Meeting a Reader and Writer
Joanna Perkin first wrote me in 2003 to tell me she’d enjoyed reading the first two Marie-Claire books. I wrote her back, she wrote me back, and so on. We kept up a correspondence – about books we’d read and about writing stories, because like me Joanna is both a reader and a writer – and this summer we met in person.
Pulling into the driveway of her home in rural New Brunswick, I wondered, would we have anything to say to each other in person? Would Joanna be disappointed when one of her “all-time favourite authors” (she grew up reading Red is Best) turned out to be a just another middle-aged fuddy-duddy?
Figuring books would help compensate for any personal shortcomings Joanna might perceive in me, I took along a few books: a copy of the 25th anniversary edition of Red is Best, the Marie-Claire treasury edition, and, because Joanna is now sixteen, my collection of short stories, 101 Ways to Dance.
And we talked – about her summer job caring for a special needs teenager, about her writing, about books we’ve read, about other authors she’s written to and had letters from. (She keeps them all together in a box.) Among them are letters from Budge Wilson, Kathy Kacer, Anne Laurel Carter, Lynne Kositsky, and Priscilla Galloway. She owns and has read all 48 Our Canadian Girl books and hundreds of other books besides. Her parents and my husband are also avid readers, so conversation around the dinner table was lively and fun.
After dinner we all went for a walk down into the lovely Tantramar Marshes to give our dog a chance to stretch her legs after a long day in the car. I expect that a correspondence with Joanna will continue and that we will meet again. Next time I’ll remember that readers – of all ages – always have lots to talk about. And so do writers. Happy reading, Joanna! And happy writing!
Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.