When Fans Turn Scary
Is Will Self God?
Er, no. But, like the Bible, I find his books a struggle to get through. And the real God smote down his house earlier this week. But Self does have a book club of Self cargo cultists who think he’s a god, apparently.
Here’s a quote from the Sovereign Grand Quiddity Inspector General of the Will Self Club, as reported in the Daily Beast. “We make sure there are lots of images of Will. I think it’s important to infuse his consciousness into our consciousness and evoke his energy.’
There are fifteen of these founder members named after works by Self attempting to reach a higher state of consciousness by evoking ‘the energy and the time of the author’, despite the fact that Self himself has made fun of such followers. Why do writers attract acolytes? I understand why, say, Scarlett Johansson (or even Kristen Stewart – steady now) would have a fan club, but why writers?
Apparently Self immerses the reader in his consciousness. To be fair, his club members are smart people having a bit of fun, but you can see it getting out of hand. Like many authors, I have a good relationship with readers who collect my books (although you get warnings – one guy I met approached with his signing stack and unwrapped what I thought was a foil sandwich bag to reveal his phone, which be believed was being hacked into by the government.)
And the dangers of upsetting extreme fans are real. An actor I know told his biggest fan to stop calling and she tried to kill herself. Another, a writer/editor, ended up having to go to the police after his denied fan started a hate campaign on Facebook.
I was always a huge fan of JG Ballard and wrote to him several times – he always took the time ago reply with grace and thoughtfulness, and that was quite enough for me. And anyway, these days I can’t help feeling that as writers we should be damned grateful that we still have fans at all!