By Princess Stomper
“Wait, that’s your penpal?” I asked, feeling my mouth dry up.
“Yeah, why, have you heard of him?”
I couldn’t believe she hadn’t. I told her he’d sold 65 million books, and linked her to a trailer of the latest adaptation. She seemed, at last, impressed.
The author had contacted her to say how much he’d enjoyed her work – fan mail, if you like. Here was this titled, lauded writer heaping praise on my unassuming friend. She, in turn, is renowned within her field.
I can think of many cases like that. My hero on the red carpet, his friend saying, “Oh, he’s just some guy”. Given time, I start to see him the same way, too. I’ve got friends who are celebrated, but either what they do doesn’t interest me much, or I’ve reached Stage Five of Fandom.
STAGE ONE: I LOVE WHAT YOU DO
This is a lot like falling in love. Someone has made something extraordinary – far beyond what you could ever even dream up – and you are fascinated by it. You can’t get enough of it, and even the thought of it fills you with joy. You feel the need to express it everywhere, to everyone. This is, like, the best thing ever. If you are in the position where you can contact the person who made it, you want to thank them just for making it because of the sheer amount of entertainment and happiness it has brought into your life.
STAGE TWO: I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU
You read an interview or two, or maybe you meet them or speak to them in person, and you find out that they’re sweet and charming. You’re bowled over by them – they’re not just brilliant, but lovely, too! You’re more enchanted than ever. You start to notice little references here and there that didn’t make sense before. You get the in-jokes, feeling part of some exclusive club as you chat together with other fans and happily dissect the work in question. You memorise every biographical detail to fill out the gaps in your knowledge. “Oh, of course he was writing about alcohol at that time, because that’s when he went to rehab.”
You learn what inspired your hero and load up on that stuff too, as though it’s some Rosetta Stone for decyphering the key workings of their mind. If it’s someone you’ve spoken to, you feel smug and glowing after every correspondence: “This wonderful person is talking to me! Imagine that!”
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