Thank goodness for readers!

by Pari

(As often happens here on the ‘Rati, a couple of us will be thinking about the same thing in different ways . . .I just read JT’s post from Friday. Her letter of love is so beautiful. Take a few minutes to read it if you haven’t already. And congratulations to JT once again for a well earned award!  )


Two weeks ago, I went to the farmer’s market closest to my house. It’s just getting established and there aren’t many vendors, but I appreciate not having to drive across town to buy organic and locally nurtured elegant golden beets, crunchy lemon cucumbers, ruffled patty pan squash, hot green chiles. Our market also has a few brave fine artists – painters, photographers, potters — and though I’m unlikely to buy any of their pieces due to my current monetary constraints, I do like to talk with them.

Artists tend to be interesting people, forced to create because of an inner yearning that I can certainly relate to. I can also relate to their selling experience. Any writer who has done a mall book signing has sat in a booth or at a table watching people walk by without buying or saying a thing. 

On this particular Saturday, I was feeling bleak . . . melancholy . . . bummed. I knew that going to the market would be therapeutic; fresh, beautiful produce always makes me happy.

On the way out of the market area, I stopped to chat with a ceramicist named Holly Kuehn  One thing led to another and of course I mentioned that I write. Nearby, a woman kept looking our way with that concentrated curiosity of an eavesdropper.  She hadn’t entered the book, so I decided to help Holly sell some of her work. I loudly admired a group of tiles depicting cranes in flight and suggested to the woman that she come in and admire them too. As soon as the woman entered, I walked outside and the artist and I resumed our conversation.

“What’s your name? I’d like to look up your books,” said Holly.

“Just look up The Clovis Incident; you’ll find my name more easily that way than trying to key it in,” I said.

 And that’s when the woman next to us squealed and opened her purse.

“Here it is!” she said, pulling out one of my brochures. “See? Right here. Pari Noskin Taichert.” She grinned as if winning a prize and called her husband and friends over. “Look. This is her! She’s the one who wrote those books I’m making you read.” And then back to me. “I’m your biggest fan!”

She proceeded to explain why she had the brochure in her purse in the first place. “I went to a bookstore the other day and they didn’t seem to know who you were so I was going back to show them this.”

Is it trite to say she made my day?

Is it trite to say that I had a marvelous time this last Saturday meeting Allison Davis (of the many comments here on Murderati)? That it, too, brought me tremendous joy?

Or what about the couple who showed up at my door several years ago? I’d met them at my first Malice Domestic and they became convention friends; we’d seek each other out each year. Well, one day the doorbell rang here in ABQ and there they both stood . . . looking a little sheepish.

Yes it was a bit weird, but it was also lovely. They were right too; I would’ve been upset to know they’d traveled through NM and hadn’t stopped by. A few years later, their visit was made even more precious when I went to my last Malice and found out that the husband had died of skin cancer . . .What a gift to have seen him here in NM, to have seen him smiling and happy and to be able to hold on to that beautiful memory.

Perhaps there are people who become so famous that their readers (sometimes aka fans) devolve into nuisances. I can’t imagine it. To me, it’s an incredible blessing to meet someone who has taken hours of his or her life to spend reading what I’ve written.

Every thank-you is an honor.


So today’s questions are:

Do you thank writers, musicians, actors or other artists in some way?

If so, who’s the last one you did?


 . . . and if you don’t thank these creatives, do me a favor and try it. You may or may not get a response, but you might just make someone’s day. And good karma never hurt anyone.

35 thoughts on “Thank goodness for readers!

  1. Alafair Burke

    I wouldn't encourage most people to do a front-porch pop-in, but it sounds like you had become friends over the years. I think websites, Facebook, and Twitter are a great way to tell your favorite artists you appreciate their work. And I know those notes always make my day.

  2. Pari Noskin

    I wouldn't encourage that kind of visit either . . . but it turned out to be a blessing in this case.

