Kathleen Smith is a licensed therapist and a mental health writer. She has written for plenty renowned publications such as Salon, Slate, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker, The Mary Sue, HelloGiggles and Bustle. On her free time, she likes to fangirl over TV shows as much as everyone else. She’s most known for running a blog called Fangirl Therapy, where fans can ask for advice on their daily fangirl problems. Her book ‘The Fangirl Life: A Guide to All the Feels and Learning How to Deal’ will be published by Penguin Random House in July 2016.
“The Fangirl Life” is described as “A Guide to Feeling All the Feels and Learning How to Deal”. Is it therefore related to the fangirl counselling you do on your website “Fangirl Therapy”?
Yes! But I wouldn’t call what I do on my blog “counseling,” exactly. Counseling requires two people interacting with one another in real time. On Fangirl Therapy, I give encouragement to people who write to me and feel frustrated with fangirling or people in fandom. The book is a guide with similar advice, tackling many of the same topics. Some of these include introducing their unicorn self to people offline, struggling with obsessions, or figuring out how fangirling can help their career goals.
What can readers expect to find in this book that makes it special?
This book isn’t an introduction to fangirling. It’s about what fangirling could be about if we take the time to be kind to ourselves and to other people. The responses I’ve gotten from readers go something like, “This book knows the inside of my brain.” So I hope that fangirls would read it and feel like someone knows their frustrations and can help them get started moving in a new, braver direction with their own life story.
Does the book have a major focus on fangirls and female empowerment or is it intended for all genders?
The Fangirl Life is focused on many of the offline and online issues that women face, but I do think anyone, regardless of how they identify, could benefit. Many of the exercises and techniques that I talk about are evidenced-based mental health knowledge that applies to anyone.
Psychology is a scientific field that has a lot to say on fandom behavior. Is your work as a licensed therapist reflected in the book or is it more light and comedic?
I would say both? It’s not a sociological or even psychological study of fandom. It’s a self-help book encouraging people to live a fuller, healthier life using fandom speak. I use research and knowledge I’ve accumulated as a therapist and professor of counseling, but the tone is definitely comedic. I believe humor is an excellent coping skill for life!
Did you use your own personal experiences as a fangirl to get inspiration for the book?
Yes! In many ways this book is a letter to myself and my close friends about how fangirling can help us become the women we were meant to be. I’ve felt the highs and the lows of crying about a ship or an actress or a TV show, so it’s not difficult to put myself in that perspective.
There still seems to be some stigma regarding fangirls in our society. What was your experience with publishers like?
Nothing but wonderful. I am very fortunate to have a supportive agent as well as an editor who is a fangirl herself! The publishing industry is full of women who are passionate about story, so it’s no coincidence that a lot of them identify as fangirls as well. There are so many YA novels about fangirling that are also coming out this year, so I think the industry is starting to more attention to our way of life. We have a lot of purchasing power.
Fangirls who purchase the book and send you a copy of their receipt will get a workbook with extra exercises for each chapter. Can you elaborate a bit on what readers will find without spoiling the surprise?
I love this workbook! Each page goes along with the chapter of the book, asking the reader to think more in depth about the topic and how it applies to their own lives. Because the book is self-help focused, I wanted to give people a place to record their thoughts and takeaways from the text. So by the time you finish the book, you’ll have several ideas for growth and change in your day-to-day life, be it relationships or your career, or how you deal with stress or anxiety. Everybody who pre-orders can get one!
Do you have any other projects for the future you can tell us about?
I am always scheming. I’m working on a comedy podcast right now with a fangirl friend, but unfortunately I can’t say more just yet! You can follow me on Twitter and our first show will be out soon.
If you pre-order a copy now, you will also get a full version of the Fangirl Dictionary. Not convinced yet? Check out some of the awesome reviews the book has gotten from other fandom people!