doing the responsible author thing

We wound up with a little snow. I am trying to be grateful for it and not throw a tantrum.

Must. Deal. With. Mail.

Anna writes: Dear Ms. Anderson, I am in sixth grade and am doing an author study on you. For my study I am requried to write a biography on you. I would like to answer my questions so I could get some first hand details.Why did you write the novels Speak and Prom(i.e.Insprations, family, etc.)? How would you describe your self as a child? What was one of your biggest accomplishments(as a child or now)? What was your dream job as a child? What is your favorite part of your job? What is it like being Quaker? What books did you or still do enjoy reading? What do you think your writing style is? I’m sorry if some of the question seem nosey and I hope you answer me back!

And people wonder why it takes me so long to write the next book. OK, here goes, Anna.

1. I write each book because I have a vision of a character who interests me. I guess you could say that I am very nosy and I want to know what makes that character tick.
2. Me as kid: Quiet and sturdy.
3. Biggest accomplishment? Raising my children.
4. Dream job as a kid? Stewardess on an airplane or a doctor.
5. Fav aspect of my job: Writing books with the phone turned off.
6. I like being a Quaker, but it is a big challenge sometimes because I don’t agree with everything my church stands for. I’m working on it.
7. I like reading history and fantasy.
8. I’d like to think my style is effective.

One more, because it’s long:

Melanie writes: I am a seventh grader at Indian Valley Middle School. The reason I am writing to you today is because in my Reading class, we did an author study and you were the author of my choice. I definitely admire your writing and have a desire to at least publish a book someday, which is a reason why I chose you as my author for the author study.
            As you read this letter you will find that I really did my homework on you. As I researched your web sites, I found that in your interview with YA Books Central on August 2005 you answered that if you could have anybody ask you a question it would be, if you were not an author what would you be and you said you would answer back a lumberjack. If you were answering a lumberjack in a funny way what would you really be if you were not an author and why?
            On a web site of yours, you said that as you solemnly sent your daughter to first grade your promised you would write a book and get it published in five years and you did so in four years. Does this mean that any of your books could relate to your daughters or your life as a small child?
            Because I find that many authors relate to their own lives in books they write. I also found that you were a foreign exchange student on a milk farm in Denmark. Was this chance a very exciting thing for you since you loved learning about different foreign languages?
            After reading your book “Speak 1793” I found Mattie to be a similar kind of person as my self so a question I had for you is if you could be any character in any of your books would you be Mattie and why?
            If this letter is answered I would like to thank you for your time and ask you for an autographed photo if that is not too much to ask?

My knees are getting a little too creaky to be a lumberjack, but if I had to stop working as an author tomorrow, I’d think about doing landscaping during the summer and maybe being a history teacher during the school year, although I’d have to go back to college and get another degree to be able to do this. I have never based a book on any of my children, but some of their little quirks pop up in a few of them. I adored my time in Denmark and wish I could visit there again. And learning foreign languages is a blast. I feel very close to Mattie. And sorry, I don’t have any photos I can autograph and send to you.

Molly E. writes: We have an assignment in school. The assignment is to find a freechoice book and read it. Of course. There’s a catch. The book has to have an award. I look through the books on the shelves and pick out Speak. I like the cover. People tell me all the time not to judge a book by it’s cover. I can’t help it.
Well, the project isn’t due for a while. My teachers have not even set a date for when we have to be finished reading. I started your book on Saturday. I finished your book on Saturday. It was probably around one in the morning when I finished. I guess I couldn’t stop reading.
That book is probably the best book I’ve ever read. I can’t really explain the feeling, it’s just.. I love the way it was written, the characters, everything. So maybe I haven’t been raped. Maybe I didn’t bust up a school end-of-summer party, Still I feel like I can relate to Melinda.
Well I guess I can say I was nervous about writing this email. Yeah, but it needed to be done. I’ve never really written to an author before; you’re the first. So, basically, thanks for writing that book. I honestly appreciate it. Email me any time if you want. About anything. I doubt you’ll have
time. But you can.

Thank you, Molly. You just rocked my world.

