Ladies + Fandom: Corey Ann Haydu

Anybody who’s spent time in this space (or has met me for more than five seconds) knows that when I love something, I love it VERY MUCH. Fandom’s in my bones, it’s one of my big happinesses, and over the years it’s also been a way to connect with some of the raddest women I’ve ever had the honor to know. And so I had an idea: why not chat with some of those awesome ladies about the awesome stuff they’re into? Each Wednesday this summer you’ll find an interview with a different author-friend about what she loves, why she loves it, and how she shows that love to the world.


Corey Ann Haydu: Author Headshot Session by Navdeep Singh Dhillon of Pataka Design

Corey Ann Haydu: Author Headshot Session by Navdeep Singh Dhillon of Pataka Design

Corey Ann Haydu is the author of OCD LOVE STORYLIFE BY COMMITTEEMAKING PRETTY and her upcoming middle grade debut, RULES FOR STEALING STARS. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program, Corey has been working in children’s publishing since 2009. In 2013, Corey was chosen as one of Publisher Weekly’s Flying Starts. Her books have been Junior Library Guild Selections, Indie Next Selections, and BCCB Blue Ribbon Selections. Corey also teaches YA Novel Writing with Mediabistro and is adapting her debut novel, OCD LOVE STORY into a high school play, which will have its first run in Fall 2015. Corey lives in Brooklyn with her dog, her boyfriend, and a wide selection of cheese.


Who/what are you fannish about? Why do you love it/them so much? Is there anything you don’t love about it/them?
I am a huge Counting Crows fangirl. I discovered them 20 years ago, when I was twelve and getting my first CD player. Up until that point my musical taste had been limited to Oldies 103.3, an excellent Boston radio station that played Beach Boys and Beatles and The Temptations and everything great that  came out of the 60s. But at twelve I was ready to dive in to music that went darker, and Counting Crows fit the bill. I’m not sure how it’s possible that songs that appealed to me at 12 are still my favorite songs at 32, and every age in between. But August and Everything After is the definition of a great album– every song hits something different and important in me, and when I listen I feel understood. I am a devoted fan– I didn’t mind when they went a little more mainstream in the late 90s and early 2000s. I’m on board for anything they do. I love Adam’s voice and I love how he performs– emotionally, dramatically, creatively. But mostly I love their lyrics and the way they understand the intersection of love and pain.
What’s your favorite part of being a fan? What’s your least favorite part?
I love that I have something that feels like it helps define who I am. It’s comforting to hold on to tangible things, and say this is me! I am a person who really loves Counting Crows! It gives me so much comfort to listen to their music. I feel less alone, I feel emotionally present, I feel connected, even, to my former selves– the 12 and 15 and 24 year old who also loved Counting Crows. I’ve changed so much over the last 20 years and I love that there’s something consistent in my love for this music.
As for my least favorite part, I’ve never been a Good Fan in terms of being knowledgable. I’ve seen Counting Crows perform almost every year for the last 15 years and a few times before that as well. But I don’t have a connection with the band members as individuals. I think Adam Duritz is a really special performer and I think the rest of the band is exceptional as well, but I’m not interested in who they are individually. I don’t know anything about them. I don’t know all the inspiration behind their songs– I know what they’ve meant to me, and what they’re about for me.
Have you ever written fic or made fanart (of this thing or of other things)? Would you? Would it wig you out if someone wrote fic or made fanart of your work, would you think it was awesome, or somewhere in between?
I haven’t ever made fan art (NO ONE would want to see my attempts at art of any kind) and I’ve never written fan-fiction. I think it’s related to what I said above– that I’m not as interested in the community aspect of fandom. I actually wish I was– I think it’s a beautiful thing and I love being part of passionate communities. Theoretically, it sounds great. But it’s not where my heart is. My personal fandom is about crying at a concert with a hand over my heart when I sing along with A Long December and feeling like the song is being sung directly to me or putting in my headphones and absolutely blasting Holiday in Spain or Anna Begins or hell, St. Robinson in his Cadillac Dream which has one of my favorite Counting Crows lines ever: “There’s a hole in the ceiling down through which I fell

There’s a girl in the basement coming out of her shell
And there are people who will say they knew me so well
I may not go to heaven..
I hope that you go to hell!”

As for fans of MY work– I’d be so honored to receive any kind of fan art or fan fiction! I think however people want to express their love of a work of art is fantastic– for me that’s being alone with it, reliving memories in my head, touching base with the feeling of surviving sad moments and connecting to the idea that someone has written an exterior expression of everything in my heart. But I love that for other people that expression of love for a project is a drawing or a poem or a continuation of the characters’ journeys. The point is to connect– and sometimes that happens soul to soul and sometimes that happens in more tangible ways. 
What has your experience been as a lady in fandom? Do you feel like fandom is a gendered space? Have there ever been times you felt unwelcome?
I suppose since my fandom feels more personal and less community oriented, this hasn’t been a huge problem for me. That said, I do think that expectation to have Facts About the Band instead of “just” Feelings About Their Work feels somewhat gendered at times. I think the idea that memory and personal connection has less meaning that a trove of trivia can have gendered implications.
That said, when I’m at a Counting Crows concert, it feels like a decidedly ungendered space. The wonderful thing of being a fan of something that’s been around a while is that most of the other really big fans are also tried and true, old school fans. I think the division is more generational than gendered. And if I’m honest, I probably participate in the generational judgment. When I’m at a show, I want to see other people in their 30s and 40s connecting to the music with me. It’s a snobby, unfair thing.
What has being a fan taught you? 
I think I’ve learned the value of loving something hard. I’m not a natural fan– I love a lot of things, but most of them with a bit of detachment. But there’s something to the pure joy of fandom– the reveling in something someone else has made– that I think I needed in my life. I’ve learned that you can love without a “point” and without “hipness”. I’ve learned about owning something that feels mine, and not apologizing for it. I’m going to Rome in a few weeks and of course I am going because Italy is amazing and I need a vacation. But the idea for the trip came about because Counting Crows are playing there and I felt secure enough in my fandom to say “It would mean something to me to go see this band perform in this particular city.” I don’t apologize for being a fan anymore. I don’t act like it’s silly to spend a night in Rome at a Counting Crows concert. I’ve decided it’s okay for that to be a real, serious, important part of my life. I’ve decided it doesn’t have to be a silly thing. It can be a real thing. It can matter in a real way.
How do you think being a fan (of this thing or of other things) interacts with or influences your writing? 
Honestly, it’s easy to shut down a bit emotionally when I’m writing– to write from a more logistical place. Some days I have to write from a less emotionally open place, a less vulnerable place. But being a fan (specifically a Counting Crows fan) reminds me to open up when I’ve been too boundaried. Being a fan reminds me what it is to be moved by something. Also, that music in particular gives me something to draw from when I’m feeling emotionally empty. It’s not always an option to draw from your personal life or the people you love. But Counting Crows are always there for me to engage with. They help me find the emotional, open, ready place in myself.
Being a fan also reminds me of why I write– to move people and connect with them and give voice and expression to bits and pieces of the human experience. It’s easy to forget why we write. Fandom reminds me.
Anything else you want to add?
Is this the space where I can say that if you somehow are not intimately acquainted with August and Everything After, get on that? Honestly, listen to every album of theirs and mostly to the lyrics and listen to songs on repeat because listening to songs on repeat is a gift we’ve all been given.
Don’t be afraid to connect with something in a big, ridiculous, intense way. It feels pretty effing good.