Tuesday, February 02, 2010

An Open Letter to People Who Send Me Crazy Emails...

by Sean Chercover

Dear Crazy People,

One of the great joys of my job is the email I get from readers. That someone actually finds my writing entertaining, moving, thought-provoking, or annoying enough to take the time and write to me … well, it’s rather humbling, and I do appreciate it.

When my first book came out, the letters surprised the hell out of me, probably because I’d never written such a letter (I did call Saul Bellow once, in a moment of youthful folly, to wish him a happy birthday – he was very gracious). I always assumed that authors were too busy to read fan mail, and what did I have to say to them anyway, besides, “I enjoyed your book”?

I obviously didn’t realize what a pleasure it is to simply be told, “I enjoyed your book,” until I'd written one. Anyway, it’s a beautiful thing when a complete stranger reaches out like that, and while I certainly prefer the happy letters, the critical ones are sometimes helpful, and all are welcome.

But then there is your letter.

I am, by nature, a suspicious guy, and in my books I try to pull back the curtain and look at what goes on behind the scenes. The whole idea of "secret knowledge" fascinates me. I do a lot of research, and I’m fortunate to have great sources both in and out of law enforcement.

But, for the record, what I write is fiction.

I enjoy a good conspiracy theory, and I know that conspiracies really do exist. The Gulf of Tonkin incident was a conspiracy, kept secret for almost 40 years. Watergate was also a conspiracy, of course. As were (off the top of my head) the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Operation Paperclip, Project MKULTRA, COINTELPRO, etc., and so on, and so forth.

History is rife with conspiracies. Of those I named above, only Watergate was busted “in the act”, so people who deny the existence of conspiracies on the basis that it is “impossible to keep a secret” are fooling themselves.

Having said that…

Your letter is all kinds of crazy.

And while I’m flattered that you have selected me as the person to help you publicly expose “the hidden truth” you’ve discovered, I have some bad news for you.

You have not discovered the hidden truth.
  • The Illuminati do not secretly control the Federal Reserve. Neither do "the Jews", you racist nutjob.
  • The Masons do not secretly run the Catholic Church, while pretending to hate Catholics.
  • The 1993 WTC bombing was not an FBI false flag op.
  • The assassination of JFK was not a secret operation carried out by "the Blacks" (see, "the Jews" above).
I wish I were making these up. I am not. These, and many others, have come to me from real readers. You know who you are. And, while I appreciate the support, I respectfully suggest you see a doctor.

But if you won't see a doctor (because the doctors are all conspiring against you!), if you feel compelled to expose "the hidden truth" you've discovered, you'll have to do it without me. I have my own crazy conspiracy theories to write about.

Of course, mine are true.

And although no one has yet written to me about the moon landing or Paul McCartney, I feel compelled to preempt such letters by saying: I strongly believe that we DID land on the moon, and Paul did NOT die in a car accident in 1966, only to be replaced by a look-and-sound-alike.

Call me gullible.

To writers: Do you get these letters, or do I just attract crazy people? If you do, please share, I'm eager to hear.

To all: Do you dig on conspiracies like I do? And if you do, please share your favorite.

Have a crazy day.


Anonymous said...

Good fill someone in on and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you as your information.

Dana King said...

Maybe you should refer those folks to James Ellroy.

Libby Hellmann said...

And then there's the guy from around here who emails me claiming proof of corruption in the Du Page County police department.... oh wait a minute.... um...

Kevin Guilfoile said...

Most of the nutmails (and calls) I get are from people who think they are personally caught up in some nefarious deal and they want me to write a book that will expose it. The scary ones are not so much the letters as the guys who come up to you after signings. You can spot them early on because they are hanging around waiting for everyone else to leave and they usually have a fat file folder (or, once, a banker's box) of documentation. Also I can never figure out why they've chosen me because not one of these people has ever read my book.

I suspect if you really are the victim of a conspiracy, going around to bookstore readings and confronting random novelists with your alleged proof is probably not the best way to extricate yourself, although I guess I don't have a good alternative.

Bill Cameron said...

I got the requisite, "Your book has swears, you must not use swears in your books," email before my first book actually came out. There were some ARCs floating around, so maybe the Swears Police got ahold of one. Guilty as charged, Your Honor. Now stop fucking writing me about swears.

I've also gotten the, "I'm writing to take you to take for this egregious error you've made" emails. What amuses me about these is so far, none of them have been about the actual egregious errors I've made. They've been about errors I didn't make; the letter writer was the one who was in error in the particular instance cited. Oh well.

Then there was the, "What happened to you between your first book and your subsequent books, because your later stuff is really twisted." (And has way more swears.) Alas, I cannot claim "Cat's Crossing," the novel by beloved Canadian journalist Bill Cameron who died in 2005. But yeah, I am definitely more twisted than he was. My fucking apologies.

Jen Forbus said...

My sides hurt from laughing. I'm sorry Sean. I'm sure it's much funnier since those letters go to YOU and not me. This is the closest I've gotten: went to see an author at an event. On said author's tour he's reading emails from fans and making fun of them. Two such emails involved a woman who named her dog after said author. Said author went on to tell this story that I later relayed on my blog. The author of those emails emailed ME to tell me I was reporting it incorrectly and could I please correct it.

That, however, can't hold a candle to your letters.

Sean Chercover said...

Kevin - I've had emails from those folks, and I always politely refuse to look at the documented "proof".

And it has occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, just one of these people really has been victimized in some way. But, like you said, how the hell is a novelist going to help you?

Not a solid strategy.

Bill - I'm gonna wash your mouth out with soap! Fuck you and your fucking swears.

I grew up in Toronto - you are definitely more twisted than Bill Cameron was. And I mean that in a good way.

Jen - Sorry I made your sides hurt (not really). Sounds like you might attract some crazies, time to invest in an electrified fence.

Libby - Sorry about that, I promise to stop sending you those emails. But damn, I really though you could help me clean up Du Page County!

Dana - I suspect Ellroy gets these letters on a daily basis, and I also suspect he doesn't read his own fan mail.

Anonymous - Gratefulness right back at you, as your reading.

Laura Caldwell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura Caldwell said...

I get excellent letters (thank you guys!) but last week I received this one that I really, really, really didn't want to answer. Luckily, my friend, Jen Lancaster, had already done so on her site: http://www.jennsylvania.com/jennsylvania/2010/01/move-over-tucker-max.html

Sean Chercover said...

Jen's a riot! Thanks for the link, Laura.