Some writers make tons of money for sharing their made-up fantasy worlds. Steven King, JK Rowlings, and James Patterson have made it to the limelight where few authors ever stand. Some of us get by on smaller rewards.
Me, I intend to give myself some grins by sending a copy of my book Snow Babies to a girl who was in my class in grade school, and I may have had a huge crush on her at some point in that past. And because of me being a lazy writer, this post consists mostly of the letter I am sending with the book.
Remember me? I have lived more of my life in Texas now than I did in Iowa, but my heart is still living in Iowa. The part of me that turns into fiction books has always been an Iowan. You are probably wondering why I am sending you a copy of this book. Well, to be honest, I owe it to you. You are the person out of everyone I have ever known that the main character is named after. This is not a best seller and may never make much money. But this copy represents the share of this book that I owe to you.
If you are worried that I am writing stories about you, don’t be. The character of Valerie Clarke is based on a student that I taught for two school years. She did remind me of you in some minor ways. But the girl in this book is really based on the story of Sofia’s girlhood as I came to know about it. I would like to tell you a little bit about her.
Sofie was, just like the character in the book, short a parent. It was a struggle for her to be the cheerful, aggressively positive girl that she was. She was in my largest class of seventh graders when she was 13, a rather rowdy group of mostly Hispanic kids. She loved almost every story we read in class. She enjoyed every group activity and task we did in class, often leading the group she was in, and even sometimes disciplining misbehavior that I hadn’t called the student out for, simply because she felt they should be appreciating my class more.
By the time she was an eighth grader, she had developed a large crush on me. The year before I married my wife, she actually asked me to wait for her to grow up and marry her instead. It wasn’t the kind of love that gets a teacher fired and put in prison. Really, she was looking at me as the father-figure she needed in her life. Telling you that fact reveals which character in the story actually most resembles me, if you decide you actually want to read this book.
The book is a comedy about a blizzard. But like any good comedy, it will try to make you love characters enough that parts of it will make you cry as much it makes you laugh. It is a book I submitted to the 2014 YA Novel contest called the Rosetti Award Competition from Chaunticleer Reviews. It didn’t win, but it was a finalist. So there is some reason to believe it is not a bad book.
Of all the people I feel compelled to share this book with, your name is at the top of the list. Partly because I borrowed your name to write it with. But also, because of the fact that Valerie in the book, and in other books I have written about her, is often known as, “The most beautiful girl ever born in Norwall (Rowan), Iowa.” It was something the boys in the Rowan school said about you in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. I don’t know if I am telling you something you didn’t already know or not, but it explains your connection to this story. And why I felt the need to give you a copy of this book.
Read it if you want. Share it, if you want. Use it to put a voodoo curse on me if that’s what you want. But I hope you enjoy it and understand that you do have some part in the fact that it now exists.
With heartfelt gratitude,