Tag Archive for Lois Lowry

Fan Mail Wednesday #63-64

Big day, lot to do — have to write, write, write! — and listen to this over and over again. So let’s pull a couple of letters out of the hopper to see what’s what.

Here’s one from Chesterfield, MO:

Dear James Preller,

I like your books a lot. It is very fun to read. My favorite book from you is The Case of the Class Clown. It is my favorite because it has a lot of  cool stuff. I am writing to you because you have fantastic books. How do you get your ideas? How do you make a book? Is it fun to be an author? Do you have to show someone your books to get it published and for you to be famous? I really want all your books because they are good. I would love for you to write back.

From, Ritik

My reply:

Dear Ritik:

Thank you for your wonderful letter. It came on the perfect day, right when I needed it. I’m glad that you think there’s “cool stuff” in my book. I try to jam in as much cool stuff as possible, actually. Hey, I have exciting news about the Class Clown — it’s been turned into a musical by the ArtsPower Touring Company! Can you imagine that? Jigsaw Jones and Mila, singing on stage, and solving mysteries, too!

You asked a lot of great questions, so let’s get to ’em.

1) Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, but mostly from things I’ve experienced (seen, heard, done, or felt) in ordinary life. But as a writer, I try to remind myself of this: “It’s not that hard. Just make something up!

2) When it comes to creating a book, the author is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s a team effort, including editors, artists, art directors, printers, truck drivers, and more. In terms of the writing, it all starts in a quiet room, when a writer sits down determined to DO IT.

3) Is it fun? Sometimes, not always. But on days when I get letters like yours, Ritik, it is definitely rewarding.

4) Most books are produced by a publisher, a company that makes books. Writers from all over will usually send them manuscripts — typed versions of the story on plain white paper — and the publishers will read them all to select their favorites. Only a very few manuscripts get made into books. So I’ve been very, very lucky.

Thanks for reading my books, and for writing to me!


Letter #64:

Dear Mr. Preller,

You are one of my favorite authors! I am nine years old and in fourth grade. I have one brother and one sister. I have always wanted your autograph! I was wondering if it was fine with you if I sent you a piece of paper in the mail for you to sign. It’s OK if you don’t want to.

Your Friend,

My answer:


Sure, happy to sign whatever you send me. Here’s an idea: You could break a leg and show up at my house wearing  a cast — I could sign that!

On second thought, probably not a great idea. You could include a book, maybe? A napkin? Whatever!

Warning: I have the worst handwriting, a lefty scribble. I should have practiced as a kid, but I had no idea that anybody would ever want my autograph. It still shocks me when people ask for it. My autograph? Really? Is this some kind of mistake? Do you think I’m Lois Lowry?

I would very much appreciate it if you included an SASE. Do you know what that is? It’s an acronym for “Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope.” It’s an old courtesy that seems to have been largely forgotten these days (grumble, grumble). That way, it doesn’t cost me extra money to answer your letter. Unfortunately, the expense of stamps and envelopes adds up. I wish I say that the money was nothing to me, that I had a spare room full of cash, but, alas, it’s not so. That would be the other author: Rowling, J.K.

My address: 12 Brookside Drive, Delmar, NY, 12054.

Many thanks for reading my books.


Fan Mail Wednesday #61

Wow, I’m busy today. I really don’t have time to mess around with . . .

Oh, right. You don’t care about that. You are a beast that needs to be fed, my monster under the floorboards, a fiery furnace that wants only one thing: Fan Mail Wednesday!

Back, Beast! Back! Maybe this email from Melissa in Florida with sate your gaping maw.

Dear Mr. Preller,

I have attached a letter I wrote you as my book report homework.  I will get extra credit if I send it to you. I have cc’d my teacher.

I am going to go to the library to get more of your books.


So I opened the attached document and found this:

Dear Mr. Preller,

My name is Melissa, I am 11 years old. I am in fifth grade in Clearwater, Florida.

Did you ever have a food fight? I never had a food fight.

Did you ever solve mysteries when you were a little?

I liked your book.

I replied:

Dear Melissa:

So. You liked my book. Sigh. Would it have killed you to lie a little? You could have closed your letter, “I loved your book.” Think of how much better I would have felt. But liked? Gee, that’s awfully close to a yawn. Very similar to: “Your book was okay, more or less.”

Or better yet, you could have told me it was the best book you ever read — and very probably the best book you will EVER read. That I’m terrific, sensational, stupendous!

Would that have been so hard, Melissa? It’s called “fan mail.” You know, short for FAN-atic. Let’s bump up the enthusiasm, shall we?

Now I’m depressed.

You see, that’s the way it is with authors. We are fragile flowers, shivering on cold nights, our teeth chattering in the wind. We need the warmth of constant love. And failing that, we’ll gladly settle for false praise! Remember that next to you write to Lois Lowry or Kate DiCamillo.

I previously answered your question regarding the food fight at some length in this greatly entertaining post, which you should read. Go ahead, click on that link; I’ll tap my foot and wait.

Hum-dee-dum, dee dum-dum.

As to your other question, Melissa, O Cold-Hearted Reader: Growing up, I was the youngest of seven children. While I never fashioned myself a detective in the mold of Jigsaw Jones, I absolutely did my share of spying. I specialized in finding Christmas presents far in advance of December 25th. It was naughty, sneaky fun — but made for some anti-climactic holidays. I also liked hiding under tables, eavesdropping. I discovered that if you are very quiet, very still, sometimes they forget you are there.

For a long time.

Sometimes, very long.

The truth is, Melissa, I once lived in a closet for three weeks. I was six. It got kind of sad after a while — but I’m better now! I’ve forgiven my parents. It was an honest mistake. They were busy. I sort of slipped their minds. It was during the 1960’s. A hectic time.



Sorry, silly mood today. Please check out my link for a more thoughtful answer to your question, with exclusive “insider info” on the making of that book.

My best,


P.S.: Now make sure your teacher forks over that extra credit!