Know Me Betterman: Kylie M. Brien

Welcome to the very first Know Me Betterman entry, which comes to us courtesy of Kylie M. Brien, a beloved member of my writing group. (Forgot what Know Me Betterman is? Click here.) I'll let Kylie introduce herself, but I will also co-sign the Fangirl recommendation for all you Harry Potter kids out there. Happy reading!

Hello Rebecca’s Radiant Readers,

My name is Kylie. I am a writer, bookseller, and (no big deal or anything) but I singlehandedly keep Starbucks in business with the amount of coffee I drink. I also really dig alliteration. It’s nice to meet you.

Something else you should know: according to Shrek, ogres are like onions because they have layers. I like to think people are like ogres in the way that ogres are like onions. Or maybe people are like onions. Doesn’t matter. I just like referencing DreamWorks or Pixar movies when I can. Anyways, the point is that I have layers and because of all my layers, I thought I was going to have a really difficult time picking a book to introduce myself to all of you with. I didn’t think I could find one that encompassed all (or at least most) of my layers. And then it hit me. Like a book falling onto my head from its precarious position on the top shelf of my bookshelf: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Or maybe it actually did fall off my shelf and hit me. I don’t remember. My head hurts a little.

Fangirl gets me like no other book does. So if you need to know more about me than my penchant for coffee you should read Fangirl but for now I will explain to you how this book incorporates a few of my layers.

·      Fanfiction: I spent the ages of 14 to 19 writing about characters that belonged to someone else. I wrote stories about Harry, Ron, and Hermione like Cath wrote about Baz and Simon. I had people who depended on me to get chapters up so that they could know how my version of J.K. Rowling’s fared in the stories my imagination spawned. This book showcased the fact that writing fanfiction is more than a hobby. Cath lost herself in fanfiction like I did. At times it was easier to live in the fantasy world than the real world. Writing fanfiction became (for both Cath and I) the only way we knew how to be writers. We both doubted our ability to be writers outside of fanfiction. How could we create our own characters or build new worlds when the only ones we knew how to live in were already made up and we were already in love with them? It was a challenge that we both had to overcome.

·      Cath’s Family: Books that feature single fathers raising their children with the mother out of the picture are rare. Deceased parents rendering the main character an orphan? Yes. Deceased mother? Yes. Deceased father? Yes. Absent father? Yes. Absent mother? Rarely. In Fangirl Cath and her twin sister, Wren, were raised by their father. Their mother decided too late that she wasn’t cut out for motherhood. As someone with a mother out of the picture and someone who has a really difficult time writing capable mother characters, I appreciated the fact that the single father and abandoned children were represented in this novel. I share a lot of Cath’s issues with her mother and I am as close with my dad as Cath is to hers.

·      Cath’s Diffidence and Aversion to Change: Cath has certain quirks that I can identify with as an introvert and as someone who also despises change. As a freshman in college, Cath is unfamiliar with her new surroundings. She avoids the dining hall for so long, subsisting only on protein bars she brought with her in order to evade a new experience. Cath keeps to herself a lot and is generally uncomfortable. She is awkward and afraid of new things. Cath and I aren’t necessarily the same person but we share similar traits. When reading a book I appreciate a strong female character that can kick ass but I also appreciate a character that I can relate to; one who has to realize her own strength and stop holding herself back.  

This is me in a nutshell. Writer, glad to have the family I have, and generally terrified and uncomfortable but working on overcoming that.

Thank you for allowing me to introduce myself to you and I hope that if you haven’t already, you pick up a copy of Fangirl and love it as much as I do!

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Kyle M. Brien is a writer, reader, and bookseller who lives in Boston and has great aspirations to travel to Wonderland, Oz, and Hogwarts before settling down in Neverland (most likely she'll be a pirate). You can follow her blog. And occasionally she tweets (@kyliembrien).