Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An open letter to Nora Roberts

Dear Ms. Roberts,

This thank-you letter is a year overdue. It's been a rough year, but I thought better late than never.

I'm sure you get thanked for your writing often. I want to add my voice to the chorus. Your stories take us away from the scary and lousy stuff going on in our own lives.  It feels so comforting to go into the lives of the characters you have created when my life is a little too real.

This was never more true than last year.

Last year my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine cancer. She immediately started a course of radiation and chemotherapy. The radiation and chemo left my vibrant mountain-goat of a mother barely able to lift her head.

But she could lift her hands.  And she could lift a mass-market paperback book. The books she lifted were yours.

Mom and I always loved your books. From Honest Illusions, the very first one we read, to The Witness, the very last one she read and we shared.  We would sit and talk about the decisions the characters made. We would say what we thought would happen next. I remember Mom crowing when Chesapeake Blue came out because some of her predictions were right. My mother put my very first books in my hands. When we got to an age where we read the same things, some of our warmest times together were when we were discussing books.

Towards the end of chemo,  Mom's thin frame dropped weight rapidly. She felt so bad. She wanted to build memories with my newly adopted daughter, but it took all her strength to just sit up in bed. I sat next to her and we discussed The Witness. What she thought was going to happen, what she thought about the characters. After she finished it, we talked about what kind of life the characters would have after the end. Then we revisited some of her favorite books--most of them written by you. We talked about how many kids the sisters of Montana Sky had by now. We wondered if Nathaniel Nouvelle Callahan wound up becoming a cop, or a magician, or perhaps both.

Talking about the characters you created helped my mom forget how much pain she was in. Revisiting your stories helped keep her mind keen, even as mom's body betrayed her.

Mom lost her battle to cancer last April. In the months that followed her death, I couldn't read. I couldn't focus on the words on the paper.  When I finally could read, I found myself rereading all your books and then, finally, starting your new books.  You have helped me get through the hardest year of my life with the people and worlds you have created.

I wish I could say it better--but all I can say is, Thank You.


  1. This is a lovely post. I hope that somehow, someone brings this to her attention.

  2. I am visiting via ICLW and I am a Nora Roberts fan so was instantly drawn to this post (I have read all of the books your refer to and I think I have managed to read most of them, though the random one I haven't seen pops up at my library every now and again). I then moved to the part about your mum and as a motherless daughter who also lost her mum to cancer back in 2003, I can feel the emotion in your words. I'm sure your mother just loved those precious mother daughter talks and what a wonderful thing to share together. I read Nora Roberts books to escape my battle through infertility, to slip into an imaginary world free of my worries, she truly is a beautiful writer. I hope you continue to come back together piece by piece on this new journey with your own daughter, grief is a funny thing but the weight will begin to lift and the happy memories start to shine through more often with time. x