Why I Don't Have 15 Year Old Fans on Booksie
I have fans here. Maybe not a lot, but as Harlan Ellison once observed, "my fan base is a small group, but an intelligent one" or words to that effect. I like their work too, and I am a fan of them as well.
I recently got a request from someone to read their work. After reading his story and politely commenting, then checking out his page (I should have done it the other way around), I found out that he was 15. Now there's a slightly racy comment out there that I wish I could take back. I'll take most reading requests, but I really wish that Booksie would list your age or at least your age range. In fact, if you're like me, you'd rather someone had your range instead of your actual age. I'm thinking that they should divide it into two age ranges: Old enough to buy cigarettes and Not old enough to buy cigarettes. Granted, an 18 year old is only slightly more mature than a 17 year old, but according to the state, he's old enough to at least pick up a pack of butts. Not the greatest way to gauge maturity, I suppose, but you've got to start somewhere.
There are scary writers in any age group and I once read a story here by someone claiming to be a 34-year-old woman, but I'm not sure about that. I'm guessing that she's had a full-time job since she was 8, so she really hasn't had time to read anything before trying to emulate what she'd never seen. If someone told you to write a novel and the thickest book you'd ever read was "Hello, Moon" chances are you wouldn't have a clue how to do it. Still, you have a better chance of finding the next "The Caine Mutiny" written by a 34-year-old woman than a 15-year-old boy.
Am I being ageist? Probably so. We're all ageist to some extent. Otherwise, little Billy would be mackin' on Mom's best friend and that's just wrong. We generally have friends close to our own age, with a few exceptions maybe, but all-in-all we stick close to our own group.
You can't and shouldn't do that with authors, I suppose. One of my favorite Booksie authors is 20 years old. I find his work well-written and intelligent. At least he can buy cigarettes and vote. Next year he'll be able to drink. (Look me up then, kid. I'll buy you a Cosmopolitan.)
Well, after I read and commented on this fifteen-year-old's story (let's just call him Mr. Fifteen), he was polite enough to put in a fan request for me, too. Sadly, I had to turn him down. I've never been a mom, but if I was, I'd be watching every little thing my kids did online, at least until they were old enough to purchase those cancer sticks legally. And I'd keep them far, far away from someone like me.
I was never a big Harold Robbins fan, so it's strange that like him, I enjoy writing about salacious situations and people. I tried to list all of my recurring characters and their faults once and I was much surprised to find that I had an obscene number of drug addicts, hookers, exotic dancers, and con artists. One police detective. How he got in there, I haven't a clue, but he has an interest in one of the strippers, so I guess that's something.
On the sexual side, I have straight, Ken-and-Barbie couples. Fine and good, but I also have (much) older men with (much) younger women, gay men, lesbians, and transsexuals. You could argue that any of those people are outside the norm, but I've never seen those things as wrong, just different from me. I have a friend in my life who is a lesbian and I love her like a sister. I'm just not planning to see the inside of her bedroom anytime soon.
So let's say Mr. Fifteen decides to follow through and do what any other fan would do and read one of my stories. He may even be mature enough to handle the content, but chances are his mom isn't mature enough to handle Mr. Fifteen handling it. Now my name is mud with someone who might have once picked up one of my novels, read it, and enjoyed it herself. She just doesn't want her underage son exposed to my "river of filth" so I'm not making any friends there.
So Mr. Fifteen isn't becoming one of my fans. Hopefully he'll be so pissed at me rejecting his friendship (Which I guess is what Booksie "fans" are to most people, really. Personally, I only "fan" you if I like your work.) and won't even look at my stuff. If he's subjected to it at fifteen, he could turn to a life of crime. Or at least take up smoking.