  

32 Replies to “doing the responsible author thing”

  1. You’re better then other authors

    Laurie-

    While it’s true that answering fan mail either online or thru snailmail is very time consuming…and yes there are hundreds of fans out there in the real world who will never understand that, the fact that you DO take the time to do so and update your journal here regularly means that you care. It’s certainly much more personable.

    There are hundreds of thousands of other authors out there who do not answer fan mail. And while they may or may not be more prolific or even sell more books then you, they probably do not have the closeness to their fanbase that you have.

    You also have the huge advantage of being able to make a connection TO your fans. Many of who are impressionable, troubled teens who probably do NOT have anyone in their own world they can talk to, let alone feel
    connected to. Thats an invaluable and priceless gift, having a friend
    that one knows we can, if not talk to, at least know is there.(through this journal)

    Just wanted to say that. We appreciate your time and your books.

  2. You’re better then other authors

    Laurie-

    While it’s true that answering fan mail either online or thru snailmail is very time consuming…and yes there are hundreds of fans out there in the real world who will never understand that, the fact that you DO take the time to do so and update your journal here regularly means that you care. It’s certainly much more personable.

    There are hundreds of thousands of other authors out there who do not answer fan mail. And while they may or may not be more prolific or even sell more books then you, they probably do not have the closeness to their fanbase that you have.

    You also have the huge advantage of being able to make a connection TO your fans. Many of who are impressionable, troubled teens who probably do NOT have anyone in their own world they can talk to, let alone feel
    connected to. Thats an invaluable and priceless gift, having a friend
    that one knows we can, if not talk to, at least know is there.(through this journal)

    Just wanted to say that. We appreciate your time and your books.

    1. Re: You’re better then other authors

      Amen to that – wonderful post, and all of it gospel truth!

      Please note that the demographic “troubled teens” also encompasses “troubled facsimiles of adults.” Thanks

  3. I LOVE your book

    Dear Nrs. Anderson,
    Oh my gosh I just loved Fever, 1793!! We are reading it in class and we haven’t finished it yet, but I absolutely love it. I am at the part where the the first frost just came! I absolutely loved your book prom. By the way, do you know my teacher?? Her name is Mrs. Stalions! She rox my world!!
    -Adam-

  4. I LOVE your book

    Dear Nrs. Anderson,
    Oh my gosh I just loved Fever, 1793!! We are reading it in class and we haven’t finished it yet, but I absolutely love it. I am at the part where the the first frost just came! I absolutely loved your book prom. By the way, do you know my teacher?? Her name is Mrs. Stalions! She rox my world!!
    -Adam-

  5. I like being a Quaker, but it is a big challenge sometimes because I don’t agree with everything my church stands for.

    I think many people of faith have that problem. Certainly some of the Quakers during the American Revolution did; Nathaniel Greene was read out of meeting for fighting in Washington’s army. And even before that, the wet and dry Quakers, worldly and unworldly ones, involved disputes over doctrine.

  6. I like being a Quaker, but it is a big challenge sometimes because I don’t agree with everything my church stands for.

    I think many people of faith have that problem. Certainly some of the Quakers during the American Revolution did; Nathaniel Greene was read out of meeting for fighting in Washington’s army. And even before that, the wet and dry Quakers, worldly and unworldly ones, involved disputes over doctrine.

    1. Yeah, Quakers split and fracture way more than anyone who is not Quaker realizes.

      In recent years, they haven’t kicked people out of Meeting so much. I know several Friends who chose to fight (with weapons) in WWII, and their choice was honored.

      I struggle with the lack of any discussion of Evil in Quaker theology… I struggle with many things actually, churchwise. My faith is rock-solid, the question is finding a faith community.

  7. You rock!

    To answer every question is amazing, and must be exhausting. i got tired just reading all that.
    i just bought Prom, in paperback, and so far so great…you are an amazing writer. there were no writers like you when i was in high school so i am reading all the ya now…as i was readign steven king and danielle steele back then. oh, and jaquelyn susann.

    Eileen

  8. You rock!

    To answer every question is amazing, and must be exhausting. i got tired just reading all that.
    i just bought Prom, in paperback, and so far so great…you are an amazing writer. there were no writers like you when i was in high school so i am reading all the ya now…as i was readign steven king and danielle steele back then. oh, and jaquelyn susann.

