Like all writers, I sometimes receive lovely emails from readers (I've yet to receive an unlovley one, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time). I came home today to find this:
"I'm writing this through very damp eyes, and sniffing. Dead Earnest is a brilliant book. I read your other book first and loved it so much, I had to get Dead Earnest.
That's all I want to say, really, except that I hope the new book comes out really soon."*
She added that she had never contacted a writer before.
Given all that's been happening recently, this kind of email is especially heartening, and I am always very grateful when people take the trouble to make contact. Writing is often like dropping books or stories into a void; one has no idea what happens to them, whether people like them or hate them, or even who reads them. Family and friends are invariably kind, and any criticisms couched in the gentlest of terms, but a message from a stranger is somehow especially welcome.
Years go, when I was a student nurse, I was so taken with the Strangers and Brothers series by C P Snow, that I phoned him up to tell him how much I loved his books. He was very surprised (of course he was. What can I have been thinking of?), but pleased and polite, and asked me what my job was. I've never forgotten that phone call (I doubt whether he did, either!).
* So do I!