Deb Joanne’s Friends: Some Real, Some Not So Much

This week’s theme here at The Debutante Ball is friends. Of course, Deb Rachel is our resident expert on the subject, but we can still all talk about friends because it’s one of those subjects that we’re all familiar with.  I’ve made a lot of friends thanks to my publishing journey and am still making even more, which is one of the great side-effects of building a new career. I’m broadening my circle through networking and social media and am constantly interacting with others, either online or through bookstore and other events. Somehow, I’ve become a social butterfly, something I never really imagined for myself*.

For an introvert like me (yes, I realize I’m beating a dead horse, talking about being an introvert, but bear with me) this can be exhausting. And that’s when I turn to my imaginary friends.

Because sometimes to recharge, I need to be alone, but at the same time, don’t necessarily want to be alone. If you’re a book lover, you know exactly what I mean—I need my book friends.  My book friends are very accommodating and never demanding. They’re there when I need them or will sit patiently on a bedside table until I’m ready for them. They can make me laugh or cry or teach me lessons about life without having to leave the comfort of my living room.

Anne & Joanne = Kindred Spirits

And my book friends are as diverse (actually, even more so) than my real friends. I have Anne Shirley, who never knew a flush toilet or saw the inside of an IKEA, but who can make me laugh and want to just hang out and talk all day, like best friends do. Judy Blume’s Margaret who went through everything I did as a tween. Min Dobbs from Jenny Crusie’s BET ME, who shares my love for excellent food (and its unfortunate consequences). Then there’s the fun Bridgertons (from Julia Quinn’s series that starts with THE DUKE AND I), who all manage to find romance in their 19th century Britain. I would love to hang out at one of their family dinners.  Then there’s Sookie Stackhouse, Deb Linda’s plucky Ciel or Deb Erika’s fiery Dahlia…oh, I could go on and on about the friends I’ve met through reading. And the next one is as close as the TBR pile beside me.

But as an author, I need to think critically about book friends, because I want to write the kinds of characters that other people want as friends. And this really hit home for me this week, when I was at a teen book club this past Wednesday as their author guest of honor (wow, right?) and amid all the wonderful and really smart discussions about SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE, one of the questions asked was, “Would you like to be friends with Lilah?”

And as I held my breath, every person said yes. Each person went on to explain why, and as I sat there, fascinated by this very surreal author moment, they said things like “Lilah is fun.”  “She’s loyal and stands up to bullies and would be a good friend.” “She’s a regular girl going through regular girl problems.”  “She’s funny and sweet.” In other words, she’s someone who would make an excellent friend in real life.

Wow. It’s amazing to get that kind of validation–that the imaginary friend I made up and put in a book has become someone else’s book friend. I can’t think of a higher honor.

So tell me – who are your imaginary book friends?


*also in the irony department, this childless-by-choice author makes it into the August edition of Today’s Parent. Never in a million years did I ever think I’d be buying a parenting magazine, but last week found me plunking down my money for a mag that has features articles like “How to deal with playdate drama” and “When your toddler won’t stop screaming.” Oy.

7 Replies to “Deb Joanne’s Friends: Some Real, Some Not So Much”

  1. I’m laughing so hard at the thought of you buying a Today’s Parent magazine–I love it! Life has a way poking you, with a teasing wink in its eye, doesn’t it?

    And I would have adored having a friend like Lilah. She sure would have made bra-shopping a lot more entertaining for me. 😉

    As for now, I’d hang out with Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich’s hapless heroine). Of course, I’d make sure I was wearing body armor, considering the kind of trouble she attracts.

    1. I laughed pretty hard, too, Linda – someone upstairs has a big sense of humor. Thanks for saying that about Lilah. I’m sure she’d love to hang out with you, too. And when she grows up, Ciel – think of the fun they could have! And oh yes, Stephanie Plum would be a hoot to hang out with.

  2. Oh, wow–I can’t speak for Dahlia (well, I kind of can) but I think I can safely say she’s over the moon to be in the same friend category as Anne with an E. Her day–and mine!–is made!! Thanks, Deb sister!

    I’m with Linda–I would have had a ball with Lilah growing up–no doubt why I enjoyed hanging out with her so much when I read SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE! 😉

    1. Thanks, Erika! Dahlia would be fun to party with, I think. I’m not sure we’d make the best choices, but we’d have a good time.

      And thanks for your nice words about Lilah – she’s blushing over here.

  3. Good Morning Debs,

    Well you can imagine my surprise when I picked Joanne up for dinner last Tuesday night and she brings out the magazine TODAY’S PARENT, (ask who got excited)yeh your right ME and then got even more excited for a different reason when I saw Small Medium at Large in the magazine. (See someone up there is telling you two legs not four, for house pets, I know J stop rolling your eye’s)

    Oh, yes Erika Dahlia and I could have had a real blast together (we could have gotten into alot of um um).

    Even though Lilah is my favourite character (yes I know), I have to tell you girls that all of my maj groups and friends and family who have read the book have had a wonderful time going down memory lane at our age. It is so true that whether it is now or it was 57 or more years ago it still brings back memories with laughs and tears.

    Have a wonderful week Debs and keep those blogs coming as I am having the time of my life reading them, laughing with them and yes having some wonderful tears with all of you.

    1. Hi Mom, nice try with the really subtle “HAVE SOME BABIES” hint. Zoe, your granddog is a little offended, although Gabby, the bird, would like to remind you that she has two legs. And who knows, maybe tomorrow I’ll bring you another surprise magazine that my book is in: Glamour? Catholic weekly?

  4. I thought I was being really considerate, saying it nicely wow at least I didn’t put it in capital letters but since you caught the jist of it hey !!!!!!!!!!!!.
    Zoe, is wonderful and I love her dearly (hard to take her for lunch and buy her clothes), I know Gabby has two legs but as you know I am not crazy about birds, even though I could have taught her some really choice saying’s!!!!!!, Glamour would be good, do you really think Lilah will be in Catholic weekly?????
    Your Loving Mother

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