by J.D. Rhoades
Fen: The plural of fan. Another word for "fans," as in people who like something, not cooling devices.
The Urban Dictionary
One of the greatest parts about the writing life is the
chance it gives me to meet other writers–people whose work I love, and who, as
it turns out, are huge fun to hang out
with. But one of the unexpected bonuses I discovered about going to conferences and such is the chance I
get to hang out with fans, people who
love the same stuff I do, and who love to talk about it. Among the readers that make up such an important
part of this crime fiction community are a select few who go above and beyond
the call of ordinary fandom. You know the ones I mean: the people who love the
community so much that they become part of its infrastructure. So, herein is a
list of a few of my favorite fans. Note: It’s not intended to be an exhaustive list.
Chime in with your own tributes.
Jon, his wife Ruth, and Jon’s sister Jennifer. Jon is a man of boundless
energy and good cheer, with an infectious grin, a wealth of sound advice, and an apparently bottomless supply of Red
Bull. And Ruth? Oh. My. God. If Ruth was
any cooler, the angels would come and bear her bodily up to Heaven to sit at the right hand of James
Dean. And while I haven’t had as much chance to hang out with Jennifer in
real-time, I love her deeply twisted sensibility as expressed on her blog Human Under Construction, a must-read
for those who crave their daily dose of weirdness and/or mullets. And speaking
of must-reads, the Jordans’
labor of love, Crimespree magazine, is one of the essential publications for
the hard-core mystery/thriller buff.
ALI KARIM: My friend from across the water. According to his
blogger bio, Ali Karim is the assistant editor of the e-zine Shots, a
contributing editor at January Magazine, writes for The Rap Sheet, Deadly
Pleasures and Crimespree magazines and an associate member [and literary judge]
for both the British Crime Writers Association as well as The International
Thriller Writers Inc; and also helps judge Deadly Pleasures’ Barry Awards. AND he has a day job as an industrial chemist. I’ve never seen Ali and Jon in the same room together; I’m afraid if they were, the wallpaper would catch fire from all the energy being thrown off. I met Ali online when we both were hanging
around the USENET newsgroup rec.arts.mystery, and he was always one of the more
witty and well-informed members of an already witty and well-informed group of
And finally, last but not least, my North Carolina homegirl, MOLLY WESTON. I met
Molly when she moderated a panel at the Virginia Festival of the Book. The
panel was on humorous mysteries. You can tell she’s a hell of a moderator because
she managed to get past the fact that I don’t write humorous mysteries. Not
only that, she also arranged a subsequent whirlwind mini-tour for me and Florida writer Bob
Morris (who does write humorous mysteries, and damn good ones too). Not only
that, she brought lunch. Now when she
said, “oh, I’ll bring you guys something to eat,” I was thinking Subway or Burger King or
something. This is because I didn’t know Molly yet. We’re talking chicken salad
and other goodies, all homemade. And, on top of it all, she insisted on driving all over central North Carolina to get us
to the venues she’d arranged, and we made every one on time. Molly, you rock. Feed me like that and I’ll follow you anywhere.
So, who are YOUR favorite fen?