Every morning, after I have my cup of coffee, push the kids out the door, and delete my daily email from moveon.org, I like to gather up my accumulated fan mail, pour the letters on my bed, and roll around in them. For forty-five minutes.
Don’t look at me like that. It’s aerobic.
Sometimes, I even get around to answering a few:
Dear Mr. Preller,
I read a Jigsaw Jones book titled The Case of the Golden Key. I liked it because I liked the part where Jigsaw Jones, Mila, and Reginald were looking for the golden key. I also liked this book because I love the illustrations. I loved all the words because some were descriptive.
Thanks for that nice note. I enjoyed writing that book, partly because it’s the first time I “met” the richest kid in town, Reginald Pinkerton Armitage III. I liked writing about him so much, I kept coming up with reasons for sticking him in other books. I even gave him a featured part in The Case of the Double Trouble Detectives, when Reginald starts his own rival, high-tech detective agency. I love the cover that artist R.W. Alley came up with:
I’m glad you liked the part when they were searching the attic. There’s just something cool about attics, don’t you think? I’m glad, too, that you liked my writing. I try to stick in a “descriptive” word every now and then!
James or Mr.Preller
I love your books.
What made you want to write books?
I saw your family on your web site and your dog is soooooooooooo cute.
From Emma S.
PLEASE WRITE BAAAAAAAACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am so excited you wrote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s like soooooooo totally awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay, let me calm down. I’ll make some tea, listen to my new Elvis Perkins CD. What made me want to write books? Well, I guess it’s because I loved reading, loved books. In college, I started writing seriously — I had a great teacher, Pat Meanor, who really inspired me. I think he was the first person who gave me the feeling that maybe I had something in me that needed to come out. That maybe, just maybe, I was a writer. It’s such a great thing when you can find that person who believes in you, no matter what path you pursue in life. Even today, at age 48, I still need that faith, still need that support from an editor, or a friend. We ALL do. In fact, it’s one of the best gifts we can give someone, when we say to them, “I know you can do it.” I coach Little League baseball, and more than anything else, I see that as my primary job: I’m the guy who stands there and believes.
And yes, I agree. My dog is very, very cute.
Letter 38, Part 1
We are Ane G., Maddi, Leire, Sara, Sabiñe and Ane Go. We like your books, especially Jigsaw Jones books! Maddi and Leire have read them all! You must write more!
We want you to visit us but Neva, our school librarian, does not have enough money to pay you.
It took us a long time to write this, we needed some help. Write back!
Dear Ane G, Maddi,, Leire, Sara, Sabine, and Ane Go:
What a fantastic photo, thanks for sending that. And thanks, too, for reading my books.
Such interesting, beautiful names: Where do you go to school?
As an author, my job mostly keeps me at home, working in my basement office. While school visits are a lot of fun, they do keep me away from my main job — which is sitting alone in an empty room, trying to write. With deadlines to meet, a wife that works, and three busy children (ages 8, 9, and 15), it’s hard for me to do many school visits, though I do about one every week in March, April, and May.
Thank you for writing to me!
And got this answer!
Letter 38, Part2
Thanks for writing back so soon! We were very surprised but it has taken us longer to be together again than we thought.
You díd not say when you are going to write another Jigsaw Jones book. Can you recommend any other book, a special one for you?
We go to Deustuko Ikastola, it is in Bilbao, in the Basque Country, in northern Spain. We speak Basque but we also speak Spanish. Have you got any book in Basque?
Good bye. Looking forward to hearing from you! Good luck with your next book!
I hope you don’t mind that I put your photo up here on my blog. Basque Country, wow, that’s so cool. I traveled in Spain once, years ago, Madrid and Barcelona and along the western coast (where I remember seeing a lot of sun-burnt German tourists). Amazing, beautiful country.
You know, there are so many great books to read, I hesitate to recommend just one. But that would be a boring answer and I try — I really try — to not sound too awfully dull. So: My daughter Maggie (8) and I very much enjoyed reading The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin. If you like that book, there are a couple of sequels: The Meanest Doll in the World and The Runaway Dolls. The stories are well-written, full of mystery and adventure and, oh yeah, dolls that are alive. But pretty much anything by Ann M. Martin is great.
Okay, Bilbao, I see you up there in the mountains, close to the ocean. Do you call that the Bay of Biscay? I’ve changed my mind: I do want to come for an author visit! Tell Neva the Librarian to do a bake sale or something! I’ll be waiting at the airport.
Your friend in Delmar, New York, America . . .