These messages were edited by the webmaster. A few interesting replies are posted here. 

Please note - for the readers of Stand Before Your God, here are private photos taken at Eton College that we hope you enjoy.  


Thank you for writing such a real and enlightening memoir. They do not get much better, in my humble opinion. Forget about all the so-called great memoirs. Yours, Harry Crews and David Hackworth's are just about as good as it can get. I am embarrassed to say I have not read your newest, though I can say it is because I was busy getting through a few of your others. 

NG


I just finished The Forger, a few days after reading the review. I couldn't put it down. It's the best novel I've read in years. You gift of creating word pictures combined with a thoroughly riveting story line in a perfect three-act structure made me want to read it again - but my wife grabbed it. In desperation, I whisked myself away to the bookstore and bought two more of your earlier novels.

Thanks for contributing great substance to the book stores' shelves. 

NJ


I bought your newest book as soon as it went to the stores. I couldn't wait for this novel. I own all the first editions of your books. I wrote to you awhile back and you signed some of my books. 

The Forger is an amazing book. It is one of my favorites because of the setting. I love novels about WWII. Night Over Day Over Night was so touching that it left me thinking about it for days. 

I first encounter your books in my late teens with Calm At Sunset, Calm At Dawn. I am a native of Rhode Island who tells everyone I meet about your wonderful books and how some are connected to Rhode Island. 

I just wanted to let you know I am a huge fan of your writing and I am awaiting your next novel. 

TC


My book group and I are in the process of reading Stand Before Your God, and plan to discuss it in Princeton. I am enjoying it in particular, because my uncle attended Mercersburg Academy from the time he was age eight and this has colored his whole existence - he is 61 now. If you are available to join us, we would love to hear more about your experiences at school as well as how you felt about writing a memoir. 

MP


Hello Web Bloke,

I just wanted to tell Mr. Watkins I enjoyed The Forger. I'm almost glad he's not directly receiving this: I hadn't heard of him before, but now looking at the bio page with all the prizes etc., so now I feel pretty sheepish about just saying, "Hi! Nice novel!" But there it is. The book was a lot of fun to read. I'll recommend it to my friends back in the States. Great book, man.

JS


I first discovered you as an author with your book Stand Before Your God. Being an intern student at the Royal Military Cadets School at the age of 14, I read you book as if it were my own story. 

Since then I've been reading almost all of your other books. I didn't like Archangel but I much enjoyed African Dreams and Calm at sunset, The Promise and Night Over Day where just thrilling. 

WS


I first discovered your books about 8 or 9 years ago, and have followed your career closely ever since. Two of your novels have stood out for me Stand Before Your God (like you, I attended a private school here in Ottawa, Canada. I have a feeling our academic careers also paralleled one another and Night Over Day Over Night.

I have now had the pleasure of reading all your novels (with the exception of The Promise of Light), and have recommended them to a great many friends and colleagues. You have a loyal following here in Canada, or at the very least in Government and academic circles in Ottawa!

This is my first "fan" letter since about the sixth grade (and that was to a hockey player!), so I'm not sure if I should expect to hear from you or not. Either way, I just wanted you to know that I have tremendous respect for your work and believe you to be a very fine talent. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

VR


Some months back I wrote to you re your most recent book The Forger. You were kind enough to respond and give me just enough info to hold me over until I was able to get my mitts on the UK (and FINALLY the US) release. I was not disappointed but per usual, I have a few questions and hope that (again) you might be willing to humor me?

First, I know that you have said that your stories / characters are intertwined i.e. David's uncle was Charlie Halifax... so of course I perked right up when I came across the name Voss in this book as well. Is there any connection to my favorite antagonist? He was so mean spirited / hard hearted, I could not help but take an odd shine to him *sheepish grin*!

Secondly, will your next book (since I'm sure you've already penned a few pages ;-] ) be of the same nature or are you going to go for the clean slate approach (no name dropping or recurring characters / timelines / locations)? Last but not least will you be doing any readings up the New England way, as my collection is complete but lacking inscriptions.

CP


Hey Paul! Great stuff!! Glad to see you being so well supported by this Web Bloke @ Eton.

PJC


I had quite a good time reading your book Stand Before Your God. I was one of the only books I have ever felt like I lived through. The only downer in the book was the loneliness you suffered when you started the old Brit school system.

JM


Please check out my web site dedicated to your work. Its not finished yet so please go easy and I hope you like it..

AS


This is JS from Poland-worked at Attean, Jackman this summer. I've got a question concerning some Polish translations of any of your books. Has anybody from Poland already translated some of your writings? Or is anybody planning to do it? Thank you for the answer in advance! Greetings from Poland. I've already returned to my country and I am preparing for college.

