Tag Archive for Fan Mail Wednesday

FAN MAIL WEDNESDAY #333: Pamir Writes, Jimmy Remembers

 

 

 

 

 

I have friends in Istanbul. One particular school, in fact, that reads my Jigsaw Jones books — even ones that are long out-of-print.

It’s the story of my career at this point. More books that are out-of-print than there are available. 

Oh well!

The price of hanging around in this business for nearly 4 decades. 

Here we go. 

A reader writes . . . 

Dear Mr. Preller,

My name is Pamir. I am 12 years old and I like to play games and I also like to read books. I live in Istanbul and I am studying in Hisar schools .I read your book “THE CASE OF THE DETECTIVE IN DISGUISE” two weeks ago. It was beautiful and I’m writing this email because I wanted to tell you why I liked your book. In your book my favourite character is Mike because he wants to find the secret and become a detective. My favourite part is the first part because it was a funny part. They went to the attic and found detective clothes. I think that part 10 because It was less exciting but still good. 

Make more books like this and don’t forget to come to visit Turkey.

Goodbye,

Pamir

I replied . . . 

Pamir,
Thanks for the invitation to visit Turkey. Boy, that would surely be an amazing adventure for me. 
I wrote that book so long ago it took me a few minutes to remember it all. When I wrote that story, I had a small office above a cozy sandwich shop called The Yogurt Shop, owned and operated by Mike & Mary. They made the best chicken salad sandwich I’ve ever eaten — and wonderful cookies, too. In the afternoons, I’d often go down there to get a cup of coffee and chat with them. Sometimes Mike would even help me with ideas. So when it came time to write The Detective in Disguise, I decided to weave me friends into the story. 
Since that time, I’m sorry to report that Mike and Mary got divorced. She moved to Cape Cod. Mike is still around but I don’t see him much anymore. But pulling that book off the shelf helped me remember those happy times we shared together. Isn’t that amazing? I think it’s one of the best parts about writing. When we make art, we can store those memories forever.
I’m so glad you reminded me!
Your friend,
James Preller

FAN MAIL WEDNESDAY #330: All the Way from Kalamazoo!

 

 

 

 

 

Camden wrote . . . 

I replied . . . 

Dear Camden,

What a kind and generous letter! Thank you. And all the way from Kalamazoo, too! That’s one of my favorite place names in the world. It’s right up there with Timbuktu and Oshkosh! I live in Delmar and that name just doesn’t have the same snazzy ring to it. Rats!

Just wondering: Have you ever played a kazoo in Kalamazoo? Or talked to a cow who said “Moo” in Kalamazoo? 

What would you do

If the grass was blue

And the birds said “Moo!”

In Kalamazoo? 

Would you move to Timbuktu?

(I’m sorry, I just made that up. Silly me. What other rhyming words can you think of? Canoe! Kazoo! Cockatoo! Purple?)

Anyway! I’m so glad that you read The Case from Outer Space. That’s one of the newest Jigsaw Jones titles and I’m especially fond of it. There’s humor and Little Free Libraries (which I love) and, I think, a pretty satisfying mystery, too. I hope the ending surprised you.

When I was a little boy, my grandmother moved in with us because she was getting old and needed more help. That’s where I got the idea for Jigsaw’s grandmother to be living with his family -— it came directly from my own life. When I look at that illustration by R. W. Alley at the end of the book, with Jigsaw and his father and grandmother gazing at the night stars, well, it stirs my heart. 

You asked some questions. What inspired me to start writing? I could give you a lot of different answers to that question. But mostly, I think I have a “creative bone” in my body. Some inner desire to make things. To draw pictures or put words on a page. To somehow take whatever is INSIDE of me . . . and try you put it OUTSIDE into the world. To share it. To express myself. Maybe’s it just a way of saying, “Hey, World! Here I am! Look at me!”

I have written many books over the years (I don’t have an exact number). There are 42 Jigsaw Jones titles in all, though right now there are 14 that have been revised and updated and currently in print (meaning: that you can buy them in stores or online). Of those, I’m especially fond of The Case of the Bicycle Bandit and The Case of the Buried Treasure. The most recent title is The Case of the Hat Burglar, which was inspired by the “Lost and Found” tables that I see on school visits. What if, I asked myself, someone was stealing items from the “Lost and Found”?

That’s the question that writers always ask: WHAT IF?

Who would do it? But more importantly —- and here comes a Pro Tip, Cameron — the better question might be, “Why would someone do it?” 

If you can answer WHY, it will often lead a good detective to WHO.

