Fan Mail Wednesday #35

I’ve got a cold and I’m feeling grumpy. Wheezing, sneezing, stuffed up, head in a fog. Nothing can possibly make me happy . . . except for FAN MAIL WEDNESDAY!

It’s better than Vicks VapoRub!

Here’s one that asks a simple question and gets a complicated answer.

Dear Mr. Preller,

Hello my name is Isabella M. I am 8 years old. I like to play soccer and I like to read. I read your book, The Case Of The Snowboarding Superstar.  I wanted to know how did you come up with the idea of the book?


I replied:


Thanks for your email. The idea for that book was originally suggested by my editor, Shannon Penney, at Scholastic. She wanted something with a winter theme. I immediately liked the idea, because my family had recently been on a family ski trip to New Hampshire. Even better, I once edited a book by my friend, Joe Layden, called No Limits, that profiled some of the world’s best snowboarders, including Ross Powers and Shaun White.

So I already knew something about that world. I also liked the idea of getting Jigsaw away from school — and away from Mila. It would be interesting to see how he’d do without his partner, in a strange new place. Of course, as usual, Mila does manage to provide some key help along the way.

Here’s a paragraph from the book:

It was too late in the day to ski, so we gathered around a fireplace in a big open room. A large window gave us a view of the ski trails, the lifts, and the mountains looming high overhead. Snow fell softly from the sky, like tiny white marshmallows. Life was good. And so was the hot chocolate.

Don’t you just want to go there? I do. Sitting by a fire, watching the snow, sipping hot chocolate? Sounds good to me. Maybe you could describe a place you’d like to be. A beach? A park, under a tree? Where is that special place? Can you picture it? How would you put that picture into words? What feelings does it give you? What do you smell?

I also loved the slang of snowboarding, the hipster lingo, with tricks named “McTwist” and “Switch 540 Backflip Indy Grab.” After doing more research, I learned the meaning of words like gnarly, wack, boost, bail, faceplant, pow-pow, rag-dolling, and more. It was especially fun writing Chapter One, when Jigsaw’s brothers try to teach him how to “talk cool.”

Thanks for your letter, my dear Isabella!


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