…When I was about 12 or 13, I read a book that just literally blew my mind. It wasn’t that the prose was perfect, or it had a beautiful ending, but I was amazed at how the author made so many small details fit together. At that young age, I hadn’t been exposed to a lot. But I had read a lot. It was to the point that every time my Mom would go to the grocery store, I would go with her, so I could look at the books. Yes, she would always get me the book I asked for. I would have it read within the day. She said she should return them the next day and say it wasn’t read (she never did!).
I was so amazed at how this author wrote this book with so many details that just worked, that I pulled out my typewriter (Yes, typewriter) and wrote him a letter. I had no address to send it to, so I sent it to his publisher.
About 2 months later I came home from school and my Mom said I had some package that came in the mail. I looked at the return address, and it was from him! Being 13 years old, I was a rock star! Someone important wrote to me!
There was a signed book that I hadn’t yet read, and a long letter telling me to never give up my dream of writing ( 😦 ) I wrote to him, and he always wrote back. I have several letters from him that I will always cherish.
I went to high school, I read books I had to read, I went to band camp, I studied, and I still tried to read when I could. We lost touch, and as time passed, I looked him up, and he went from writing gore stories (think Stephen King) to writing westerns. Not my thing for reading, but I never have, and never will forget the time a grown man spent replying to a young girl who wanted to be a writer, and admired him.
He passed away on February 8, 2004, and I will forever regret that I never stayed in touch with him.
Writers today (not all, but most) are not writing because it is “in them” and they can do nothing else; they write hoping for the next screenplay and millions of dollars in revenue.
So Mr. William W. Johnstone, I am sorry I never had the last chance to tell you Thank You. Thank You for taking the time to write to a teenager who had dreams of doing what you did. Writing stories that brought others joy.