Fan mail

This week I received fan mail from Austria via my publisher. Real mail. A hand-made card in an envelop, the message inside written in ink, complete with quote from Emily Dickinson. The sender, Ms Theresia Raditschnigg, asked for my autograph and enclosed a stamped, self-addressed envelop.
Fan Mail 1
I am so touched that a stranger has taken the time and effort to contact me on the strength of reading one of my books — in this case, my first novel Behind the Night Bazaar, which was translated into German as Nachtmarkt.
Fan Mail 2
I’ve been privileged to have received on this blog a few messages from fans of my writing over the years,  people I’ve never met. I love hearing from people who have lived or travelled in Thailand — like the one who said ‘your book made me feel at home’. I’ve struck up conversations, even developed  friendships, as a result of comments left this blog. I love that technology makes all this possible.

But there will always be something special about receiving a card in the mail.
Fan Mail 3
Several years ago, my mother was diagnosed with a nasty form of cancer. As we stared down the barrel of a severely shortened lifespan, I asked her if she had any regrets.

‘I want to live long enough to read the sequel to [Hilary Mantel’s] Wolf Hall,’ she said.

‘Write and tell her to get a move on,’ I suggested.

Mum did write, and the Man Booker winning author wrote back in person. It seems even winners of the English-speaking world’s top literary prizes appreciate fan mail.

(Two years later, the sequel my mother was so keen to live for won Mantel a second Booker Prize; Mum now awaits the final instalment in the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy).

For my own part, I was so inspired by Anna Funder’s 2011 novel All That I Am that I tracked the author down on Facebook to congratulate her.

What about you? Have you ever sent fan mail to an author?

For the other authors out there, have you  received fan mail that is particularly special to you?

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About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is a Melbourne-based crime writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. Her first novel, Behind the Night Bazaar won the 2004 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. She is a winner of the Scarlet Stiletto Award and has thrice been shortlisted for Ned Kelly awards. Her third novel, The Dying Beach, was also shortlisted for the 2014 Davitt Award. Angela teaches writing and is currently studying for her PhD in Creative Writing at Monash University.
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16 Responses to Fan mail

  1. Angela – Oh, how lovely! I’m so glad that fan of yours took the time to write to you. It really does mean a lot doesn’t it? I actually did send a fan letter once, but it was never acknowledged. You’re right that today’s technology makes it possible to connect with readers all over the world. I love it!

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    • angelasavage says:

      I’m sorry your letter wasn’t acknowledged, Margot. I’d like to think some glitch was responsible. Just today, for example, I discovered a swathe of messages on Facebook from people who aren’t officially my ‘friends’. Amidst the spam (“Hello, charming angel. It’s really nice to come across a great profile like yours today, and am totally dumb founded when i set my eyes on your profile”, etc.) was a genuine fan message some four months old. Of course, I replied as soon as I saw it.

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      • Angela – LOL! I’ve had spam like that too. Worth a laugh… At any rate, I think it’s great that you replied even a few months later. I try to do the same thing and not just because it’s a courtesy. It genuinely means a lot doesn’t it when a reader takes the time to let you know they like your work.

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  2. FictionFan says:

    Interesting. As a reader, I’ve never sent fan mail – too shy and always assumed writers wouldn’t really care. I guess my reviewing is my version of ‘fan mail’ – it’s always a huge thrill for me if I discover an author of something I’ve raved about has seen my review.

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  3. Hello Angela

    I love this post – I’ve had a few fan letters and I don’t know that I could pick between them. The very fact that in this busy world a reader would take the time to find your contact details and write to you is so thoughtful and kind. The letters I’ve received have arrived uncannily at that time when I needed them most – when I was beginning to doubt anyone was reading anything I’d written – we all have those moments, don’t we? A letter at this time often means more than the letter-writer can ever know.

    Whilst I don’t have a single favourite, I do remember with particular fondness the letters which talk of Rowland Sinclair as if he were a real person – I love people who are willing to share my dellusions!

    Anyway I’m not surprised you’re receiving fan letters. Theresia is obviously a discerning reader.

    Warmly

    Sulari

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    • angelasavage says:

      Sulari, it *is* amazing how those letters seem to come just when you need them.

      And it doesn’t surprise me that you receive lots of fan mail, too — fortunately addressed to you and not Rowland Sinclair!

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  4. peggy lea sterkin of melbourne, vic, the beautiful australia says:

    Angela,
    David Finkel, author of The Good Soldiers, responded warmly to an email I sent. His book meant so much to me having had a brother with PTSD and other health issues, quite wreaked by war so long ago in Vietnam. Peggy

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  5. kathy d. says:

    Yes. I have written fan mail, including to the wonderful author at this blog, but to others, too, who have responded, including the very kind, excellent writer from Oz, Katherine Howell, the terrific Val McDermid and U.S. writers Kelli Stanley, and Margot Kinberg.
    Of course, email and Internet websites make this extremely easy.
    It is lovely that you received a beautiful hand-written note with an appropriate Emily Dickinson poem included, and it’s so well-deserved. What a book is Behind the Night Bazaar! It tells so much more than the story of a murder, and includes a feisty, independent, smart detective and issues of global importance that desperately need fixing.
    On to more fan letters!

    Like

    • angelasavage says:

      Kathy, you are an exemplary fan/valued reader and one of the people I was thinking of when I wrote of striking up conversations and developing friendships as a result of comments left this blog 🙂

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  6. kathy d. says:

    A fan/reader who is (im)patiently waiting for Jayne Keeney’s third case!

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  7. I love this post. I think we were talking about this the other day… it has inspired me. Each time I really love a book, I’m gonna send a piece of fan mail (a letter). The time and thought it takes – it does touch you, doesn’t it. And as a writer, to have someone engage with your work in that way, it must be wonderful.

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    • angelasavage says:

      An amazing coincidence, Kirsten: two days after we discussed fan mail, I received this from my publicist. I love that you are now inspired to write fan mail. And yes, as a writer, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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  8. Sandra Nicholson says:

    Hi Angela, I think I must be the last fan of your work to tell you how much I enjoy reading your books and discussing them with other discerning like minded readers. I have also just read the piece you did for Sisters in Crime on the history of the Scarlet Stiletto winners and loved it – especially the inspiration and confidence that the ‘red shoe’ continues to give the winners. Well done and thank you for the article.

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    • angelasavage says:

      Thanks for the fan mail, Sandra. I can’t tell you how much I value positive feedback from readers as discerning as you are.
      Thanks, too, for the feedback on the Scarlet Stilettos piece. The Sisters in Crime have given me so much; I was glad for the opportunity to give something back.

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