Archive for Penpal Interviews

April 27th, 2015

Penpal of the Week #172


Julie and I have been binge watching so much Grey’s Anatomy that we are currently feeling like we are living in Seattle. It hasn’t helped that it’s been rainy and dreary here for over a week. Julie’s having dreams about Grey’s Anatomy characters. And sometimes I find myself wondering what it would be like to be BFF’s with Chief Webber or Dr. Bailey. (PLEASE NO SPOILERS, we are only at the end of Season 7.)


It’s safe to say that Julie and I value a good story. So does Christopher; I can’t wait for you to read more about him!


Please tell us about you!

My name is Christopher A. Liccardi (I used to think the “A” was for awesome), I am 41 in May, but plan to start going backwards until I hit 29 again. I live in Nutley New Jersey, which is 20 minutes outside New York City, with my wife Rebecca and our dog Cisco, Rabbit Parker (the hairy brown football) and Cockatiel, Chester (in bird years, he’s as old as Mr. Miyagi).


I am an Information Security Engineer – which roughly translates to computer super geek and cyber cop. I work in the field of forensics and security on a digital level. In my spare time, I write… fiction, mostly, but I spend a fair amount of time working on penpal letters as well. I love being outside, especially on rainy days and love to be around horses, although that doesn’t happen much these days. I’m a huge fan of the Marvel Universe, tattoos, all things science, LoTR and Stephen King, baking and fountain pens.


My Facebook

My Blog

My Email



Rebecca and I on our wedding day.


Describe your personality in 10 words!

Fun, sarcastic, obsessive, quick-witted, kind, big-hearted, impulsive, geeky, romantic, do-gooder <– is that still a word used today?


How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I first got in to penpalling when I started with LEP. I had a penpal when I was younger. We had to write to them when I was in grade school, but we lost touch before high school ended. I don’t recall much about her, other than she wanted to move to the US, because that’s where all the pretty people lived.





How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

I write to and receive letters from eight penpals currently. All of them are from LEP and all of them are AWESOME! The initial letters back and forth are what you would expect, but once we get to know each other, we tend to send random things in the mail, like cereal box covers as post cards and artwork drawn on napkins and scraps of paper. Those are the things I love most about having friends that write rather than send text messages and IM’s on Facebook. It’s the randomness that makes this fun. I have one penpal in particular who can be as wordy as I can be and her letters are always fun. Just like having friends you see on a regular basis, I have one or two that send mail several times a week and the letters always make me smile and laugh.



My typewriter.


What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

The stories! It’s always about the stories. People’s lives are so intricate and detailed… the texture of a perspective and the finite recollection of someone’s memories are small bits of fiction, wrapped in a cloak of truth. I love to hear about and to share childhood stories of times remembered. The expression in someone’s letter is almost physical… I can see the happiness and sadness in a story about a brother or a friend that impacted their lives. It’s cool to share with someone on such a deep and personal level.



Writing a penpal reply late night in the hospital.


What are you looking for in a penpal?

I am looking for people to share themselves – what a particular day was like or a thing that someone saw that made them laugh or cry. Something that they want to share with someone that is personal or that has impact. I like to do the same thing. Tell me about a day in the life, or an adventure you found yourself in that scared the hell out of you. Those are the things that bring people together and at the same time, separate us from the strangers who we pass every day in the street or the coffee shop.



Writerly stuff.


What do you like the most about penpalling?

The freedom to express myself in written word and with washi tape and glue and fountain pen ink… I like the carefree way you can go-to-town on a letter and the envelope and it all becomes poetry in words.


In what language(s) do you correspond?

English, bad English and truck driver potty-mouth English.



Stationery art I created on a whim.


What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

With a new penpal, the initial letter takes FOREVER to write – and by forever, I mean at least 3 days. When I write without thinking about it, I can knock out 20k words in a few hours. When writing to a new penpal, every word gets measured. I have an old barn door that I converted into a desk. It’s my private space. It’s overcrowded and far too small, but it’s where my “stuff” is. My letters tend to be long – no two ways about that. I do send short, funny stuff to a few penpals (see cereal boxes as post cards) but I generally have a lot to say and I like to answer all questions posed in a letter from a penpal. I try to write back within a week, but sometimes that is a problem.



My handwriting.


Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?

No, dammit! I haven’t gotten any weird requests from penpals, yet. Although, I am certainly hoping to :-) Someone once mentioned dirt in a Facebook post about a penpal… I might ask someone for a tube of dirt from Ireland or Scotland one of these days. If you can mail a potato and a coconut to someone, dirt should be pretty easy.



Picture of my writing desk.


Have you met any of your penpals?

Not yet. I believe a member from the LEP was talking about a meetup for the NYC/NJ area people but I haven’t seen the invite go out yet. I would be interested though.


Are you currently looking for more penpals?

Certainly. I would love to have more penpals. Email me.


Thanks Christopher! 


As I close, I’m going to accept this Pacific Northwest weather we are experiencing. I’ll keep my coffee cup filled and put on a sweater. The grey rainy days tend to put me in a reflective mood. I will embrace the dreariness and use it to daydream and think about this beautiful life I’m living.

April 20th, 2015

Penpal of the Week #171


I had fun experiencing something new this weekend, a Sugar Shack! (AKA cabane à sucre) Come back tomorrow and you can see some photos! In the meantime, I would like for you to sit back and enjoy this interview with Ola.


Please tell us about you!