  3. Paula R.

    Great post, Pari. I thank writers every day!!! If it wasn't for you guys, I probably wouldn't be sitting her typing this today. Writers have brought me back from the brink, and the day I reached out to one, led me to three others. Julie Leto was the first author I wrote a thank you note to, and when she answered me back, I was floored. As a result, I started following her at her Plotmonkeys blog, where I met Janelle Denison, Carly Phillips and Leslie Kelly. As a result of that one step, I've had the courage to reach out to many others. The last author I've said thank you to was Catherine Mann…but that was at the end of the day. Each day, I go through and say thank you to many of my faves. It's a great reminder. Thank you, Pari, and the rest of the 'ratis for doing what you do.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  4. Rae

    I’m totally going to mangle this so I hope someone out there can correct me, but here goes: there’s a great quote from Raymond Chandler, or someone of his stature, who received a note from a reader that said “I’ve loved all your books, but this one was awful etc. etc.” Chandler’s reply was words to the effect of, “if you love my work so much, why did you wait until now to write?”

    Anyway, I do write to authors and others when I really like their work. Sometimes I hear back, sometimes I don’t, but I think they deserve to know when their art is really meaningful to their audience. Last person I thanked, if I’m recalling correctly, was Our Cornelia.

  5. Sarah W

    How cool is that, Pari!

    Not that you and your books don’t deserve all this fan treatment — I love the Clovis Incident and the only reason I haven't devoured the Belen Hitch already is that my MIL swiped it from my stack while I was at work and all the copies are checked out of the library.

    Note to self: stop talking up an author to your friends and coworkers *before* you've finished all the available books . . . .

    And in answer to your question, I do try to let people know I enjoy their work . . . and you must be the most recent one (although I believe I gushed at Gar Haywood a week or two ago)!

  6. Kristopher

    Hi Pari –

    I always make it a point to send an e-mail to the authors whose books I love. Often I get a response, and sometimes not so much. Interestingly, it seems the more "popular" an author is, the less likely I am to get a response. But from those that have responded, I have made a great many friends that I meet up with at conferences and such.

    And then the reverse is also true. In many cases I "meet" author at a conference and am inspired to read their books by their actions towards me and other fans. That is what happened with both you (at the bar at Malice 2009? maybe) and Alex (who I had a few passing words with on the dancefloor at B'con San Fran). Not to mention websites like this one, where I discovered Alafair (who I hope to chat with at this year's B'con and Allison (if I can forgive her from moving on from the sin books).

    There is nothing like the bond between reader and writer.


  7. Gar Haywood

    Pari, I love this post. It touches on a subject that is often on my own mind. Why is it when we become published, we suddenly think we're above writing fan mail to authors we admire? I think about sending letters of thanks to someone who's just blessed me with a terrific read all the time — Sara Gruen for her incredible WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was a prime example — but I never pull the trigger. "Me, write a fan letter? How unprofessional!"

    Well, that's clearly nonsense, and I think I'll devote a future post here to saying my thanks to Ms. Gruen and a number of others.

    Incidentally, I was just on a panel over the weekend with Gregg Hurwitz (at Comc-Con), and he told a story about how he used to write Peter Benchley fan letters, inspired to become a novelist himself by Benchley's bestselling thriller JAWS, and Gregg said Benchley eventually wrote him back, if only to say (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Write if you must, but only if you can't think of any other way to make a living."

    Perhaps if we thought the people we wrote thank you letters to would be generous enough to write back, we wouldn't be so hesitant to try it?

    And Sarah: Thank YOU for gushing. It made my day.

  8. Sylvia

    I'm probably a prude on this but I tend to think that people like their privacy. I've walked down the street past celebrities and watched a couple sit down at a restaurant who were public figures. At no point did I feel the urge to walk up to the person and say anything to them. If anything, my gift to them is not drawing attention and letting them have a meal in peace.

    Here's a funny story… I was sitting next to a famous football player on a flight once and people kept walking past, looking, trying to high-five and asking for autographs. A friend of mine was in coach and texted me before the plane departed and said "Do you know you are sitting next to…." to which I replied "Yes, but does he know who HE is sitting next to?" I really did feel bad for the guy in a sense as he looked exhausted and just wanted to get home to his family. I pretty much let him be until he asked what I was reading and had a quick chat and that was pretty much it. He listened to music and I read/worked. At the end of the flight he actually thanked me for being a great flying companion.

    So… how do I support and or thank writers, artists and more? I give them good reviews, I post about them Facebook, I let them know in the venues they have provided for me (fan) to share with them – their blog, Facebook, a book signing. These places are fair game to share.