JS


What great luck I had discovering you this summer! It all started with the movie Calm at Sunset which prompted me to read the book. While waiting for it I read The Story of My Disappearance and Archangel, both of which I enjoyed immensely. I have now read all your books and await Forger. My favorite is The Promise of Light, probably because I have Irish roots.

The reason for this note is to ask you why, on page 86 of Archangel, you said James Pfeiffer's father's name was Joseph! In Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn his name was Russell. It was a great book anyway. I recommended it to a friend who did likewise and I'm sure it's still being recommended.

I wish you were older so there would be more of your books to read. Please keep writing!

AL

It is not my intention to become one of your demons but, as long as you are going to review Archangel before the next printing, you might as well look at one more curiosity. Page 164 When Gabriel started his tree-spiking project, he stopped his Putt-Putt and noted that...He had FIVE hours before the noon train was due from the north. Page 166...Over the next SEVEN hours, Gabriel spiked 100 trees. Page 167...He reached the depot at noon. Ten minutes later, the VIA train roared past.

It's still a good story!

AL


I appreciate having an opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy your writing. If it hadn't been for a high school friend alerting me to your books, both my husband and I may have missed out on some fine reading.

It's impossible to shake the stories and especially the characters from my mind. First I read Archangel which convinced me to keep searching out Paul Watkins. The Promise of Light is one of the best books I have ever read, and I look forward to the publication of The Forger.

Because of your youth, we expect many more books. And what great movies they could make.

RRH


Is this real? It seems too good to be true that not ten minutes after finishing Stand Before Your God I could be sending a message to the author. I loved the book so much that I did an immediate internet search and the first site it found was this one - Send a message to Paul Watkins.

I guess one of the reasons for being a writer is to hope to make an impact on the lives, thoughts and hearts of readers. This book certainly did that for me. It describes a world I know nothing about, but in such a wise, humane and honest voice that I was captivated.

We are about the same age, and I could remember some of the crazes you mentioned; I still have a Corona sticker somewhere, I believe, and a passion for Mr. Softee ice cream!

When will we get to hear about life at Yale and how you achieved your ambition to be a writer? Do you still go on night voyages, or did you lose the ability to do that as you grew older? What other important moments have you experienced since leaving Eton?

So many questions, and I really have no idea if this will ever reach you, so I shall shut up now.

Thank you for Stand Before Your God.

LH


Last night at a dinner party I felt attacked for failing to think of myself as a Scot after 18 years post-Australia. When almost every taxi driver asks me where I'm from or how long I'm over for, it's difficult to kid yourself! But what most struck me was at 33 how the loneliness of that limbo state of not belonging hasn't really left me and how frustrating is the view held by so many that time and distance negate one part of your life. I suppose I'm one of the millions you've never met Stand by your God who share this theme of searching for a homeland and for a sense of belonging without feeling compromised. This 'thread' of leaving one place to try to survive in another still seems to prevail in your novels - does that mean you remain unsettled?

Certainly your writing helps me accept my own restlessness as well as other people's discomfort with my refusal (to date) to wholeheartedly embrace any one culture. So, thank you!

Perhaps you would consider coming up for the Edinburgh Book Festival - meantime I look forward to reading more of your work.

RF


I'm just re-reading your fascinating & hilarious account of your schooldays (Editor: Stand Before Your God). Did you know there was a photo of 'Rodrick', the irrepressible ice cream man, in a recent issue of the Chronicle?

I have become rather attached to Eton recently, mainly as a friend of the Music department; I think it's a charming place, - but then I didn't go there! In the end, do you feel any affection for the place?

LH


I'm looking for a nice portrait of you to accompany with an article introducing some of your books running in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post book column. Wondering if you could provide a picture to me by e-mail (8mb JPG) or do you have your own photographer who has picture that I can buy.

CH


As a person who really and truly admires your work, I thought I would drop you a line to tell you so. I have every book you ever wrote. Your two books The story of my... and Stand Before Your God are on their way from Amazon.com. I also believe you have another book coming out this year. I'll be getting that one also. Your books captivate me like the old classics of Hemmingway and Fitzgerald.

There are only two other people in this age who hold my attention like you do and they are in music. Phillip Glass and Tobias Picker. Thank You for then great books, I hope to enjoy your work for many years to come.

MC


I took a chance that there would be a web site for you. I am glad I checked because I have wanted to communicate with you but did not know how. The internet certainly breaks down barriers. I recently read Stand Before Your God and bought a copy for my son who is attending a military high school. He loves the book and sits and laughs at the antics of your classmates. For me, the book brought back a lot of memories of your father. I worked for Jim Kennett at the GSO back in the 70's and our lab was next to you Dad's. There is a part of the book where you describe your father wearing a certain jacket and hat and I could picture him walking into our building in these clothes. You do not usually get to share such images and thoughts with authors and I thought you would like to know that I conjured up this image of your father from your book. I have enjoyed your books, especially those set in RI. I am a displaced Rhode Islander and always enjoy reading about the coast of RI!

