This week’s question as sent among us is:Have you written a “fan letter” to a famous author? Or spoken to a famous author? How did she/he respond?
Most of us had not, apparently, as nearly all the posts have gone on to other fan mail. I had to take a look at the agenda to see exactly what was asked. I have only written a few fan letters at all in my life and I will touch on the others later.
Let’s start with the author angle. I have found that authors are often the most open of all celebrities. One New York Times author with whom I am acquainted, (but will not trade on her name), once said that she was bowled over by her own experience with another very famous writer. She was leaving the first writers convention she had ever attended and she and her husband ran into the other author on the street. The Famous One addressed them to ask about where to eat or something of the sort and the couple ended up going to dinner with her. But the first thought that had come to the first author’s mind was, “Don’t you have people to keep people like me away from you?”! The Author With Whom I am Acquainted is very opened to her fans and has rapport with me although I know I am just a dedicated fan and have no delusions of her considering me a friend. She did give me great advice , and she had offered help. I once asked her about doing my first biography for a submission; she emailed me three days later and apologized for being late, as she was on vacation and her assistant had to forward it to her!
I emailed two other authors whose works I admired or which had touched me and got no responses. I have emailed others and been directed to their fan pages. I think they could be more appreciative, especially those who do not enjoy world-wide fame. Actually, I have found the bigger they are, the nicer they are. One hugely popular author has her daughter answer her fan mail. I know the writer is more than busy, and I think it is a good compromise.
Sadly, I have been too late in reading some authors’ works to contact them. Oh, I’m not talking about writing to William Shakespeare, but contemporary writers. One book was for sale on my local library shelves for months. I kept picking it up and putting it down. There is usually a big turn-over there but I guess I was meant to read the book. It touched me greatly and when I went to find the writer, I saw that she had died some years before…of apparently one malady that I have. Double hit in the heart.
As for others, I wrote to one actor who was dying, seemingly a nice fellow. He had my prayers and I let him know that and how much I enjoyed the series he had been doing. I wrote to another who for whatever reason I thought I could I could see was doing acting jobs that were not a good match for him, almost against his conscience and unworthy of him. I knew he had outside influences affecting him and I have no idea why I thought I could make a difference, or why I felt the need to admonish that one, as there are many others headed in what I would consider the wrong way. I told him that I was not looking for a hero or a lover. (I did tell him that my husband was a crusader, but I left out the part of my husband having better equipment). I am sure he thought I know nothing of what I spoke and was attracted to him. I have to admit, yeah, he’s attractive but no, that wasn’t the reason. I doubt that he ever saw the letter, (he probably has people to keep people like me away from him), but a few years ago a big change came in his life and his movies took a different course, as did some of his public works. I’m glad, but it had nothing to do with my letter.
I wrote one which is a really good story and I will tell it another time. In it I told one actress how one of her characters changed my life. She had a tragedy in her family and had asked to be written to while she was staying with the recovering family members. She apologized for not being able to respond, but promised to read all she received. I hope I made her smile.
I had no idea this post would be this long, but bear with me, as I might shock or amuse you with the last two stories, which are actually back to the literary theme.
A friend of a few of us here, Sarah Ballance, has a writer’s blog where she interviews many other, (often big-time), authors. Some time ago I had been very tied-up and had a great many blog-post notices in my email. I decided to just clear them out and start fresh. I realized that I had not stopped in to Sarah’s blog in a while, so I held back on deleting one…a random posting among many, one that had been about three prior to the last. Much to my surprise, that interview was with my cousin’s ex-wife! I had gotten back in touch with that particular cousin a few years before and when he visited,he told me about how his ex-wife had become a famous romance writer. I knew he had a short-lived marriage when he was young. He had called from the other side of the country more than 30 years previously and told me, although he had never given me her name, as it was over and done with by then. When he pulled the writer’s page up on my computer, I could see where he had described her in that long-ago call and how she was still quite thin, or as he had said, “super-skinny”. I had him save the page, since I did not know of the author at the time…romance was not my “thing”, (oh, how life changes!). After,I check out one of her books from my local library, just out of curiosity.
Although my cousin had been very good-looking and charming, he has always been a bit of a kook and even worse, so someone marrying him then leaving him quickly would not surprise me, nor could I blame them. After a subsequent visit from him I was again, (and still am), truly put out with him but I thought, “Well, here she is with Sarah; I’d never presume on approaching her out of nowhere but here’s a chance to say hello and support Sarah at the same time”, so I did. The writer was very gracious and we went back and forth a few times before I said something about “A”,(my cousin). She responded, “There must be a mistake; my ex-husband’s name begins with a B. Email me privately; here’s my address”. I did. My cousin was never married to her nor had she ever remembered meeting him, and I have no reason to doubt her. She even looked him up on Wikipedia. (Yes, he’s there. He is infamous.) He had been involved in a huge cult/pseudo religion at the time, and she had never felt the need for any religion, ( she told me that her background is Jewish). Fortunately, the woman has a wonderful sense of people and humor. I told her that I doubted that my cousin would stalk her, but that she may want to beware if he ever tried to use the story of their ‘marriage’ in fraud. Many others would either have taken me as an alarmist, a nutjob or just been put off that my family member could be a threat, but she actually offered any assistance she could to me as a fellow writer. I had no intention of writing fiction, let alone romance, at the time, but it was nice of her. She is not the first to offer to help me, nor do I believe it is the last time I will receive such an offer.
To end this on a lighter note, it was not me, but my mother who, ( I swear), had a correspondence going with Norman Mailer, which began with her writing a fan letter to him. I saw his letters to her but never read them. She kept them in her copy of his book, “An Advertisement for Myself”. Sadly, she burned them before she died. I was very young ,but I remember her surprise when the last two came in, as he had become quite a celebrity. Whatever he wrote to her, she was encouraged to write back and he always answered, although I now recall that the last one was via a secretary.It included a personal message, but my mother knew that would be the last.It was alright,as he , too , was becoming ‘infamous’. My mother was not a ‘forward’ woman; to this day,I am amazed about it happening at all.
Strange things happen in my family.
Anyone else have anything they’d like to share? Any comments?