Fandom is a kind of third place, existing beyond home and work/school–”the place where people from all walks of life interact, experiencing and celebrating their commonality as well as their diversity,” as Third Place Books explains. It’s a way of celebrating and engaging with not only the media we love, but also each other. As such, fandom has a knack for bringing people together. Whether it’s online (hello, Tumblr) or in-person at cons and the like, TV shows, books, and movies have been the beginning of many a friendship… including mine with author Lisa Mantchev: a friendship that, like all good things, started with books, fandom, and cake.
Lisa and I “met” wayyy back in 2009–I was a high school junior who had just discovered the magic of Goodreads, and her then-upcoming debut novel, Eyes Like Stars, was one of the first books I found for my TBR shelf. A magical theater, mischievous fairies, a dashing pirate, and plenty of Shakespeare? I was majorly intrigued, and, after making Lisa’s acquaintance via social media, basically went, “MUST HAVE” for the book and “MUST BEFRIEND” for its lovely author. These goals were both accomplished through the infamous “Fairy Cake Wrecks” contest Lisa held for ARCs of Eyes Like Stars (because she is the master of inspiring people to show their fandom, even if it’s for a book that hasn’t come out yet):
So: six years, several wrecked cakes, one fandom-filled weekend at 2011’s FaerieCon West (the only time we had met in-person until a magical Disneyland reunion this summer), and much internet flailing later, and Lisa is not only one of my best author friends, but also a) one of the coolest, funniest people I know and b) someone I wishfully think of as like an honorary aunt. And thanks to our shared fandoms, her awesome writing, and the friendship that has grown from both, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Lisa Mantchev: Back in my day, when dirt was young and dinosaurs still roamed the earth, if you wanted to contact an author, you needed to write a letter and then put in an envelope and trudge that sucker to the mailbox, UPHILL, BOTH WAYS, IN THE SNOW to send it off to their publisher.
Ok… maybe not that extreme. But it certainly wasn’t the nifty insta-connection that the internet has given us. There’s been a lot of negativity lately about the way authors and fans interact, but as a midlister trying to reach new audiences, it’s been a godsend. I get to meet people, shake virtual hands, hear the things they liked best. Honestly, sometimes the fandom flail is all that keeps me typing away at the next set of words.
Better still, I get to know readers as people… there are teenagers who picked up the theater books who now have finished college, like Chloe. I got graduation announcements from both her and her sister, like I was a member of the family. I see their lives expand and stretch and grow, not just from reading, but from living. They find other books, other fandoms, other passions, and I’m lucky enough to witness that. Participate in it, when the fandoms overlap. It happens a lot of the time, because I’m a dork into everything from LEGO to Doctor Who to Disney movies.
And it’s appropriate, really, because LOST ANGELES was born out of fandom as well… an online RPG in which writers set up character profiles using pictures of famous people and song lyrics as taglines. And it literally was “Ohai, I want to write with Amanda, and I know we both like Thirty Seconds To Mars. Here’s a vampire that looks like Jared Leto.” Then I actually included a reference to Jared and the band in the book. This is first novel I’ve written that contains pop culture references, and we pretty much slung in everything we love, from The Simpsons to the Louboutin shoes I’ve been pinning on Pinterest.
So now, because it’s summer and vacation and (most of all) fun, we want to know how YOU are showing your fandoms. Tattoo? Pet names? KID names? Vanity license plate? You have a TARDIS in your backyard, or every single Star Wars Lego ever issued? Waited in line for three hours to get someone’s autograph? We want you to tell us (and show us!) how you #ShowYourFandom. Enter here in the comments, post on Twitter (and include the hashtag) for a chance to win an e-copy of LOST ANGELES. Contest ends Friday, July 31.