Embracing My Inner Fangirl

You know, the veil between publishing and authors and readers is pretty much kaput these days.  And, frankly, I kind of miss it.

I miss the days when I didn’t know anything about authors and just picked out the books I wanted to read while browsing in the bookstore before author names started to leak through.  I miss the days when books took place all over the world in exotic places and times. Some were in Regency England, but we all had a taste for diversity back then.  I particularly loved stories set in the Gilded Age in New York and Rhode Island.

This was all brought back to me in New York at RWA recently.  I was in an elevator with Bertrice Small.  Yep, that Bertrice Small.  We did that thing you do at RWA where everybody is always looking at chests to read your badge and she spoke to me first and remarked that she very much enjoyed All About Romance.  I told her that “I used to read her” which, frankly, was the best I could do.  After she thanked me, we began one of those conversations about RWA being very tiring and she indicated that she’d had it and that this would be her last conference.

Anyway, it was a thrill to meet her and it brought back to me those thrilling days of yesteryear.  I remember reading Ms. Small and her harem girls and rapes and truly skanky sex when I was in high school.  I must have read three or four – or maybe more.

For a moment or two or three, I was back in high school and secretly reading my romance novels, knowing nothing about the industry or authors.

I’m not saying I want to go back because I don’t.  I just want to remember for a moment the way it used to be.

What about you? Do you miss those days?

- Sandy AAR

14 thoughts on “Embracing My Inner Fangirl

  1. I want to be aware of the authors’ names who write the kind of books I most enjoy, but only so that I look for their next ones issued. Whenever I’m searching lists, I look first by author name. When they’re listed by issue date or title instead, I re-sort by author name if it’s possible to do that.

    But that’s it. Other than the brief paragraph provided in the book jacket, I don’t want to know anything more about my favorite authors (or others). They have the right to a private life (if they want it, that is) and it doesn’t affect my reading their books if I enjoy them. It would have to be an issue so over the top for me to stop reading them. Most of all, I don’t want to stalk their every move and gesture and words they utter.

    A beloved cousin of mine was totally infatuated with Olivia Newton-John many years ago and followed her literally. She went to Australia once and never missed the Newton-John rallies that were held yearly nationwide here. It was quite pathetic and thank goodness she outgrew that. I want the authors whom I enjoy to keep on writing great novels so I can keep reading them, but that’s where it ends for me. I have enough going in my personal life that it would be way too difficult to handle others’ lives too. LOL

  2. While I agree the “mystery” surrounding romance authors is pretty much gone nowadays (remember when people thought romance novelists all lived like “Mary Fisher”- Meryl Streep in She-Devil?) I wouldn’t change a thing since the advent of the internet.

    I used to choose books almost blindly in the bookstore- which had the prettiest cover or most exciting description ususally won and lots of times I was terribly disappointed. I remember buying old copies of “Books In Print” to try and find other books written by authors I liked. I spent years combing the shelves of book stores looking for Laurie McBain’s latest book after “When The Splendor Falls” if I had the internet I could have saved myself a lot of time looking for books that were never written! Years after reading Stephanie James books I realized that author Jayne Ann Krentz I was reading was the same person.

    I do think there can be overfamiliarity at times- example: one reader/reviewer had stated before she will no longer follow an author any more (I think it was Theresa Mederos?) because the author had stated many times on Twitter or her website about her childhood crush on Donny Osmond and how much she loved/loves him. (Well what women of a certain age didn’t- I sure did!) The reader/reviewer can’t stand Donny Osmond because of his Mormon views on gay marriage and therefore couldn’t follow the author anymore because she liked/likes Donny. I think at this point author/reader have reached the point of overshare. I know Suzanne Brockmann has had some problems with people not agreeing with her or vice versa and it has led to some disillusionment by readers.

  3. I too love not wasting time on books that I don’t like and easily finding backlists of authors I do like. I’ve had to stop myself from following certain authors too closely, though, because they overshare on their personal lives/views. Some comments by used-to-be favorites have put me off and made me re-think their work to the detriment of my reading list. Now, I just follow authors’ news about their work and avoid everything else like the plague.

    The thing I love most abouth the information age it the ease with wich I can find publication dates for my favorites and reviews by trusted reviewers to guide me to new authors.

  4. Re: the encounter with Ms. Small in the elevator….to quote Popeye, “How embarrasking!” Ah but you take me back. When I was in high school and starting college, I fell in love with the way Mary Stewart wrote. Oh, those gorgeous descriptions! She made me long to travel (and hook up with a hot British boy while I was at it). It all reminds me of the sense I had then that anything in the wide world was possible, and adventure just out there waiting for me.

    As far as the other goes, if I go to an author’s website, it’s to find out what new books are coming out and when, not to get into her personal business/opinions/life whether it’s out there or not. Her business is her own, and none of mine, as far as I’m concerned. The only exception to this is when she uses her “fiction” to whack me upside the head…..and yes, Ms. Brockman, I’m looking at you.

  5. It is kind of a strange world we live in. Just a few days ago, I got an email from Christine Feehan after asking about Burning Wild no longer being available solo on Kindle! I was very surprised to say the least. I had a little fangirl moment there myself, and I’m waaayy too old for that, hehe.

