• Viva le… English!!!

    14 June 2011

    I received the following email from a new fan, a French girl called Luna-River, currently living in the USA:

     

    When I first got here, to America, my family wanted to send me to a French American school, but Maman told them non. She said that if I was to be a proper American, I needed to learn to talk like one. Maman has always been real smart with this kind of thing, so here I am in the Ocean State. The nickname for Rhode Island got me very excited; I'd never seen an ocean before. We lived in the landlocked part of France and we never had enough money to visit. Either that, or we made no time.

    Anyways, Maman said that if I wanted to, I could go to a French school, but I wanted to learn English so bad. I thought that it would help me fit in better, but most kids don't like to bother with me yet. Too much for a seventh grader to handle, maybe.

    None of my family expects me to hold out; they keep trying to sway my opinion on the whole French-Public school issue. Jacques, my grand-frere, is especially forward; he's actually trying to bribe me into entering a French school, but again, I want to learn English. It's not exactly helping that no one thinks I can.

    I saw your book, "Cirque Du Freak", and naturally, it sparked my interest. One, because who could ignore such a title? "Circus of Freaks" isn't exactly a normal term. :) Two, because it was French; need I say more? Anyways, I got it, and I was instantly hooked by your books.

    They helped me quite a bit with my English, and I'm feeling much more comfortable in the language now, though it's only been a few months, and I still have a long way to go. My family has cut back on the pestering a bit, too. So just thanks for that, I guess. You're a huge inspiration to me. And I might want to be an author as I get older; I'm finding that writing is my favorite pastime. I DO hope that it takes effect on my English. Maman says it does, but she's obligated to say that as my mother, is she not?

     

    Indeed she is!! But I suspect, as Luna-River's display of her excellent grasp of the language in her email to me shows, that her mother is being truthful too!! What really impressed me about this email, which is the reason I'm sharing it with you guys, is Luna-River's determination to overcome the odds and not take the easy route. It's something I stress a lot of the time in my novels, because it's something I strongly believe in -- we need to stand up for our beliefs in life. We shouldn't just drift along and do what other people expect of us. It's far simpler not to rock the boat, but I think we sell ourselves short if we abandon a path just because the going is hard and other people are encouraging (even bribing!) us to switch.

     

    When I was starting out as a writer, my mother was strongly against me doing it full time. It's very hard to make a living as a writer, and she was worried that I might end up with no money, no career, a bitter, broken man. She believed in my ability, and encouraged me to keep writing, but also urged me to get a "proper job" while I was learning my trade, so that I could support myself. (And buy her nice birthday presents too!!!) She wanted me to become a teacher. I refused. I knew that I had headed down a rocky path, that there were no guarantees that my stories would sell (and many of them did not). But for me it was more important to do what I wanted and be happy. I knew the risks, I took a gamble, and even if it hadn't paid off (as it almost didn't), I wouldn't have regretted my decision.

     

    Fiction is usually a way of exploring real-life issues, and it's no coincidence that you can find mirror story arcs of my writing life in my books. My lead characters normally don't take the easy option. They fight for what they believe in. They do what they think is right, even when it makes their lives harder than they would otherwise be. I'm always proud of my characters when they stand up for themselves, just as I'm proud of the younger me when I look back -- and just as I'm proud of Luna-River. She has the heart of a vampire!!!

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