And yes, I do have stories about you father...including spending 18 days at sea with him! I wish you much luck in your career. You father would be very proud of you.

NH


Paul, I'm a great fan of your books, have them all. If you need a "Watkins" appropriate setting for your next book, come on down to Atlanta and come SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) road racing with my "team". I have always thought that if anyone could capture the challenge and thrill of auto racing, it would be you. Especially at our level, where the main motivation isn't fame, glory, or riches, but for the sheer joy of it.

I see that your next book The Forger is due out in November. I look forward to reading it.

TS


Right after my visit to Windsor & Eton I reread Stand Before Your God, which was fun, seeing as now I know what the College & the surrounding area look like. For some reason I always imagine places I haven't visited as totally devoid of cars & people - so imagine my surprise at the coachloads of tourists attracted by the Castle!

In the meantime I have also read Archangel & The Story of my Disappearance; I enjoyed both & look forward to reading your other books. Night over Day over Night shall be next - when it arrives.

HC

I've just finished reading Stand before Your God, which turned out to be One of Those Books one encounters every ten years or so, and wishes would never end . . . The first half provided plenty of laughs (as many as three or four per page), but has its darker moments, too. Then there's the pivotal chapter set in RI, which I liked for a number of reasons, mostly because I'm familiar with Little Rhody. I've visited your Ocean State four times, primarily to study the writings of H. P. Lovecraft at the (Brown University) John Hay Library in Providence. I explored the hinterland as well (Foster, Moosup valley), crossed the border into Connecticut and planned a trip to Boston, but that didn't materialise.

Another nice surprise was the account of your peregrinations through my own Flanders, which reminded me of my own quest for the grave of William Hope Hodgson in the huge Tynecot Cemetery back in '92. Glad to hear you liked our coffee (the only thing I couldn't stomach in the States) and chocolate.

I never went to a public school; indeed there's nothing comparable to Dragon, Eton or Harrow over here. Then again, the school where I spent most of my youth and young adulthood had no girls in it either, so the experiences you describe are markedly similar to my own, almost uncannily so, to paraphrase Rupert. We had our Wittingham, a boy named Frank who could safely be called the main school tart. He looked, talked and acted like a girl and was not above wearing his sister's knickers. An intensely religious creature, he entered a convent at eighteen, believe it or not.

I too sought to escape the rigours of school life by covertly putting my thoughts to paper. Stylistically speaking these tryouts were but pale imitations of my literary heroes, but I don't think I could have survived without them. 

I would like to stroll the Eton grounds for real someday. Of course, it cannot be the same as spending the best years of your life there as one of the Boys, Pretty or otherwise. But Windsor isn't all that far..

HC


Hi Paul, long time no hear about... I read your book last year and was impressed. I thought about getting in touch with you at the time but didn't see an obvious way to do it and then forgot...

Then I got a forwarded e-mail from my brother David from Matthew Sutherland and suddenly there was an Eton web site and some pages on you with this form to fill in.

JM


Well, I have absolutely no connection to Eton College at all but I've read the book Stand Before Your God and to date it is the best book I've ever read. It was by accident that I found it and it's is truly just amazing. The style of writing is like nothing I've come in contact with before. It's so close to you. You become one with it and the characters. In closing, I love this book. I keep a copy of it with me where ever I go, just incase I feel the need to return to the dog-eared pages that I've read many times. It's a comforting, yet haunting way for me to relax and drift into another world.

AP


I am an recent alumnae of the Lawrenceville School, and last year Mr. Max Maxwell assigned us your book, The Story of My Disappearance, for us to read. A couple of months ago, I lent this book to a new friend, and it looks like she has lost it. Do you know how I could obtain another copy? I know it was just released in the US, but I'm looking for the copy published in England, the blue-gray paperback. Also, if there is anyway I can get your signature (again), in the book, that would be wonderful. 

AT


The company I work for, Blakeway Associates Ltd., is currently producing a major documentary series for the ITV networks. The series is entitled 'Royal Portraits' and each programme will look at the life of one member of the Royal family and tell the story of their life.

The programme I'm working on is about Prince William and is to be transmitted in June this year to celebrate the Prince's eighteenth birthday. Blakeway Productions has a string of high profile programmes to its name, and specialises in political and historical documentaries. Recent credits include "George VI", a profile of the wartime King for the BBC and "Royals and Reptiles", an award-winning three part series looking at the relationship between the Royal Family and the Media. We really want to give viewers an idea of what life at Eton is like and I was wondering if you were able to help with the project and maybe have a chat with me on the phone about your book and about your time at Eton time there.

