|The Youngest, The Smithie, and The Author|
However, now that I have two daughters who show great promise at writing, I've found another way to put them to work: blogging. Ladies and gentleman, I present Youngest, who is here to give us a fifteen-and-a-half year old's perspective on growing up as The Author's Kid.
Growing up and having to share your Mom with the world isn’t easy. A common question from people I meet at mystery conventions and book signings with my Mom is “What is it like to have an author for a Mom?” Normally I’ll giggle and respond with “It can be weird sometimes”, so I decided to share what it’s really like with you. DISCLAIMER: This post is based on my life/experiences/feelings, and a few of my brother’s and sister’s.
I try to hide it
While most people may be excited at the thought of a parent having fans, I actually try to hide it. While I have to share both my parents with other people(1), my Mom is the hardest to share. Unlike my siblings, who were born years before my mom became a writer, my entire life has been spent as the child of an author. This means all my life has , random people have known who I am, and who my mom is.
|At an LA book festival (ed note: with Tammy Kaehler)|
While I love my mom and all her readers(2) it can be really weird to have people compliment me on my mother’s work. So, when it comes to MY life, I try to keep my Mom’s life under wraps, and luckily for me she supports that. She’s fine when I tell people she’s a stay-at-home-mom, and outside of work introduces herself as my mom and uses the same last name as me. I want one place where Julia Spencer-Fleming is just the name on my mom’s birth certificate.
Things are normal to me….that might not be to others
My entire life I’ve considered normal dinner conversations to include:
- Who’s finishing their book, and when
- Mergers between publishing houses
- The most efficient way to kill someone
- How to hide a body
|A fundraiser for my middle school|
Needless to say, the same doesn’t apply to my friends. I also consider it perfectly normal for people I’ve never seen before to come up to me and start telling me how much they love my mother’s books. I’m used to my mom’s readers knowing various things about my life.
I’m also used to my mother being gone for periods of time. Whenever my mom gets around to publishing a book(3) she also has to go on book tour. Which means she can be away for weeks at a time. I understand when she has to miss my concerts, recitals, and plays, I know she’s sad about it too, but I just have to accept it.
Don’t get me wrong, I benefit from book tours. My mom’s a lot more open to taking me to California when her ticket and hotel are paid for! This also means I have very few vacations that are actually vacations. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I went on a trip that didn’t involve my mom’s work. This makes sense though, even a New York Times Bestselling, Award Winning author only gets paid 4 times a year. This means the family is used to going for months at a time with much money until she gets paid or, you know, FINISHES A BOOK LIKE SHE’S SUPPOSED TO(4). I’ve also learned that you can’t just say the phrase “I’ve been flapping for as long as I can remember” without lots of questions, eyebrow raises, and at least one person asking if that's appropriate to say.(editor's note: "To flap" means to open a hardcover to the title page and tuck the front flap over, making it easier for the author to sign.)
|At the Fort Lauderdale Book Festival|
I develop a way to interact with readers
Due to my age, I’ve done the most traveling with my mother, and consequently have met many readers. I’ve noticed many people ask very similar questions, for instance; “Do you want to be a writer when you grow up?”, “Have you read your mother’s work?”, and “What it is like to have an author as a mom?” Due to how common these are I have answers that are my immediate response: “No. I’m hoping to go into forensics or diplomacy.”, “No. It feels weird, plus there are sex scenes and I DO NOT need to read those.” and I’m answering the last one in this post! Once my friend told me “I find it funny that you can go from smiling and being all happy and talkative, to being completely composed.” I laughed and thanked her. I was good at it cause I was used to it. When you’re representing your mom at events you can’t show that you’re:
A good deal of my life has been spent smiling and making small talk with strangers while my mom is elsewhere. So I’ve become a bit of an expert at the old stiff upper lip thing (5).
It’s all worth it when I see how much my Mom loves doing what she does. The way she genuinely enjoys speaking at events(6) and talking to fans makes it all worth it. After all, she’s happy and I get free vacations.
- My father is a teacher.
- Thanks for paying for college!
- Trust me, I’m as eager for it as you readers, my birthday is in a few months
- YOU LITERALLY HAVE ONE JOB MOM
- This comes in handy when someone who I don’t like is talking to me.
- BTW I’ve memorized her speech and will do it for half the price and/or a box of cheese pizza.