The other day, I did something I rarely do, but ought to do more often: I sent a message to an author whose book I admired. In two words: fan mail. Now, some of you might think it a pastime for the obsessive, like the case of young Carol Dryden, who tried – unsuccessfully – to mail herself to the Fab Four:




Alternatively, consider the case of young Marge Simpson, who sent a lovingly rendered portrait of Ringo Starr to Mr. Starkey himself: here, not only is the experience mutually rewarding (and unlike Ms. Dryden, non-life-threatening), but a channel of communication that had, until that moment, been one-way from artist to listener suddenly ran a positive charge in both directions. There’s got to be something meaningful and worthwhile about that. Because, you know what? Life is short. So many of my favorite authors – Roger Zelazny, Leigh Brackett, Joseph Campbell – have passed away, and I wish I’d had the opportunity to let them know how much their work impacted my life for the better.



Dear Marge, thanks for the fab painting of yours truly. I hung it on me wall!


With that said, I have two recommendations for you. First, read Abby Geni’s collection, The Last Animal, out in October. I enjoyed it so much I was compelled to write to the author and let her know, which got this whole blog post going in the first place. Second, if you like an author’s work, let them know! These days, they often sit at their computers and avoid work like the rest of us. What I mean is, unless you’re writing to Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer, they probably have time to write back.


So, without further ado: my fan mail, and the author’s response. [ Two notes: “ARC” stands for Advanced Reading Copy, and it’s a complete bummer she won’t be coming to Seattle. ]




Hello Abby,


Earlier this evening, I finished the ARC of The Last Animal. “Terror Birds”, “Fire Blight” and the title story shook me in the best way. As someone who admittedly reads egregious amounts of science fiction, I felt a kinship with these stories, particularly when they involved animals and plants: stories of people comparing and contrasting their struggles with the mysterious existence of the other; a foreign, yet distantly reachable, intelligence.


Anyways, as a bookseller at the University Book Store in Seattle (I noticed the town was mentioned more than once) I’ll be recommending your collection come October. The ARC said your visits will be exclusively a Chicago affair, but should that somehow or sometime extend to the Emerald City, we’d love to see you. Thank you for sharing your inner world. It’s no simple action. All the best, and I’m looking forward to more in the years to come.


Michael Wallenfels

Self-Publishing Coordinator

University Book Store

Seattle, WA



Hi Michael,

Thanks so much for your lovely note. This is a whirlwind time, waiting for the book to come out! I’m delighted to hear the stories moved you. Though it’s unlikely I’ll be able to make my way to Seattle anytime soon — though I’ve always wanted to visit! — I’m glad to know my book has found a friend there. Thanks again!