NOTE: This is the FIRST section of Alana King’s (Alana King Books) interview. We talk about how she became a Supernatural fangirl and a part of the fandom. We also explore its impact on her life. This interview is available in video format towards the middle of this post. For the SECOND part, click here. Hope you enjoy!!
Ask two friends how they met. Chances are it was either at school, work, networking event, or through a mutual friend. So when you stumble upon someone like I did with Alana King (Alana King Books) you know there’s something special. During last summer last, I was searching YouTube (naturally) for “Get Ready for Convention” videos. I had tickets for Supernatural DC Convention and had absolutely no idea what to expect. Alana’s videos popped up and what can I say … the rest was history.
Note from Alana: I’m Alana. I’ve been posting videos on YouTube (Alana King Books) about my favorite fandoms for almost four years now, but I’m most well known for my Supernatural content. I try to help others embrace their fandoms, and spread positivity and love. Because I’m an aspiring filmmaker, videos have always been my favorite form of creative expression. The content I post on my channel ranges from vlogs to documentaries to short films, and I enjoy every medium I’ve tried so far. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with a bunch of actors, people, and companies that I admire, and can’t wait to see where else my YouTube channel leads me in the future.
Q: Can we just talk a little bit about yesterday’s episode (Various & Sundry Villains) before we dive in? What were your initial thoughts and reactions on it?
A: I really liked it. I thought it was fun ’cause last week’s episode was kind of more serious. One of those really scary ones that get inside of your head because humans are the monsters. Those are the ones that always terrify me the most. So I liked how this episode was a lot more lighthearted. And I loved that they brought back Rowena because she’s one of my favorite characters. I just think she brings this amazing sassiness to the thing. I thought it was fantastically well done. She just killed it. I also loved how they had that serious moment between Rowena and Sam too. She just killed it. What did you think?
S: Yeah, I feel like everyone was kind of …everyone’s just become really sassy all of a sudden. Like Cas, I was watching Cas’s scenes with Lucifer and I was just like “oh my gosh, he is no longer depressed or anything. He’s just angry and full out sassy.” But yeah, I agree with you. It was a long time coming for Sam to kind of talk about his feelings. It’s definitely been pushed to the side. So it was nice to see him finally talk it out with Rowena. It was definitely a really nice break from all of the drama and chaos that’s been going on.
A: Yeah I’m always there for the Sam feels so…
S: Oh yeah, and I didn’t really realize how much I missed the monster-of-the-week episodes. It kind of reminded me of the earlier seasons in this show.
Q: Speaking of the beginning, I would love to hear your story and journey on how you came to Supernatural and the fandom.
A: Oh god, do we have five days?
S: We have all the time in the world.
A: Geez, I started watching the show in the summer of 2015 and it was actually because my cousins had recommended it to me. I have three girl cousins on my mom’s side and they all watch Supernatural. So they were all like “oh you need to watch this”. So I watched the first episode and I was kind of tentative at first because I am not a horror fan at all.Like I can't watch horror movies and I heard that this was kind of what that was and I was like, hm... I'm not so sure. @_kingbooks_ Click To Tweet
But even though the first few seasons were pretty terrifying, I just found myself hooked on it and I would binge watch… I actually binge watched 10 seasons in less than a month because I couldn’t stop watching it.
And I hadn’t watched a TV show like that before. Because usually when I get into a TV show, I’ll watch it as it’s airing. This is the first time that I’ve binged something so heavily on Netflix and I just couldn’t get enough of it. When I caught up I was like, “what am I suppose to do between now and when the 11th season comes out”.
So I already had this YouTube channel (Alana King Books) and I just recently changed the name of it […] but back then I was still doing book videos and I was talking about Funko Pops a lot actually, which I didn’t know that people were that interested in but they were. After watching the show, I started to sort of start making Supernatural videos. I started during Season 12 doing those weekly reaction videos that I do now with season 13.
Actually, it was really only just last year that I had fully inserted myself into the fandom more. I was religiously making reaction videos every week because I really wanted to get into the fandom more. I saw all those awesome people talking to their Supernatural friends on Twitter and I was like, “I want to have Supernatural friends”.
So I actually went to my first Supernatural convention at the beginning of 2016 […] with my cousin Hayley. We only went Saturday and Sunday because at the time I didn’t know too much about Supernatural and they were expensive. I was like “well I know I only want to meet Jared and Jensen but I also want to see the rest of the cast as well. I want to see Misha and you know….” So we went, and it was the first time they ever did the convention in Pittsburgh so that was really cool.
