• Welcome back, stranger!

    21 February 2011

    It's been a busy old week-and-a-bit for me! I finished the first draft of the new book (see older entires for more info about that), then did an edit of what will hopefully be my next book for adults, then did my final full edit of Palace of the Damned (the third Mr Crepsley book), then edited the proofs for the manga adaptation of Killers of the Dawn. I've also been answering a lot of fan mail -- I'd fallen behind on that, because I was on tour in November, then dealing with the move back into my house in December, then away again over New Year's. Which explains why I haven't had much time to blog!!!


    I received the following email from a fan called Katie recently:


    I am writing to you as an estranged fan.  I began reading the Cirque Du Freak series when I was twelve.  I am now twenty-two.  I stopped reading it around fifteen because it (naturally) took a while for each book to be written and published, and I was moving onto boyfriends and Sylvia Plath.  I am now in my senior year of college--an undergraduate Theatre and English double-major with a Creative Writing minor (I am an aspiring playwright, poet, and actress).  I have been willing prey to the ivory tower for four years now--subjected to massive quantities of Dickens, Chekhov, Shakespeare, and T.S. Eliot.  A new friend of mine, a freshman, recently asked me what I read when I was younger.  I told her The Darren Shan Saga was my favorite series, but that I never finished the last two books. She was kind enough to lend them to me. I was supposed to spend my evening studying for my Renaissance and Restoration Survey of Literature exam, but instead spent it devouring the last two books of the series until 6am. Thank you for humbling my snot-nosed Liberal Arts education, and reminding me that "Great Literature" comes in all forms. Thank you also for rekindling the thrill I used to get from reading (unassigned) material -- when retention of reading and graduating cum laude weren't the only things that mattered. Thank you most of all for being part of my childhood.


    Awwww! What a sweet email!!! It's always especially lovely to hear from a lapsed fan who has returned to the fold!! I've always had an interest in children's books, so I went on reading them even through my teens and into adulthood. I read plenty of other books too, but I never felt the need to junk children's writers entirely. But I know I'm unusual in that respect, and I never mind when fans grow up and put my books behind them. It's just part of life and growing up. I figure I might catch some of them again further down the line, if they have kids of their own who become interested in my work -- they might read the books with their children and find their way back into the world of my imagaination that way. But when a few like Katie return to the fold simply because they want to read my books for fun... well, for me that's like welcoming home the Prodigal Son!!!!!


    One thing I did say in my reply to Katie was that she should never stop reading for fun -- ultimately, enjoyment is the key aim of stories, and if you lose sight of that, I think you get disconnected from your very reason for reading in the first place. Of course there are periods in your life when you don't have as much time for leisurely reading as you would like, but I think it's a shame if you stop reading for fun entirely, especially if you're moving in literary circles, e.g. if you're a student or a lecturer or a teacher or a librarian. I know, in that situation, that it's easy to focus purely on the academic aspects of reading, to read because you have to. But for me, a person who doesn't read for fun is a person who can't really connect with the world of the word. I'm not saying you have to read trashy novels to escape -- indeed, maybe "fun" is the wrong word here. "Passion" possibly fits the bill more accurately. You need to read books that you can be passionate about, whether they're children's books, intellectual books, biographies... whatever floats your boat. But without a passionate connection to books, reading, for me, is meaningless. Your job or circumstances might lead you to read books you don't truly care about, but you should never cut yourself off completely from the books that stoke your passionate fires. Passion is everything at the end of the day.

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