Can I just say how much I LOVE getting letters or e-mails from readers? Nothing brightens my day like hearing from someone who’s enjoyed my books. Part of the thrill, I’m sure, comes from the way these e-mails soothe the insecurity all authors carry. (It’s hard to send your writing out into the world to stand on its own!) But I think most of the happiness it brings is in the discovery of a kindred spirit. I sense this when I meet another reader who loves books that are favorites of mine. Without knowing anything else about him, I intuitively perceive that he Gets It! If she admires Anne, I immediately know we’re going to see beauty in similar things. If he can get lost in the Wheel of Time world, we already have things in common.
And how much more so as a writer! Perhaps it’s because authors spend several years creating a book-world and then continue to revisit the characters and setting during hour upon hour of revisions. No matter how many drafts it has gone through, no matter how much it has changed: I love my story. I love Peter and Una, and I want to visit the Land of Story, too. So when I hear from someone who stayed up late to finish reading, I don’t just feel happy they enjoyed my work, I feel like they Get It.
I love that the internet gives readers and authors an easy way to connect. I think of myself as a middle-grade reader and how the thought never crossed my mind to contact the author. I suppose I could have written them care of their publisher, but instead I hunted library shelves for other books they had written. And hoped their next book came out soon. What I would have given to have been able to write Joy Smith Aiken and tell her how often I read about Solo’s adventures! Or join in some fantasy-world fan-forum and prolong the experience of reading beyond the pages.
So I’m making up for lost time. Having received those notes from readers, I’m making a point of letting other authors know if I’ve enjoyed their work. Amazon and Goodreads reviews make it relatively easy to do, and sometimes I’ve even e-mailed directly.
What about you, Mayhemers? If you are an author, tell us what it was like to hear from a kindred-spirit reader? And as readers, have you ever contacted an author?