Before I joined the Supernatural fandom I had no idea the impact that a fandom could have on someone. But maybe the universe secretly knew that I needed to find the Supernatural Family last year and not anytime earlier. Who knows. But shortly after joining the Supernatural family, I learned about Family Don’t End With Blood (FDEWB). So when I launched my blog late last year, I had to write about this book in one way or another. I’m so glad Lynn agreed to personally share what inspired FDEWB. Fair warning, it is a long read.
But I really hope you all enjoy the read. It’s such a heartwarming story, so worth the time.
The inspiration for writing Family Don’t End With Blood came directly from the experience of writing my other Supernatural books.
Over a decade ago, I fell hard for Supernatural and thought I’d lost my mind. So I did what psychologists do best – figure it out! Most of my research implied (or said outright) that being a fan wasn’t positive. Some suggested that fans were lonely, isolated and unable to sustain social relationships. And a few researchers even went so far to call this passion for a fictional character or actor an “erotomanic delusion.” Definitely not something anybody would want to have.
No, my community was vibrant and creative. They loved Supernatural and wanted deep, thoughtful discussions about the show, its storylines, and characters. The fandom was full of talented women who created and shared beautiful fanfic, fanart, fanvids etc. with no expectation of anything in return. I witnessed people discovering their talents and daring to put their work out there. I saw fans grow and develop, all thanks to this supportive community. Most of all, I saw fans supporting each other. Not just through traumatic Supernatural episodes (we all sobbed our way through the live airing of All Hell Breaks Loose when Sam died in Dean’s arms), but through real-life trials and tribulations too.
Far from being a bunch of lonely, isolated, possibly delusional individuals, these fangirls were smart, creative, and funny. Talented and just plain awesome. So when Supernatural conventions first began, I eagerly bought plane tickets and headed across the country. And guess what? The fans I met at these conventions were every bit as awesome in person. Forget “online communities” not being “real communities”.
We could share what we liked and we could desire what we wanted. If we wanted to gush over Dean Winchester’s biceps or Sam Winchester’s broad shoulders or Castiel’s blue eyes, we could do that. There was nothing stopping us from expressing our passions through words, or drawings or even videos. The rest of the fandom community wouldn’t censor us. In fact, someone in the community would invariably say “OMG yes, me too!”
Kathy (my Fangasm co-author and fellow professor) and I got pretty annoyed with these researchers for getting it so wrong. So we decided to correct those misconceptions by writing our own book – one that would tell the true story of fangirls! That’s how we published Fandom At The Crossroads and Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls. We shared our story of Supernatural fandom from the inside and why fangirling was not only a good thing but actually good for you.
That’s how we ended up on the Supernatural set sitting in Jensen’s and Jared’s trailers as they shared their thoughts about the fandom. And in a hotel bar chatting with Misha Collins about fanfiction. And then sharing some with Eric Kripke. We didn’t ask them your standard journalist questions but they answered every single one. It turned out they already knew what those researchers didn’t – fans were just like them. In fact, most of them identified as fans themselves. So much for those “erotomanic delusions” and “parasocial relationships”.
I’ve since written and spoken about Supernatural and fandom – for magazines, documentary films, conventions, and of course in more books. It has become one of my major research lines for my university.
Which brings me to Family Don’t End With Blood. After I published Fangasm and started to blog regularly, fellow fans started sharing stories with me on how the book, show, and fan community had changed their lives. Changed them in important ways. Sometimes actually saving their lives.
Something else that I also loved, and still love, about ‘fandoms’ is the act of giving back. And I wanted to give back with my next book. So I decided to put together a book with all of these inspiring stories. I wanted other fans to read them and think ‘if they can do it, so can I’. I didn’t care what that ‘it’ was, it could’ve been anything: getting sober, leaving a cult, or deciding to keep on living.
Shortly after that, Jared Padalecki randomly asked me one day if I was going to write another book. All of the actors had contributed to my other books (and read them!) so I’d gotten to know them over the years. I told him a little about my idea for FDEWB. To my surprise, he also had a story about being changed by the show and fandom. And yes, he trusted me enough to share it.
I asked the other actors if they also had similar inspiring stories. Almost everyone did. It took two years to complete and a lot of hand-holding for both the actors and fans. After all, they were baring their souls with these very personal stories. Yet they all did it. Every single person who said they would do it did it. I’m so proud of them all. Jared, Jensen, Misha, Kim, Briana, Ruth, Rachel, Mark, Jim, Gil, Rob, Matt, Osric, and the courageous fans. They all wrote their hearts out.
Since then, I’ve gotten so many emails and tweets from fans who’ve been inspired by FDEWB. Just like we hoped. Some tell me that it’s their “go to” book for when they’re feeling so down they’re not sure they can make it. Others tell me that they shared it with a loved one and now that person “gets it”. And more importantly, there are those who now understand themselves, love themselves, and accept themselves.
A portion of every Family Don’t End With Blood sale goes towards Random Acts and Attitudes in Reverse. So we feel like we’re making a difference in that way. But what we love the most is hearing about how much the book means to someone.
So now let’s go back to that early research: fangirls are isolated, delusional, stuck in a fantasy world? Yep, I don’t think so.
This show, this fandom, these fangirls – we’re all making this world a better place and, in the process, inspiring each other to Always Keep Fighting. That’s what Family Don’t End With Blood is all about. And I’m pretty proud of… Click To Tweet