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.
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.