DC


I enjoyed your book. How was Yale??

SR


My mom heard you give a lecture in Hightstown, and she said you were an exceptional speaker (as well as writer)! I was wondering if you go out and give lectures-- we are in South Jersey, near Atlantic City--- I work for the Atlantic County Library. We do community "events" from time to time. 

MF


I'm not sure if you recall, but last year, you visited Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, Maryland. Our entire school read your book and you had come to discuss your experiences and answer any questions we had. I was fortunately able get your autograph in my copy of your book, "Stand Before Your God." However, over the summer, I let a friend borrow it to read it and either my friend or I lost it. I was wondering if I bought another copy of the book and sent it to you, would you autograph it again and send it back to me. I would be so thrilled to have another book for one, but to get it autographed again would be wonderful. 

JA


Hello! This letter is to tell you how much I ENJOYED your book, STAND BEFORE YOUR GOD!!! It was quite fascinating to read about a 7 year-old boy going to a boarding school; and quite a learning experience, particularly since I've always been home schooled! Out of curiosity did you change the names to protect the innocent? ) I was just wondering, because I might write my memoirs one day, and I sure wouldn't want to get sued! ;) (Oh yes, what happened to RUPERT and WHITTINGHAM?)

Recently, I went to England for my 15th birthday. My mom and I attended the Windsor Music Festival and took a tour of Eton College. It was such a strange feeling seeing all the old buildings where so much history had taken place...it was sooooo overwhelming...since I come from a small mid-western town where the oldest building is a two-story house from the mid-1800's. The most interesting event was the Eton Fair put on by the Etonians for charity. I Loved it!) Did they have the fair when you went to Eton?

AB

Reply: 

Thank you for your note. I'm glad you enjoyed Stand Before Your God and it is good of you to take the time to write and let me know. I did change some of the names, as you guessed. And, yes, there was an Eton fair when I was there. I once dressed up in a cape and told fortunes with a crystal ball to raise money for charity at that fair. Never again.

Paul Watkins


I sent you an e-mail yesterday just asking you if you could help me on a school project. I have a speech that I'll be delivering on the Eton College Drama Department and was wondering if you were involved in that department while you were there? If you were, did you act in any plays, see any plays, help in the production of a play.

If there's anything you could tell me about it, I'd appreciate it. 

JG

Reply: 

I acted in at least two plays while at Eton, both of which were put on in the Farrar theatre. I was in Mr Toomer's house, JWT, and both productions were house productions. Both were, I recall, produced by Mrs Benham, who did an excellent job on each occasion. The plays were The Government Inspector by Gogol and Treasure Island by RL Stevenson. My role in the Government inspector was to come on in the last ten seconds of the play and announce "The government inspector has arrived!" Then the curtain would come down and that would be the end of the play. Not very auspicious. In treasure island, I played Ben Gunn, and enjoyed myself very much. So many technical things went wrong in that play that I remember being told that boys went to see it twice just to watch what would go wrong next. In one pivotal scene, in which a man is shot with a musket, the musket failed to go off and the boy had to shout "Bang!". In another scene of a storm at sea, when a piece of ship's rigging was supposed to be let down on a rope to show that the mainsail had given way, a palm tree from the previous beach scene was lowered instead. It dangled in mid-air and then tottered back up to the ceiling out of sight. It was brilliant.

I remember many excellent productions at the theatre - Sweeny Todd, Dracula (in which a strobe light was used and the boy sitting next to me, an epileptic, had a seizure because of it), Julius Caesar, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Sergeant Musgrave's Dance, The Roses of Eyam and several others. I recall that Mr Butler had a lot to do with the theatre and was very passionate about it. The standard of productions varied, but the productions that were done on the school level, as opposed to the house level, were invariable superb.

Paul Watkins


I just recently bought Stand Before Your God at a Windsor bookstore after visiting Eton. It was recommended to me by a friend and I must agree with him. It's been a long time since I read a funny, yet touching and very true account of boyhood experiences. I have never been to boarding school and now realize I missed out on a very special experience. I'm a screenwriter myself, mainly for television, but my first children's novel will be published March next year. So it's kinda like my job to be interested in what's going on inside the minds of children and adolescents. I'm very interested in the 'arena' of the boarding school, with its own rules, laws and logic and your book certainly showed a side of Eton you don't get to see as a tourist. Thanks and keep up the good work.

