When I was a kid, my favourite book series was The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. I loved this series so much I wrote a letter to the author, Michelle Paver.
Ever since I was eleven, a frightful fifteen years ago now, I had made the decision to be an author after reading the novel Eragon by Christopher Paolini. It was my calling. It was a weird gut feeling that blurred the image of my tiny bedroom at the time in South Wales. I was to write the next best seller, and do so as a teenager.
It was not to be, sadly. Not only did I not have the typical knowhow to create a novel, nor the brawn to get started. I had no idea where to start. I had no inspiration, other than that of wanting to see my name next to my idols. What was I going to do and where was an eleven year old wannabe writer going to start?
A couple of years later, I knew I’d have to turn to an expert. Something told me Christopher Paolini would be too difficult to reach, living all the way over in the States that was. So I thought I’d give it a go at targeting a writer much closer and just over one hundred miles away. Michelle Paver would be the one!
I guess I could call it my first attempt at being proactive in my writing career. Sure I had a few story ideas rattling around, and a less than efficient computer to bash it out on, but I had a question to ask, and something told me to bite the bullet, print off a letter, and post it to England; fingers and toes crossed I may receive a response.
I visited the Orion Publishing website, and after a few minutes I found the page with the fan mail addresses. I immediately wrote it all down, slapped it on an envelope and mailed it off.
Poor Michelle Paver, having to cope with my measly attempt at a professional letter. I’m sure she would have allowed herself a laugh, I know I would have at my hilarious attempt to flatter.
Since I moved around a lot when I was younger, I had a terrifying feeling the response letter (should I have been lucky enough to receive one) would turn up at my address after I had already moved away. I thought I should politely ask any new owner to kindly keep any letter addressed to me so I might one day collect it.
But hey presto, believe me or not, a letter arrived just over a year later, about two months before I was scheduled to move house once more. There went the clatter of the letter box, me mid sandwich making, but somehow, call it the universe sending me a signal, I just knew the post was for me, or more accurately, was from Michelle Paver.
I think my biggest issue as a new novelist (as I liked to call myself as a kid) was I didn’t think there was much point in writing until I knew there was an opportunity or likelihood I’d ever actually receive representation or publication. Why would I bother writing the next best fantasy novel (forgive me, I was a child) if there were no way for people to read it. Thankfully I discovered self-publishing later on, but that’s for another story.
If you’re able to read the letter from Author Michell Paver above, you’ll notice her reluctance at self-publishing. Baring in mind this form of publishing was vastly different to the Amazon-powered methods we see today.
But my goal was met! I had successfully contacted an author in which I had tremendous admiration for, and secured the motivation to make my writing dreams happen. It now holds a prideful place within my life’s best moments: a personalised and personal letter addressed to me and no one else! I even got a signature and paw print from Wolf himself.
So what was the point of this post? If you’re a writer and you’re feeling as though the bookshops are these temples of perfection and a place you have no idea how to be part of, just know the possibilities are there, and if you need a budge in the right direction, just know a fellow writer might be happy to offer you that motivation.
Do you have any letters from your idols, writers or otherwise? Let us all know, I’d love to hear. x