    Eileen

  9. you’ll always be my favorite

    well you’ll always be one of my favorites because the way you mix humor and life’s little things with reality. Like the way even though Melinda lives in this little nice sourounded suburban place something like that can happen anywhere. Also with Kate how sometimes you just can’t hold on to the illusion of being perfect but I like the fact that you left both books with like an open ending leaving possibility for the girls to grow. One of my goals is to meet at least one author that I really respect/admire and your one of those authors. Unfortunately though I have looked at your schedule and it doesn’t look like you’ll be anywhere near Brooklyn soon. there’s always hope though right? anyway is for these reasons that you’ll always be one of my favorites thank you for being you
    – Jessica from S.B.H.S

  10. you’ll always be my favorite

    well you’ll always be one of my favorites because the way you mix humor and life’s little things with reality. Like the way even though Melinda lives in this little nice sourounded suburban place something like that can happen anywhere. Also with Kate how sometimes you just can’t hold on to the illusion of being perfect but I like the fact that you left both books with like an open ending leaving possibility for the girls to grow. One of my goals is to meet at least one author that I really respect/admire and your one of those authors. Unfortunately though I have looked at your schedule and it doesn’t look like you’ll be anywhere near Brooklyn soon. there’s always hope though right? anyway is for these reasons that you’ll always be one of my favorites thank you for being you
    – Jessica from S.B.H.S

    1. Re: you’ll always be my favorite

      It doesn’t look like it will be soon, but keep watching, Jess, you never know what will happen.

  11. wow

    thank you SO much for posting that letter from Molly E. it warmed the cockles of my heart. what an amazing testimonial about how important books are in our lives!
    –carol (fangirl in virginia!)

  12. wow

    thank you SO much for posting that letter from Molly E. it warmed the cockles of my heart. what an amazing testimonial about how important books are in our lives!
    –carol (fangirl in virginia!)

  13. Julia Johnston

    So, basically this is my character. This is who I am if I could outpour my soul with no limits. A fictional character, who I’m writing about my experiences through. Do you ever use your characters to let out your frusterations, your deep secrets, your past?
    This seems the only way I can do it without frusterating anyone. And it works well.
    I have a question though. When I was molested, and then with the manager at work, the only reason I really turned them in was to prevent it from happening to another girl. I can’t say I wanted them punished, (although sometimes I dream of strangling it into them how sick they truly are) but I wanted them to be, in a sense ‘marked’ so that other people would have a warning to stay away. I didn’t get my wish.
    Nothing happened to the thing that molested me- but he did get kicked out after badmouthing a teacher- but no mark to warn other girls at his next school. He will be free to hurt another girl.
    My manager was first suspended, but on Sunday he came into work and ‘attacked’ me. He shoved me into a wall, holding my throat. I thought I was going to die. Just then, another manager walked in. I was saved (thank God if he exists) and he was immediately fired for breaking his suspension. That’s what goes on his next job app. He was fired for ‘breaking his suspension’. No mark to show future employers that he is a predator. He is FREE. I feel like I’m the only one suffering at all for this. My neck has grip marks all around it and I can’t sit against anything or my back screams in agony. So onto my question.

    In Speak, Melinda spills the whole thing… In your mind, was the Beast ever punished for what he did? Did anything happen to prevent him from hurting other girls? Is this a vicious cycle where there is no way to stop predators from hurting another victim?

    Julia Johnston

  14. Julia Johnston

    So, basically this is my character. This is who I am if I could outpour my soul with no limits. A fictional character, who I’m writing about my experiences through. Do you ever use your characters to let out your frusterations, your deep secrets, your past?
    This seems the only way I can do it without frusterating anyone. And it works well.
    I have a question though. When I was molested, and then with the manager at work, the only reason I really turned them in was to prevent it from happening to another girl. I can’t say I wanted them punished, (although sometimes I dream of strangling it into them how sick they truly are) but I wanted them to be, in a sense ‘marked’ so that other people would have a warning to stay away. I didn’t get my wish.
    Nothing happened to the thing that molested me- but he did get kicked out after badmouthing a teacher- but no mark to warn other girls at his next school. He will be free to hurt another girl.
    My manager was first suspended, but on Sunday he came into work and ‘attacked’ me. He shoved me into a wall, holding my throat. I thought I was going to die. Just then, another manager walked in. I was saved (thank God if he exists) and he was immediately fired for breaking his suspension. That’s what goes on his next job app. He was fired for ‘breaking his suspension’. No mark to show future employers that he is a predator. He is FREE. I feel like I’m the only one suffering at all for this. My neck has grip marks all around it and I can’t sit against anything or my back screams in agony. So onto my question.

