It’s official! My manuscript CATCH MY GRIFT is now out on submission. My agent sent it out earlier this week, and it’s currently perusing health magazines in the inboxes of twelve (twelve!) acquisitions editors. I am continually gobsmacked by this. So I decided to commemorate the occasion with a post! Yay!
As it happens, a teacher friend of mine emailed me yesterday, mentioning an assignment she’s giving her class to write a fan letter to one of the authors they read during the school year. On a whim, I decided to write my own letter to the author who influenced me most. Without further ado, here it is!
Dear Ms. Bronte (a.k.a. Mr. Bell),
My name is MaryElizabeth, and I’m your biggest fan! I live in Portland, Oregon, which I hear is very similar in climate to where you’re from, Yorkshire, England. I live with my partner, my daughter, and my cat, whose middle name is Charlotte, after you. I work for a company called DaimlerTrucks, which I’m sure would boggle your mind since cars are relatively new contraptions in your neck of the woods. I am a writer like you, though I mostly write training materials for employees of the company I work with. I’ve been writing for about ten years now, ever since I graduated college, which makes me far too old to confess my age to someone I so revere.
I’m writing to you today to say how much I adored JANE EYRE. I’ve read it at least seventeen times since I first discovered it in my mother’s bookcase when I was in high school. Jane’s horrific experiences living with her Aunt Reed and attending Lowood make her instantly sympathetic, and the fact that she never lets those experiences break her spirit makes her admirable. Her friendship with Helen was beautiful and tragic, and I cry every time I read the scene where Jane crawls into bed with her when Helen is sick. Of course, the best parts are when Jane is at Thornfield Hall. The sizzling romance between Jane and Edward Rochester, the mystery of the woman in the attic, the twists and turns and reveals, all make for an un-put-downable read. And through it all, Jane’s moral compass, her strength in her beliefs, and her endurance through any hardship make her a true hero. In all honesty, growing up with Jane as a role model made me a stronger, more compassionate, more noble person while enduring my own hardships.
I would love to know how long it took you to write JANE EYRE. I am always amazed when I read it at the beauty of your prose, specifically your setting descriptions. You’re particularly good at striking a gothic, ethereal mood, and I was wondering where you draw your inspiration. I’m also curious if Jane is anything like you, and why, of all the people you could have written about, you decided to write about a governess. Jane mentions some dissatisfaction with women’s lot in society, and I was wondering if you feel the same way about that. Was writing JANE EYRE an indirect way to broadcast those views? Did you have any negative reviews of your book regarding that? If so, how did you address them?
I’d also be interested to hear what books you like to read and if you would recommend any of them to me. I recently read HUNGER GAMES, and I think you would love it, because the heroine Katniss has so much in common with Jane–she’s strong, determined, and loves unconditionally.
Thank you so much for writing such an awesome book and for working hard to get it published (which I’m sure wasn’t easy for a woman to do in the 1800s). I wish I could adequately express to you the impact JANE EYRE had on me as a person and as a writer. Reading it is always a profound pleasure.