Vaclav & Lena: An Open Letter From the Author

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Dear Readers,

What a lovely phrase that is. "Dear Readers." I've been a reader for my entire life. I remember the first of many nights I stayed awake to finish a book. It was the fall I turned eight years old—it was Roald Dahl's Matilda—a book about a little girl so powerful she can move objects in space with her mind. (No wonder I loved it.) I decided, at about the same time, that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. The years between then and now have been wild, and hard, and full of unexpected . . . life. Sometimes it's hard to remember the world as you saw it when you were eight years old. Sometimes it's hard to remember the world as you saw it yesterday. This is not one of those times. Right now, sitting at my desk, writing to you, I am terrifically aware of the little girl who one day long ago decided to tell stories—and I am thanking my lucky stars, and all the mischievous forces at play in the universe, that I am sitting here, writing to you, dear reader.

Being a writer is lonely—lonely and scary. There are moments of spark, moments of light, to be sure, but they are followed by extraordinary self-doubt and fear. When I began writing about Vaclav and Lena, children of immigrants, making their way in a strange land, dreaming their wild dream of becoming the world's greatest magicians, I was trying to summon in myself the confidence to sit each day and work toward my own dream—which seemed to be such a long shot.

Vaclav and Lena have a seemingly impossible ambition—and yet they are determined to work toward it, every day, at any cost. Vaclav's mother brings him to Brooklyn from Russia so that he can live the American dream, and his dream is to be a great magician—just like Houdini. Lena, of course, will be his lovely assistant. But life always interrupts our plans—mine certainly has. Vaclav and Lena are no exception. They find that nothing is as it seems, that life is wild, difficult and beautiful, and that the real juicy bits of life can be found at the intersection of love and truth, story and magic.

We all live and hope and dream and lose and sometimes win. I think the key is to look up every once in a while—look around and marvel at the moment. Writing to you is one of the magical moments in my life—one of the things I get to do that is filled with sheer joy. Life is nothing if we live it alone; it needs air and light and a little company. A story is nothing without readers—without you. For me, to have a moment to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share Vaclav and Lena, a moment to invite you into their world, a moment of spark and light before I roll up my sleeves and get down to work—it's just, well, it's just what I live for.

Thank you, dear reader.
Haley

 

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