Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Fan Mail

Here's a thing. Back in the dim and distant reaches of the last century, when I was still an impressionable young lad, I wrote a few fan mail letters, mainly to pop stars of the time. This was not unusual activity at the time, and probably no different to the tweeters of today who tweet to their superstar icons in the usually forlorn hope of getting a re-tweet or maybe even a reply.

It's not that likely because such superstars tend to have several million followers and in many cases don't even see the accounts - they are "managed". Presumably this is either because they are too busy or more likely because their carefully controlled public personae can't be allowed to tweet themselves in case they say the wrong thing and get caught up in a media storm. Such is the way of the modern world.

Back in my day...(wow, I sound so old), we wrote our fan mail on good old fashioned pen and paper. Most used to write to ask for a signed photo and such like but I used to prefer the personal touch. This is possibly why I never got any replies. Indeed, my teenage letters might have seemed stalker-esque, assuming the word stalker had enter the lexicon by then, of course.

In hindsight, asking Samantha Fox for a date was realistically never likely to succeed, nauseating 15 year old boys with excessive levels of testosterone not generally being seen on the arms of Page 3 girls. Similarly, my cosy approach to Morrissey, on seeing that The Smiths were playing a gig in Oxford in the spring of 1985 didn't succeed either. In my chatty missive to him, I suggested popping round for tea before the gig. Again in hindsight, this was probably a bad idea as well. I am pretty sure it was a Monday, and Mum normally cooked gammon steaks that night. This was around the time the Meat Is Murder album came out, so it probably wouldn't have gone down well.

Morrissey: Didn't want to come to tea.

Thankfully my three letters to Jim'll Fix It all went unanswered, so not getting replies to my mail wasn't all bad.

Never did I think, thirty years on that I would be getting fan mail of my own.

There's no way to mention this without it sounding egotistical, I suppose, but that's not the intention. When I say fan mail, what I mean is that an increasing number of people who have read and enjoyed my books are contacting me via Facebook and Twitter to express their appreciation and to chat to me.

Now, I'm no big star, far from it, and probably never will be, but the thought that there are people out there all over the world who are enjoying my work enough to want to write to me is quite lovely and I always reply back. I absolutely love engaging with these fans and listening to what they have to say about the books. Although I get lots of reviews on Amazon, that's one way feedback to which I don't reply - but direct contact with readers is amazing and invaluable. It allows me to have a two-way conversation with people who have been genuinely touched by my work, something which both they and I enjoy.

I know I said it sounded egotistical to admit to having "fans" but I've not got my head in the clouds at all and I can't imagine that I ever would, even if I did become successful. It is these people who've enjoyed my work, given good feedback and spread by word of mouth (still the best marketing there is), who have got me as far as I have - and I truly would never have done it without them.

I still remember a couple of years ago joking with a star struck friend (her words, not mine, and I really wasn't any sort of star to be honest) that she was my first "fan". I'm not going to embarrass her by identifying her on here, but we still correspond regularly, and she will know who she is from these three words "Serial Drama Sid". And just for her, I still reckon Lord Grantham is going to kop it before the end of the series.

As for fan #2, you deserve a mention too, so if you are reading, I await your latest news with baited breath. My half price ham depends on it!

To everyone else who has written to me and shown support, I'm really happy that you did, I have really enjoyed our conversations and I will always reply. You just don't get this kind of service with Stephen King and co...

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