After that, I knew that I wanted to get into the fandom a little bit more. That’s kind of what prompted those weekly reaction videos. I don’t know what it was. […] just the fact that everyone there shared a common interest in Supernatural. And everyone was so welcoming and accepting and kind. I was like ‘ok, this is perfect. This is the community that I’ve been looking for.”
Then in March of 2016, I think it was, I started reaching out to people more. I reached out to Lynn because “Family Don’t End With Blood” was coming out. And um… books and Supernatural are like my favorite. So I was like “oh I’ve got to contact her” because I wanted to know more about her story. And I just love her so much.
And it was really cool because while I was there, Shelley introduced me to some people from Creation. We started talking more about possibly collaborating on some work. So that was really a door opener because I’m now able to travel to more of these conventions and make videos for Creation. […] it’s been a really fun experience so far. I guess that’s as condensed a story as I could make it.
Q: Was there something that drew you to Supernatural in the first place? Something that made you not only want to watch the show but also be a part of the fandom?
A: Well I wouldn’t have watched it if it weren’t for my cousins but what kept me watching was Sam and Dean’s relationship. I’ve never had a sibling but I’ve always wanted a sibling. So seeing how they worked together and Jared and Jensen are just amazing. They’re so talented and how they portray Sam and Dean is incredible. I don’t even know, just something about them. And of course, the plots of the season are amazing too […] unless we’re talking about season 6 and 7, those I have strong opinions on… […]
Just the way people were supporting each other and lifting others up. And how the cast interacted with fans, you could really tell that they genuinely cared. Also, just how passionate the fans were for the show and for lifting each other up, I was like “I want to be a part of that”. And I’ve definitely seen a lot of that in my time in this fandom.
Q: Yeah, I definitely agree. Because up until now, I’ve always watched shows from afar too. I guess I’ve always just been told that fandoms or ‘fangirling’ are obsessive or crazy. Only for the geeky, non-cool people.
A: I mean yeah, I think that just comes with being a fan in general. There’s still a lot of stigma around “oh you’re a fan of this and you’re openly willing to show it”. It’s like “hm, that’s kind of childish, that’s kind of nerdy”. That’s something I really had to deal with in high school and something I’m still dealing with in college. I still get self-conscious when I wear a fandom shirt to class or you know…
And I love Supernatural. If I want to wear a Supernatural shirt to show that, then I’m going to do that. […] I’m gonna share my passion for this and you can deal with it. If you don’t like it, then you don’t have to engage.
Q: Have you found that you’ve changed as a person from when you were in high school? Like almost realizing that “you can be a fangirl and love Supernatural or any other fandom and there’s nothing wrong with that”? It’s cool.
A: Yeah, that’s a huge part of why I have this channel. To let other people know that it’s fine. Embrace your fandom, that’s what I always say.
Q: Taking a look back at how you were as a child or in high school, what would you say is the most notable change in you as a person or in your personality because of Supernatural?
A: Having a YouTube channel, I would say, it’s definitely helped me be more confident. Because I’ve always been very shy and quiet. So the YouTube channel (Alana King Books) has definitely really helped me open up. It’s also really hard because I have anxiety, I’m very open about that, and I never really realized what that was. I thought it was just always like “oh I’m nervous all the time.” That’s what I thought…no, that’s not what it was […] but I never noticed that before, because I’ve never really been educated on it at all before.
That’s been one of the biggest changes that has come from me doing this and I’m really grateful for that. Because now, I’m also trying to educate other people about the topic as much as I possibly can. I think it’s really important that you shouldn’t be afraid to realize these things in yourself and talk to other people about it and seek help for them because you shouldn’t be. I mean, it’s who I am. I’ve accepted that. But sometimes I need help managing it.
But then, also with the whole confidence thing. I was really never too confident with showing what I was passionate about because as much as I would love to say that I don’t care about what people think, especially with anxiety, yeah, you care. It hurts when people are rude and judgmental and that’s still something I have to deal with. […]
But having a YouTube channel and being able to talk to people and know that thousands of people are like me or that they can relate to what I'm going through, that's been really extremely helpful -- @_kingbooks_ Click To Tweet
Because I feel like I can now be more myself. And since I can be more myself online, it transfers over to how I act in my everyday life. Also, it’s been really interesting how much it’s helped me with public speaking because I use to not be really good with that.But now, every time I have a presentation in class I’m completely fine. Because like, you just pretend you’re talking to your camera but you’re talking to a classroom with ten people. Oh, it’s just like I’m talking to people, I’m just talking, I can do that.
