Thursday, 13 July 2017

GUEST POST: Chris Russell on Why Fandom Matters

One of my favourite authors is on the blog today talking about fandom and why it matters to him, and I think it perfectly captures why fandom is so great. Chris Russell's debut novel, Songs About a Girl, was released last summer, shaking up the blogosphere and quickly becoming a favourite of mine. And the second book in the trilogy, Songs About Us, is finally here and set to do the same! If you haven't read these books before, you'll love them. Over to you, Chris.

It goes without saying that fandom is at the heart of my YA trilogy, Songs About a Girl. Apart from anything else, the story was originally inspired by a three-month period I spent ghost-writing for a 1D fan-club in Australia, during which time I a) developed a real insight into the way fans interact with each other online and b) fell hook, line and sinker in love with One Direction. Specifically Harry.

But let's not get sidetracked. Even if he does have LOVELY HAIR.

Because, of course, it's not actually that long [ahem] since I was a teenager myself, and I'm not sure fandom is something I've ever entirely let go of. Unsurprising, really, when I consider that I have fandom to thank for many of the best things that have ever happened to me.

When I was thirteen, I met a blue-eyed singer and guitarist called George, in English class, and we quickly became best friends. We fanboyed over all the same comedy shows (Blackadder, Red Dwarf), offbeat novels (Catch 22, The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy) and movies (Empire Records, Wayne's World), and were effectively joined at the hip from dawn until dusk. Most importantly, though, we fanboyed over music: we were OBSESSED with Bon Jovi. Our infatuation with America's finest faux-cowboy rock band was matched only by our infatuation with each other, so it was only a matter of time before we went to see them live.

On a hot night in the summer of 1996, we headed to Wembley to watch our heroes perform, and this experience set off a chain reaction without which I probably wouldn't be a musician, or even an author, and I certainly wouldn't be writing this blog post. So inspired were we by Bon Jovi's big-hearted stadium rock show, we headed home, sat in a tree in George's garden and vowed to start a band, tour the world, be best friends forever and, one day, play at Wembley Stadium ourselves.

Over twenty years later, and our band, The Lightyears, are still together. We've been lucky enough to play gigs across four continents, stay in some ridiculously fancy hotels, have countless adventures on the road and even perform at Wembley Stadium a few times - and while we never really got famous outside of our own village, it's been one hell of a ride. And I thank fandom for that. It was as if the intensity of our teenage obsession, crystallised on that hot summer night at a Bon Jovi concert, was the rocket fuel that powered the crazy pursuits of our adult lives.

If you read YA, the chances are you've been in a fandom or two in your life. Teenagers, and those of us who read teen fiction, feel things in an especially intense way. We seek out widescreen emotions, broken hearts, epic narratives of hope, love and redemption. That's what fandom is all about. And I, for one, plan to keep on fanboying until the day I die.

I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH. The importance of fandom and the ways it can completely change your life can be seen in the Songs About a Girl trilogy, and that's one of the things I love about it. Songs About Us, the second book, is out today, and you need to buy your copy now (links below!) I'm reading it right now and it is pure awesome. Music, fandom, friendship, aaand the journey of a lifetime. ❤

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