So, first of all, my name is Alexandra – but in my country it does have a shorter form, Ola, which is pronounced like the Spanish greeting. I have just turned 21 and I am on my first year of English Studies at Szczecin University in the northern Poland. I love writing letters, exchanging postcards and old-fashioned stuff in general – from vintage clothes to actual antiques. Some may call me a history nerd, as I’m interested in history and I laugh at those silly history-related jokes and Internet memes. I also like to play computer games, mostly RPG ones. I live in Szczecin with my parents and three cats. I like cats, but I wish I had a dog, too. I think dogs are awesome and they are definitely more fun to spend time with. I don’t have many friends, so I’m not really into clubbing or going out. I prefer to stay at home or go to some quiet pub to sit and talk.


I have an Etsy store with my crocheted dolls. I usually make characters from books or games, and seems like people like it – I already had my tiny stall on a small geek convention in my city and was quite successful. In my free time, I also work for a website, a very specific one – dedicated to folk/viking metal. I don’t earn money from it, but I get free show tickets and free merchandise, what is pretty much fun!



Me at a pirate-themed party.


Describe your personality in 10 words!

Now that’s hard! I’d say I’m creative, individualistic, sentimental, melancholic, very emotional, sometimes too childish, sometimes too serious… I have to say that I’m a bit old-fashioned too. I prefer the traditional ways of contact, art, lifestyle… You get the idea. Also, I’m very open-minded and I hope it counts as a good thing.


How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I started penpalling at the beginning of 2014, when a random girl from Thailand messaged me on Interpals, asking if I want to be her snail mail penpal. I was only exchanging postcards then, but I was very curious and wanted to do something so special and old-fashioned like writing letters. Prang, that Thai girl, quickly made me a fan of classic, handwritten letters. They are so different from e-mails and instant messages!


How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

Unfortunately I have lost contact with some of my penpals – some, for example, forgot to include their address on the envelope, and I could not find them online, as they got my address from some form or advertisement. Some just stopped writing, which always makes me wonder if everything is alright with them. I mean, if I don’t know the reason, I get worried. At the moment I exchange letters with Sakura from Japan, Johanna from Estonia, Anja from Slovenia, Rita from China and of course aforementiond Prang, though I haven’t heard from her in awhile. I’ve had more penpals, but none of them are answering anymore.



My writing supplies!


What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

I like to write (and read) about a lot of things! From everyday life and things such as school or work, to serious topics like religion or social issues. I also enjoy reading about cultures of different countries, so I really like when my penpals tell me something about their traditions, national food and customs. I’m interested in other cultures, differences between countries and languages – but honestly, I can talk just about anything! It’s not hard to find a mutual interest if you’re open-minded enough :)


What are you looking for in a penpal?

I am not very picky when it comes to penpal – in general I just look for good and open-minded people, who won’t judge or offend anyone for just being different. Of course, I enjoy discussions with people with different points of view, but they should not be rude in any way.



Things I have made recently.


What do you like the most about penpalling?

It’s hard to say – I enjoy thinking that someone on the opposite side of the world (or a bit closer) is happy because they received my letter they waited for. It’s a nice feeling, that you made someone’s day. Of course, I also love receiving letters and seeing that someone put some effort in handwriting and telling about themselves, too.


In what language(s) do you correspond?

I only correspond in English, but I can read and understand Russian. I can’t write a grammatically correct sentence in it, though. I’m starting my Russian classes at the university next year so I hope that situation will change soon.



Teas I have received from my penpals.


What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

I usually write my letters in the evening, with a cup of nice tea and something sweet. I try to reply to all letters within 3 days, so my penpals won’t have to wait too long. Also, I usually add something to my letters – a cookie, or a bag of some local tea, sometimes a chocolate bar or something I think my penpal would enjoy.


Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?

I was surprised some time ago, when my japanese penpal Sakura wrote to me and asked me if I can send her some more kisiel (kind of instant dessert popular in my country) because she can’t buy it in Japan and she would like to try more of it. I have sent her a single bag to make one cup of it and she asked for more – it made me realize that my boring country is actually exotic for someone and that dessert I eat is unavailable in other parts of the world and so is considered a foreign good! Is it not interesting, knowing that something that is an everyday thing or situation for you may sound weird or unnatural for someone else? As my penpals come from various cultures, we often are surprised with each others gifts or stories.



My handwriting.


Have you met any of your penpals?

Unfortunately not, even though one of them lived in my city for a while! I wish I could, though.


Are you currently looking for more penpals?

Of course! I’d love to meet new people from around the world and send some more letters. I’m always looking for new snail mail friends :)


Thanks Ola!


If you are interested in contacting Ola, you can email her here:


When I see Ola’s photos of tea it makes me want to brew a cup. But currently my coffee is hot. Dilemmas! I think there’s still time left in this day for both.



My name is Julie and I'm 35.
I live in Québec (close to Montréal) and I speak French.

I write letters, I love stationery and I have a handwriting fetish. I often eat sushi, still feel like I'm 16 and only wear skirts & dresses (with colorful tights when it's cold).

I'm happier with a mind full of ideas, a mailbox full of letters from my penpals, a shop full of stationery, a house full of cats and a day full of hugs.

Read my Top 10 Quirks here.

This is me with my wife,
Denise. We met through the
League of Extraordinary
Penpals and are living
happily ever after amongst
piles of cats and stationery.

Denise blogs here
from time to time and is
the one in charge of the
social media: Facebook,
Twitter and Pinterest.

She's 39 years old,
from the United States,
and in love with me, washi
tape & imperial rolls.

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