Thanks to attending some wonderful reader and writer conferences, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of authors I really admire. I’ve even ended up friends with a few. But I’m kind of notorious for not realizing who I’m talking to when I first meet someone. I carry on a conversation as my normal self only to realize halfway through that this is some big name author who I LOVE but it’s too late to turn into a squeeing fan girl.
I actually did this with THE Barbara Hambly. She’s one of my biggest fantasy author heroes, right up there with Marion Zimmer Bradley and Mercedes Lackey. In fact, Dragonsbane was the fourth fantasy novel I ever read and one of my gateway drugs into the genre. I LOVE Barbara Hambly. So when a friend told me she would be attending a Romantic Times conference some years ago (must have been at least six years ago since this was before I had my first baby), I was very excited and made my friend promise to introduce us.
On the last morning of the conference, as we’re all preparing to go home, I still haven’t met Ms. Hambly, but the conference was so busy and so much happened, I figured I’d have to let meeting my hero go. I was having a last lunch with a group of friends before heading out to the airport–one of them my friend who knew Ms. Hambly–and a very nice older woman came up to our table and started talking with us all. (Can you see where this is going?)
I was a perfectly normal person during the first part of this conversation. Chatting away. And then my friend introduced the newcomer. And I went very still and quiet with the shock of it. But it was too late! I couldn’t go all gushy and nuts now, could I? Ms. Hambly thought I was a normal person! I continued to chat, but never did tell her how much I admired her or how important her books had been to me. That she was one of the reasons I wrote fantasy romance.
Later, when I told my friend all this, she said I should have gone fan girl because Ms. Hambly would love it. I’m not sure why I was surprised by this. I figured she was such a huge writer, she wouldn’t care one way or the other. But it turns out–just like all of us–she loves hearing from readers and wants to know if you’ve enjoyed her books.
It blew my mind a little to realize it, but Ms. Hambly and I had that in common. Writing is a lonely job. We don’t always get a chance to get direct feedback from readers. It makes my day, week, sometimes my year, to have a reader tell me they’ve enjoyed one of my stories. And my hero was no different. We all want to know if our stories have touched someone.
So, lesson learned. No matter how normal I start off being with a person, if I find out she’s a writer I adore, I will not hold back my fan girl glee. And I will pass this advice on to all readers–if you meet a writer, and you’ve enjoyed their books, don’t hesitate to tell them. Even if you’ve been normal, non-fan with them up to that point. You will make their day.