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POINT OF VIEW: When Fans Become Friends

We live in a particularly fascianting age (mostly in the purported Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” kinda way).

Social media has brought a heaping helping of crap and bullshit upon our heads, divided us into rival camps, and possibly destroyed the world in the process.

And yet, it’s not all bad.

Once upon a time, authors lived in magical, isolated castles by the sea (or more likely dark, dank, author caves buried deep in decaying metropolises). In any case, they were largely cut off from their readers, save for the occasional fan letter forwarded by a publisher, or an appearance at a con.

Social media has changed all that, making it so much easier for fans to reach out to their favorite authors, especially at my level.

Sure, sometimes it’s been to our detriment, like when someone picks an author to target and starts harassing them on Twitter or Facebook or any of the other seventy three social media platforms we now have.

But sometimes it sparks something rare and beautiful between author and reader – a friendship.

Technically, I first met Paul in person, though he didn’t introduce himself at the time. He lives here in Sacramento with his partner Ron, and I *think* he came up to me and bought a copy of River City at one of our local readings.

But it was online via Facebook that we finally got to talking.

Paul, you see, is one of my biggest fans by his own admission. He’s bought and read just about everything I have ever written, and having readers like that is always a big boost to a writer’s ego.

Slowly, bit by bit online and at local events, I started to see him and talk to him and recognize both him and Ron on sight (which often takes me a while to do).

Then came the kicker. He and our dear friend Carolyn both commented on the events post for last fall’s Capital Books reading, and it turned out they knew each other but hadn’t seen each other for decades.

One of my closest friends and one of my biggest fans – I mean, what are the odds? Not only do they know each other – they worked together for years and years.

So at the event, the four of us finally made plans to hang out. And last night Me, Mark, Paul and Ron went to dinner and had an amazing time together. We talked about my writing a little, but mostly it was about the four of us and the poetry and prose of our lives.

We were at the restaurant for two and a half hours, from the first cheese plate to the final chocolate mousse, and I loved every minute of it.

I’m sure all my authorial mystery is officially obliterated, LOL… but it was well worth it. Paul is smart, funny, and kind, and Ron is a sweet teddy bear, though he puts up a bit of a gruff front – Iw as a bit intimidated by him the first time we met.

Many of my close friends are folks I first met on social media, but having a fan become a friend who’s also a local is new for me, and I love it.

In these dark times, we need to draw comfort and energy from friends and happy events such as these, and last night was no exception. I left feeling recharged and happier than I’ve been for months.

So hey Paul! *waves* Give Ron a hug from me, and we’ll do it again soon.

To my writer friends, has social media ever helped you turn fans into friends?