I have never really told anyone that one of the major reasons I write is because one of my brothers is severely dyslexic and has always struggled with reading (something I always took for granted and has so enhanced my enjoyment of life). Incidentally, he is the brother I based Carl on (the older brother in the Go Ask Mom series)
When I sit down to write a book, I think to myself: Would a struggling reader enjoy this? Find it funny? Find it heartwarming? Find it interesting? Would my brother struggle word by word to enjoy it? Would there be a payoff for the time spent? Then my dad tells me my big brother reads my books, one word at a time, one sentence at a time, one paragraph at a time. And there is a payoff for him.
This is a letter from a boy's mom, who thoughtfully took the time to let me know what I do counts: I'm Ummm Kern's (a nickname I gave him at his school) mom from Grand Lake. We sure do love your books! He tore through Gabe 2 in ONE day! He fought the other kids off to buy it at the High Trails fundraiser auction.
He even put a note on the auction sheet - Back off!! I dunno if you got a copy, Mrs. S. said she was going to send you one, but D wrote about you for his CSAP essay about an influential person in his life. It was some funny stuff!
Thanks for being being such a great guy for my boy to look up to.
Who would have thought the goofy kid in this picture would grow up to influence another kid?
I got a follow up from this boy's mom with a note I just had to add:
... here is what D had to say in his CSAP essay about an inspirational person in his life. He wrote this two, maybe three weeks after you had come to Grand Lake Elementary; time which he spent holed up in his room devouring your books and working on three stories of his own.
"My biggest inspiration in my life is Justin Matott. He is one of the greatest writers ever. He is my biggest inspiration ever. He is also a great story teller. He makes you feel like you're actually in the story. He is very funny. His books make me pee my pants. JUSTIN ROCKS!"