A couple of weeks ago I posted here about my tea with my hero Katherine Paterson - both what a memorable experience it was, and at the same time, how disappointing it was not to be able to talk with her about her work. What I did not post was the fact that after The Visit, my compadre Michele and I put our heads together, discussed our mutual frustration, and concluded: how could it hurt to send her a list of some of the questions we wished we'd been able to ask while we were there? The worst she can do is ignore us. She can't rescind the tea and scones. So we each compiled a list of our Top Four questions, and I emailed it to KP on September 30th, telling her how honored we were to have met her and how much we would appreciate it if she could take the time to answer any or all of our questions. I got no response. I was still glad that Michele and I had taken some initiative, rather than just ineffectually stewing, but it was clear that our intuition had been right - she really DIDN'T want to discuss her books with us! But we were no worse off than we had been before we tried.
And then last night, to my enormous surprise, I got a response to my email. It consisted of two words and a punctuation mark: "Heaven forfend!" Well, I thought. The long silence had sent a clear enough message all by itself, had it not? The expression of horror to top it off seemed fairly unnecessary. I just sucked it up (because, hello? THIS IS KATHERINE PATERSON dissing me!!) and answered: "Oh. Well, we thought it couldn't hurt to ask! Have a wonderful trip to Havana." (As I mentioned in my previous post, this intrepid woman is traveling to Cuba for an International Board on Books for Young People conference at the end of this month.) And that was obviously going to be that.
This morning she answered me back. "You're right," she said. And she asked for my mailing address, and said that while she doesn't have enough time right now to answer all our questions, she'll try to get something out to me and Michele before she leaves.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune
Without the words
And never stops at all...
- Emily Dickinson
We can still hop.
- note from Lyddie's semi-literate mother, LYDDIE (by Katherine Paterson, of course)