Have you ever discovered your new favorite author only to look up a few interviews and realize that they’re kind of terrible? Their jacket flap picture will never be quite the same after that, will it?
The opposite of this is a wonderful feeling. You’ve found an author who writes brilliantly and whose stories are constantly playing in your mind, and then you learn that they’re charming, friendly, and approachable.
The nature of authordom involves a lot of isolation, and sometimes that’s for the best. There’s nothing wrong with an author who connects with people primarily through the page. But it’s always nice to learn that an author is active in online communities and regularly talks with fans about their work.
Sometimes, your heroes are the people you’d hoped they were, and when that happens, it’s incredibly satisfying.
Not all authors are quite as social as the writers below, and not all authors have an online presence. But it’s great when they do—the excitement of seeing your favorite author respond to a question you asked on Reddit is exhilarating.
Here are 11 fantasy/sci-fi authors who are awesome to their fans:
N. K. Jemisin
Known for her bold and inventive Broken Earth trilogy, N. K. Jemisin not only takes the time to interact with fans, but she also supports other aspiring fantasy writers. Jemisin is highly active on Twitter, and though she responds to fans, she also calls people out for blatant bigotry (grab your popcorn—it’s a blast to watch unfold).
Jemisin is no newcomer to the scene, but she’s still down-to-earth about her writing career, and it’s great to see her sharing her excitement with fans. Some authors seem to be unable to comprehend their own success and exist in a constant state of amazement as people purchase and rave about their books. N. K. Jemisin is one of these people.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we like Brandon Sanderson a lot around here (see our recent posts on his massive fantasy universe and The Stormlight Archive). He is best known for completing Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series and for his own epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archive.
The dude writes copiously. He’s written 25 books—and his first book was published in 2005. A rough estimation reveals that his books may make up 40% of the market by 2050. Well, maybe not, but he’ll probably have written 40 more books by then.
Sanderson is very active on Reddit, under the username /u/mistborn, and he often answers fan questions, or even writes them into his books like this:
The cameo character appeared in Words of Radiance, and went on to become a minor character in Oathbringer. What a guy.
The author of The Handmaid’s Tale (source material for the mesmerizingly dark Hulu series) has a habit of being great to her fans. And several years ago, she came up with the idea of Fanado, an app that connects authors with fans digitally to “sign” their work. Unfortunately, the app never quite took off, but the idea behind it was fascinating. Using a Longpen (also invented by Atwood), the idea was that authors could sign physical works in addition to eBooks.
In her promotional video for Fanado, Atwood talked about the challenges fans face in connecting with authors, especially after an author becomes significantly famous.
Fanado was a bold idea, and maybe someday we’ll find a way to make it work.
Not only is Michael Sullivan transparent about the progress of his writing, but he’s also just a nice dude. He frequently responds to fans on Reddit (under the username /u/MichaelJSullivan, and he is constantly starting insightful conversations about the genre and the publishing industry. Most recently, he wrote a post on r/Fantasy about how to best support your favorite authors and how to make sure they get as much as possible from each purchase of their books.
Sullivan does this wonderful thing where he announces that he has completed a new series, then he publishes it one book at a time. This is how he wrote his first series, Riyria Revelations, which he self-published. Because all six books were written when he released the first, they follow a trajectory of building intensity and are tightly-plotted. His most recent series, Legends of the First Empire, is also complete, and he’s been releasing the book on schedule, a bit less than a year apart.
It’s great to be a fan of an author whose series you know won’t go unfinished.
Mark Lawrence is basically the dad of r/Fantasy on Reddit. He is the winner of r/Fantasy’s Stabby award for “Best Active r/Fantasy Professional” all three years it’s been given, and he has withdrawn himself from being nominated in the future to give other authors a chance.
It’s great to have authors like Lawrence who are able to be a huge part of the community while also writing amazing books. Lawrence’s best known works include his The Broken Empire trilogy, and more recently, Red Sister. On his blog, Lawrence runs the annual SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off), just another wonderful way he gives back to the community. The winner of SPFBO gets their book featured on 10 prominent fantasy blogs, which offers a lot of exposure to up-and-coming authors.
Lawrence is humble, friendly, and prolific. What more can you ask for?
Robin Hobb’s The Realm of the Elderlings books have whisked fans to a dark and magical place for two decades. She is always forthcoming when fans have questions, whether it’s on Twitter or Reddit. And you’ve got to love when an author is active in forums and subreddits for their own series.
Like many authors in this list, Hobb is quick to praise and support her fellow authors. Overall, she’s just a positive and prominent figure in the fantasy genre, and she always has been.
Josiah Bancroft is a regular on r/Fantasy, and he’s responded to every question I’ve ever asked him. His Books of Babel series is an unusual mix of wonder and cynicism that falls under the category of “light fantasy.”
On Reddit, Bancroft doesn’t hesitate to make fun of his own work:
…And he often responds to folks who didn’t like his books by thanking them for trying his work. I don’t think it’s possible to say anything that can upset this man.
Beyond this, Bancroft often lets people know when his books are about to go up in price, and he runs goofy contests on his site to give out free copies of his latest book. He’s another author who is simply excited to share his stories with his fans.
Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Neverwhere, Coraline, and many more) may be an author with celebrity status, but he’s not above answering fans’ questions and giving them writing advice on his Tumblr. He has also worked to help refugees through UNHCR through awareness and fundraising campaigns, according to Look to the Stars. This has nothing to do with how he treats his fans, but it’s a pretty great thing to do.
Even with dozens of bestselling books behind him, Gaiman writes on his Tumblr that “you always feel like a beginner.” It’s good to know that even Gaiman suffers from impostor syndrome, but on the other hand, it’s disconcerting that us aspiring writers may still feel this way if we hit it big.
Whether you make it or not, you’ll have Neil as company.
Janny Wurts is the author of the fantasy epic series The Wars of Light and Shadow, a laboriously crafted masterpiece that deserves more recognition than it gets. She has done several AMAs (Ask Me Anythings) on Reddit and goes out of her way to highlight other author’s works and achievements.
When she adds her two cents to a r/Fantasy discussion, expect a well-researched essay in response—like when she answered the question “Why is Tolkien and LOTR disliked by a lot of readers?” with this behemoth of a comment.
She’s an author and a scholar who has contributed to fantasy writing in more ways than one. If she responds to one of your questions, expect no stone to go unturned.
Chuck Wendig is known for his novel Star Wars: Aftermath (which fills in some events leading up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and a handful of sci-fi and fantasy novels and comics. He also runs Terrible Minds, a blog about writing through which he is awesome to his fans.
Wendig is very active on Twitter, and, like Jemisin, regularly supports fellow authors of all levels of success. He makes the sci-fi and fantasy genres feel like they’re one big family, and the fans are a part of it.
Is there anyone who I missed? Or any personal interactions you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!