I’m going to put it all out there and say it… I actually don’t read much. At least not published fiction. Sad, I know. When I was a kid I couldn’t put books down. My dad would bring home a stack of them after work every couple of weeks and I’d devour them in a few days. It didn’t matter what he brought me, I’d read anything. Since I’ve had kids, though, I haven’t really read much beyond fanfic and even that was sporadic until I got my e-reader back in January.
But a couple months ago txduck suggested I try a series of mystery novels by Julia Spencer-Fleming. Her quick description of the “romance” between the two main characters: the married chief of police and the female Episcopalian priest sounded interesting. Then she sold it when she started talking about all the UST. I love a good “will they/won’t they” relationship full of angst and bitter sweet heart break.
So I looked the books up on amazon.com and found the first book in digital format on sale for like $4. I couldn’t pass that up and downloaded it that night. It took me a few chapters to get into a reading mode. That happens with anything read. I get easily distracted the first few chapters and can’t get into it. Usually if I push through I find something that hooks me. This book did just that. Once I passed my normal “distraction phase” I started to get into the book. Especially the more that Russ and Clare interacted with each other (they’re a hoot).
Anyway. This isn’t a book review (although I might do one now that I’m rereading the series). What happened after that initial floundering was that I fell in love with the books, with Russ and Clare, with the supporting cast, with the town of Millers Kill and with Julia Spencer-Fleming. The way she writes just pulls you in and makes you see things from every angle. She shows how things can be wonderful and magical and gritty and dirty all at the same time. Russ and Clare’s “relationship” (as much as it is in the first few books) is raw and edgy. He’s married; she’s a priest. The feelings that grow between them are beautiful and, at the same time, inappropriate. But that’s life.
Each book drew me further in and I think I was halfway done with book #3 (Out of the Deep I Cry) when I started getting ideas for fanfic (once a fanfic writer, always a fanfic writer). But I held off because I wanted to read all 7 books before I started writing anything. I also wanted to see if she was one of those authors that hates fanfic writers and bans them from using her characters. Luckily I finished all 7 books in under two weeks (would have been less but I tried to milk it so they’d last longer). I then went to find out more about Ms. Spencer-Fleming.
Come to find out she ADORES fanfic writers and what they do. I found this article right off the bat. She has this to say about fanfic:
I about squeed when I read that. An author that embraces fanfic written about her work. How awesome is that? It gets better. On her website she has a “reader space” which consists of a blog and message board. A message board where she actually interacts with her fans. She doesn’t sit up on some lofty throne hoarding it over us lowly readers. No, she gets in there and chats with the people that buy her books and discusses the stories. In one long discussion about the most recent book (One Was a Soldier) everyone was throwing out ideas about what should/could be in the next book. She was responding back to many of them and when some got to be a little too out there to be included in any future books she mentioned someone needed to start writing fanfic for the ideas. OMG! She’s so cool.
Right after that I got inspired to write and finished off my 15 ficlets for the writers30days challenge (none of which related to what people were discussing on the message board). Then last week stardust_20 created a community for all us crazy Russ/Clare fans. I posted links to my stories there and we chat about them. Just like any other community.
The other day I got a review on one of my Russ/Clare stories. At the end she said she found the story from a link at JSF’s message board. I about died. I went right over there to check it out and sure enough she made a post about our group. I was speechless. I’m sure I looked like a fish with my mouth working but no words coming out, lol.
This morning I got up and logged into facebook and saw she rec’d us there too.
I’m not sure what I find cooler: the fact that she loves that people are writing fanfic for her characters or that she suggested “stories about Lyle and Kevin’s epic romance.” Or that she what “ships” were or those annoying ship names (Levin…*snort*). I’m just all around in love with her and can’t wait for the next book to come out.
Until then I’m inspired to write as much Russ/Clare (and possibly some Hadley/Flynn… but no Lyle/Kevin) fanfic as I can.
I mean, you can’t get anything better than a recommendation and advertising from the author herself.