Anna Todd understands fandom.
Giving how she got her start, this should come as no surprise to anyone reading. In a way, she’s still one of us. And yet, as refreshing as reading her books is, as thrilling as following her career has been, that’s nothing to actually sitting down with her and getting the sense that you’re talking to a kindred spirit.
Lucky me, I got that opportunity during San Diego Comic-Con. Todd, a big Game of Thrones fan, who’d recently binged the whole series and who didn’t even need to think about it to come up with her favorite and least favorite characters (Cersei Lannister), was looking forward to the Game of Thrones Hall-of-Faces Exhibit. I, a regular fangirl who’d been trying to convince people to care about Game of Thrones since before there was even a TV show, also had that at the top of my list. So, naturally, we bonded.
It was surprisingly low-key and easy. Just a regular conversation between two people about books, fandom, and what it means to be in the spotlight.
Thing is – you might know her as the New York Time best-selling author of the After series, a story that, famously, began on Wattpad as One Direction fanfiction, and that Anna still keeps up there, because “she wants everyone, whether they have money to buy a book or not to be able to read it,” but Anna Todd doesn’t want to be known for just that.
She doesn’t mind being known by it, either.
It’s an interesting dichotomy. She’s very conscious of fandom and the people who, in a way, have helped pave the way to her success. She understands the appeal of fanfiction, of “getting to see the quiet, intimate moments” of your favorite characters. That’s why she doesn’t plan to stop giving fans what they want – and what she craves. And yet, she still has many more stories to tell – many more characters to introduce.
Take “The Spring Girls,” for example, Todd’s new book, out next year, which is a reimagining of the Louisa May Alcott classic, Little Women, for the modern era. So, we’ll still have four sisters, “but now they’ll have cellphones, use social media and face more modern problems,” all while still exploring the bonds of sister-hood.
And, maybe, who knows, Jo and Laurie will end up together this time. Maybe not. Either way, Anna’s “very excited” for fans to get a chance to read her new offering.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Anna Todd is just getting started.
With writing: “I have all these ideas and there’s just so much that I want to write,” she says and about five of her throwaway comments are good book material, so we believe her. “The best thing about being a writer is getting to share my stories with people, so I really never want to stop. Except to read.”
With fandom: “Fans, if they can, will buy your books. And I would never want to deprive those who can’t,” she says, about keeping her story on Wattpad, and the fight that took place so that she could keep it there. “I love my fans.”
With Internet Trolls: “I read every mention I get on Twitter, and some of them are awful. It’s like they don’t think of me as a person, but I am,” she responds, to my question about the perils of being a public figure and engaging with fans on a regular basis. “But I don’t let it get to me, not anyone. They’re entitled to an opinion, and I can choose to react or not. I’d rather not.”
She goes on to add: “When people are that hateful and negative online, something is more than likely going on in their lives. It’s typically not personal. And I try to remember that.”
With encouraging young women to be who they are, and be comfortable in their own skins: “We have to learn to love ourselves and worry about other people’s “opinions” later. And the best – the easiest way to do that is to focus on ourselves, on what makes us feel beautiful.”
Don’t expect her to change, though. She’ll keep engaging. She’ll keep attending Book Fairs and signings. She’ll keep writing. This is, after all, a dream come true for her. And, she understands fandom enough to separate the good from the bad and enjoy what she can.
If you’re a fan of Anna Todd, you have a lot to look forward to. And, if you aren’t, well, there’s still time to catch up so you can join us in waiting with bated breath for her new release.
You know the mark of a great interview? When your time flies by and you end the conversation wanting to be friends with the person you were interviewing so you could actually continue the conversation. But then again, that’s who Anna Todd is. She’s the type of person you want to be friends with.
She’s also the type of writer you follow – the one you subscribe to, follow on Twitter and pre-order books from Amazon. The one who’s not only this approachable, smiling woman, but this enigmatic creator of worlds.
Anna Todd is the best of both worlds. That’s a good thing.
No, that’s a great thing.
Anna Todd is the writer of the After Series (5 books) and the Nothing More Series (2 books so far). Her latest book, The Spring Girls, is expected to be released in 2017.