Bonni Haber, retired Atwater principal and literature instructor, received a letter from Kate Morton, author of The Distant Hours, on Feburary 14. This was a response to the many letters sent by Haber’s class in 2012, when the eighth graders participated in an outside literary course, Contemporary Classics.
“This class was a really nice way to get an exposure to different types of books and share what I learned to people with similar interests,” said Ananya Murali, junior.
The Contempoary Classics class was founded in 2009 with the goal of increasing the advanced learning opportunities at the middle school. Haber explained that it was developed as a type of in-depth book discussion seminar.
After reading the book, students wrote to Morton about the possibility of a prequel to her novel. Students engaged in lively discussions about the backstory of the gothic novel, including the characters and the plot.
“We wrote the letter about a prequel which would involve the Mud Man, a character in the book and how he came to exist. In general, we wanted more information about the characters in the novel,” said Kelly Whittle, junior.
Whittle and Murali also agreed the book was fun and interesting, and the class described the novel as a modern Jane Eyre.
Haber mailed the letters on February 23, 2012 and heard no response back at first. Morton had received the letters and misplaced them. Earlier this year, Morton found where she had put those letters almost three years ago.
“It was a huge surprise that after three years, she chose to write back instead of just throwing our letters out,” Haber said.
Morton appeared to be very pleased with the letters from the students.
“Thank you so much for your wonderful, thoughtful letter all the way from Shorewood, America … I appreciate all your kind thought on The Distant Hours and am pleased it has piqued your curiosity and stimulated your love of reading and writing,” Morton said.
Morton also said that the students were extremely creative and talented.
Haber believes that students may write to other authors in the future.
“When Mrs. Haber emailed us this year telling us that Kate Morton wrote back, I was so excited. After that year when she didn’t respond, I figured that she forgot or discarded the letters because she had so many other fans. My view of the author changed completely after she wrote back. She took the time to send us a response even though it was from a long time ago and we didn’t expect a response,” Murali said.
by Martha Dix and Maya Lawnicki