#FANTASTICALFEB with Anna Day (author of The Fandom)

Hi Everyone, As you may all know I'm having a fantasy month on the blog, so as well as reading fantasy books, I'm also featuring some of my favourite as well as some upcoming authors. So my next author is the debut author, Anna Day with her incredible first book, The Fandom.

I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing (my review here) The Fandom last month and I absolutely loved it so I had to get Anna to share something about the creation of her fantasy novel. So before I had over to Anna who is going to talk about , here is a bit more about her book.

Cosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands ...

A fast-paced, genre-flipping YA fantasy adventure from a brand new author, writing in homage to the best YA fiction.

The psychological background behind a 'Fandom.' by Anna Day

Some of you may know that I’ve just written a book called The Fandom. What you may not know is that I had never even heard the word ‘Fandom’ until Barry Cunningham rang me up that fateful afternoon and asked me to write said book. So instead of popping open the champagne, I frantically set about googling. Turns out, fandom has nothing to do with female condoms. Nor does it mean you’re a random fan. I quickly discovered that it means you belong to a subculture – a Kingdom - of fans. My twenties and early thirties had been so filled with career building and having babies, I’d completely missed the growth of the online, fan-based community. And boy, was it a miss! As I sieved through the offerings of cyber space, my excitement grew, and I began to realize, I wasn’t weird. All of my life, I’d been a lonely fangirl, just crying out for fandoms.

To demonstrate, here’s my formative years according to my finest fangirl moments. At the age of eight, I wrote and illustrated my own Beaver Tower fanfiction. It has a lot of glitter on it. At ten, I painted a life-sized Buddy Holly mural on my bedroom wall (I have very understanding parents), some nights, I would wake with a start cos I thought a giant man was looming over me with a guitar! At twelve, I crafted ‘Borrible’ masks from cereal boxes, which I tried (and failed) to make my horrified friends wear. In sixth form, I gave my friends Disney alter-egos (Timon and Pumbaa were NOT amused), and in my early twenties, I threw a Moulin Rouge murder mystery party to which only four people came. One of the characters had to be played by a teddy.

You don’t need a Psychological background to figure out that fandoms would have nourished my self-esteem and my sense of social acceptance. But I love an excuse to put my psychology hat on, and psychological theory is a nice way of exploring this a little further, so here goes (and please excuse my lack of references!)

There’s a lovely theory out there by Cooley called the looking glass self, which suggests that our self-concept is built from the way we think others view us, and ultimately, how they respond to us. Obviously, this is linked to self-esteem. So if we think people value us and they respond to us positively, we are more likely to develop a positive self-concept. In a rather literal example of the looking glass self, imagine how happy twelve-year-old Anna would have been if she’d seen lots of little cereal-box-clad Borrible faces gazing back at her. I wouldn’t have felt like the strange bookish friend, I would have felt valued and accepted.

Indeed, the need to belong has been considered a fundamental part of being human for years by psychologists, sociologists, and generally sensible people. In short, we have evolved as social beings, needing groups for survival, both physically, and of course, emotionally. Fandoms provide us with this sense of belonging, and are, perhaps even more important now that we are arguably more isolated. Community isn’t as strong as it was, and a lot of younger people no longer belong to ready-made groups like religions. And that’s what’s so amazing about fandoms: they form not because of some pre-existing bond or boundary over which we have little choice, they form because of what really matters to us. They form because of a shared love. Ach! I’m getting all emotional!

And in spite of their tendency to use the internet as a general life-source, Fandoms unsurprisingly seem to operate with the same group dynamics as most flesh-based groups. (Flesh-based…sorry, you know what I mean!) So Group dynamics is the theory which explains the behaviours and psychological processes between and within groups. It’s a really interesting area of psychology. Anyway, like most groups, the individuals within the fandom seem to positively value and exaggerate their shared commonality and all things relating to it, and downplay or ignore the unshared aspects of the group individuals. In other words, there’s a rather handy cognitive processing bias at work which serves as a kind of group glue. And I guess sometimes, fandoms may also boost themselves and heighten their sense of cohesiveness by pushing down the out-groups, though I haven’t seen this so much I’m pleased to say.

And if you ever get teased for your fandom ways, remember, it’s just somebody pushing down the out-group to enhance their feelings of cohesion with their ingroup. Essentially, the psychological drive for rubbishing fandoms and dismissing comic-con goers as geeks, is the same drive as the one which brings fandoms together. The drive to belong. You tell them that!

So there’s my musings on fandoms. Huzzah to Fandoms! If anyone ever builds a time machine please go back to the nineties and tell sad little Anna that she’s just ahead of her time. (And then drop by in the noughties at my Moulin Rouge party and save my teddy!) Thanks for reading, guys!

Image result for anna day
About Anna Day
Anna grew up and still lives in the North East of England. She was raised by a guitar-obsessed father and a mother with amazing cooking skills, and she still loves all things music and food related. She studied Psychology at university, and worked for several years as an Assistant Psychologist. She then gained a doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2009, and has since worked as a Clinical Psychologist with people with disabilities. She has always loved creative writing; even as a little girl she would staple pieces of paper together and write stories for her parents to read. However, she only started writing seriously a few years ago, and was noticed by the Chicken House team when she was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition in 2015. Her greatest love is her children -- a little girl and a little boy, who provide her with constant entertainment and inspiration.

Thank you so much to Anna for being part of #FantasticalFeb. The Fandom is out now is all good bookstores and I urge you all to read it!

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