She had me at Fangirl.
The first time I learned about Rainbow Rowel was from her NaNoWriMo pep talk in 2013. From there, I devoured all of her books she had released (Fangirl, Eleanor & Park, and Attachments, in that order) and waited in anticipation for what was to come (Landline and Carry On).
In October 2015, I was ridiculously excited to see her speak at NerdCon Stories in Minneapolis, where I also got the chance to meet her!
|Why yes, the tote bag placement was indeed intentional, why do you ask?|
|Oh yeah, John Green was there, too.|
So what makes this woman such an inspiration to me? Her style of writing is similar to mine, I think, or what I want to aspire to. But let me count the ways:
- Imperfect love interests. Park is a brooding Asian guy who wears makeup. Levi is a barista with a receding hairline. Lincoln is a Dungeons & Dragons nerd and kind of a stalker. Yet they’re all HOT.
- Imperfect leading ladies. These girls and women have flaws. And history. And personality quirks. And muffin tops. And thank goodness for that. What’s not to love?
- Vivid descriptions you can feel in your gut. Lines like these are my inspiration on how to free myself from clichés in my own writing.
Eleanor’s mother was beautiful. She was tall and stately with broad shoulders and an elegant waist. All her bones seemed more purposeful than other people’s. Like they weren’t just there to hold her up. They were there to make a point…You’d look at Eleanor’s mom and think she must be carved into the prow of a viking ship somewhere…Eleanor looked like her mother through a fish tank…At sixteen, Eleanor was already built like she ran a medieval pub. – Eleanor & Park
- Darn good, realistic dialogue. Dialogue is easily my favorite thing to write, and it’s also my favorite thing to read. It’s easy to do poorly, but Rainbow almost always gets it right.
- Fan culture. The fanfic in Fangirl. The Star Wars premiere in Kindred Spirits. The music in E&P. Love it, can totally 100% relate to it, and frequently write about it myself.
- Hometown love. Most of Rainbow’s books are based in Nebraska, and you can tell she loves her home state. Likewise, I’m a cheesehead through and through (although I don’t watch football), and like to represent Wisconsin pride in my books.
- She just gets me sometimes.
It was a pretty good strategy for most social situations: show up, fall back, let somebody else break the ice and take the spotlight. Somebody always would. Extroverts were nothing if not dependable. But even an expert mid-trovert like Elena couldn’t lie low in a crowd of three. – Kindred Spirits
Rainbow Rowell is currently writing for Marvel’s Runaways comic book series.