Today, some very kind memories from Elizabeth B. Thomsen about her daughter who, apparently upset at not being able to see the man in person, decided to call John at home during the dinner hour to ask her nagging question:
When my kids were in the third and fifth grades, John Bellairs was the speaker for the fifth graders. My older daughter, Meg, heard his presentation, which was fine for her, but terrible for my younger daughter, Kristin, who really loved his books
After school, Meg told Kristin about the presentation, including the fact that John Bellairs had given the class his home phone number and told them they could call if they had questions. (We live about 10 miles from where he lived.)
When I came home from work around 5:30, I walked into hear Kristin on the phone, asking politely if she could speak to John Bellairs. Had I been there a minute earlier, I would have stopped her from disturbing him at home at suppertime on a day he had spent in our schools. She explained to him how disappointed she had been to miss him when he was at her school, and they had a nice chat...despite the fact that the poor guy had already spent the whole day doing this stuff. Kristin had a chance to ask her most important question, "Why do you write such scary stories for kids?" and he told her how things had scared him as a kid... it was a lovely conversation, and she's never forgotten it. John Bellairs really cared about kids - and he is missed.
This phone conversation meant a great deal to her, and when he died a few years later she really felt like she had lost a personal friend. I never met John Bellairs, but I'll always think of him as a most kind and gracious man.