In 11/11, I stumbled upon a trailer a stranger named Jaclyn had made for my book Vanished: True Stories of the Missing.
I Facebooked her to thank her. She wrote back to thank me for thanking her. At the time, I could not tell that Jaclyn was a sixth grader.
Her mom stepped in, and I’m glad she did, for multiple reasons. First, I’m a parent myself, and you get the rest. Second, it brought to light a fortunate coincidence.
It turned out that Jaclyn attended school in the Seattle area, and as it happened, I was scheduled to make my first-ever trip to Seattle in late February.
I asked Jaclyn’s mom if Jaclyn’s school might be interested in an author visit. Indeed they were. The school had just finished building a shiny new library, and I had the honor of helping to christen it.
But best of all, I got to meet Jaclyn and thank her again, face-to-face this time, for taking an interest in my book.
And I got to do it in front of her classmates and teachers. (I did not want to risk making Jaclyn uncomfortable so I first asked her mother, who gave me the green light in advance.)
I think this connection had an impact not only on me and on Jaclyn but also on her peers. They got to see how an enterprising young person can attract the attention of the author, which may just lead to an in-person meeting. That, in turn, reinforces the reason authors do this in the first place.
These days, when we are all perpetually but often anonymously inter(net)twined digitally, we can lose sight of the fact that there is a real-live human being at the other end of the click. Sometimes rewarding things happen if you only ask "Who are you?"