A few days ago a young woman sent me the following letter via email. She speaks for herself more beautifully than I can recap. I will just say on introducing her letter that I need no more reason than this for being glad I chose the writing path I did.
I am 17 years old and live in London. I am hoping to study English Literature at university next year and then go into publishing/journalism.
I am presuming that the majority of yours and/or Dinah’s fan-base are a little younger than me! I understand that I am (slightly) older than the recommended reading age but my mum has always instilled the value that you can never be too old for a good story. I have been in love with your writing since my cousin (she lives in BC) sent over her copy of The Spy in the Alley six years ago. I have reread The Dinah Galloway Mysteries many times and in each and every instance I have found them a rewarding experience.
Many books I have read do not illustrate a realistic representation of society in Western countries. This was difficult for me as I was growing up, as I was constantly wondering why ‘people with my name/colour skin etc’ were not in my favourite books, and if they were, they were stereotypes of what we were supposed to be. In fact, the media, films/TV shows are poor in including people of colour but I do believe that it is getting better. However, your books are full of characters of different ethnicities. Not only do these characters, e.g., Pantelli Audia, Cindi Khan, Principal Chen, exist, but they are prominent parts of Dinah’s life and are well developed/written. Also, they are not stigmatised or based upon a stereotype and that is so important! The power of appropriate cultural representation is phenomenal and allows young readers, such as myself, to feel included in literature.
In addition, the feminist aspect to the series is wonderful! It is brilliant to have so many well-developed female characters. I love the way Madge and Dinah are portrayed so differently but are both strong minded individuals. They teach young girls that there is no right way to behave/look; this is such an important lesson, as it takes such a long time to come to terms with being OK with you. In The Queen of Disguises, I thought you tackled body shamming very well and that particular storyline really resonated with me. Dinah is such a fantastic role model, and I feel lucky to have grown up with her.
I recently reread the whole series – instead of revising for my upcoming exams (whoops) and I noticed at the back of The Queen of Disguises that you were writing a seventh instalment. I was wondering if you are currently writing or have finished writing it and how many books are there going to be overall?
I confess, I have not read any of your other books, as it is hard to get them over here. Luckily, I am visiting my family during the Summer and I am itching to go book shopping – in the hope I can buy a few of your ‘older reads’.
Thank you for being such a superb writer, inspiration and for bringing The Dinah Galloway Mysteries into the world!
Pictured: cover of the original (first printing) The Spy in the Alley.