I’d love to say that I received hundreds of readers’ letters/emails a week. I don’t. (What is wrong with you people? :o)) Those I do get, however, are wonderful. Really. I now have friends that I chat about dogs with and others that I discuss the latest football results with and these friendships started from one lovely letter from a reader.
The things that often amazes me about these letters though is the range of questions I’m asked. Some are totally off-the-wall. At least, I think so.
Some of the common questions:
Q: Do you write direct to screen or use pen and paper?
A: I get this a lot, usually from aspiring authors, and I have to give my usual wishy-washy answer. It depends. If all is going well, I write straight to screen. I love to see that word count increasing rapidly. However, if the writing is complete dog poo, I have to sit with a glass of wine, a notepad (a special lined notepad with yellow pages - yes, really) and a pen (a blue gel pen since you ask).
Q: Do you write every day?
A: I used to answer this with a very definite Yes. I’d climb onto my soap box and say that writing is like a muscle and that the more it’s exercised, the stronger it becomes. Now, my answer is “Chance would be a fine thing.”.
Q: Do you work with music or in silence?
A: Again, it depends. If it’s going well, I’m probably listening to the local radio station. If it’s going ok-ish, I’ll be listening to music - anything from Leonard Cohen to Counting Crows. If it’s going badly, I suffer in silence.
And now we come to the more unusual questions…
Q: If you could only save one thing from your burning house, what would it be?
A: Um - well, I’m assuming the dogs are safely outside, yes? Oh, and my husband would be out there too? (Did you notice how I got my priorities right there?) So, if I was thinking with my head it would have to be something as boring as my phone. That way, I’d have access to my books, my music, my work, my friends, my Facebook and Twitter feeds, etc. However, I expect I’d be thinking with my heart and would risk life and limb to rescue a silver rose bowl that my late father made. (I can hear my dad tutting at the stupidity of that. :o))
Q: Which do you think is more advantageous for a crime writer, knowing criminals or police officers?
A: Sad person that I am, I don’t know any criminals or police officers. I fervently hope that having a good imagination and enjoying doing research is the biggest advantage.
The email that arrived on Monday, however, came up with the best question yet. (This was from Sally in Essex who said lovely things about my books. Thanks, Sally. *I’m waving*).
Q: Presumably, like most writers, you enjoy a healthy lifestyle. (I was already rolling around on the floor at this point.) How do you find time for exercise and eating healthily when a deadline is looming?
A: Where do I start? A healthy lifestyle? Me? Nooooo. I have 3 dogs and walking them is the only exercise I get. Truly. And when I say walking, I mean walking. No running is ever involved. Perish the thought. When they’re fed and walked, I collapse in my chair with a cup of tea or coffee and some chocolate or a cream cake, and I write. I often have a salad for lunch but the benefits of that have already been undone by the chocolate and/or cake. I don’t cook so have to rely on husband’s somewhat limited skills in the kitchen or eat out. I can’t remember the last time I drank water. It’s tea or coffee all day and alcohol in the evening.
I’m going to be laughing about that one for weeks…
So writers, what’s the oddest question a reader has asked you? And readers, what do you want to know when you write to an author? I’m curious.
Meanwhile, I hear chocolate calling… :o)