Good afternoon bookies.

Have any of you ever written to writers? I don’t mean emails or blog comments, I mean letters sent snail mail?

There was a period where I did that a lot. I still would given the chance, but sometimes life intrudes and other things take priority. I thought up a question that I wanted to ask every writer, a question that had meaning to me and that they might have found interesting to discuss. A number of them said that was the first time they had ever been asked that question, and gave excellent (and sometimes quite long) answers. Some were flip about it, a few ignored me altogether, but for the most part I was thrilled with the replies and re-read the letters occasionally to see who was right and who was wrong.

And no, sorry, I won’t tell you my question. I still like to ask it, still find it fascinating. Just recently I have gotten another letter from Elizabeth Peters, aka Barbara Mertz, a personal favorite of mine for her Amelia Peabody series. You’ll have to think up your own question.

David Eddings wrote me a two page, hand-written letter (known as an ALS, Autograph Letter Signed). Dean Koontz not only answered, he sent me a signed photo and a signed paperback (and no, I didn’t send enough postage for that). Arthur C. Clarke sent a polite form letter explaining why his physical condition prohibited sending signed letters anymore, then promptly signed it. Douglas Adams had a (funny!) smart-assed remark, Frederik Pohl went into great detail. Julian May told me all about her retirement plans and wrote something wonderful in a book I sent her.

One thing to remember if you write to authors or any celebrities: send a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply. If an author takes time to respond, expecting them to pay the postage is not only rude, it’s insulting.

And lastly, recognize that some authors aren’t going to respond no matter what you do or say. That’s just how it is and makes you cherish the answers you do get all the more.