    That said, I'll be over on Sunday for dinner. Alafair, I'll be by in August to see the Duffer. Tess can expect me for a long stay in September and Louise – see you soon for coffee. ha ha ha

  9. Louise Ure

    What a wonderful karmic meeting at the market, Pari. Too cool.

    Like Gar, I've hesitated to send my own fan mail. I'm making a promise to do so now.

  10. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I'm an unabashed fanboy and I'm not embarrassed in the least. If I love a work of art, be it a painting, musical composition or piece of writing, I will let the artist know it. A work of art must be seen and appreciated and the artist needs to hear it. I think I've embarrassed Christa Faust a number of times as I gushed over her novel, "The Money Shot." I've done the same to Marcus Sakey, Christopher Ransom, Tom Epperson, Chuck Palahnuik, Augusten Burroughs and others. When I read something I love I have to share it. It all comes back around, anyway. I've seen that Karmic magic work its mojo.
    And Allison Davis is the sweetest. She's one of the most warm-hearted people I've ever encountered, and I met her through Murderati.

  11. Allison Davis

    Ah shucks you guys. I've always been very vocal with gratitude — I remember Rex Stout answering a fan letter from me about whether Cramer ever smoked a cigar in any of the Nero Wolfe books (only in one). I remember yelling at a Beatles concert for John Lennon, getting the entire row of 10 year girls to help and he acknowledged us and waved (we swooned). I've admired a lot of artists and painters and that's one reason I started to write about art, which I did in the early 80's for several years and have taken that up again in last two years. And as most of you know, I've bought your books, had you sign them or tried to get you promoted (Louise, people at the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law foundation annual meeting were asking after you….) because more often than not, people are reluctant to show gratitude. Meeting Pari was the highlight of my trip to New Mexico…she's a wonderful ambassador to the Land of Enchantment.

  12. Tammy Cravit

    I tend to write a lot of thank-you notes (to artists/authors, and others). Like Kristopher, sometimes I get an answer and sometimes not, with the probability seeming to vary with the relative fame of the author. (The two notable exceptions to that rule were Sue Grafton and Laura Lippman, but I digress.)

    I firmly believe that, when one does something to make your life richer or more pleasant, you owe a thank-you note. And this is why I write notes to, or e-mail, authors. As a reader, a response is nice but not necessarily expected. It is enough to cast the pebble into the well, whether or not you hear the splash.

    Coincidentally, the last author to whom I sent a personal thank-you was JT, though we've corresponded enough that I wouldn't consider her a total stranger. 🙂

    I find it so sad that we live in a world where the threat/reality/thought of stalkers inhibits us from giving, and receiving, thanks.

  13. Rob Browne

    Not trite at all, Pari! Those are the kind of moments that DO make our day. There's nothing that tells us we're doing the right thing like an enthusiastic reader. Great story.

  14. David Corbett

    I have a whole section of my web page for DO THEY KNOW I'M RUNNING dedicated to reader comments, because I've gotten some of the most heartening and humbling notes from readers ever because of that book. They mean more to me than the reviews, because I trust them, they're honest.

  15. Richard Maguire

    Pari, I really must read your books. I don't believe I'd find them, here in the wilds of Bavaria where English-language sections in bookshops tend to be little more than a revolving rack, like in an airport, and stacked with titles by the usual suspects. Munich, though, has some great bookshops, but I don't get up there too often. So I'll try Amazon.

    Okay…seeing as you mention it, I'll take the opportunity now.

    Stephen – thank you for BOULEVARD. I couldn't put the book down. It's a brilliant read. And as for that ending…well, my blood pressure hit the ceiling. (BEAT is in my TBR pile.)

    Alafair – I've read the Samantha KIncaid books and enjoyed them very much. I love the atmosphere you paint of the D.A's. Office in Portland. Hope we'll hear more of Samantha.

    Gar – I've just finished the first few chapters of CEMETERY ROAD, and it's a compelling read. Great characters. And I'm seeing L.A. now through fresh eyes. Thanks for writing it.

  16. Eika

    I've thanked Laurie Anderson and Tamora Pierce. A few others, too, but those are the most recent.


  17. Pari Noskin

    Wowie, wow, wow, wow!
    I just stopped in during my lunch break — at my desk, obviously — to see if anyone at all responded. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to read all of the great comments so far. Every single one of them made me smile.

