Words for Writers: My Visit With the Scarborough Museum Youth Team – Part 3 / 5

On Tuesday March 25, 2013 I visited the Scarborough Museum Youth Team to talk about being a writer. I got some really great questions, and with the youth team’s permission, I’m going to re-answer them there. Check back every day for a few new questions and answers.


Q: How do you keep track of fanmail?

A: I don’t actually get that much, so it’s really quite easy! I’ve never received paper fanmail, (though people can send it to me via my agent Laurie McLean) but if I did I would probably frame my favourites and put them up, and keep the rest in a lovely box or something.


Usually people contact me via my Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or the comment form on my website. When I’ve written back to them, I archive the email in an Inbox folder dedicated solely to fanmail. Sometimes, especially when I’m really frustrated by the business or am feeling really down, I open up the folder and reread the emails.


For fan art, I do something different. Every time someone sends me fan art I frame it. If it’s digital, I get it professionally printed and framed. Then I add it to the gallery in my bedroom so I can gaze on it lovingly as I’m falling asleep. I think it’s the most amazing thing in the world to have visual proof that my stories touched someone enough that they were inspired to create art. I don’t think there’s any fanfiction out there based on my novels, but if there was, I would totally read it and probably keep a little archive of the links. (But only if it wasn’t fanfic of a currently ongoing series – in which case, I would save them all and read them after the last book comes out as a celebration).


Q: What is your favourite thing about being an author?

A: Stuff like this. The writing community is such a supportive and open group of people. We all remember what it was like when we were starting out, young and filled with ideas and with stars in our eyes – and so I think you’d be hard pressed to find an author who isn’t willing to answer industry questions or share our experiences and advice. I know some get really busy and so can’t answer every question or speak at every event personally, but that’s not for a lack of desire.


I also really love being a guest at conventions. I’ve been a con-goer and cosplayer since I was 15, and to have the priviledge of attending as a guest now is awesome. I really like meeting the other guests, some of whom are writers, and talking on panels, and getting to meet my fans face to face.  The only hard part is that I have to really clamp down on my inner fangirl around the other guests (I totally sat beside Casper Van Dein for a whole day in March. He is so nice.) and I miss cosplaying a lot. Sometimes I bring a nice cosplay for the Saturday night dance, but mostly I’m too busy to even do that. And it’s unfortunately not very professional to be doing an autograph signing dressed up like an anime or comic book character.   On the other hand, I’m really looking forward to publishing a Steampunk book, because Steampunk authors get to dress up! It’s expected!


Q: What would you do if you weren’t an author?

A: Right now I’m actually both an author and an office ninja. I have the office day job to keep a roof over my head, because unfortunately I’m not making enough money on the writing to support myself just yet. Hopefully I will soon. On top of that, I love performing and while I can’t manage to find a community theatre troupe near where I live, I am very lucky in that a lot of the Toronto-based webseries creators know who I am and that I love acting and singing, and dancing, and they cast me!


I would say that if I wasn’t a writer I’d be an actor, but the truth is I did try very hard to make a professional career out of acting and I just couldn’t seem to get my foot in the door. I had rubbish luck with dishonest agents, and I couldn’t seem to book gigs even when I nailed the auditions, and frankly, I was told I was short and fat a lot. It got the point where I decided my self-esteem was more important than trying to be a professional actor and decided to just be happy booking amateur gigs. The funny thing is, now that I’m not working at it, I’ve been handed a few pro gigs through people who know me from my amateur work. Odd how that happens.


So, to answer the real question – if I wasn’t being an author, I probably would just be an office ninja who does acting on the side. As it is, I am an office ninja who does acting as a hobby on the side around writing books and meeting editing deadlines.


More to come tomorrow!


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JM FreyWords for Writers: My Visit With the Scarborough Museum Youth Team – Part 3 / 5