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These days, because of social media, authors and illustrators are more visible and accessible than ever. :typing When you were a kid, did you ever write to your favorite author or illustrator? :writing3 If so, did you ever hear back? :mail2
#1 - April 11, 2015, 08:54 AM
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When I was about five years old, my sister (six years older) was a huge fan of Walter Farley, creator of the Black Stallion series and the Island Stallion series. She was also writing a lot of fiction herself and had a manuscript of about 100 pages that she mentioned to him. One afternoon, our phone rang, and it was Walter Farley calling my sister. He told her that a dedicated writer deserved more than just an autographed photo. He invited us to visit him at his home in Pennsylvania. It was not far from where we lived. I recall being very impressed  to meet  a real, live author. Apparently, Mr.  Farley was very supportive of young talent, and he also faithfully answered his fan mail.
#2 - April 11, 2015, 09:06 AM
Sheila Welch,  author/illustrator. Don't Call Me Marda, Waiting to Forget, Something in the Air, The Shadowed Unicorn, Little Prince Know-It-All

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No, but I have a friend who wrote to Saul Bellow when they were reading Humboldt's Gfit in high school. He sent her a lovely letter, which she has framed and hanging over her stairs.  :getmail

During the classroom book discussion, my friend said something about Bellow's intention and the teacher corrected her--and my friend said, "But Mr. Bellow told me that's what he meant."

ETA: Sheila, what a great story! And a great experience, too. I loved Walter Farley's books, too, and am totally  :envy
What a great guy.  :running
#3 - April 11, 2015, 09:07 AM
« Last Edit: April 11, 2015, 09:10 AM by dewsanddamps »
Learning to Swear in America (Bloomsbury, July 2016)
What Goes Up (Bloomsbury, 2017)
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I'm ashamed of how many fan letters I sent to Trina Schart Hyman when I was just a kid starting out with PB fairytale retellings.    :booboo
Y'know, a real author writes back, and you immediately think you have a "pen pal"...  FWIW, she did like some of my stuff.

I also remember writing Lloyd Alexander a couple of times, A) asking about the Disney thing (he didn't think it was bad-bad, should have been live action), and B) a theory on where that mysterious lost attic manuscript of The Fortune-Tellers had come from.
(I'd thought it had an Arabian feel to it, and that it must have come from The Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha, but he said that everyone seemed to peg it from a different country, and Hyman's in-laws were convinced it was an African folktale.) 

And yes, these were all back in the paper pre-Twitter days.   :gandalf
#4 - April 11, 2015, 10:20 AM
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When I was little (maybe 1st grade?), my mother wrote to Roald Dahl on behalf of me and my two siblings. He wrote back and that remains one of my most treasured memories. My mom still has the letter. It's been so long since I read it. I'll have to get her to photocopy it so I can have a copy and show my kids.
#5 - April 11, 2015, 11:11 AM
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Sheila, that's an awesome story!

I loved Marguerite Henry when I was little, I was in her fan club and wrote her a letter, she of course wrote me a letter back. It was a VERY big deal for me :)
#6 - April 11, 2015, 11:59 AM

Years ago a friend's sixteen-year-old daughter wrote to Jean Aull. Ms. Aull sent back a lengthy hand-written letter. The teen was on top of the world for days and then some.
#7 - April 11, 2015, 12:44 PM
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Dating myself here, but, yes, I also wrote to Walter Farley, author of The Black Stallion books and got a reply. I still have the letter.  ::-)








.
#8 - April 11, 2015, 01:09 PM

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I didn't, but my son wrote to Jerry Spinnelli when he was in 6th grade and got a handwritten postcard.

I've had a handful of kids write to me. It was always such a sweet shock.  :lol4 I always wrote back promptly. The last thing you want to do is disappoint them!

If I had it to do over again, I probably should have written to Beverly Cleary.
#9 - April 11, 2015, 02:02 PM
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My parents pulled us out of school--which was a complete and utter shock to me--when I was in about second grade, so we could see Rebecca Caudill. They let us each choose a book, and she signed it, and she was awesome, and I was so amazed about absolutely everything--especially that you got to break the rules sometimes (that is, skip school). I filed that one away.  :grin3

The book I chose was Contrary Jenkins, which made my parents laugh and laugh...because it was so unlike me. Yeah. I wasn't contrary. At all. 
#10 - April 11, 2015, 02:54 PM
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Although I, too, became a Farley fan, I never wrote to him. I've heard that he saved every letter that he received.

