worried about honeybees. Later, when doing research for a different book (Better Off Undead), I met a middle school science teacher who kept a hive box in the school garden! My visit with her was similar to when Kym and Lizzy visited Ozzie’s farm. Like Ozzie, Ms. Ford enjoyed sitting quietly in a chair, a book on her lap, and watching the bees come and go. That’s where most ideas come from for me –- from real life, the things I see, the people I meet, and, yes, the books I read.
I am excited to learn that you and your friends are involved in a cleanup project. That’s so awesome. You are making a difference in our world! Imagine if everyone did just a little bit? What a difference we could make!
ALSO IN THE SERIES . . .
The mail always gets delivered — through rain, sleet, and mind-numbingly (toe-numbingly?) cold weather. This one’s from Kaprice in Iowa!
I am always glad to receive a letter about Six Innings, but it’s especially true today in the midst of frozen winter. It is actually 2 degrees outside as I type this. Two skinny degrees! Fortunately the sky is clear, the color of a robin’s egg, and the sun brightly reflected on the snow. Not a good day for baseball, but not so bad for sipping tea and staring out the window.
Titles can be tricky! For some books, I know the title from the beginning: Bystander and Six Innings, for example. For my new book, Better Off Undead, oh dear, that one took forever. But that book took me six years to write (don’t ask!), so I had plenty of time to come up with a lot of bad ideas. My original title was Zombie Me, which I still think is pretty good.
Like you, I am a baseball fan and enjoy reading about the sport. Roger Angell once famously quipped that writers love baseball so much because it’s the only sport that’s slow enough for them to understand. For Six Innings, my idea was to use the game as a structure for writing about characters, people. I knew from the beginning that I wanted the heart of the book to take place over the course of one game, six innings at the Little League level. But again: the game was only a device for exploring character. Real people, what they think and feel.
My oldest son, Nick, 24, is a two-time cancer survivor. I was inspired by his experiences, in particular his friendship with a boy named Sam Lewis. I find that’s often how it works with writing: the details of our own life inevitably leak into our stories, even the ones that are “made up.”
Thank you & Happy New Year!
Here we go, folks: “Fan Mail Wednesday!” This letter begins with an inadvertent salutation — and a cool statement of purpose.
Or should I call you Shirley?
What do you mean addressing this to “Dear Ms. Preller”?
That’s Mr. Preller to you!
Ha-ha. I thought that was a funny mistake in your letter. At least, I hope it was a mistake. I don’t have anything against girls — I like girls, I do! — it’s just that, well, I’m a boy. Or an ex-boy. Now I’m an old geezer with gray whiskers growing out of his chinny-chin-chin. But in my head, I’m eight years old.
I loved the first line of your letter. “I am going to ask you some stuff.” You got right to the point. No messing around with chit-chat.
I actually did enjoy writing this book, thanks for asking. It was a fun mystery, because it combined “slightly spooky” with “very silly.” As for when it was written, all you have to do is look at THE PAGE THAT NO ONE ON THE PLANET EVER READS.
Which page is that? It’s called the copyright page. In this case, it’s directly opposite the “Contents” page. It has the author’s dedication, followed by a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo in tiny type, including the book’s ISBN. Below that, you’ll find this:
Text copyright, © 2004 by James Preller.
There it is, the answer to your question. I wrote that book ten years ago. Time flies!
The tree house office is actually in Jigsaw’s backyard. In the summer, he works out there, because he loves it. He must like the nebulous heights. In the winter, he moves his office into the basement, next to the washing machine. Mila is Jigsaw’s partner. I think of her as the brains of the operation, while Jigsaw is the one with the unstoppable spirit. He never gives up. Together, they make a great team.
Oh yes, I’m glad you mentioned the illustrations in this book. They were done by a terrific guy who lives in England named Jamie Smith. We’ve never met, but we have exchanged a few emails over the years. I love his work — and I even have a few of his original pieces hanging in my office, nicely framed.
Take care. I hope you don’t mind a little good-natured kidding!
“Ms” James Preller