I’m always interested in who follows me. What I’ve noticed is that while I have English-speaking fans, I also have a great number of fans from around the world who do not speak my language. For me it’s interesting to see where these people come from – Philippines, South America, France, Germany, South Africa, India. For me it’s a thrill to get fan mail from these people because I like translating it or having it translated if at all possible. And the more books I write, the more of these fans I seem to get.
The thing about me is that I come from a journalism background, and started my writing career in most of the big U.S. women’s magazines like Woman’s Day and Family Circle. To be honest, you don’t expect to get fans with this kind of general consumer writing. I did acquire one fan, though, whom I’ll refer to as Larry the Stalker. Larry lived in Oklahoma, I live in Indiana, which means Larry and I were separated by approximately eight-hundred miles. So, how did Larry come into my life?
Simple. He contacted the editor of the magazine he’d found me in and got a whole bunch of information about me. Then he took that information and moved about 5 miles from my house. Actually, he moved there after he’d built me a house there. So when the house was complete, he went to the place my husband worked and simply asked Joel to step aside, telling Joel that he (Larry) wanted me. Then came the phone calls, the hours he would spend sitting in front of my house watching for me. What scared me was that the kids were old enough to understand what was going on and they thought it was funny.
I repeatedly turned down Larry for a date, kept telling him I was happily married, and the barrage went on. Now, I could have called the police and probably should have, but the man had built me a house which meant he had mental problems and, quite simply, I felt sorry for him.
Eventually a letter arrived, and it was a letter or recommendation much like one would when applying for a job. It was signed by a psychiatric nurse in Oklahoma, whom I contacted immediately. Needless to say, Larry went away after that. He was committed to an institution back in Oklahoma, and I never heard from him again.
True story. And a strange one. But it makes me appreciate my real fans all the more because somewhere in the Philippines there’s a young man named Jason who reads my books and always takes a moment to write me a short note. He, and others like him, are the reason I continue to write my books. Even on the days I don’t feel like writing I think about the mail I get asking me when my next book will be out, and that’s what gets me going.
So here’s to the fans! (Even the ones who don’t build me a house.)
Until next time, wishing you health and happiness…