Books and Friends

Jan 29, 2015 by

Books and Friends

Have you ever read a book that you loved so much, you wished you and the author were friends so you could let her know what a great job she’d done? You could pick up the phone and chat about the characters. Or you could send a note, letting her know how much the book had meant to you. That’s exactly what happened to me a few years ago. One morning, I had a message from a woman named Claudia, who’d just finished my novel Fatty Patty. She said that once she started, she couldn’t put it down. She kept reading throughout the night until she reached The End. Claudia said she’d never contacted an author before, but she’d felt compelled to write and let me know how much the book had moved her, and how the characters and their story had changed the way she felt about life.

 

Fan MailClaudia’s message left me feeling stunned. It was the very first piece of fan mail I’d ever received. To have a stranger contact me, and let me know that something I’d written had helped them with their own issues seemed like a dream. My writing had touched someone’s life and made a difference. To me, that is the highest compliment an author can receive.

 

I contacted Claudia to thank her, and that was the beginning of a friendship that endures to this day. Claudia is a bright young woman who has overcome tremendous tragedy. She lost her husband Leroy some years ago, and as well as everything she owned in a fire last summer at her apartment complex. She was lucky to have escaped with her life. Claudia lost everything, but she didn’t lose heart. And she didn’t lose my email address. She’s still there, reaching out to me, and I feel blessed in her friendship.

 

Claudia is now one of my beta readers. She understands my voice and my work. When I’ve finished a rough draft of a novel, Claudia is one of the few people I know will give me honest feedback on the story and characters. Claudia isn’t just a fan. She has become a dear, trusted friend.

 

Books are trusted friends too. They take us by the hand, and lead us to faraway places without us ever having to leave our chairs. Books open the imagination of children. They have the power to change a child’s life. My daughter Abby teaches second grade at a Nevada elementary school. In the past, through DonorsChoose.org, Abby has requested funding for various projects to help her students. Recently she posted a request for help in purchasing Caldecott award winning illustrated books, designed to visually reach and teach a wide variety of students. Abby’s appeal for funding was met within 24 hours… and my friend Claudia was one of the donors. In her message to my daughter, Claudia wrote: “Reading has brought joy to my life. I hope it brings joy to yours too!”

 

HeartClaudia’s words touched my heart, but it was the other part of her message that made me cry. You see, Claudia made her donation in honor of me. The thought that this dear woman who enjoys my books had been moved to make a donation to a classroom of young children so that they too could find joy and inspiration through the love of a good book, was simply overwhelming. As authors, most of us never know if the books we write are making a difference. We sit at our computers, we write our stories, we kiss them goodbye and send them off into the world, hoping that someone will read them and find a little something tucked inside the pages: words that will give them hope. With each book I send out into the world, I have the same hope. But on those days when I have my doubts, I no longer need to worry. I have my dear friend Claudia there to remind me.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Claudia

    Kathleen,

    You are a blessing in my life and I am honored to know you and read your books. Your friendship means the world to me. One day we will meet in person and I have a feeling the laughter and love will flow!!

    Thank you for all your kind words.
    With much love,
    Claudia

    • Kathleen Irene Paterka

      Claudia, I am looking forward to that day! It will be WONDERFUL! xxoo ~ Kathleen

  2. Catherine Chant

    What a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful fan. 🙂

    • Kathleen Irene Paterka

      Catherine, my friend Claudia started out as a reader, then a fan, and now as a wonderful friend. I’m blessed to have her in my life. Thanks for stopping by to chat! ~ Kathleen