Monday, September 8, 2008

First Sighting!

As noted in the comments, my friend Sandi in Tennessee found The Unnameables in a Barnes & Noble. On an actual shelf. For sale. To anyone who walks in. Like, strangers.

Oy. It's real. My stomach's in knots.

Here's the great thing about Internet friends...right now, someone at B&N and and someone else at Amazon are scratching their heads, pondering these bizarre single sales in Tennessee, Iowa, Montreal, Tokyo and London, to name just a few. Oh, and Australia. (*Waves to MaraudingDon.*)

This particular group of Internet friends is The Marauders, members of a private forum that started as a Harry Potter "theorizing" outlet...lessee, 2003, the year Order of the Phoenix came out. We started out discussing such weighty issues as whether Snape was good or bad (touchy subject, nowadays), what the triumphant gleam in Dumbledore's eye meant at the end of Goblet of Fire, and whether Dumbledore was gay. (Just kidding--most of us figured Lupin.)

As we got to know each other, we branched out and discussed our lives, politics, other books, movies, current events, you name it. Many of us had alter-ego characters for comic relief--in fact, the character now named Durindana in The Filioli was born as Astrella, an overdressed and hapless fairy who lived in a pub chandelier. (My editor's not thrilled with the name Durindana, so maybe she'll end up Astrella after all.)

It wasn't long before Harry Potter was secondary--nowadays, almost nonexistent--as a basis for the forum.

This became most obvious the day Lyny in Montreal discovered she was pregnant with her first child. She couldn't find her husband, Patrick, so she got on line and told us. As time went on, we saw ultrasounds, belly shots, and baby furniture, and the mothers in the group were free with advice. At last, when Lyny was in labor and having a difficult time, her mother and stepfather kept calling Meg in Wisconsin, who kept logging on to the Marauder site and telling the rest of us what was happening. We were prepared to stay up all night with Lyny and Patrick, but little Etienne was kind enough to arrive at 10 p.m.

Just this past Saturday, a group of Marauders (not me, unfortunately) watched via live feed while Meg got married.

Over the years, many of us have met in person. When Rob and I were in London we had dinner our first night with Andrew (known to us as Aberforth) and his wife, Melanie. Last summer, a bunch of us met for a couple of days at Niagara Falls, of all places. In both cases, it was more like a reunion than a first meeting.

When I joined the Marauders, I had just left my newspaper job and was working alone for the first time in twenty years. In some sense, the forum replaced office mates--if I felt like a break, I'd log on there for a chat.

It's hard to figure what this kind of thing will do to us as a species. OK, each of us is sequestered with the computer, ignoring any actual humans who might be sharing space with us. But we're essentially writing notes to each other, which used to be a dying art and has to be good for some part of the brain. For Lyny in Montreal and Emmalinde in Germany, this is a chance to practice written English. The rest of us now have friends who are furriners or Californians. (Sorry...channeling Tim Sample again.)

Does typing on a computer count as human interaction? Maybe not exactly...but it sure feels that way.

20 comments:

Peppergnome said...

I love my computer. Most of my friends live in there. :P

Ellen Booraem said...

I know, it does feel that way. My next door neighbors and I exchange emails regularly!

(Peppergnome is a Marauder, by the way...)

Sandi said...

Ellen, I have tears in my eyes. What a touching tribute.

I love all you guys! You're my extended family!

Sandi

ruth said...

As long as you're still able to talk to each other in person...

*imagines scene in the Brooklin woods, early morning, dogwalkers meet*

Ellen: Morning. How're you doing?
Neighbour: I'll sent you an email.

:P

Ellen Booraem said...

I hate to say it, Ruth, but it's happened!

Right back at you, Sandi.

Anonymous said...

i'm a freelancer too (web and graphic design) and just happened upon your blog! love your style of writing btw :)

i find it interesting these days what a helpful tool the internet has finally become. not just for the occasional online purchase or to get the weather...

but as a way to forge, knit and sometimes deepen community. i often want to write the creator of facebook a little thank-you note. it's so easy to lose touch with friends from the past for no good reason and so refreshing to reconnect and find it's like no time has passed at all!

