Samara O’Shea has loved to write and receive letters for as long as she can remember. So it wasn’t surprising that, in 2005, she launched letterlover.net, a letter-writing service that eventually turned into a book as well. “I write letters on behalf of any person who feels he doesn’t have the words,” O’Shea said. Thankfully, she has plenty of words to share about everything from a 1930s pen pal to why summer camp has a special place in her heart.
When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
I don’t remember. I remember passing notes in class and writing letters to boys I had crushes on, and I decided I didn’t want that to go away in a world where most communication is digital.
Why do you enjoy writing about letters?
I enjoy playing wordsmith and coming up with new ways of saying old things.
What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
I love deciding that I’m going to write a letter. It occurs to me as if it’s a completely novel idea every time. Putting the letter in the mailbox is a great feeling, too—it gives me a small sense of accomplishment.
If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
I would write to Anaïs Nin when she was living in Paris during the 1930s. I’d ask her about her writing, her lovers, and I’d want to know all about daily life in the city of lights.
To whom do you most often write?
My friend Lori. She was my roommate freshman year of college and I was the maid of honor at her wedding. I’ve exchanged more correspondence with her in the past fifteen years than anyone else.
Can you describe the most memorable letter or postcard you have ever received?
The first love letter I ever received comes to mind. It was from a boy I met at summer camp right before sophomore year of high school.
What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
The person who wrote it.
Do you have a favorite stamp or stamp series?
The 2010 Katharine Hepburn stamps series. It’s stunning.
What makes your correspondence distinct?
What makes my correspondence distinct is the way I write it—meaning the way I phrase things. I use all kinds of stationery and all types of pens. I’m not picky. To me, it’s the message that means the most.
What is your favorite product created by Crane & Co.?
I love the Crane calling cards. It’s a charming nod to yesteryear.
What do you think letter writing will look like in a decade or two?
I think it will be as it is now. Letters will continue to live side-by-side with digital communication because there are those of us who want the written word to stay alive. And there are plenty of college-age people who write and tell me they like letter writing, so I am confident that it will never die completely.