What do you think, Cameron? Why might someone take all the hats -— and then all the gloves -— from the school’s Lost & Found? 

Happy reading!

Your friend,

James Preller

FAN MAIL WEDNESDAY: #329: Kindness from Natalee

 

 

 

 

 

So nice to get a handwritten letter from a satisfied customer! Here’s Natalee — who read and enjoyed the first book in my new series, Exit 13: The Whispering Pines. 

 

I replied . . .

Natalee,

What a nice surprise to find your note in my mailbox. Yes, I remember visiting your school when the book was included in the Scholastic Book Fairs. That was a fun day for me. It is always humbling to see a line of readers waiting for a signed copy of a book. Times like those, I wish I had fancier handwriting instead of my crummy lefty scrawl.

You mentioned that you enjoyed how Ash and Willow try to figure out the mysteries of the Whispering Pines. As a writer, I felt the same way — as if I was exploring the creepy, exciting world of Exit 13 right along with them. What happens if they go deeper into the woods? What’s going on with that wolf? What’s the deal with Kristoff, could he really be hundreds of years old? What’s going on in the room behind the Unnumbered Door? And will they ever get home again?

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure some of that stuff out myself. But you will find answers to many of those questions in the next book, The Space In Between, coming out this August 1st.

Thank you for your letter. It means a lot to me. Good luck in middle school next year. It’s exciting: new teachers, new classes, new friends. You’ll kill it!

Your friend,

James Preller

FAN MAIL WEDNESDAY #327: Speed Reader Meets EXIT 13!

 

I was at the Rochester Children’s Book Festival over the weekend and had the opportunity to share some Advance Reader’s Copies (ARCs) with various folks: teachers, librarians, and some uniquely interested young readers. It’s exciting when there’s a new book to share, and a little scary, because you never know what the reaction will be. In this case, along with my table crammed with other books, I had a sign announcing EXIT 13, my new middle grade series that’s only available (for now) through Scholastic Book Fairs and Scholastic Book Clubs. We couldn’t sell them at the festival. Thus, the ARCs.

That same night, I received this email from a parent: 

 

Hi,
My daughter and I met you earlier today at the Rochester Children’s Book Festival. You gave her an advanced copy of your novel Exit 13. She finished it ALL today and LOVES it!!! And can’t wait to read the next installment! She’s passing it along to her twin brother (who was at baseball practice and we bought books for), and then her little brother (who was also there), and is going to tell everyone at school to be on the lookout when it comes out in February.
Thank you so much for sharing it with her and helping encourage her passion for reading!! You have definitely gained a huge fan, and we will recommend your books to everyone we know.
Thanks,
Kara
THANK YOU, SPEED READER! I’M SO GLAD WE HAD THE CHANCE TO CONNECT AND SHARE OUR LOVE FOR READING, MYSTERY, AND CREEPY THINGS!
P.S. THE SECOND BOOK, THE SPACES IN BETWEEN, COMES OUT IN AUGUST. SO, YEAH, THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART. I’M VERY LUCKY TO HAVE A READER LIKE YOU. 
– 

Fan Mail Wednesday Triple Threat #324-326: Oooooh, Secret Codes!

 

I received three letters from the same classroom, each including a SASE (thank you!). Two of the letters came with secret codes. All of them were fairly similar and signed using only an initial (for privacy, I gather). I enjoyed responding to them, not all that seriously. 

But first, the codes: 

Here are my replies . . . 

 

Dear N,

Just N, hmmm? That’s mysterious.  

Let me guess: Noah, Nadine, Neo, Nico, Nancy, Nigel . . .

(Stop me when I get it right.)

Natasha, Nehemiah, Nelson, Naomi . . . 

(I’m fading here.)

Nevan, Neely, Nori, Naadir . . .

(I give up!)

As for your code: “Can you figure out this pass code to read it if you can read it.”

Did I miss anything? 

I’m glad you enjoyed Food Fight’s satisfying conclusion!

My best,

James Preller

Dear T,

That’s it, huh? Just T. 

Wait a minute, I’ve got it!

This is Mister T!

“I pity the fool!”

Thanks for the SASE: Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope.

Saves me some money!

Be well and keep reading,

James Preller

Dear A,

I wonder. A what? A banana? A pizza pie? A really good book? A reader?

I’m a B, personally: baffled, bewildered, bamboozled!

Let’s see if I can crack your code. 

(This is fun, thanks.)

“James Preller I really liked the book the case of the food fight!”

Okay: 1) That’s good news! 2) Pretty sure this makes me a genius!

Have a great summer — not a bummer!

My best,

James Preller