JV


As a great fan, I have been eagerly awaiting news re your latest work. I was recently out and about on the Web, found this page and would like to ask (without being too brazen - no pun intended) whether or not your new book has a working title, when it might see the light of day and (gulp) for even the slightest hint as to what the storyline might be about? Prior to its release Stateside, I had read a brief article in which you spoke about your book Archangel, so I am hoping that you will not be too offended by my inquiry. Also, just out of shear curiosity, in Archangel what made you decide to semi-resurrect and then do away with the main characters from some (I think it was three?) of your preceding novels i.e. Sebastian Westland; James Pfeiffer and Charlie Halifax? Just one of those nagging questions...

CP


Simple message. I've just finished Archangel and I can safely that it was one the best books I've ever read. Now I'm off to buy the rest of your books.

FJC


First off, I would just like to say I greatly enjoyed your book. I myself am only 18 and I doubt that I could write in such detail about my childhood as you did. I read your book as a bit of a side bit to a friendship of mine that I have with an Etonian, well now he is an OE. It was interesting to see it from the inside out. I was wondering if Stand Before Your God will ever be a movie?? What other books have you written? And, yes this is my shallow side, why didnt you include some pictures of yourself and your brother in uniform? Well, I wish you luck in the future. And keep writing.

TR


I studied your novel Stand by your god last year for my GCSE's presentation, and I loved it! I go to Wychwood school, which is on the same road as the Dragon! your novel was hilarious but sad, and I hope that one day I may be able to write like you. Thanks to your extraordinary personality and insight that I gathered from the book, I am not only going to continue drama, modelling and writing stories, but I would like to possibly study fashion journalism and law in the future! 

I want to go far, and you have being a brilliant example.

p,s, Thank you for an A* in English!

EF


I am currently working on a research project on Eton College in cooperation with the Austrian Ministry for Education and Cultural Affairs. I need every information about the College I can get and therefore I would be very grateful if you could afford some time to help me with my project, which aims to enforce the cultural links between Austria and England. 

MP


I am studying English Literature in Salzburg, Austria and I have to write a paper about your book The story of my Disappearance. While looking for some critics etc on it, I found this page and not really knowing what I am doing here, I would like to say how much joy I had reading your book. I have to read so many books that it is almost a burden and no joy anymore, but you just grasped me with your honest description of feelings and by just presenting the characters so human - don't really know how to describe it in English - but thanks!

SS


I graduated from Eton in June of 1997. I began boarding school at the age of nine at Caldicott and was like you dropped off at the school by my parents with the bare minimum of explanation. I had grown up in Tampa, Fl but moved to Miami in 1994. 

I am reading your book Stand before your God for the second time and feel like I basically lived that book... everything about school and being foreign, let alone an American is so real to me..... I don't think any of my friends from school could possibly enjoy or appreciate the book as much as I have...

While I was at school there... for nine years... I never met anyone who could understand what it was like for me... and when I first read the book I was probably in my third year at Eton and merely found it amusing and entertaining.... now almost two years removed from Eton everything has become so much clearer... what I enjoyed, what I really didn't and why I am glad that my parents sent me so far away to school.

I've always had mixed feelings about Eton... but at the same time I wouldn't trade it for any other school....

Thanks for writing such a great book and good luck with your work.

CA


I recently read your book, Stand Before Your God, and I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated how you related your experiences in an English school.

As a high school senior, I enjoyed being able to compare and contrast English boarding schools with American public schools, which I am familiar with. The part of the book that I could relate the most to was while you were attending Eton and were on holiday. You took a trip to Belgium and went wherever your feet led you. One of my dreams is to roam a foreign country and feel my independence from the rest of the world.

You wrote your book with reality and vivid descriptions of your life growing up. I plan to continue to read your books in the future.

TA


You are such a great writer. I have yet to read STAND BEFORE YOUR GOD, but have read almost all of your other books. I was on the internet trying to find more information on you when I stumbled upon this page. I hope that this email reaches you, and you are able to respond.

I think it is absolutely wonderful that at such a young age you are able to write stories which such great detail. You have taken me to so many interesting places, and I am grateful.

I look forward to reading more of your books.

RL


I would just like to say (even though this sounds so immature and stupid) that I think you are VERY good looking. Oh and also my father read your book, he said he liked it. So I thought you'd like to know that! =)

(Miss) AT


I wrote this after Reading your Book The Story of My Disappearance.

Your book was great.
I stayed up late.
I recommended it to Nate.
He liked to stay up late.
Nate said your book was great.
It must have been fate.
He declared it first rate.

NW

Reply: 

Many thanks for your poem. I must admit, I've never had one sent to me before. I'm glad you enjoyed Story of My Disappearance and it's good of you to take the time to write and let me know.

Paul Watkins


Dazzled by your books - any advice to an aspiring writer, filled with inspiration but doesn't know where to start??

