Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The "Stalking" of Authors

In her now-infamous Twitter rant, Alice Hoffman tweeted that she "doesn't have fans, [she] has readers". For months now that comment bugged me so much that now I find myself questioning the tweets I send to my favorite authors.

Starting in childhood, I followed authors by writing them letters, researching their lives via the library, scanned the talk show lists thoroughly in the hopes of seeing one of my idols, and scoured the newspapers at the public library in search of mentions in various book sections.

Some kids worshiped KISS, I worshipped Laura Ingalls Wilder. During the summers, my friends lived at the beach while I lived at the library reading everything I could by Lois Lowry. and Louisa Mae Alcott My girlfriend wore Journey t-shirts and me? I made a t-shirt with a picture of a horse with the caption "Trixie Forever".

Yes, I was a cool kid....not. However, happy memories fill my childhood thanks to my favorite authors. I spent summers on a horse ranch with Trixie Beldon. Harriet The Spy and I kept journals of our friends' activities. I vowed to not fly in the house along with Annabel and mentally held her hand when Gloria left. When life dished me pain during those awkward teen years, Jo March sympathized. With books nearby, I never felt alone.

Now, 40 years later, I still will read a book simply because a favored author wrote the thing. Good, bad, or ugly, I support my favorite authors even though I trip myself up when I finally get to meet them:
  • I've driven five hours and spend the night in a podunk town just to meet Laurie King...and then suffered through shyness that prevented me from asking my questions. I blushed horrifically when the store owner offered to snap a picture.
  • I stood in line for over an hour just to hear Jasper Fforde and then couldn't remember my name when it came for him to sign my books.
  • Steve Hockensmith, I simply adore, but my close friend had to talk me into taking a picture with him. 
  • I won't go into the happy dance I did when I realized Tasha Alexander adores Firefly just like I do...and she tweets back to my shock.
And the list of embarrassments goes on and on.

When Hoffman made her comment, I stopped in my tracks. Thanks to the Internet, I write to my favorite authors. I tweet them on Twitter. I comment on their blogs. I don't see myself just as a "reader", I see myself as a supporter...and isn't that what a fan is?

Thanks to my love of fiction throughout my life, I still seek escape from the sometimes painful realities of my life. I squee when Roarke seduces Eve, I whisper "go girl" when Emily defies her mother and learns Greek while solving her husbands death. I hold the hand of Old Red while he mourns his lost love and I cheer when Big Red finally publishes his writings. The characters my favorite authors create keep my company in those dark hours of life.

The Hoffman comment turned my genuine love of these characters and my pleasure in supporting my favorite authors into a feeling of stalking...good thing I don't like her writing.


4 comments:

  1. And I cheer and do a happy dance when I realize I've got readers/supporters/fans like you. Don't be shy: Take as many pictures as you want!

    As for Alice Hoffman, if she only had readers, she wouldn't be half as successful as she is. Without folks taking that extra step -- not just reading the books but talking about them and writing about them and coming out to signings -- none of us writer-types would ever get anywhere.

    -Steve

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  2. I'm going to face my "author shyness" and try to attend Boucheron this October. I don't write mystery, but I sure do enjoy a good mystery writer...

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  3. What a fantastic piece! This post speaks to me, and I am sure it will to most writers, and lovers of books. Thank you for sharing!
    Michelle

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