Thursday, January 5

Behind the Scenes: Connecting with Readers

Wendy shared some amazing things that she's been doing behind the scenes in her writing life on Tuesday. I think my favorite behind the scenes thing that happens in my writing life has to be emails and letters from readers. I'm not a super huge rock star of a writer so I don't get tons of these (which is always awkward to admit when the email starts something like "I'm sure you get tons of these so if you can't write back...") but even if I did, I know that every single one would matter to me. It seems like most email I get is either junk or bills or boring day-to-day stuff, so when I get an email from someone who enjoyed one or both of my books, it is literally the highlight of my day. I write the books that I would have wanted to read as a teen, so when teenagers tell me that they connected with my characters and were encouraged by the books in some way, I truly feel like I've done something meaningful. No matter how many books I sell, no matter what I do with my life after this, I'll have made some small impact for someone.

In some cases, readers tell me that they never liked reading until they read my books because my stories felt so real. Huge compliment and I always send them book recommendations so that hopefully they will come to love the world of books as much as I have. In other cases, since my books deal with issues like rape, drug abuse, depression, and self-injury, I get emails from readers who were inspired to confront their own personal demons or who found my books therapeutic and healing. Those are some of the most meaningful emails/conversations I've ever had.

And then I get emails from readers who inspire ME, which is super mega awesome. A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a girl named Kayla Spazz in Australia. She told me how she'd gotten I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE as a gift for her best friend, Acacia Pip. She explained that she'd done something that I definitely have done before when giving books as gifts--she read the book before she wrapped. She really loved it and she thought it was crazy how much my characters Emily and Regan reminded her of herself and Acacia, who were not only best friends but bandmates. She said their band, Smash Mystery is made up of three girls and a boy and they take a lot of guff for being a girl band, but she doesn't care because those folks will be eating their words when they are on the cover of Rolling Stone. I noticed a link to the band's website in her signature and clicked to check it out. You should click it too and listen to the song at the top of the page, "Dolls." I listened to it like five times. I ADORE it! I ADORE them! And Kayla and Acacia are 15! They will be taking over the world, I am sure of it!

That is what I love best about having written I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE in particular, meeting girls like Kayla and Acacia who are actually living it. I wrote that book because I always wanted a band like She Laughs to top the charts and through the book I discover bands like Smash Mystery who are posed to do it. Serious awesomeness.

And the story gets even cooler. Acacia got her Christmas gift and read it, and thank goodness, loved it, too! She sent me a picture she'd made of my main character Emily Black in photoshop. And as it turns out she imagines Emily pretty much as I do. She said I could share it with you so here it is:

So this, in my opinion is the best behind-the-scenes part of the writing life. Hearing from readers and discovering how amazingly talented they are! Enjoy Smash Mystery :)


Diane said...

Hey Stephanie,

So pleased you have discovered the awesome Smash Mystery. I know the band and totally admire their dedication, passion and creativity. (If only I was so dedicated at 15.)

I bought their CD as soon as the box arrived and was opened (but that's the benefit of working with Kayla Spazz's mum, who incidently has been in a band or two herself.)

I'm hoping to do an interview with the band on my blog soon, but in the meantime, here's a link to a pic of Kayla I took at the roller derby -

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