RK


I might as well introduce myself. I am GM, a sixteen year old. I have currently read your book and found it the most amazing and the most shocking thing in a way about what was going on at Eton during your time there. From what I hear, Eton is a very high class school with known people coming from there. I was VERY surprised to hear such things about the school. I am trying not to be nosy but I just cannot resist to ask these questions

What made you think that you should write Stand Before Your God? Was it just a spur of the moment thing or did you have it planned for quite some time?

Also what made you think of becoming a writer? I have seen you have wrote some other books other than SBYG. Was it because you had a talent for it or was there more to it like you didn't care for other occupations?

I believe I have asked enough nosy questions.

GM

Reply: 

The reason I remembered so much was because I kept diaries al the way through. As far as other books go, I actually have six novels published. They are available through Picador, if you are interested.

Paul Watkins


I loved your book. I am registered to be tested at Eton next year. I have a few questions I would like to ask you.

Why did your parents choose to send you to boarding school at such a young age? Were your parents ill? Were you angry at them that they sent you so far away? Did they consider sending you to St. George's prep school in Newport? Or, what about Andover or Exeter? Why England? Do you feel that the education at Eton far surpasses the New England prep schools? When you left the Dragon School, was the test to be admitted to Eton difficult? Did you continue on to University study in England or did you come back to the U.S. to an Ivy league school? Finally, if you had to do it over again, what would you choose? Would you again choose Eton, or would you attend prep school in the States? Thank you for your time.

TW

Reply: 

Many thanks for your message. I'll try to answer your questions. My parents sent me to England at such a young age because they felt, and I agree, that the experience of going to the elite British boarding schools needs to start right at the beginning. That's not to say that you wouldn't get a lot out of it if you go at the High School phase, but I think it would ultimately be more difficult to settle into such an unusual situation. My parents sent me to England because they are British and wanted to have me educated in England, even though we were living in America. As far as Exeter, St Pauls, St George's goes, I think they are all excellent schools. My brother ended up going to Exeter. The exam to get into a British boarding school is called 'Common Entrance'. It's really hard for me to say whether you will find it difficult or not, since I don't know what your education level is at this point. I didn't think it was too hard. They may have a different way of testing you, anyway. Do I think that Eton offers a better education that the American schools? Not necessarily. However, to be honest, I think the overall experience of going to a place like Eton is more valuable than a comparable American experience. Eton is arguably the most famous school in the world. It's hard to top that, when you look at the overall picture. I hope this helps. Good luck with the exam. Let me know if you get in.

Paul Watkins


I finally read it. Excellent. Really excellent. brings to mind everything I remember, particularly of the Dragon. I mean, I am no critic but I really enjoyed reading it. In the book it is someone else who wears crepe soled desert boots yet I even remember Bev (who was my tutor) asking me to buy some for him. So, I could not put it down. Not much I think changed at the Dragon between when you left and 1983. Quite a lot seemed to have changed at Eton, though. Cheers for the excellent book. On to the next one now.

SK


I finished Stand Before Your God yesterday and it has changed my life. Yours is a masterpiece, and I had much difficulty putting it aside each night. 

C


I have read all of your published works and find them extremely riveting. I envy your talent for writing carefully crafted, tight fiction. I have just finished The Story of my Disappearance and I am still amazed at how you draw your readers into the story. Mark Twain once said to write what you know, and from your books, I am impressed by what you know. Often when I finish one of your novels, I am left wishing to discuss the work with you over a pint of lager somewhere. I truly believe that the general public has not yet understood the power of your writing. You may not be as popular as Tom Clancy, or Stephen King, but your work has for more literary value.

Currently, I am studying American history at Syracuse University in preparation for a teaching appointment at the United States Military Academy at West Point. When I teach the cadets in fall of 2000, I will try to include at least one of your books as mandatory reading for my class. Keep up the outstanding prose.

JL


Hi, I am almost finished reading stand before your god and it is one of the finest books I've ever read. I'm not a reader, I would much rather go to the movies but once in awhile a book comes along that I just cant put down and that is this book. It really sums up, growing up. Granted it was harder at boarding school then growing up at home but the feelings are a lot alike. Anyway, I really enjoy your writing, and I wish you luck in the future. Wish me luck too, I've been writing as well.

JS


I'm going out and buying your book. It sounds interesting! I was wondering if you met a lot of people in the Aristocracy and if they looked down on you since you were American and not titled. Also, your parents had to have good jobs b/c boarding school is pretty expensive isn't it? How much did it cost and how much do you tnink it would cost now? Would it cost more or less to go to a girls boarding school?

JK

Reply:

To answer your questions, yes, I did know several members of the aristocracy while I was at Eton, but don't think they looked down on anyone. My parents were not wildly rich, and English schools don't cost nearly as much as American private institutions, but they are much harder to get into. I think that the best English girls school is probably Cheltenham Ladies College. I have no idea what it costs.

