I’ve always been a fangirl. For as long as I can remember I’ve had a crush on one celebrity or another. The timeline goes something like this:
Top L-R: Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy
Bottom L-R: Robby Benson, Richard Gere and Ryan Gosling
Edited to add David Boreanaz!
There were probably a few other crushes in there, Jan Michael Vincent in the 70s, John Travolta circa Grease, Brad Pitt a la Legends of the Fall, Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul (Starsky and Hutch) on alternating weeks. You get the picture, right?
I haven’t really crushed too hard on too many writers though, and considering my lifelong obsession with reading and books, you’d think I’d have a list of writers I’ve admired. And I do – an endless list of writers who have moved me, made me laugh and cry, ponder life’s big and little questions. But I never posted their picture on my bedroom wall.
So, I’m shallow.
I did write a fan letter to Carolyn Slaughter back in the 1980s, though. I found a book by her called The Banquet in a little second-hand bookstore in Hamilton, Ontario. It told the story of an architect called Harold and a Marks and Spencer shopgirl called Blossom. I found the novel absolutely riveting and the ending was both shocking and perfect. I recommended that book like crazy and went on a hunt to find more of Slaughter’s work. My favourite Slaughter novel is called Relations (also called The Story of the Weasel). That novel was profoundly moving and cemented my love for Slaughter and her books, most of which I have now finished or are on my tbr shelf.
I don’t know what compelled me to write the letter to Ms. Slaughter. God only knows what I said given that I was in my mid 20s at the time and had delusions of perhaps one day becoming a novelist. No matter, Ms. Slaughter not only responded, she kindly hand wrote me two and a half pages about her work and offered some sound advice. I cherish that letter.
It wasn’t until many years later when I began writing fanfiction and receiving (mostly) positive feedback from people who read it that I realized how much Ms. Slaughter must have appreciated hearing from me – not because I had anything profound to say, but because by its very nature writing is a lonely occupation. Even ten years ago, the only way you might ever have the opportunity to tell a writer how much their book meant to you was to send them some snail mail. Or perhaps, attend a reading – if you were lucky enough to live somewhere that hosted them. Social media has changed all that. Now it’s possible to find them on Twitter and follow the minutiae of their every day lives. I was actually able to tweet Patrick Ness and tell him how much I enjoyed his novel The Knife of Never Letting Go. And I enjoyed his tweeted reply.
The New York Times recently printed an interesting article called Why Authors Tweet. Not everyone agrees about how much interaction should exist between writers and their audience, but I think it’s cool to be able to connect with the people who create the worlds and characters we fall in love with.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop swooning over Ryan Gosling; it just means that, when I can, I’m going to write notes to the authors who mean so much to me.