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From: R.A. Heinlein to Stalkers: We Work Very Long Hours Every Day of the Year

Robert A. Heinlein response letter

Form letters from authors make sense. I remember one time I received a yellow postcard back from Stephen King that I believe was addressed: Dear Constant Reader. And it basically explained that while earlier in his career he actually tried to respond to as many fan letters as he could, he figured he could either write letters or write books. And because I was a fan, the postcard told me, he was fairly certain I would rather he be spending his time writing books. It was still really freaking cool to receive. I’m fairly certain I have it still, somewhere around here.

But io9 has published a form letter from Robert A. Heinlein (snippet above), in which he could check any number of responses, including “You say that you have enjoyed my stories for years. Why did you wait until you disliked one story before writing to me?”

Considering some of these simply make reference to articles or other books, I can just see Heinlein tallying up his letters over a certain period of time and deciding that these twenty-one responses should be the ones to fit on a single typed page. The person who received this one, which you can see by clicking through to io9, obviously left the author speechless. Because nothing was checked.


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  • I read the entire letter over at Boing Boing and thought this was brilliant. I have sat through many book seminars and hear the same questions over and over.

    In March R.L. Stine was in town and two people asked the {where do you get your ideas?{ question. Bob told the crowd he already answered that.

    This prompted me to want to ask bizarro questions. I had the split second thought of asking Bob if he was Jewish. You know just to shake things up a bit.

    Though I did not do that there I have been doing the ask weirdo questions just in general.

  • I got a letter from Stephen King’s assistant (and it was a letter – not a form letter – because it addressed my specific question) and I thought it was the coolest thing ever!