Paul Watkins


I posted a (glowing) review of STAND BEFORE YOUR GOD on the amazon.com site and received a message from Eton's Web Bloke saying I could send a message your way. Simply put, your memoir absolutely blew me away! It made me think of, and reread (numerously) A SEPARATE PEACE. The two books are kindred spirits, indeed. I also thought back to my college days in Grinnell, Iowa, fifteen years ago. Your quandaries and epiphanies bespoke my own so strikingly that just about every one of my school mates received a copy of STAND BEFORE YOUR GOD as either a birthday of Christmas present last year.

I have also been enjoying your novels, particularly ARCHANGEL and NIGHT OVER DAY OVER NIGHT. I work in a book store, and am making sure that all of my regular customers are aware of ARCHANGEL. My father read and strongly recommended NIGHT OVER DAY OVER NIGHT close on to ten years ago....don't quite know why I waited so long to check it out!

If I may slip into a slightly more familiar tone, you've done some fine work, Watty-Dog. Keep it up, and thank you very much!

JW

Reply:

Many thanks for your very kind message. I'm glad you enjoyed Stand Before Your God, and the other books too, and it is good of you to take the time to write and let me know. It is all the more significant to me that you have lived through some of the same experiences. There are two other books out this month, one a reprint of In The Blue Light of African Dreams, and the other a new novel titled The Story of My Disappearance. Both are published by Picador. I hope you'll enjoy them.

Paul Watkins

Thank you for your gracious reply to my unabashed "fan letter"! I'm already way ahead of you...I bought a copy of THE STORY OF MY DISAPPEARANCE as soon as it came out and read it in a matter of days, passed it on to my father (the NIGHT OVER DAY OVER NIGHT fan), who devoured it. I'm halfway through IN THE BLUE LIGHT OF AFRICAN DREAMS, with only THE PROMISE OF LIGHT waiting in the wings. Had to grab that one from a used book store since it's out of print in the States any plans to reprint it? The typeface in my Faber & Faber paperback is head-achingly small.

Just yesterday I persuaded one of my customers at the book store where I work to pick up a copy of NIGHT OVER DAY OVER NIGHT, and today I sent someone home with ARCHANGEL. To both I said, "Trust me on this one!" That kind of recommendation works every time!

Keep up the good work!

JW


I was interested to read extracts of your book. I've been at Boarding School (MLC) since I was 11 years old. 6 and a half years later it feels strange to know that in another 6 months I'll be out of the place that I've lived in for so long. I have no idea how similar boarding schools in Australia are to English boarding schools. We do have scholarship programs here with schools in Britain. I suppose they would be fairly similar. School 24 hours a day, rules and regulations, etc etc. The many friends you make are great. I'd do it all again just for the friends I've made here.

Anyway, I'm just letting you know that I'll probably be reading more of your book!

KB

Reply: 

Many thanks for your message. I'm glad you enjoyed Stand Before Your God and it is good of you to take the time to write and let me know. Does MLC stand for Melbourne Ladies' College? The other books should be available through Faber and Faber in paperback. I hope you enjoy them.

Paul Watkins


I stumbled upon your novel "Stand Before Your God" the other day at my local Borders bookstore, and the moment I sat down to read it, I was hooked. Truly, I was so amazed by the writing that I finished the book in 4 hours. I have managed to find a few other novels by you as well, and I will certainly be reading them soon. I am currently in college, majoring in Mathematics, but I have a love for written literature, and my favourite writers are John Steinbeck, Jane Austen and Anthony Powell. Of course, now you have come along and opened a new world to literature for me! Thanks for the experience.

I don't know if you will actually get to read this e-mail, but if you do, I would appreciate it if you could send me a reply. At least, I know you acknowledge that somewhere in South-East Asia, there is someone who appreciates your writing. Thanks for your time.

JL


I just finished Stand Before Your God and I must say that is one of the most provocative novels I've read in a long time. Being a freshman in college you brought back much of the same feelings I had as I left secondary school, but I never really knew how to categorize them. I went to a school similar in the states and I know how leaving can be a bittersweet experience. I just wanted to commend you on your novel and say thanks for providing such a great insight into Eton College.

JL

P.S. I really enjoyed your descriptive as well. Personal favourite is "Nuclear Mushroom Clouds of feathers," which you used during the pillow fight at Dragon. Thanks again.


Having been first introduced to Archangel, which was obtained in USA, I was eager to read more of your books. However I was greatly disappointed to discover that no other titles appeared to be available in Dublin.

I have since acquired a copy of In the Blue Light of African Dreams, also from the USA, and I am enjoying your writing very much. It is a long time since I have enjoyed an author so much.

