Have you ever written an author a fan letter?
Did you get an answer?
Did it spark a conversation? A meeting?
(And, sure, I suppose that e-mails DO count . . . but I’d say no to something like a message board on which the author happens to participate.)
When I read today's question I just had to answer in order to mention a book that perhaps didn't get the attention it deserved. I emailed Dara Horn in April of 2006 with a question about her book The World to Come. Horn wrote back and in a two page letter discussed the questions I presented to her, and her thought processes in writing the part of the book I was inquiring about. She also expressed her appreciation that I, a 'real reader' had corresponded with her. It was an amazing response, I never dreamed she would have taken so much time to explain everything the way she did.
Here is Amazon's description of this novel:
Following in the footsteps of her breakout debut In the Image, Dara Horn's second novel, The World to Come, is an intoxicating combination of mystery, spirituality, redemption, piety, and passion. Using a real-life art heist as her starting point, Horn traces the life and times of several characters, including Russian-born artist Marc Chagall, the New Jersey-based Ziskind family, and the "already-weres" and "not-yets" who roam an eternal world that exists outside the boundaries of life on earth.
At the center of the story is Benjamin Ziskind, a former child prodigy who now spends his days writing questions for a television trivia show. After Ben's twin sister Sara forces him to attend a singles cocktail party at a Jewish museum, Ben spots Over Vitebsk, a Chagall sketch that once hung in the twins' childhood home. Convinced the painting was wrongfully taken from his family, Ben steals the work of art and enlists his twin to create a forgery to replace the stolen Chagall. What follows is a series of interwoven stories that trace the life and times of the famous painting, and the fate of those who come into contact with it.
From a Jewish orphanage in 1920s Soviet Russia to a junior high school in Newark, New Jersey, with a stop in the jungles of Da Nang, Vietnam, Horn takes readers on an amazing journey through the sacred and the profane elements of the human condition. It is this expertly rendered juxtaposition of the spiritual with the secular that makes The World to Come so profound, and so compelling to readers. As we learn near the end of the beautiful tale, "The real world to come is down below--the world, in the future, as you create it." --Gisele Toueg
This was a truly unique book, I would recommend it.