Have you ever been so inspired by an author’s work that you wish you could tell them exactly how much they have impacted your life? In our new series, Literary Love Letters, we will be doing just that – sharing open love letters to inspiring authors. Today, Three Amazing Things About You author Jill Mansell writes to Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York.
Lots of people probably haven't heard of you, but your website is my favourite on the whole of the internet, so I'm choosing to write this to you even though you aren't a novelist. (I know, how daring of me, how subversive!)
What you are, however, is a story-teller. You lost your job as a bond trader in 2010, bought yourself a camera and decided to follow your heart instead. You began walking around American cities photographing different aspects of buildings that caught your fancy. Then you began to include people, strangers you encountered along the way. You published all the photos on a blog that hardly anyone saw and gradually refined your style. Over time, you began talking to the people you photographed, asking questions about their lives. You chose to concentrate on New York, conveying in words and pictures the people you met along the way. And slowly, gradually, your internet audience began to expand via word of mouth. Always the best way.
Now there are countless millions of us, awaiting your daily uploads on Humans of New York. You may not write fiction but you convey stories, sometimes in very few words, that touch people's hearts and renew our faith in the human race. You make us laugh, cry and think. You have transformed some people's lives, whether or not you're aware of it. And along the way you've become a mega-bestselling non-fiction author yourself. (I was given your book for Christmas and it's as brilliant as I knew it would be, hooray!)
Personally (and selfishly) I would like to thank you for helping me with my own novels. Maybe I
shouldn't admit this, but if I'm stuck for a plot or an idea or a character, I know I can always find one on your blog. The book I'm currently writing has a main character based on a photo of yours – I have no idea who he is, I just borrowed him anyway.
So thanks again for inspiring me and probably countless other writers. Keep on photographing strangers in the street and bringing them alive for us with your questions and their answers. You're brilliant, Brandon Stanton, and you make a difference to the world. You should be proud of everything you've achieved.
Who would you like to write a literary love letter to?