    I try not to find out TOO much about what the authors are saying and doing. I want the books to speak for themselves, so I’m a bit selectively blind. The authors that I know are vocal, I stay away from their websites and feeds so they don’t upset me. So yes, I prefer some separation between me and the author, but I have to work to maintain it to some extent.

    Beatrice Small’s books sound interesting! I need to find some. I also like to read romances in exotic places OTHER than Regency England and the American west…

  6. Well, Sandy, I guess I’m not there yet. I consider myself a well-educated mother of 6 and yet if I ever met Mary Balogh I’m certain all I would be able to do is stare and say “Uh, duh, uh………………” or “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, …….” (I don’t use His name lightly, but I really don’t think I could help myself at that point.)

  7. My one and only fangirl moment–
    Many many long years ago my sister asked me if I had heard of Laura Kinsale. Seems Ms Kinsale was the cousin of my sister’s roommate, and my sister had met her a number of times. About a year later I was fortunate enough to meet Ms Kinsale at a romance luncheon and got to chat with her and she did indeed remember my sister.
    While working in a bookstore I came to meet and know several authors to say ‘hi’ to and chat books with–but that’s it.
    And I’ve gone to a few book signings–but that’s such a short encounter.
    My interest in an author’s life is usually limited to the books they write.

  8. I try to keep to a happy medium. I want to know all about an author’s books, but as little as possible about the author. Two of my favorite reading experiences have been ruined due to TMI. When Gabaldon was making her push to have the Outlander series moved to the fiction shelves, a friend of a friend got into a discussion with her and I was allowed to read the online conversation. Unfortunately DGs attitude about her (at the time) extremely loyal romance fans can only be described as dismissive. I haven’t bought a new book by her since. There’s another author I’ve been reading and collecting in HB for 20 years or so. One of my husband’s co-workers did some work for her and she was AWFUL. I still consider one of her HBs my holy grail, but I buy her new books used as well.

  9. Sandy SHAME on you for reading Beatrice Small when you were only in high school! Did your Mother know about this?

  10. Ha! Sadly, kathy, I do not believe my mother was aware. She was aware of the HPs and the Laura Londons and the Heyers, but I kept certain things from her. Sneaky little me!

    Fay, I’ve never met Mary Balogh, but she might leave me speechless, too.

  11. Tee, I buy books mainly from beloved favorite authors, with a side trip to new ones I learn about through AAR and other websites. I do not really need to know ANYTHING about an authors’ private life, beyond what is posted on her website or book cover. I KNOW there are authors who would bring out my Fangirl monent, and if I was ever lucky enough to meet them, my only hope would be that I wouldn’t say anything too stupid to embarrass myself or them :-)

    I saw Dr. J (old school basketball player) once in Philly, and all I could think was (1) Wow! He’s gorgeous in person (2) Don’t say anything too stupid (3) I cannot wait to tell everybody I met him!!!!

    I have seen posts over the years about goings on on different authors’ Twitter or Facebook sites, and I never know what the heck they are talking about. I don’t want to be Nora Roberts, Mary Balogh, Sherry Thomas etc., etc,. friend. I just want to read their books! That does not make me think that I know these women or want them as my BFF….I just like the way they can take the same words I know, and turn them into an awfully good story.

    I mean, isn’t that amazing enough? The fact that someone can take the very same words I know and use every day and a couple of hundred thousand, later they have made them into something so very different than I could ever have imagined. Awesome! And worthy of a Fangirl moment or two :-) We have to get back to respecting the craft of writing, and while Tee is correct, I don’t think going back to the old days is right, neither is this casual attitude of not disrespect, but maybe non-respect(is that a word) is doing either the authors or readers a service

  12. The Inner fan girl is still alive in me. Just yesterday I was cleaning out my closet and I found that I had Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer. For me I think , I try not to read books from Authors that I know I love , if I do reread a book that I enjoyed it is because I was thinking of themes of the book or an element of the book. I make sure also not to read every book on the author’s list . For example in Tech school I discovered SEP ( that was 4 years ago) I tried to read every book read by her . Recently I try to space out like every end / Beginning of semester to read/listen to an SEP book.

    Currently I trying to expand my authors and categories. I might read a particular theme like ” Alpha Hero” or whatever from a new author.

    I think that it is important to put a book on a shelf (or external hard drive etc) and let the story sit for a while and forget what, who etc and pick it and reread them again. I feel as if I am meeting old friends that I havent seen in along time when I reread the books.

  13. I don’t think this problem is confined to books. Even as an author, I find it relatively easy to tune out a fair bit of information about other authors, especially those I don’t know personally. I simply don’t go looking for it. What I find very hard to tune out is information about actors because it tends to be so in your face. This drives me insane because if I go to the movies, then I want to see the characters play out there story and not be distracted by what I know about the actors. The cult of the celebrity is not something I enjoy, but obviously lots of people do, otherwise it wouldn’t sell so many magazines.

  14. I am a research scientist and a closet romance reader. Julia Quinn is one of my favorite authors and her book “When He was Wicked” was one of my favorites because if tackled malaria, a subject that I work on. I remember meeting a doctor who did research on malaria and it struck me that he was Julia Quinn’s husband “Paul” who she dedicated all her books to. I did get to meet both of them at a charity function. I was trying hard not to look too awestruck because my co-workers were with me. But I sort of embarrassed myself because I momentarily forgot her name and called her Julia Phillips.

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