Friday, March 11, 2011

Dear Author, Thank You For Writing This Book!

Sydney Carton climbing the scaffold in 'A Tale of Two Cities.'
The question for me this week was: when you read do you send the author a note? Why or why not?

I'll be honest with you. I don't stay with a book I don't care for. I've heard a writer can learn from reading a poorly written book. My reaction to that truthfully is I'm not interested. I would prefer to read some passages perhaps in order to learn what not to do, but I'm afraid that doesn't include reading the entire book. I mean I'd go off the deep end at some point. I'd not want to pick it up, etc.

With regard to wanting to 'write a note to an author' I'd choose to do this for the most positive of reasons.

A book comes to mind immediately that would warrant such a note. The note would concern one of the most unforgettable characters in the magnificent  A Tale of Two Cities. Now, I'd have very much wanted to dash off a note to Charles Dickens about this book, particulary with regard to the character, Sydney Carton!

To have a man choose to die in another's place for the love of a woman, is profound!
Carton, a careless. bored man who cares about nothing happens to fall deeply in love with a young woman. The only problem is she is deeply in love already with a goodly man who happens to be an aristocrat in 18th Century France!

Written against the backdrop of the French Revolution, this is a tale indeed of two cities: Paris and London. But it is in Paris where our tale ends. It is in this great city that Dickens brings us face to face with Mme. Guillotine and the impending death of Mr. Carton.

I first read this in high school and have re-read it many times over the years. I wish I could have told Dickens how greatly it affected me. How I was never able to forget it.

So you see for me to feel I'd like to type a note (my handwriting is the pits) to an author means I'm reading a very special book. A book that has gripped me and affected me greatly, a book that is indeed talking to me--telling me things, perhaps even changing my values or at the very least if not changing them completely, making me think in ways I never thought before!

When reading Susan Hill, Daphne DuMaurier, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte or Anne Rice to name a few--I have found myself wishing I could tell them how much I was enjoying their stories.

To Anne Rice I'd say, oh Miss Rice! Thank you for writing thought-provoking horror. Horror that depends on a story and finely drawn characters for its power. Thank you for not writing about a giant slug that might have eaten all of Hoboken!

I want to read what I love. I want to savor the prose, feel the setting. I want to experience the story and the characters. I want to feel something. I want it to be worthwhile.

When reading Stephen King's Pet Sematary I fully understood the fear King must have had (in fact I read he was fearful) of one of his children being hit by a truck. I felt that fear and empathized completely.

With regard to that novel, who hasn't wished they could bring back someone they loved from death? Surely it is a fantasy we all share, short of actually plunging into some sort of hideous rite!

I'd say of course I'd love to write to tell the author of a book that has gripped me and affected me how very much I've enoyed it.

I think mainly I would say to each of the authors whose books I have enjoyed: thank you for writing this story, it's enriched my life. It's given me a greater understanding of humanity, of God, of love of all things that are worth thinking about. Yes, dear author! Thank you, indeed!


  1. Ah, that I could tell Mr. Poe how "The Pit And The Pendulum" affected me when I was young, and how it still does. Maybe in that ethereal world where he now resides he could take some solace knowing that such a devotee to his work is still enjoying the output and sharing from his soul.

    Well written, young lady.

  2. Carole,
    Very well put, with grace, tact. I would only hope a reader, such as yourself, would love one of my books and think that way about them. We can only hope!

    I agree it is a good thing to remember the positive and to give the author the acknowledgement he/she deserves. We all know how difficult it is to put something together like a novel, after all. And with so many good ones out there, I too don't finish a book I'm not loving. There are already more books to read than I have time left...Unless I succumb to the mega mind meld reader thing on late night TV.

  3. Carole... Great post. I just love the idea of writing to authors long since passed. What great potential to share contemporary insight. What if there was a time machine - and we could meet and engage with the minds of the past greats? Would we... Could we... have an impact? What impact would they, and their time, have on us?

  4. wow! Robert, Sharon--Paul! don't know where to start!
    Yes, Robert and in cases like Poe's his work is as powerful and meaningful as it has always been. His was a dark and tragic world which haunted him and haunts us when we read his work!

    Sharon, I will read your books! That's a promise and I'm sure they will touch me. at the moment I am so pressed for time--have a double stack of books piled up by my laptop--all to be read while i'm writing the sequel! I main I'm writing about an evil immortal who has lived since time began! I like history and I don't want to mess up! so sure, i look forward to it, Sharon!

    Paul thank you!what a book that would be! yes a time machine wherein a devoted reader could look over Dickens' shoulder and say, 'yes! yes, oh please carry on! That's so touching, Mr. Dickens! what an idea! Actually, now that I think about it I remember how sad I always felt for Miss Havisham. Actually, I was very naughty and wrote a funny bit about her as told by a cockney narrator! that aside==

    And as you said--considering time travel the other way, what would Bram Stoker think of today's vampire novel--what would Jane Austen say about some spicey romance novels! Perhaps we'd be surprised at her very positive reaction?! goodness the mind boggles!

    thanks people, so much for your comments!

  5. I do write to authors I admire. Sometimes they surprise me and respond. I have nothing to lose and I want to express my appreciation. I would most definitely have written to Charlotte Bronte!

  6. Carole, ...Paul? :) Me thinks a case of mistaken identity, perchance?

  7. David! What was I thinking? sorry!
    Must have known a Paul Sartof? aye carumba.
    thanks for pointing it out, D A V I D! xxx

    and Julia, wow! I admire you! that's nice when they write back! You've got guts!
    On sure! oh boy would I love to write to Charlotte Bronte!
    Excellent comment thx!