Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Post - Priceless: The Author-Reader Bond by Barbara Kyle

12 May 2013

Special Guest Post - Priceless: The Author-Reader Bond by Barbara Kyle

Most of us vividly recall a book that touched our lives, whether as young adults or at a crucial moment later in our life. The moment makes us feel a special kinship with the author. It's a meeting of minds, even of souls. It's a bond, and a potent one. 

Any author will tell you it's a happy day when a reader gets in touch to say how much the author's book has meant to them. Sometimes the message is moving, like the Yarmouth museum curator who told me The Queen's Lady helped him as he mourned the death of his father.
Sometimes the message brings a laugh, like the lady who cheerfully told me she got The Queen's Captive out of the library because she remembered having loved a similar book, and then realized, as she was enjoying The Queen's Captive, that this was the very book she'd read and loved!

Here are three readers whose messages to me were very special:

The Colonel

Some years ago I was in England researching The Queen’s Lady and spent a day exploring Hever Castle in Kent. This was the home of the Boleyn family, and Henry VIII came here to court Anne. That tempestuous affair changed the course of England’s history.

As I strolled the grounds in a happy haze of imagination, I picked up an acorn. What a lovely feeling to hold in my hand something living from the so-called "dead" past. I squirreled the acorn away in my pocket and brought it home to Canada, and it sat on my desk beside my computer, a sweet reminder of its place of birth as I wrote The Queen’s Lady. The acorn was still on my desk when I wrote The King’s Daughter. It had become a touchstone that spirited me back to the Tudor world. I was very fond of it.

Then my husband and I moved, and in the shuffle the little acorn got lost.

A few months later I got a cheery email from a reader telling me he was on his way to England for an Anne Boleyn Tour during which he’d be staying at Hever Castle. There would be dinners in the Great Hall where Henry and Anne ate, plus lectures, plays, and demonstrations – “A once in a lifetime experience,” he said. I replied to wish him a happy trip and told him about my acorn. He is a retired air force colonel and lives in Tennessee.

Four weeks later a small package arrived in my mailbox. It was from the Colonel. Inside was a note: “I looked for an acorn to replace the one you lost but couldn’t find one. I did get you this.” Nestled under the note was a pine cone. He had scoured the Hever grounds for it. “It’s from the area where Henry courted Anne, according to the castle staff,” wrote the Colonel.

I was so touched. The pine cone has had pride of place on my desk beside my computer while I've written three more “Thornleigh” books. Thank you, Colonel, for what you gave me. A once in a lifetime experience.

The Embroiderer

A music educator in Ontario recently emailed me with praise about my books and told me she was part of a sewing club of about three dozen ladies who get together at a shop with the delightful name The Enchanted Needle. She said they were working on Tudor period sewing techniques, and she attached images of historic Tudor-era embroidery. Now, I know little about sewing, but I know beauty when I see it, and these works were stunning.

As she waxed lyrical about bygone sewing techniques like "stumpwork" and "Assisi," "blackwork" and "bargello," "cross-stitching" and "the morphing power of color," I could only, in ignorance, try to keep up, but when she said my books inspired her in this Tudor-era needlework I was moved again by how glorious and various are the connections between author and reader.

The Boy

That's what I'll call him, the gangly pale-faced kid who showed up at a public reading I did from The Queen's Gamble and listened so intensely. He looked about fourteen, the only person there who was so young. After the reading I saw him at the edge of the knot of people I was chatting with. The others all asked lively questions, but he said nothing. He looked like he wanted to, but he never took a step nearer. When I finished talking to the people, I noticed the boy was gone.

About a week later I found in my mailbox a package: a slender book and a note. The writer of the note said he'd been at the reading, and was a high school student who loved history, and he hoped to one day be a history teacher. My novels were his favorites, he said. The book he'd enclosed was The Bloody Tower by Valerie Wilding, a young adult novel in the form of a Tudor girl's diary. It had meant a lot to him when he was younger, he said, so he wanted to share it with me.

There, now I've shared it with you. That's what the writer-reader bond is. We share what moves us. And that connection is what makes the writer's work a joy.

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Barbara Kyle is the author of the acclaimed “Thornleigh” novels Blood Between Queens, The Queen’s Gamble, The Queen’s Captive, The King’s Daughter and The Queen’s Lady, which follow a rising middle-class family through three tumultuous Tudor reigns, and of contemporary thrillers including Entrapped, a B.R.A.G Medallion winner. Over 400,000 copies of her books have been sold in seven countries. In July 2013 Barbara will be a speaker at Ontario's Stratford Festival with her talk about royal cousins Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots who feature in Blood Between Queens.  Barbara has taught writers at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers organizations and conferences. Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S. 

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Following her perilous fall from a throne she’d scarcely owned to begin with, Mary, Queen of Scots, has fled to England, hoping her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, will grant her asylum. But now Mary has her sights on the English crown, and Elizabeth enlists her most trusted subjects to protect it.

Justine Thornleigh is delighting in the thrill of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to her family’s estate when the festivities are cut short by Mary’s arrival. To Justine’s surprise, the Thornleighs appoint her to serve as a spy in Mary’s court. But bearing the guise of a lady-in-waiting is not Justine’s only secret. The weight of her task is doubled by fears of revealing to her fiancé that she is in truth the daughter of his family’s greatest enemy.

Duty-bound, Justine must sacrifice love as she navigates a deadly labyrinth of betrayal that could lead to the end of Elizabeth’s fledgling reign.  

Preview Blood Between Queens, Barbara Kyle's latest novel on Amazon US and Amazon UK

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