Teachers Write 7.17.16 Dear Fiction… A letter from Erica Perl

It’s Sunday check-in time, so be sure to stop by Jen’s blog for a group hug and to see how everyone’s doing with their writing this week. 

Our guest here today is Erica Perl, the author of many popular works of fiction for young readers, including Ferocious Fluffity: A Mighty Bitey Class Pet (illustrated by Henry Cole), coming soon from Abrams and The Capybara Conspiracy: A Novel in Three Acts, coming soon from Knopf. Erica’s here today sharing an open letter…to fiction!


Dear Fiction,

How are you? Guessing you look great – you always do! I have a confession to make: I think about you all the time. I know, I know: non-fiction is super hot right now, and I totally get why. Non-fiction helps kids learn about actual circumstances beyond their own and it also validates real experiences they were sure no one else shared. Best of all, it helps them to see the world as full of possibilities, real ones that could actually happen and are supported with back matter and citations and proof. Yep, non-fiction is still packed with all that nutritional oomph but now it’s better-tasting than ever. A non-fiction book is the basis for the hottest show on Broadway, for crying out loud! And have you read any of the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales? Genius! There’s none of that gritty stuff that used to get stuck in your teeth when we were kids, remember that?

And yet… oh, I’m just going to come out and say it. I still love YOU! When I go to the bookstore looking for a new friend, it’s your shelves are my first and foremost destination. Sometimes, I play coy and just admire your jackets, which are often the prettiest in all the land. But even when you have the plainest of wrappers, it’s your inner beauty – your words – that wins me over every time. You always deliver delicious surprises and unexpected developments, even when you swear you are going to be “realistic.” I always defend you, by the way, against those haters that call you “fake” and “made up.” Think about it: Shakespeare and Sophocles could’ve stuck with non-fiction, and then where would we be? Plus, it’s not as if non-fiction has a monopoly on supporting text-based expository writing. I feel I owe it to you because of all you’ve done for me. I mean, you take me to all kinds of new places, some of which are places I thought I already knew, like New York City, or Narnia, or my own heart. And you introduce me to new friends, many of whom are people I didn’t think could possibly exist. Okay, fine, they don’t exist – you are Fiction, after all – but they feel as familiar to me as members of my family.

I know instantly upon meeting them that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. You make me laugh and make me cry, sometimes even on the same page (*cough, cough* Lily and Dunkin), and you make me see the world a little differently every time, in the best possible way. 

That’s why I can’t quit you, Fiction. You had me at Once Upon a Time…

Love Always,


Today’s writing prompt (if you’re up for some Sunday extra credit!): Write a love letter to an inanimate object or intangible concept. Go!


10 Replies on “Teachers Write 7.17.16 Dear Fiction… A letter from Erica Perl

  1. Love it! I will try this exercise for sure. I haven’t been able to travel afar this summer, but I’ve traveled to Guatemala (CAMINAR), Nepal (WHAT ELEPHANTS KNOW), Italy (LOVE AND GELATO), India (A TIME TO DANCE), New York (COUNTING THYME), and New Mexico (HOUR OF THE BEES). Fiction has definitely taken me to places! Thank you for championing and writing fiction for our students!

    1. Marcy, I am trying to imagine all the TW prompts and fun you must incorporate into your summer seminar with teens. Oh, to be a fly on any of those walls!

  2. Thanks for this great idea! Inspired by this, I wrote a love letter to travel! Definitely a prompt I can use again and again!

  3. Dear Erica Perl,
    Thanks for dropping by TW today. I absolutely LOVE “Dear Fiction”. Like love it so much I want to marry it kind of love. What an awesome prompt for us TW campers but also for our students. Your humor and sensitivity are just so great in that piece.
    I’ve added your books to my MS library wish list and I’m looking forward to The Capybara Conspiracy: a novel in three acts.
    It’s the “three acts” that caught me. Would you explain a little more? Does this novel read like a script? I’m curious.
    So I read “Dear Fiction” early this morning and my family did it’s usual trip to church thing. I found myself sitting in the pew writing a “Dear Church” letter — because I gotta tell ya, I’ve got some issues with church folk lately. But, that might be my mid-life crisis talkin. Who knows?
    I’m going to write a few letters to various objects and ideas this week and see where they take my story.
    Have a great Sunday and week.

  4. Erica, thanks for sharing. I think this would be a fun prompt to use with my students. Maybe a piece of candy they could write to and then eat. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thank you for this exercise Erica! I will tell you that there was a point in reading your letter to Fictiin, that my eyes brimmed with tears. Now, that may be because I am a big sentimental, but I think it’s because your words resonated with me. Bro, after reading your wonderful letter to Fiction, I decided to write my own. I couldn’t decide what “object” to choose. Since it was National Ice Cream day, I decided it to write it to ice cream. :). It was a bit weird to write to an object, but it seems like I have had a relationship with ice cream that started since childhood. So, I had quite a bit to write about. Needless to say, it was an interesting write.