I never used to be a celebrity hunter. Through my father (who’s very famous in his field) I was introduced to many extremely famous people – the type of people that will be remembered a century from now (Ok, I’ll be more specific – more than one has won the Nobel prize for a major discovery) – and was lucky to learn at an early age that they are all just people, like you and I. Really, really smart people, but people nonetheless.
That being said, when I watch a movie or a television show I like, or read a book that has touched me… at times I still want to “touch” the actor/author in the sense that I want some personal contact. Ask him what he had in mind when he wrote that story or acted the part. What influenced him. Which are his favorite movies or stories?
I went once to a Star Trek convention. To me it was a very disappointing experience. I was expecting to feel at home (they always say that about Star Trek fans), but I didn’t – at all. Maybe I’m not enough of a Trekker even though I’ve seen all the movies, shows and most episodes. I met only a couple of actors, and was really disappointed. Not only that they didn’t strike me as fascinating human beings, they weren’t even nice ones. In fact, at times it seems like they enjoy coming to this event (I won’t say “these” since I’ve only been to one) only so they could – for just a brief while – feel like they’re above the common person. My friend Jean went to dozens of Star Trek conventions and loves them, and says many of the actors are extremely nice. Maybe I just went to the wrong one, I don’t know. But I’m not eager to try this agian.
However, my experience with authors has been very different. I went for a book signing/lecture with Neil Gaiman (if you haven’t read any of his books or watched any of his movies, check them out, they are *all* awesome). I didn’t care at all about his signature, I just wanted to listen to him talk, hopefully strike a brief conversation with him (which I got to do). Neil was the personification of his books. Wonderful, friendly, imaginative, fun. Exactly the opposite of the experience I described above. I left the place simply happy.
I also went to a book signing/lecture with Stephen R. Donaldson (again, if you like serious fantasy, you absolutely have to check his books out. I can’t review any of them as they don’t belong on this website, but – in my opinion – they are as good as the Lord of the Rings series. Seriously. Only much, much, much darker. So dark that several friends of mine had to stop almost at the very beginning). And he, too, was the personification of his books. He was witty, and intelligent, and bitter, and complex. Exactly what I expected. Exactly the sort of person that will create the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. My wife came with me and decided to read all his books after the meeting – which she loved (until that point she just didn’t have enough motivation).
In a very weird set of circumstances I actually got to befriend a less known author, Gur Shomron. And my experience is the same, no, even better: Gur is literally his book, exactly (he admits it too). Gur is actually one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life, and became a close friend of mine (we meet every 2-3 months for dinner, where we discuss books, entrepreneurship, technology, etc). Again, a wonderful experience. We’re even thinking of creating a computer game together that’s based on his books.
As great as this is, the web is making all this much easier. Through Social Media applications such as Twitter and Facebook I’ve sent questions to actors, but more often to authors who I simply find more interesting (with the exception of Brent Spiner – Data from Star Trek – who’s such a funny and witty guy – check him out on Twitter). Robert J. Sawyer, who’s one of my favorite authors (and in fact, I’ve reviewed on this site two of his books: Flashforward, and End of an Era) is my Facebook friend. Although I can’t say we’ve corresponded much, he’s always very responsive.
This month his book, Flashforward, is coming out as a new television show (which I have a feeling is going to be great – Time Travel is involved!). And it was simply exciting to follow the turn of events from his perspective (he frequently updates his Facebook status). Every time I ask him a question, he responds, and sounds like a really great – and funny – person. I wish I could meet him in person – and I’m sure I will at some point – but until then, this is good enough.
I’m just happy we live in the 21st century, when people you are a fan of (though I am a fan of no one, I don’t like the term ‘fan’) are so accessible. I’m sure that those who respond to their followers and treat them as people, and not just book/ticket buyers, find the feedback reaffirming and pleasant. If I were a writer, I’d certainly feel so.
Tags: Actors, Authors, Brent Spiner, Celebrities, Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Data, Facebook, Flashforward, Gur Shomron, Neil Gaiman, Robert J. Sawyer, Social Media, Star Trek, Stephen R. Donaldson, Trekker, Twitter