    I've written notes to all kinds of people. Got a response from some, like Madeleine L'Engle and the former Jane Siberry (I'm spacing on her new stage name now). Have written to Alice Hoffman via FB but I'm behind on my thank yous . . . that's for sure.

    I love that you take the time to thank writers — and that it's been a good experience for you. And . . .we're so glad you found us at the 'Rati, too.

    I think you hit on something really important — we writers (and other artists) don't know what affect our work has on others and there's no real way to tell beyond reviews or comments on places like Amazon. The problem with those is that they come with a lot of baggage. A thank you directly to the creator of a piece is unfiltered and potentially has more emotional power as a result.

    Oh, Sarah,
    Thank you! I'm feeling so happy warm right now!

  18. Pari Noskin

    Beautiful, Kristopher. I also agree about the bond between reader and writer. The fact that the potential is there more today b/c of social media and the internet, is just a boon. Isn't it?

    What a great story about Peter Benchley. I love that quote.
    I think I actually started writing more thank-yous after I got published because I realized how wonderful it was to receive these blessings. I figure if it feels this good to me, it must to others too.

    Oh, Sylvia,
    Your comment cracked me up. Yes, I'm sure it can get really tiresome to have some much attention when you reach a certain level of fame. But I have to believe that a kind, heartfelt thank you still holds power even for the most famous. To me the sincerity is where you don't even care if you get a response, because that's not why you're doing it in the first place . . .

    I suspect you write thank yous often. You *are* a thank you.

    Why does that fanboy approach not surprise me in the least? And you're right about Allison.

    It was such a pleasure to meet and spend time with you. You're marvelous. And I held you in my heart on Sunday, hoping you felt well enough to write. Thank you again for making time in your trip so that we could meet. — even though I was in my sweats and had one of the dirtiest houses you've probably seen in a long time.

    I've gotten some wonderful notes from you and they've been real gems. You're an example of how wonderful people can be. Thank *you*!

  19. Pari Noskin

    Thanks, Rob and JT. I know you know what I'm talking about.

    David, yes. Just . . . yes.

    Richard, two of my books are also in Kindle editions . . . if that would help. But more than that, I like that you took time to thank some of our own 'Rati. That was very nice of you and I bet you made their days.

    I'm glad to see you do this. Somehow I'm not surprised. Your comments make me believe you're the kind of person who likes to say thank you. I know you've done it here at the 'Rati with great consistency.

  20. Reine

    Well . . . if I didn't say this before I will say it now . . . or again. Thank you, Pari and all writers of fiction who engage me.

    Only once since I've had the freedom to indulge myself in reading for fun, full time if I like, has a writer not responded to my thanks.

    The most memorable response to my writer thank you was very long ago when I was a teenager in Boston. Huge baseball fan and theatre junkie that I am, when I saw Heywood Hale Broun at the now-defunct Beef and Ale restaurant, I approached him to say how much I loved his writing and reporting. He invited me to join his dinner party. I did. I sat down with him and his company that included Rosemary Harris. She was, I believe, appearing in Lion in Winter at the time. I was a total freaky nut job teenage case and a half. I could not eat or drink, and I had to excuse myself and run for cover. Call Auntie-Mom. Hide out. Cry.

    That peculiar experience in fighting introversion and social agoraphobia did it for me. I will never show up on any one's doorstep — or approach them at table. I may email too much. I may say unusual things. But never again will I knowingly risk experiencing that level of discomfort!

  21. Pari Noskin

    I know for a fact that you are a fabulous thank-er. Isn't it a blessing we've got the internet now? For those people who are shy, it provides a beautiful way to interact that doesn't cause the discomfort of which you speak. It also allows for a certain speed of response that a letter just can't provide. I know that my letter to Madeleine L'Engle wound its way through the publisher before hitting her desk and too another four months before she responded. By that time, I gave up — and was doubly overjoyed when it arrived.

    Unlike you, I don't suffer from introversion and social agoraphobia. But I've made a fool of myself. Usually I'm not overly impressed with famous folks, but I make exceptions for truly astounding people — or truly accomplished ones. Hence, when I saw Itzhak Perlman in a restaurant in Albuquerque, I went over to his table and said, "Mr. Perlman, on behalf of all New Mexicans . . . .Welcome to our state."

    Talk about feeling stupid. Oh, well. I did feel his presence in NM had made it a better place.

