I want to begin by expressing my sincerest gratitude for the wealth of creative work that you have shared with me and this world. You are no stranger to praise and adoration and most likely receive these kinds of messages from fans on a regular basis. As I add my own voice to that chorus of appreciation, I feel that it is only right to call you a friend. I am aware of how personal the act of writing is and that reading is intimate in nature so I believe you will forgive my use of the term.
We have never met but I have walked the paths of your fairy tales many times. I have followed the words that transcend dream and lead to a place where logic and magic are sharing a cup of coffee and polite conversation.I have often felt that we were wandering the same library in a dream and that you were suggesting different selections to me based on my needs. You have taken me on guided tours of new and exciting destinations that always feel like home.
I grew up with stories. Whether it was the movies, a television set, or books, stories were always present as I learned to communicate and relate with the world around me. Fairy tales were a childhood staple for my earliest education. It was your work that taught me that these pieces or components of my childhood were building blocks that would continue to be fundamentally important and not something to be put away when I became a man.
Once when you spoke at a library in downtown Salt Lake City, I heard you relate the story of reading aloud “Snow, Glass, Apples as a means conveying to unbelievers that fairy tales had great power.” I have often described you to friends and family as a modern master of fairy tales and I hope you will take that as the compliment it is intended to be.
The first walk that we shared was the collected issues of “Sandman” for Vertigo Comics. It was nothing short of an introductory class in the philosophy of storytelling as it helped me to let go of preconceptions that I had. It lent such a stark realism to the world of DC that previously had seemed like a fantasy version of the world. This was the first time that you widened my perspective but it would not be the last.
When I started reading your short stories I was a young twenty-something with a marriage straight out of high school and a baby girl. To this day my copy of “Smoke and Mirrors” has pages that are marked by my toddler’s artistic attempts with her mother’s lipstick and eyeliner. I have a digital copy that I read from my tablet these days but the hardback is still on my shelf.
Short stories are a particular love interest of mine and every time a new collection of yours comes out I am anxious to pour over each one like a precious gemstone. Reading a collection of short stories can feel like carrying around a library of ideas in a single volume. Its episodic approach feels surgically precise in each individual intent in a way that larger stories do not. There are some ideas that just resonate more effectively in a short story format than they would in a novel.
The escapism was my primary reason for walking through your worlds, especially at the emergence of the twenty-first century but there was always something more. Your stories have always been an anchor for that part of myself that I never want to lose, the part that believes in magic and wonder. You remind me to keep myself open to possibility and to allow myself to see the enchantment that lives and breathes all around us.
Picking a favorite book is something of an exercise in futility with so many countless treasures but that being said, “American Gods” is one of my favorite books. It is the first book that I purchased for my e-reader despite already owning it in hardback(a practice I have continued).
I read it again and again, as one with a near fanatic appreciation for mythology I was enthralled by this story. The short stories that further the main characters adventures feel like direct evidence that you have heard the silent pleas of my mind through Dream’s library and acquiesced to that request.
My daughter is now nineteen years old and I have enthusiastically shared my love of stories with her. She grew up hearing about the “Wolves in the Walls”, “Coraline”, and “Odd and the Frost Giants”. I like to think that you helped me to ignite a fire in her that will always burn bright. I read to her and her brother who is now nine years old, whenever I could and more often than not from your stories. It isn’t enough for me that I have been entertained and restored by these stories, I must pass on what I have learned.
Life is not without its unforeseen turns and who we are at eighteen may not be who we are at thirty-two. Despite the best intentions of their mother and I, we divorced after fourteen years. Your work has never ceased to supply me with a healthy dose of my favorite balm against a tumultuous and unforgiving world.
It does this, not by pretending that the world is without pain but by showing me the beauty in the tragic and reminding me that fighting is what we do. As you say, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
I found the courage to chase the prospect of new happiness with my arms open wide and have been rewarded for it greatly. My wife and I continue to make a life together that we share with our three year old son. He too will be given the opportunity to grow up in the worlds you have crafted. I also have a twelve year old step-daughter now that benefits from my efforts to expand your literary influence.
My second marriage was the culmination of reflecting on my life as it was and deciding what I wanted it to become. During this time I read “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” and I had the distinct impression that you knew what I needed to read next and delivered it to me from that library in the astral plane.
Before I end, I want to say that I am certain that the stories that you have given to the world were never meant to be anything more than fanciful tales. I am equally certain that you are aware of the power that stories can have and yours have been a positive force in my life. You have been an inspiration to me both as a writer and as a lover of stories and I just wanted to say thank you.
On February 7th I will have received my copy of your book “Norse Mythology“. For you to write this book only confirms to me that you are in fact in my head and I love it. As previously mentioned I love mythology but what I didn’t say was that Norse Myths are among my favorite. The chance to read your take on these stories is something I only dreamed of.