Charming Note #3: Vivian Vande Velde

Vivian Vande Velde

So I mailed off my letter to Vivian Vande Velde today. This letter writing thing is getting easier, thank goodness! I only wrote three drafts this time before I wrote the “official” letter.

Why oh, why didn’t I hunt down Vivian while I lived in New York? She lives in Rochester, which is only an hour and a half from where I grew up, but did I ever get the courage to go to a book signing back then? Nope! 😦

Vivian’s written somewhere around thirty books for children since she was first published in 1984. I’ve read around half of them and the one thing they all have in common is their humor (umm, except for The Book of Mordred. That one was VERY serious) . Some of her books are lighthearted like A Hidden Magic and others are a little dark and twisted like Never Trust a Dead Man, but they will almost always make you smile. For a full list, you can go to her website: www.vivianvandevelde.com

Hands down, my favorite of V.V.V.’s books is Heir Apparent, a book about a girl who gets trapped in a virtual reality game. She can’t get out unless she wins the game, but that’s far from easy. Even the smallest mistake leads to someone running a sword through her. Every time she dies, she has to start back at the beginning again. It could have been horribly monotonous story, but the author nails the pacing. This is a book I passed around to all my high school friends and even to my parents (who loved it).

Vivian also had this great idea of writing a fairy tale multiple ways. In The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, she takes the classic tale and comes up with SIX very different versions. Since the original story doesn’t make sense (Why on earth did the king believe the miller’s story? Why does a little man want a baby? How the heck do you spin straw into anything!) each story tries to explain the tale in different way. Sometimes Rumpelstiltskin is female, sometimes the miller’s daughter is the mastermind of the whole scheme, etc. I don’t know any other author who has tried this technique, which is too bad because I find it brilliant. I love it even more now that I’ve written a bunch of my own fairy tale retellings.

Just this year, V.V.V. came out with a new book  Cloaked in Red with the same concept as The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, but this time with Little Red Riding Hood as the theme. I’ve bought it, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’m very excited about it.

Next week, I write to *gulp* Gail Carson Levine! Maybe…if I’m feeling brave. I’m sure she gets a TON of mail!

P.S. I know I’ve only written to YA fantasy authors so far, but I promise I do read plenty of books that aren’t in those genres. I’ll get into sci-fi and mysteries soon enough.

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