Thank you to the fans and the (un)fans

Thank you to the fans and the (un)fans

Posted on October 9 by Gina McMurchy-Barber in Kids
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I love to get letters from readers who tell me how much they enjoy one of my books or a specific character, but the most memorable response I ever got to one of my books was actually a hate letter.

My book, Free as a Bird, was released in February, 2010. There had been some nice reviews of it in the early months. Then that summer an email came—unsigned—from a reader who hated my book so much she (or he) felt compelled to tell me. Not only did this (un)fan want me to know how much she hated the book, but she also emphatically stated that I should never write another book in my life.

Frankly, it was devastating.

After reading the email I sat numb for some time. I reasoned: you can’t please everyone. Still…it really hurt my feelings. My sons urged me to write back and tell the reader off. “Tell her to go to hell,” my 12-year old said. “Tell her that she sucks,” said the other one. I was somewhat comforted having at least my two boys on my side. But I chose not to respond at all and over the next couple of days I consoled myself with these ideas: I’d written the book the best that I knew how; I was glad that some people were enjoying it; and no matter what others thought, I was glad I had written it.

Then one morning, not more than a week after getting the hate email, I got an early morning call from my editor, Michael Carroll. He’d called to tell me that Free as a Bird had been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Once again, I was shocked and overcome….this time with happiness. What I learned from this experience has helped me weather the ups and downs of reader responses in the years since then. I remind myself often that I write because I love it, that it’s an honour that a publisher thinks my work is worthy of publishing, and that I’m grateful for every reader who takes the time to read one of my books—whether they like or not.


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!




A Bone to Pick: A Peggy Henderson Adventure 

Release date: November 21, 2015