  22. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Pari – my mother said the same thing to Jack Klugman. We New Mexicans are always ambassadors. Did you ask him "red or green?"

  23. Reine

    Thank you, Pari.

    Hah, yes. Internet saves.

    And Itzhak Perlman is a favorite fellow "old polio." I've only bought one concert DVD — his Elgar, Prokofiev & Saint-Saens BBC anniversary performance.

  24. Barbie

    Aww, it must be THE GREATEST feeling EVER to be somewhere, when you're an author, and you're known my your words rather than your face and someone goes like, "OMG, this is HER." It truly made me tear up.

    I used to thank authors, but I think I started to cross a boundary of myself and being too personal, and pulled back. Books saved my life, as many times I've chosen to literally hang on to a book for my dear life than to take my own life. Some authors have helped me more than they'll ever know. Some do know. Some never will. I don't think I'll be doing any thanking to authors I've never spoken to before anymore, but maybe to one of the few I have a sort of online friendship with, I might drop an email if their next book speaks to me as much as the last 🙂

    I did thank a few authors before, and I don't regret it because I met some really amazing people from whom I've learned a lot. I also met a really good friend that way. She's a published author and become a mentor to me and taught me more about writing than I could have imagined, which means everything to me, since I want to be an author myself. I even got to meet her in person when I was in the US (and, nope, I didn't show up at her door, we met for lunch!!!) 😀

    I love that you got that, Pari. truly. Seems to make it all worth it 🙂

  25. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Since I've been going to conventions I have had agonizing fan girl moments of gushing incoherently all over my favorite authors.

    Actually I should just write it and get it out of my system that way.

    I did scream for I think a full minute when Ira Levin wrote me back….

  26. KDJames

    Well hell. Now I feel horribly inadequate as a reader. It has never occurred to me, not even once, to "thank" a writer for a book. Well, unless it was given as a gift. But that's different.

    I mean, I've told writers that I love a particular book of theirs and even that I love their voice, I've told writers that I've read ALL their books, I've written glowing (in a non-radioactive way) book reviews, I've gushed to other people about a book and urged them to buy it, I once even begged my local library to stock a book. But never ONCE have I actually thanked a writer for a book.

    Then again, I've never shown up at a writer's door uninvited, struck dumb with awe and expecting to be fed. For that alone, there are a few who should thank ME. So maybe we can just call it even?

  27. Pari Noskin

    That makes me feel so much better. I really did feel like a fool, but I adore Perlman!

    I'll have to find that one. Among the many reasons I like Perlman so much is how hard he has worked to mentor young musicians — how much time he devotes to that. It's incredibly inspiring.

    What a kindness; thank you. I was so touched by the woman's response, it really brought me joy.
    As to boundaries, yes . . . they can be crossed and what one person might mean in one way is taken in another. Communication is a challenge for all of us . . . and always is — even for those with facility in this area.

    How cool is that! Wow. I bet you screamed.

    Just keep doing what you're doing. 'Kay? (Oh, and thanks for the laugh!)

  28. Pari Noskin

    HEY? May I thank everyone who took the time to comment today? I've really enjoyed this conversation and am so grateful Murderati has become such a wonderful community.

  29. Laura

    I once emailed Tess Gerritsen, to tell her how much I love her books – our store barely stocked them until I started working and very determindly started handselling copy after copy of "Harvest". And she was kind enough to hand write me a thank you and enclose some signed bookplates for the store. That made my day. I practically skipped around the store. So thank you, to all the authors who put in the time to reply to their readers. This community is such a shining example of how author/reader communication really works, I've read authors that I've never looked twice at their books before just because I love reading their blogs. So thank you for creating such a wonderful place for us all to come together! 🙂

  30. Pari Noskin

    What a lovely thank you. That story about Tess is just what I'd expect on her part, and the feeling it gave you is one of the reasons the bond is so strong. I know some people don't want to know the author behind the book; I'm a little different. When I read a wonderful book, one that has affected me deeply (laughter or tears, it doesn't matter), I'm always happier to learn that the writer is a quality human being too.

    Thank you for the link and for the perspective. I was sitting there thinking about him in terms of his music and mentorship to kids. What you say is tremendously true too. By his example — by the way he lives his life w/o barriers — he's leading and mentoring as well

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