On the Fandom Road: No Longer an Outsider

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The year was 2011. A friend of mine – knowing my penchant for fantasy – had been pestering me to read a book series called A Song of Ice and Fire. “You’ll love it,” he said. “And now there’s a TV show based on it.” I finally relented and purchased all five novels – lucky for me, A Dance with Dragons had just been released. As soon as I read the first few pages, I knew I was hooked.

I laughed, cried, and screamed my way through the entire series in two weeks – yes, really – and proceeded to binge season one of Game of Thrones. I was drawn to the outcast Jon Snow who never felt accepted for who he was, and the timid Daenerys Targaryen who endured hardship and suffering, and walked through the fire to emerge stronger than before. I wanted to be witty like Tyrion, brave like Arya, kind like Sansa. I could see myself reflected in them: the child I had been, the adult I currently was, the person I wished I could be.

I had found a new obsession. Dying to know what would happen next, I began poring through the online discussion boards, reading theory after theory and kicking myself for not being able to figure them out on my own (R+L=J, anyone? It’s not as obvious as some people think!). I was a silent observer, too shy and intimidated – and frankly, too busy – to engage. I eventually found Watchers on the Wall and followed the site religiously for any scrap of news about my favorite show and novel series. I still sat on the sidelines, but the steady stream of information kept me sane between seasons.

Meeting my QuizUp friends at Con of Thrones

Meeting my ASOIAF QuizUp friends at Con of Thrones

It took several years for me to really get involved in the fandom, and it definitely wasn’t your typical route. I had discovered a trivia app called QuizUp, and lo and behold they had categories for both Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire. Not only could you play the game, you could write posts under each topic. The ASOIAF board was quite active and users would organize trivia tourneys. It seemed like fun, so I got involved and acquainted myself with the other players who quickly became my closest online friends.

I began posting theories, ideas, and was even inspired to start drawing again. Everyone was incredibly supportive, and they encouraged me to join the A Song of Ice and Fire Facebook group. I began listening to podcasts and even started my own – short lived – blog to satiate my passion for writing about the books and the show.

One day I saw that the Watchers sister site, Westworld Watchers (my other television obsession) was looking for writers, and I eagerly submitted for a position. It was a rough time for me, as I had been laid off from my “day job” and was at a pretty low point in my life. Much to my surprise they let me come on board, and having that sense of purpose and accomplishment gave me a much needed confidence boost to get me through. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Discussing the mothers of Westeros with Laura Stone, Kate Dickie (Lysa Arryn), and Sue the Fury

Discussing the mothers of Westeros with Laura Stone, Kate Dickie (Lysa Arryn), and Sue the Fury at Con of Thrones

From there, I met all the amazingly cool people involved with the site and proceeded to take on writing duties for Watchers as well. I not only attended the first Con of Thrones but sat on panels with writers and podcasters I had followed for years, and I even met some of the wonderful actors and crew from Game of Thrones. It was surreal, and I felt incredibly lucky to be there. At the second Con of Thrones I felt more like a veteran, but it didn’t lessen the excitement of being part of such a diverse, knowledgeable community.

So here I am – I went from being a wallflower of the fandom to writing for the best Game of Thrones fansite, speaking on Con panels, and now podcasting for The Night’s Cast. It’s been a fantastic journey, and I hope it continues through the season 8 finale and beyond. I look forward to the rest of the ride.

10 responses

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, Samantha. I’ve loved all of these personal stories; they (and you) have all touched me in different ways. I look forward to meeting you at Con!

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    2. Hi Vanessa,

      thanks for your posts. I really have been enjoying this site almost from the beginning (at this location), though I only rarely comment. While it has changed somewhat over the years, I really appreciate the mostly civilized tone in the discussions and the enthusiasm of the writers. Keep up the good work!

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    3. Vanessa, love all of your posts and so glad you found your way here. Its an exciting, vibrant place for everything GOT and we are lucky you are a part of it!

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    4. Thanks for sharing your road.
      My son and future daughter in law seem to have bonded over a trivia app that gives away money every night… I can’t tell you which one it is, but sometimes trivia gets people together!

      I so look forward to digging into the books after the show is over. I have already learned so much from reading book reader’s comments, and I look forward to immersing myself in the book world. I can say there’s no way I can read as quickly as you though!

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    5. beware of sentimentalism…

      Wow, I got really emotionl reading this. Thank you for openning your heart to us Vanessa, I am very greatful.

      I also feel like I have found an online home in this web, I read your articles religiously and read the comments, posts an theories of the many people here, its truly marvelous.

      I would like to Thank you Vanessa, Sue the Fury, Luka Nieto (queda pendiente la quedada eh), Hogan McLaughlin (I seriously struggle with your surname sir) and all the amazing people who put so much effort into this amazing site.

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    6. Thanks for sharing your journey down the fandom road. I enjoy your articles and when your wonderful artwork is posted on the twitter feed!

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    7. Thank you for sharing your journey, Vanessa. I am a fan of your artwork as well and enjoy watching the drawings you post! They’re amazing!!

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