Most people have a favourite author from their childhood or teenage years — for many, that might be Dr. Seuss, Roal Dahl or Enid Blyton. Maybe J. K. Rowling or Beatrix Potter? Or perhaps a mix of all of those! If you grew up in Portugal though, one of them would probably be Alice Vieira. Her name is inescapable in any Portuguese adolescent's life, often featured in school books and "must-read" lists.
To me, her works are linked with a clear memory of this being the first author I read as a young teenager whose books felt "real". Often, the characters were kids just like us, discovering real life and wondering aloud about the same things we thought about all the time. Alice's words flow in the pages as the most natural thing in the world, funny and ironic at times, and yet genuine and straightforward. It's easy to understand and fall in love with — and year after year, new generations of children continue to do so.
So you can probably imagine our surprise when, some years ago, we discovered Alice (aka paisdasmaravilhas) is a postcrosser too, and carries postcards everywhere she goes... often to interviews, where she explains Postcrossing to puzzled journalists! We met her last year, and, very humbled and honoured, asked her a few questions about her relationship with mail. Here she is, in her own words!
- To those out there who don't know you, how would you describe Alice Vieira?
An old journalist colleague of mine described me as the "activist of optimism"... I think it defines me well. Even in tough times, I always believe things will work out, if we give it our best.
- How did you find out about Postcrossing? What made you stay?
I think I might have seen it on Facebook... but the big push to sign up came from my friend José (aka PilotOne). And then, it's really nice to receive postcards from the other side of the world, from someone who read a book of mine — it happened with a young Chinese postcrosser, who told me that he was going to save my book for his son that was about to be born (and then sent me a picture of the baby!) or exchange postcards back and forth with several others (the last one is a young Finnish lady who calls me "granny"). There are other funny instances as well, such as the time I received a postcard... from a neighbour!
- Which part of Postcrossing do you enjoy the most?
It gives me great pleasure is to pick the best postcard for someone. Even today, I was out looking for cute postcards with cats. And I also use the opportunity to "advertise" our own national treasures: for instance, if someone is interested in contemporary art — and they often are — I send postcards with reproductions of paintings by Almada, Amadeo Souza-Cardoso, etc.
- Have you always written postcards, or is it more of a recent thing? Who did you write to, before Postcrossing?
Always!!! Since I was a child. And I've always insisted with my children to do the same: I have a postcard that I always carry with me, that my son sent me when he was 8 years old, from Coimbra where he was playing at a chess tournament. It reads "Mom: I have nothing to say. Kisses."
Before discovering the project, I used to send (and I still do!) to a group of friends, some of which I've converted to Postcrossing. And on all of my friend's birthdays as well. And on holidays... This year I've already received two happy birthday cards from two Facebook friends, one from Germany and another one from Finland.
- What other things are you passionate about?
Writing — and of course, my children and grandchildren.
Thank you so much Alice! It's so nice to finally see you on the blog! 😊
PS - Coincidently, today is Alice's birthday... please join us in wishing her a happy birthday on the comments below!