Anonymous said...

Ellen, we are all so proud of our little fairy in the chandelier. We love you bunches!

I'm still waiting impatiently to get my hands on your novel. Two marauders are already bragging that they have read it.

*glares in the direction of kz and Sandi*

Hugs,
Willow

lyny said...

Awww, look at what you did! It's the middle of the night (pregnancy insomnia) and I'm in tears in front of my screen!

marauders rocks! I still can't beleive you guys even trew me a shower.

And getting to meet you in 2007, wasn't that amaising? It was like we've all known each others all our lives.

Greetinds from Montréal!

Barrie said...

Hey, friends are friends. What a tightly knit group the Marauders are! With the internet, we now have easier access to more and more people we have things in common with. Great post. AND...CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Anonymous said...

Ellen, my Niagara roomie, you've brought me to tickles all up and down my spine and now tears with this post. Our wonderful group has seen a lot hasn't it.

We are all so incredibly proud of your Goatman coming to literary life and we cannot wait for little Astrella to don her best sparkles and take flight.

Take flight. And perhaps, if I may borrow from the lyrics of a favourite song, the Marauder spirit is .."If my heart had wings, I would fly to ...." well, the "lie beside you as you dream" part may need adjusting :p

Di - north of Tokyo

Ellen Booraem said...

Thanks, Di! (Sorry about lumping you in with Tokyo, but I was too lazy to look up Tone-Machi.)

And Barrie, of course, is a member of my OTHER on-line family, the Class of 2k8. We stay in touch though a yahoo loop rather than a forum, but we've shared a lot of news and blues over the past year as our books came out. Many of us will stay in touch after our year is over, I'm sure. (We'll have to think of a good mechanism for that, Barrie.)

Cassie said...

I'll keep bugging my own bookstore, (I'm in there twice a week), even if they did say they'll call me when it's in.

It is quite the family we have online. We're really proud of you, and I'm looking forward to reading your book.

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you Astrella, and I luv* you very much! You go girl!

*in a non-sexual, non-stalking kind of way, of course

Kzspot

Peppergnome said...

Wow, Ellen, I loved this book! I have handed it over to my daughter, and went to Borders to buy a second copy for our school librarian. (Borders had three copies, prominently displayed in the new fiction area of the children's department)

I congratulate you on a brilliant first effort!

Donna (of the Marauding variety) said...

*waves back*

This blog post made me grin. Congratulations, Ellen.

Ellen Booraem said...

Oh, Pepper, thanks so much! And thanks for the Borders report (and the purchase for the library). The Marauders rock on...

*Waves back at Donna.* This could go on forever.

ruth said...

Just finished the book. It's fantastic! It really deserves all the praise it received so far.

The only thing I'm indignant about on McGonagall's behalf is the distinct lack of cats. ;-)

Ellen Booraem said...

Proudly and forever, cats are Useless. :-D

ellen

Peppergnome said...

Maybe Farmer has a cat to keep the mice out of the barn.

Ellen, have you heard? Your book is back ordered on Amazon. *grin*

Meg said...

Oh, Ellen. I know I said on the forum that you got me all wibbly again, but I had to say it here, too.

We want you in Milwaukee. :D I finally remembered to call Harry W. Schwartz (email wasn't replied to) and I ordered four copies! The location I called "only" had one in stock. Woo hoo! I also spoke with the girls' school librarian, and she can't WAIT to get her hands on a copy.

I'm sure you have some idea of this, but man, it's just too much fun to say "Yeah, I'm friends with the author, she lives in Maine." "How did you meet?" "Well, we've not actually "met" yet, you know, like in person, but I've known her for years through a Harry Potter forum!" "....." :D

Love ya,

Meg (The Recently Married Marauder)