I’m a Guy and Read the Entire Series


I want to preface my email by first saying I am a guy and read the entire series in less than a year while working, finishing college, and student teaching. I find them to be incredibly well written pieces of literature and, as a teacher, want to use them in my classroom. How I was hooked was that I worked in a library on the children’s floor and wanted to read a series that was long to kill time while sitting behind the desk waiting to help those who came by. How I found your series was through looking at the list of the most challenged books that includes works such as Where the Red Fern Grows, Harry Potter, and A Wrinkle in Time to mention only a few that come to mind. I was shocked and astonished as to how such great works of literature could be objectionable and even banned. I decided to go on a quest and read all of the books that I have not already read. I started with Jean Craighead George with her Julie Series since she had a book on our floor. Then came your book. I didn’t think I would like it seeing how it was clearly directed toward young women but I like to maintain an open mind and I saw it as a chance to understand young girls so that when I am a teacher I can react in a more understanding manner. I just wanted you to know the circumstances around how I was introduced to your works. that being said, I want to thank you for creating one of my all time favorite series, next to The Chronicle of Narnia Series, and I read your website and think you are a wonderful woman for being so caring, open minded, compassionate, and giving to your fans. I have never met, sort of, such a person who is so successful. Also, I did have an ulterior motive beside the accolades, I inspire to be a writer, hoping to squeeze it in during the summers between each school year, and I was curious as to your feelings as to the probability of this working. I enjoy writing poetry, have numerous ideas for novels but cannot ever finish them. I was also curious as to what you do if you are writing and it just isn’t going in the direction you intended it to go? I would also like a poster, I didn’t know you gave them out and would be honored to display an Alice poster in my room for all to see. I also think that it is inspiring to see that your success rate is less than 1% with your submissions to publication ratio strictly in regards to your novels. I will take that as encouragement to not give up with my writing.

Phyllis replied:

I feel honored that you read the whole series.  That you would go to this length to try to understand girl students better says a lot for your empathy as a future teacher.  Of course you can be both a writer and teacher, and having summers off is a plus that most people don’t enjoy.  I’m wondering why you don’t finish the novels you begin.  Two things that might help you:  Never begin writing a book until you are so excited about it it’s the first thing on your mind when you get up and the last thing before you go to sleep.  Second, make sure you know the ending of the novel before you begin, as well as the beginning, the climax, and most of the big things that are going to happen along the way.  All of your writing should be building up toward the climax.  I suggest reading my book, “The Craft of Writing the Novel.”  Best wishes to you and lots of luck!

Posted on: June 21, 2009


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