Author & Artist's Corner: Author

Frederic S. Durbin: Crowd Sorcery

Crowd-Sorcery: "The Girl Who Writes the Future"
We've come to the end of it now. What began as the glimmer of a great idea among the Cricket editors is now a finished story, beautifully illustrated and full of your fantastic ideas and fantasy words! It has been a joy and an honor to be your writer on this project. Thank you all, Chatterboxers, for your amazing ideas and your enthusiastic participation as this story took shape. This is our story, and it's much bigger than all of us. I wanted to put a glowing handprint on the moon's face in Part 5, because this story carries all our handprints. That shining golden handprint that opens the magical door is yours, and it is mine!
I think my favorite illustration in the story is that very last one, where the two girls are happy to be alive. Fable is covered with mud and the traces of magical ointment made from sunlight and shoe polish. The two friends have come through a lot together, and they're stronger now. Again, like all of us, huh? Fable and Lumine achieve their victory through determination, courage, loyalty, and good writing. I think that is pretty cool!
Right here, in this little corner of Cricket's web site, I would love to discuss this story with you! Do you have questions about anything—how it was written, how the ideas emerged, why I did this or that? Questions about how Emily and I worked together? Questions about Fable's world that the story doesn't quite answer? Questions about what was easy and what was more difficult? Pull up a chair, and let's talk about our story!

You're welcome, Will!

submitted by Fred D., Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
(June 28, 2015 - 10:16 pm)


I am an avid writer and have written stories since I was 4. I love questions with authors and think they are so interesting!

I really loved The Girl Who Writes the Future, by the way :)


I want to know, what got you started with writing?




Anneliese H


submitted by Anneliese H, age 11, Wauwatosa, WI
(July 10, 2015 - 5:19 pm)

Hi, Anneliese! Thank you very much for writing! I'm really happy that you liked "The Girl Who Writes the Future"! But I'm even more excited to hear that you are an avid writer! Do you write fantasy, or various kinds of stories, or what?

To answer your question: If you've been writing since you were four, I'll bet our answers are quite similar. I was about 3 or 4 also. For me, it was simply encountering stories in the world. From the time I was a baby, my mom and dad read stories to me. As soon as I understood what they were, these adventures that were recorded on paper -- adventures that stayed there when you closed the book and were still there when you opened it again -- I wanted to make them myself! Even before I could read, I knew I would be a writer.

It helped me a lot that our house was full of books. My mom was the elementary librarian for four schools, and my dad opened our town's first bookstore. So I had book-loving parents and books all around me. My aunts and grandmothers also read to me, and everyone was really supportive and listened when I began telling my own stories, which were almost always about monsters. Then I started school, learned to write, and could start putting my stories down on paper.

I learned the basic business aspects of writing from my mom. She wrote stories and was always sending them off to editors, hoping to get them published. In those days, long before e-mail, it was all done through postal mail. I miss those days of addressing big manila envelopes with a story manuscript inside, writing cover letters, going to the post office, and watching the mailbox every day, hoping for a reply! When I was in high school, Mom and I attended writers' conferences. At one of those, I got to meet Madeleine L'Engle, who wrote A WRINKLE IN TIME. She read some of my writing and gave me encouragement. One of the best things about a writers' conference is that you get to meet and spend time with other people who love stories and words, who love to talk about imaginary people and places -- you realize you're not so weird for wanting to write!

Oh -- and I started getting a subscription to CRICKET when I was in first grade -- the year CRICKET began! I've saved all my issues since then! 

I think there are many ways to get started in writing, but you've already taken the best and first step. You just jumped in and started doing it when you were 4. That tells me that you probably will stick with it all your life. Never give up on it, even when it's not easy! Through writing, you get to tell stories that will stay in the world and reach other people. It's certainly what I want to keep doing!

Thanks again for this letter! Best and warmest wishes on your writing!

submitted by Fred D., Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
(July 11, 2015 - 12:52 pm)

Hi Mr. Durbin

Among the first Cricket stories I read was "The Star Shard," and to this day it is still my favorite. I heard that it was going to be turned into a book, but even after all this time, all I have heard are hints and I have never been able to find the book. This comment is slightly off topic (okay, very off topic), but I am dying to know if it ever was published as a book, and if so, where I cound find it.

Thank you!



The Star Shard book is listed as available on Amazon.


submitted by Arien , age 16, Castle Rock
(March 3, 2016 - 5:21 pm)

Hi, Arien!

Thank you very much for your kind words! I'm delighted that you like "The Star Shard" so much! It was sure a lot of fun to write, and I remember the fantastic time we all had that year that it was being published in Cricket, with all the discussions and questions about it on Chatterbox.

Yes, it was published as a book in 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The best place to find it now is on Amazon (or in a public library near you--I've found it in some!).

The interesting thing about the book is that it is much longer than the story version in Cricket, so there's a lot more to Cymbril's story that you haven't read yet. Please let me know how you like the book!

I have a new book coming out this summer, in June, that I think you might also like. It's called A Green and Ancient Light.

Again, thank you for writing--and for telling me that you like the story!

Warmest regards,



submitted by Fred D., Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
(March 4, 2016 - 12:31 am)

Hi! So I have loved writing since I was seven (I am 11 now). What do you do when you get writer's block and what inspires you?

I really think your an amazing writer.


Thanks! Annabeth C. 

submitted by Annabeth C., age 11, CA Sacramento
(July 3, 2016 - 11:51 am)


are the authors still reading these letters? because I sent a 'letter' last summer, and it still hasn't been replied to thanks for you timeSmile 


They  may  stop  checking  after  a  few  months . If  you  send  an  email  to  and  tell  us  which  author  we  can  remind  him  or  her  to  check . 


submitted by Annabeth C., age 13, boarding school
(November 27, 2016 - 3:49 pm)


submitted by Island S. , Hawaii
(April 9, 2017 - 8:57 am)