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A bookseller, a reader and an imaginary friend

In her Huffington Post “Notes from My (Book) Shelf”column, the very generous and highly esteemed Roxanne Coady, owner of RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT, writes:
Serendipitous Moment of the Week
Sandi Kahn Shelton (a writer and journalist; her pen name is Maggie Dawson) was in my store this week and literally bumped into a friend — Matthew Dicks — another author — whom she introduced to me. There was something very charming about Matthew and his wife and it made me curious to read his new book which will be published in August. He graciously dropped off a galley of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend the very next day. The title intrigued me enough to bring it home (as opposed to the other dozens of books on my desk saying “pick me-pick me”) and started it on Thursday night — I finished it Saturday morning. This book is magical, uplifting and incredibly smart. Loved it — not only can’t I wait to tell you more and encourage you to read it when it comes out but I think it would be great fun if we invited kids and adults to write about their imaginary friend — and how that friend helped them or made a real-life difference.

I think it’s important to note a few things about what Roxanne said:

  1. As an author, there are few things better in this world than hearing that a reader loved your book. When that reader is a bookseller, it becomes  over-the-top thrilling. I can’t tell you how much Roxanne’s words mean to me.
  2. Roxanne writes that there was something charming about me and my wife. I assure you that this was wholly my wife’s charm. I was merely standing in its glow.
  3. The fact that the tittle intrigued Roxanne is credit to my agent, Taryn Fagerness, who suggested it and the title of my previous novel, Unexpectedly, Milo. I cannot title a book to save my life.
  4. Though Roxanne is correct in stating that Sandi and I are friends, we were only friends through Twitter until that day. Sandi happened to hear me giving my name to the cashier for RJ Julia’s rewards program and asked, “Are you the Matthew Dicks from Twitter?”

Serendipity, indeed.

As if this wasn’t serendipity enough, Roxanne’s wonderful idea of inviting children and adults to write about their imaginary friends was thrown into motion yesterday evening when I received an email from an overseas reader who has just finished the book (which she has given me permission to post here).

She writes:

Dear Matthew

I’m typing this email with tears still running down my face after reading Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. I’m 48 years old and my imaginary friend,  Mrs Gaynor, still lives. Growing up on a farm with few playmates I created my own. A few years ago at a family dinner my parents told my teenage children about Mrs Gaynor.  Since that time she has lived in our home, leaving a mess, moving important things, hiding socks, and quietly taking the blame for many mishaps, her ways of staying alive. She will always live in my heart, real or imaginary, because she was my friend when I needed one. I really enjoyed reading your story about Budo and Max. It is amazing what strength and courage we can find when we reach inside of ourselves.

Thank you.

Mary-Anne Ryan

First Roxanne and then Mary-Anne.

As an author, I cannot imagine a better day.