I get a lot of email from readers. So much that I can’t answer it all. Once in a while I find the time to answer a handful of emails, but I read them all, just so you know that.
But here’s the thing: it’s hard to know what to say. I fall back on the old reliables: thank you, you are very kind or: I’m so glad you enjoyed it. There have been so few negative emails that I haven’t had to come up with any kind of standard reply to them, but I suppose I could: I‘m sorry to hear you were disappointed or you clearly aren’t the right reader for these books or you’re right, I’m not Diana Gabaldon. People tell me their own stories, family stories which are precious to them and I always try to write back and thank them. But it’s hard to respond to praise; I blame my twelve years in Catholic school.
To be really honest, I feel a little strange taking credit for the books. Each of them feels so long ago and far away (and still, a part of me). As if somebody came up to me and said, wow, you have two hands. And I’d look down and sure enough, two hands. I should take some pride in that? They are just a part of me, parceled out in the genetic sweepstakes along with blue eyes, big feet, and an ear for language.
You take a year or two to write a book and then it goes off and if you’re lucky, makes a place for itself in the world. Much like child bearing, where all the drama and pain fades with time until what you’ve got left over are a lot of memories, most of them not very reliable. And here’s this incredible being running around in the world on its own terms, independent of you. True, once it was inside of you and might never have emerged if not for the dictates of simple biology and opportunity. And fate.
But there it is, making friends in some places and pissing other people off (critical reviews, ah, there’s a topic for another day), and some of those people sit down and write to me: thank you, I really loved this book, the way people say to me: what a great kid you’ve got. (Because, of course, I do have a great kid. I’m more sure of that than I will ever be about any book.) And of course I’m thrilled when people recognize what a great kid I’ve got even while I’m thanking the fates (because I’m Italian enough still to worry about tempting them) for the good fortune of a healthy, happy, smart, beautiful daughter. Just as I’m very touched and truly pleased when somebody tells me a novel I wrote means something to them.
So if you write to me and don’t hear back right away, please know that I read your email or your letter (which will get forwarded to me if you send it to Bantam) and you gave me a moment’s confused but sincere pleasure.
Unless you’re the guy who writes to lecture me about Treenie; if you’re that guy, go away.