Dear Vikram,

When I was a senior in college at Stanford I took a small class from you, where you introduced me to The Wife of Martin Guerre and we discussed creativity. I’m not sure if you would remember this conversation, but one day I went to talk to you during office hours and I told you that I thought I wanted to go work in publishing. You looked at me with a slightly horrified expression and said, “Why would you want to do that?!” and then told me that if I could depend at all on some further charity from my parents I should go instead write my first novel because you believed in my writing.

I didn’t listen to you. At least not at first. I did go work in publishing and ended up becoming a literary agent. I moved to San Francisco, where I was charmed by The Golden Gate and I was thrilled to be working with talented writers.

But your horrified expression stuck with me. I did go and write a novel. That one didn’t work out, and then I really depended on that expression when I wrote my next novel. That one did work out and became the Jacob Wonderber series for children.

Having the belief of someone as accomplished as you meant such a huge amount to me. Not only did I appreciate that class and not only do I admire your work, I can’t thank you enough for that conversation and for the expression on your face.