This picture of a papier maché lantern pinged into my email inbox a few days ago. It was made as a symbol of my novel The Lantern by a high school student who sent me a message, out of the blue, back in February. "I am about to do a research project on your novel, being that we were allowed to choose a book. However, I have to cite my sources and I thought the best resource involving the author would be the author, herself," she wrote.
Well, as you can imagine, I was thrilled. I loved her approach, and the fact that she liked my book so much and thought there was something to say about it - and I wished I'd had her chutzpah when I was her age. We began exchanging emails, and she responded with more questions about literary conventions and inspirations and themes, which I did my best to answer. I was very conscious that I was once a student of English lit, and this was a fascinating reversal for me. All those essays about an author's intent and technique that I could only try to imagine when I was 18, and here I was giving a first-hand account.
The project has now been completed and submitted for grading. It includes a visual: this purple lantern with a quote from the novel on one window; the photo of it sent with thanks for my help. Isn't that wonderful? If this doesn't get an A for effort, I don't know what will!