Q: Honestly, I feel like everyone was like that when they started talking to a camera, in like their first few videos. Because I was like that too when I first started my YouTube channel.
A: No one starts out perfect. You gotta learn. And talking to a camera can be really intimidating at first because it’s like um… how do I speak? How do I position the camera so it’s not awkward? It’s weird at first but you get used to it.
Q: Yeah, and you also kind of develop a voice and style for yourself too. Because I know when I was younger, I always tried to put on this preppy kind of happy persona everytime I recorded.
A: I mean, I guess I can kind of see that. I personally don’t film when I’m not in a good mood because I have to be in a certain mindset to film. I like my videos to be genuine and authentic so I don’t want to force myself to do something.
And when I’m not feeling ok, I’ve started to realize that, you know, it’s ok to show people that too because if you put on this happy persona all the time, then it’s not an accurate depiction of your life.
Q: Yeah, I feel like maybe that’s why Supernatural and its fandom is just so unique. Because you see those struggles that Sam and Dean go through and you realize “oh, other people are also struggling. Even if they are just TV characters.” But it’s like they’re getting hit by all of these things too.
A: Yeah, I’ve heard that from a lot of people actually from this campaign that I’m doing right now. I’ve been receiving a lot of letters from these people for Jared and that’s what a lot of people have been talking about.
These demons and monsters may be in your head, but you still gotta struggle with them and I think that’s really important. I think Supernatural has shown people that it’s ok not to be ok and the actors have definitely pushed that message out there that it’s ok not to be ok.
Q: Forgive me if this is too personal. But was there a moment while watching the show when you realized “oh this thing I’ve been feeling, it has a name. It’s an actual illness. It is something real and I’m not just making it up.”
A: Not while watching the show per say. I was actually reading Jared’s chapter in “Family Don’t End with Blood” when I figured it out. I was reading about his experiences with depression and anxiety and I was like “oh, I can actually relate to a lot of what you are saying.”
I had actually been feeling this way a lot while at school … *gets interrupted by Alana’s roommate singing* … um yeah. So it was Jared’s chapter that opened me up to that and… and I actually realized that I’ve had anxiety literally from the time I was born. My mom’s realized that too.
One of the ways that anxiety manifests itself is through physical symptoms like that. I just didn’t know it at the time. But I would literally go to the nurse’s office every single day.
Q: This was in elementary school or middle school?
A: Um, both. It got better in middle school but it still happened. Looking back on it, I had a lot of symptoms of having this and my mom’s realized this too now. But back then, she thought with the stomachaches, I would just grow out of it. But it still happens a lot. And it’s not just nervous butterflies that you get before doing a presentation.No, it's about extremely small tiny things that you shouldn't have butterflies about and I was like you know what, I thought it was just something that I had to deal with, but it's not. -- @_kingbooks_ Click To Tweet
Reading Jared’s chapter in “Family Don’t End With Blood” about how he had all of these thoughts and symptoms, how much he struggled with this and depression, I was like “ok, let’s have a conversation about this. Because I’m 19 at this point and I’m kind of fed up with not talking about any of this.” That’s what really pushed me to get help. I have received help and I’m still learning to cope with it. I’m still learning about how to best manage it. Sometimes it gets really bad and sometimes it’s not.
Q: I guess you could say that Supernatural really helped you in figure out this part about you and learn to cope with it …
A: Yes. It’s definitely helped to be in a fandom (author’s note: which is why I also rebranded) where a lot of them are also going through the same things. It’s been actually very helpful to be able to talk openly about it online. Because when you feel you can’t really talk about it because you have no idea what exactly it was… you kind of shut yourself off and get that mindset where you just go “I’m not going to talk about it”.
Being able to educate people about it and being more open about it has actually been somewhat therapeutic. Just talking about it really helps. And having other people say ‘I’m going through it too’ also helps.
Q: Yeah I actually would love for you to talk a little bit about this campaign that you’re doing.
A: Oh!! Ok!