I've always thought of 'fandom' as a pursuit of the adolescent. When I was around 13 or 14, I was obsessed with U2 and I dreamed of marrying Bono. I knew everything about him, knew all the lyrics to all the songs, used to lie on my bed with headphones on listening to Bono sing and imagining myself living in Ireland with him, being his muse. Sort of like how girls feel about One Direction these days, I guess. This all culminated in me seeing U2 in concert, circa 1990 (?), and it was one of the happiest events of my life to that date. I was hysterical with happiness. And then I went off U2 - in my jaded, cynical teenage angst, I felt they had sold out with their move to electronic style music - and I seemed to become less obsessive about celebrity and more about taking a nonchalant interest in alternative movements. This carried through to adulthood and I've been known to cock my brow in condescension towards adults who I've felt have been a litttle bit immature in their obsessions with people who they will never know, and who certainly wouldn't want a bar of them anyway if they were to ever cross paths. In fact, I'm so nonchalant about celebrity that I've stood next to Nicole Kidman in a book shop and exchanged a wry look with her, jutted my chin at Russell Crowe as we stood side by side at a bar, and chatted to Pete Murray as if I didn't know who he was at an ARIA after party (where my friends and I told the door bitch that we were the make up artists for Australian Idol, in order to get through to the free drinks that the after party promised). Yes, I take note of who the person is, but no, I don't get giggly or excited, and I am firmly of the belief that they are just normal people like you and I. No reason to fuss over them.
So - after all that, it was funny today when I went to the Sydney Writers Festival to see my favourite author and I realised to my amused horror that I was a FAN again, and a nerdy one at that!!! I displayed all the characteristics of a teenage fan, and I loved it!! I've regressed.
I have to out myself here - I absolutely love the Phryne Fisher series of crime novels by the wonderful Kerry Greenwood. I stumbled across one of the novels about ten years ago when I picked one up because of its beautiful cover art. And I've read every Greenwood novel since - me, and about another million middle aged women it would seem from the audience today. They are very old fashioned books in a way in that they seem like an Agatha Christie but in fact they are very racy little pieces and a lot of fun to read. I once bought one at Angus and Riobertson and the young sales girl said 'Oh, my mum loves these!' and I said 'Oh yes, this is for my mum as well'. Why was I so worried about looking like a Nanna? Now I say, rejoice Nanna and spread the word on the fab Phryne! The interviewer today described the Phryne novels as 'subvertive crime' and they certainly are as Phryne is the most audacious female detective; she flouts all convention of cosy domestic crime thrillers. The ABC just finished its run with the 13 part series based on the novels and we learnt today that each episode cost one million to make (does the ABC have that sort of cash!?!) and happily, the series was so successful it made all the money back and more, so a new series will be commissioned. This was where I leapt of my seat with glee, with all the other fans there, and then pretended not to care as I sheepishly slid back down in my chair, grimacing at the slow shake of my friend Julie's head. 'You are such a nerd' she said and she was right. I tsked with the other Phryne fans when the inconsistencies between the books and the tv show were discussed and I whispered to Julie that I was unhappy with the way one of the characters was interpreted - so were the other ladies in the row, and we all nodded knowingly at each other. All of us as one, the Phryne Fisher fan club.
Anyway, Kerry Greenwood was just as fun as I had imagined her and I wanted to run up to the stage and give her a hug and a kiss and invite her to tea to chat more. But instead, unlike a raving fool leaping on the stage, I lined up, clutching the first Phryne Fisher book I bought a decade ago, and waited in the long line to get Kerry's autograph (like any true fan would). Julie insisted on taking a photo of us but I drew the line - too geeky - so instead we stood chatting to Kerry and swoon! She asked about the clothes I was wearing and we chatted for like - 5 seconds! She must have really liked me. I'm sure she did.
Here's the nerdy fan with her book:
And the treasured autograph:
We also saw Benjamin Law, Paul Capsis and Wendy Harmer talking about childhood bullying and its effect on their formation as people and artists. Great talk. Love, love, love Benjamin Law but didn't go to get his signature, because I was too shy, and let's face it - I haven't read 19 of his books like I have Kerry's. That's the sort of commitment a true fan makes - and a true fan I realise I have become.
Anyone else part of a nerdy fan base???