PB


There is a great deal of differences between you and me - except the fact we had to miss our parents in exact the same period of our lives. Because of that coincidence I felt your heart moved in mine while reading Stand before your God. Birth, wealth nor adulthood can make up for that. It remains a scar most of your live.

RG


As an OD and an OE I thought it better to stay away from your book as two people's perceptions seem never to be the same. That, however, despite much encouragement from friends who have read it and would not stop talking about it.

SM


I read Stand Before Your God about three years ago. At that time, I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and attended Radley College, Oxfordshire. I "commuted", if you will, back to the US for the Christmas, Easter and Summer Holidays.

It was wonderful to read your book at that particular stage in my life, because, though not homesick, I felt unusually alienated every time I returned home. Your book made me realise that there were others who had experienced similar feelings.

Following a truly enlightening career at Radley, one that I was very fortunate to be able to experience, I was accepted into Yale, which I believe is your 'alma mater'. I am currently a freshman in Silliman College.

I simply wanted to write and comment on the very accurate presentation of the emotions inherent in cross-cultural education in "Stand Before Your God". Nearly every incident in the book bore some relevance to my own experiences.

GC

Reply:

I hope you enjoy Yale. I had a great time there. I was in Trumbull and lived in the top corner room of the part of the college that look out towards Wawas which is still on Elm street, I think. I used to wake up on Saturday nights to the sound of fights breaking out on the pavement outside Demery's. I sometimes go back, but not very often. I'm sure you'll have a great time there, and I expect a not too taxing time after having gone to British Public school. I found the work load at Yale very light by comparison.

Paul Watkins


I'm sure that any compliment that I've said you've heard it all before so I won't. But I really liked your book. Very interesting, in fact I pick it up every so often and read it. It must be a bestseller because I can't seem to find it in any of the book stores here (Toronto).

I also write, mostly as a hobby and I have to tell you that I like your style, it's very simplistic not over the top (wordy) but neither is it trashy ( I would never confuse you with John Grisham). I guess that you could say that you've become a bit of an inspiration to me. I also read, forgive me if the title is wrong, blue skies over African dreams--I liked that one. As well a calm at sunset calm at dawn. I understand that Blue skies will be made into a movie starring Mr. T Cruise. I hope that your story does not get butchered.

LH


Since bumping into you on 'the tube' in London in 1983 I've watched your progress with great delight - proud owner of all of all of your books which I have greatly enjoyed. I particularly enjoyed Stand Before Your God, flattering myself that there were elements of me in some of the characters at the Dragon.

I had remembered you telling me then that you were pursuing a writing career, approaching Penguin with Out With The Boys. It was much later that your name sprang from a shelf in Waterstones in Bath and I bought In the Blue Light of African Dreams.

HS


I have just started reading SBYG. So far it is superb. Although it took nearly two months to arrive in Australia, it was well worth the wait. I went to St. Patricks College in New Zealand before we moved over here. Some of your accounts at Dragon reminded me of the roguery that we used to get up to. I finished high school in 1995, now I attend the University of Queensland studying bachelor of applied science. I just recently applied to study at the University of London hopefully in Podiatry. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying your book, it is the first book I have ever bought, and I really am some what relishing it.

AW


I have to admit that I'm not at all into reading books until I stumbled on your book entitled "Stand before your God". After a reading the first couple of pages, I found myself greatly impressed by the simplicity and clarity of your writing. And as I continue to read, I was unable to put the book down. "Stand before your God" is so beautiful and sweet, it brought me back to my own tender years, although it wasn't long ago. As a 16-year-old student, far from home and living in the dormitory at Stanford University; I could somewhat relate to what you wrote about having to deal being apart from your family. Your book is a great inspiration and motivation. Living away from home especially when you're young is a big life experience and I do think it does change the person. My family is from Hong Kong. I was sent abroad to school in the U.S since 8-year-old, and been living from one dormitory to another.

I haven't read your other books but I'm sure I will do so, and soon. I introduced "Stand before your God" to many of my friends and they all enjoyed reading it. Although, some admitted to buy it just for your picture on the cover; but after reading it, they later confessed that it was the writing that they truly admired. I wish you the best in your writing career. You are phenomenon!

LL


You seem to have quite a fan club here in Eton so much so that I am off to purchase some of your books. I look forward to some light entertainment to take me away from my PhD study. 

AR


My name is KW, I am 12 years old. I found your name on the internet under Eton College. I am from the USA my father is an attorney and my mother a teacher. I am looking for a way to e-mail Prince William.

You have a neat web site, I wish you were closer to my age. I will see if I can find one of your books to read.

KW


During a recent lull in parliamentary "action", I found the small outtake from your book. I work for the Speaker of the House, and after the next Legislative Session, I'll make a point of going out and finding a copy.

A really nice, sweet memoir.

BC


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