When my first middle-grade book was published, I wrote to Beverly Cleary and to Natalie Babbitt and sent them each a copy of the book. In my story, the main character mentions them and their books. They each wrote back, and I treasure those  beautiful, handwritten letters. 
#11 - April 11, 2015, 03:05 PM
Sheila Welch,  author/illustrator. Don't Call Me Marda, Waiting to Forget, Something in the Air, The Shadowed Unicorn, Little Prince Know-It-All

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Wow on the Walter Farley visit!

I wrote to Madeleine L'Engle and Gordon Korman. Both of them wrote back to me. Lots of things get tossed whenever we move (which is often). But those remain in my box of treasures!
#12 - April 11, 2015, 03:31 PM

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You all have such great stories! :)

As a kid, I never even thought of writing to any authors... My husband, though, wrote to a favorite hockey player (who became an author, himself) and he was thrilled to get a response - actually, a few! Now, although he no longer has the letters, he still treasures the memory.

I so agree with mrh's suggestion to be sure to write back to readers promptly. :exactly If they take the time to prepare a letter - and the initiative and courage to send it, they should get a response!

Thanks again, everyone, for sharing! :thanx

#13 - April 14, 2015, 07:01 PM
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One of my students wrote a letter to Kate DiCamillo, once, which she answered with a very kind handwritten note. What Kate DiCamillo didn't know, because my student didn't mention it, was that my student's father was terminally ill at the time. I've often wondered if DiCamillo's books, which are mostly about resilience amid loss, were especially meaningful to her for that reason. In any case, the letter brought her a moment of joy at a time when she badly needed it.

So yes, everybody, write back to your young fans. Your letter may be even more significant than you know.
#14 - April 14, 2015, 07:27 PM
« Last Edit: April 14, 2015, 07:31 PM by MVP »

I so agree with mrh's suggestion to be sure to write back to readers promptly. :exactly If they take the time to prepare a letter - and the initiative and courage to send it, they should get a response!

Although I remember the joke from Beverly Cleary's "Dear Mr. Henshaw", where a class has to write to their favorite authors:
One of the kids is embarrassed that the author sent him a long letter back asking him all sorts of questions--"Guess not too many kids must have written to him before."    :getmail

(That, and Sheila Greenwald's "Mariah Delany's Author-of-the-Month Club", where, after a class visit, our heroine sets out to meet all her favorite local authors in person--Unfortunately, her favorite author is a thinly disguised P.L. Travers...Which will not end well.)
#15 - April 14, 2015, 09:19 PM
Know the movies.  Show the movies.  Start the revolution:
http://movieactivist.blogspot.com

As bonkers as it might sound, I wrote to the phantom, who wrote to authors on my behalf, requesting books which he could pass on to me. Of course, I eventually found out it was my father but the hunt was great fun. I did write to a number of Irish authors but it is so long now that I can't remember who they were but two did respond, as far as I know, with a polite letter of gratitude.
#16 - April 15, 2015, 04:16 AM

When my daughter was in 5th grade she wrote to 4-5 of her favorite authors, telling them that she wanted to be a writer. Only one responded - Sharon Creech - with a lovely and encouraging letter. I think of that each time I see one of her books.
And my daughter now is on staff with a magazine for elementary school girls, completing the circle.
#17 - April 15, 2015, 05:18 AM

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I am loving these stories. I am ashamed to admit that I took authors for granted and basically couldn't wait to read their next book, didn't even think that they did anything but wrote for my sole pleasure. Yeah, talk about self-centered. And I hated serials ... because that meant I had to wait for the next installment. My kids, on the other hand, knew that authors are real people with kids and cats, and wrote thank you cards to their favorite authors.

I have rec'd some fan mail and some that is obviously homework (I had to read your book) and I treasure them all. There is something so tangible about paper. I'll never get over it.

Vijaya
#18 - April 15, 2015, 06:02 AM
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These are ALL excellent stories! Some are hilarious - like thunderingelephants' and EricJ's. :lol5 Others are so touching - like MVP's.

Sheila: I love the way you showed us that it's never too late to write to our favorite authors.
When my first middle-grade book was published, I wrote to Beverly Cleary and to Natalie Babbitt and sent them each a copy of the book. In my story, the main character mentions them and their books. They each wrote back, and I treasure those  beautiful, handwritten letters. 

Thanks, MVP - for this gentle reminder:
...So yes, everybody, write back to your young fans. Your letter may be even more significant than you know.
  It seems that our books are really just the beginning.

 :flowers2 to you all for sharing your stories!

#19 - April 18, 2015, 09:43 AM
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