Last night at my event with Gayle, two separate Tumblr users came through the signing line and told me they wanted to participate more in the Raven Cycle fandom on Tumblr, but that they were afraid to because of all the negativity.
It was a terrible moment, I confess: to know at the same time that your series has a fandom and to find out that it is defined by toxicity. Also terrible: to be asked to solve it. The fact is that the Raven Cycle fandom doesn’t include me; I tried this before, and it doesn’t work. I know it’s complicated because I am on Tumblr as me, and also because I sometimes wander through the tags like an ambivalent Santa Claus, liking fan art or whatnot. But I’m still a separate entity. Even if my thoughts on the books are used in fandom discussions, it’s a one way street; I’m not going to pull those issues onto my Tumblr to discuss. Like I said: tried it, didn’t work.
So I cannot fix the fandom’s mental state.
However, I will say this from my position of Santa Claus, with some knowledge of the fandom: there are corners of the TRC fandom for whatever you want to discuss, and for whatever you believe about the books, and for whichever characters you love or hate. There is absolutely no need to engage with someone of an opposing position if you don’t want to, and there is positively no need to troll. You know where’s a great place to be a troll? Youtube. Reddit. Your grandmother’s dinner table. Your blog is your own business, but the world would be a more friendly and vivid place if folks asked themselves “is this toxic?” before aggressively baiting people in the main tag or wandering on to someone else’s blog to lurk in their untagged posts.
It is a pretty divided fandom: people have strong opinions. But I would hope that it can be a place where readers can feel free to talk about these opinions without being told they are stupid, wrong, uninformed or problematic. Free to find others who share their discussion style, if not their opinions. Free to connect, because that’s the point.
The absolute worst thing about this — aside from fielding questions at events BECAUSE GREAT NOW THIS HAS ESCAPED THE INTERNET — are the messages I get here from LGBT readers who say they want to talk about the sexuality in the books and how it reflects their own path to sexuality, but feel like they’ll be told their interpretation is flat-out wrong … and thus that their own path to sexuality is wrong. I have so many of these messages. So many voices that are afraid to speak up, on a social platform that is supposed to be about being able to whisper and shout and rage and celebrate the varied ways you learn to be you. Guys, no. Of all of the things to shut down, please don’t shut down these conversations.
And finally: me. You know those disclaimers that say ‘all opinions on this blog belong to me and do not represent my company’ or whatever? As the creator, I have my own interpretation of these novels. It’s very specific, very unchanging, and very mine. Readers might not interpret the series the same way I do, but if you’re coming to my Tumblr, that’s how I’m going to talk about them. If you don’t like it, the same rules apply as above: find a different corner of the fandom. I promise you there is someone out there who agrees with you. But also, please don’t fill my inbox with asks meant to get an answer that you’ll then use to bait someone else. I’m really happy to talk about the stuff in the books. I’m less interested in being used as a match in a gasoline-slick of a fandom.