Sunday, October 5, 2008

An Open Letter to Ann Brashares

It's almost 2 AM here, but I sit in my recliner, listening to the crickets and a million frogs sing. The night is filled with them. This is the second night this week that Ann Brashares has kept me awake. I refer, of course, to the famous author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and sequels. It is the second book The Second Summer of the Sisterhood which kept me awake this night. I went looking for an email address, a web site--can you believe she doesn't HAVE one, except the publisher's site--to write a fan letter. Even my famous Google skillz came up short. I am reduced to writing this open letter, which I am assured she will never see, but feel compelled to write anyway. So I will begin it like I begin so many fan letters:

Dear Ms Brashares,

I'm one one of those odd fish, a grown woman who reads YA. Maybe this is because I write YA. Please don't stop reading. I don't want anything from you. I just want to say how much I have been enjoying your Traveling Pants series. I'm sure you hear that a lot. Or, perhaps you don't, as you don't have so much as an email form for fan mail, you don't. I suppose when one becomes a big and popular author, it becomes a burden.

I've stayed up two nights this week, reading the first and second Traveling Pants books. The end of the second book leaves me unable to sleep, mourning and angry over Lena and Kostos. Young girls heart heal quickly at a 4-top at the grill, but not so us older hearts who still remember that first insane love of our 15th year. Perhaps such a love lurks in your heart as it slumbers in mine--lulled through the years by a truer, deeper, more satisfying, less impossible love, not the love of a foolish girl's heart, but the abiding love of a sadder but wiser woman. And yet...

I don't know if Kostos was honorable or a coward, or both. I'm not sure that you know either. I think my anger might be yours... about how messy and impossible life can be. And how 15 year old girls fall in love and 16 year old girls get their hearts broken when the seemingly impossible becomes truly impossible. I have no regrets, but I still remember his kiss and the soft caress of his hands, and the yearning for... something I didn't begin to understand.

But what struck me as I read on, into the reader's group Q&A and the author's interview, was the impossible similarity between us. We write the same way, you and I: all at once, or nothing at all. It comforts me to know that someone else shares that agony and ecstasy. I'm in a dry spell right now, pondering the revisions for my sixth as-yet-unpublished novel. There was a time when I had such a long drought, I didn't think I would ever write again. I railed against it, cried, and finally accepted that I was a dead woman waiting to die. But like broken hearts mend at Dizzy's Grill, the muse returns (mine lives in Tahiti and visits in February--go figure)... eventually. Until she returns with that low slung Uzi and says "write," I wait.

We're also both tech book authors... strangely though, my tech books have sold better than yours. Nyah. Nyah! I suppose that's not the least distressing for you. Makes me chuckle out loud thinking about it though. Yes, it's a bitter, noir sort of chuckle. Anything brighter and more sprightly wouldn't be appropriate.

I finish the author's note and find "I knew better than to form any hopes for Lena and Kostos--not in this book anyway." That lands me square on the border between hope and cold rage. We both know there are some characters who are not meant to be happy. They are not meant to have their heart's desire. We torture them--and our readers who love them. We do it to make them grow, to make them real, to further the plot, to sell books. We do it because this is what we do. That's the last way in which we are alike.

I should go to bed. It's difficult to get the kids up and out to school when I've been up half the night. This is not really a fan letter. it's become an essay, I guess, and not a terribly coherent one. So perhaps I won't post the URL to your agent who I found on FaceBook. But maybe I will. I don't expect a response, particularly if it would be a burden. But my email is in the copyright notice at the bottom of my personal blog, linked to my name at the right.


If she answers, I'll let you know (at least by announcement). Now, I REALLY must go to bed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a fellow Ann Brashares fan, just wanted to let you know that she DOES have a website, it seems to be down at the moment. She blogs there and everything. She recently (as in September) blogged about her intents to write an adult novel following where our four favorite friends ended up in their mid to late 20's. She said she hopes it will be released in 2010 and that she has a lot of (fun) work to do on it. Her website is

Happy reading, The Sisterhood series is my favorite