    In Speak, Melinda spills the whole thing… In your mind, was the Beast ever punished for what he did? Did anything happen to prevent him from hurting other girls? Is this a vicious cycle where there is no way to stop predators from hurting another victim?

    Julia Johnston

    1. Re: Julia Johnston

      Oh yeah, fiction is a great vehicle for that, and it’s cheaper than therapy.

      I think what you are talking about is cultural change. Can we change our culture so that more boys and men will understand how to respect girls and women? I think the answer is yes, it can happen. First, there are already millions of boys and men who are decent and respectful. Second, history is filled with cultural change. When I was a girl, the jobs section in the newspaper was divided into “Jobs for Women” and “Jobs for Men”. People of color could not use the water fountains, bathrooms, beaches, or just about anything that white people used. We have far to go in America to achieve social justice and respect for all, but we are heading the right direction.

      I would like to think that when Andy Beast goes to college, he is going to try to attack a woman who is an Army veteran and she not only flattens him with a couple well-executed self-defense moves, but she prosecutes him, and he winds up doing 5 – 7 years in a federal penitentiary. Criminals will only stop when they are held accountable for their actions.

      I applaud and support your courage in speaking up (as many times as necessary) to put an end to the abuse that these guys have been getting away with. You are smart and brave. Please know this: while it is admirable to do this to protect other women, it is equally important to do it for yourself. You must believe that you are a worthwhile human being, that you do not deserve this kind of treatment…. because you don’t. Nobody does. It’s OK to stand up for yourself. It’s a good and cool thing.

  15. Re: You’re better then other authors

    Amen to that – wonderful post, and all of it gospel truth!

    Please note that the demographic “troubled teens” also encompasses “troubled facsimiles of adults.” Thanks

  16. Yeah, Quakers split and fracture way more than anyone who is not Quaker realizes.

    In recent years, they haven’t kicked people out of Meeting so much. I know several Friends who chose to fight (with weapons) in WWII, and their choice was honored.

    I struggle with the lack of any discussion of Evil in Quaker theology… I struggle with many things actually, churchwise. My faith is rock-solid, the question is finding a faith community.

  17. Re: you’ll always be my favorite

    It doesn’t look like it will be soon, but keep watching, Jess, you never know what will happen.

  18. Re: Julia Johnston

    Oh yeah, fiction is a great vehicle for that, and it’s cheaper than therapy.

    I think what you are talking about is cultural change. Can we change our culture so that more boys and men will understand how to respect girls and women? I think the answer is yes, it can happen. First, there are already millions of boys and men who are decent and respectful. Second, history is filled with cultural change. When I was a girl, the jobs section in the newspaper was divided into “Jobs for Women” and “Jobs for Men”. People of color could not use the water fountains, bathrooms, beaches, or just about anything that white people used. We have far to go in America to achieve social justice and respect for all, but we are heading the right direction.

    I would like to think that when Andy Beast goes to college, he is going to try to attack a woman who is an Army veteran and she not only flattens him with a couple well-executed self-defense moves, but she prosecutes him, and he winds up doing 5 – 7 years in a federal penitentiary. Criminals will only stop when they are held accountable for their actions.

    I applaud and support your courage in speaking up (as many times as necessary) to put an end to the abuse that these guys have been getting away with. You are smart and brave. Please know this: while it is admirable to do this to protect other women, it is equally important to do it for yourself. You must believe that you are a worthwhile human being, that you do not deserve this kind of treatment…. because you don’t. Nobody does. It’s OK to stand up for yourself. It’s a good and cool thing.

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