Series: The Fixer #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on 2015-07-07
Genres: Family, Mystery & Detective, Thrillers, Young Adult
Amazon • Barnes and Noble • Book Depository
When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.'s #1 “fixer,” known for making politicians’ scandals go away
for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister’s
footsteps and becomes D.C.’s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.
Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life. . . . until their worlds come crashing together and Tess
finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy’s. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay.
Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for more in this exciting new series.
I am beyond excited today to be a part of The Fixer blog tour! I am a big fan of Veronica Mars and begged for this book as soon as I saw the comparison and I’m so happy I did because I loved this book! When I was asked if I wanted to be on the blog tour for it, I didn’t hesitate at all. If you guys haven’t checked out The Fixer yet, do it now!
I’m really excited for the guest post Jennifer wrote because it’s all about fandoms and fanfiction and readers’ emotional connections to their favorite characters and how all of those things have changed how she writes and views her books once out in the world. It’s truly fascinating and I encourage you to read not only this post but the rest in the series as well. And in case you didn’t know, she has a PhD from Yale and is a professor in psychology, so you have to listen to her!
Guest Post by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Science of Fiction
One of the questions I get a lot as a writer who has a double life as a psychology professor studying the science of books, movies, and television shows is whether or not my work looking at the psychology of stories affects the way I write them. And the answer is that everything I learn about the power of stories from a scientific standpoint changes the way I write. So I thought I’d take the FIXER blog tour as an opportunity to give readers a look into the way my scientist and writer selves work together when I sit down to write a new book.
Part Three: the Psychology of Fandom
My most recent scientific paper was on a topic that psychologists—even those interested in the psychology of fiction—have overlooked for years: the psychology of fandom. Specifically, I wrote a paper about fanfiction and what its existence can tell us about the science of fiction more broadly. My basic argument boiled down to this: there is a long history of work looking at the way that readers contribute imaginatively to the stories they read, but very little work looking at fiction’s ability to inspire our imaginations after the last page of a book has been read or the credits on a movie roll. As a writer, I have a vested interest in knowing what it is about certain stories that make people linger over them, think about them, daydream about them, talk about them, play with them, and reinvent them. But there’s very little psychological research addressing this question.
Based on research in other disciplines, I identified two key elements that I think play a big role in fandom. The first is emotional investment, and the second is resistance to authorial authority.
Emotional investment means exactly what it sounds like it means: fandom arises when people are incredibly invested in characters and their relationships to each other. When I first started teaching my Cognitive Science of Fiction course at the University of Oklahoma, I was surprised to find out that not everyone daydreams about fictional characters. In fact, at least half of my class every year says that they have never had a daydream focused on a fictional character. This is shocking to me, because I daydream about favorite fictional characters pretty much all the time. Sometimes I daydream about getting sucked into their world. Sometimes I daydream about yelling at a fictional character who is making me angry, or about spilling secrets that a certain character has kept for far too long. Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like if characters from all of my favorite series met each other. Sometimes I just run out different scenarios for what I’d like to see happen next on a favorite show. It had literally never occurred to me that there are people who don’t do this until I took a poll in class one day and realized that holy crap, there are a lot of people who don’t do this.
This is a topic for study in and of itself, but I think it’s reasonable to suggest that people who are very emotionally invested in fictional characters may be more likely to think/daydream about them, and that daydreaming about fictional characters is also likely to then have the effect of making people care about those characters even more. You can apply a similar rationale to writing fanfiction. Making fanart or fanvids, analyzing and re-analyzing subtext, or debating theories about what is going to happen next in your favorite series or show. In most cases, fans probably care deeply about the characters to start with, and in engaging with fandom, they probably then come to care about those characters even more.
The second psychological phenomenon that I think plays an important role in enabling fandom is resistance to authorial authority. Have you ever read a book or watched a television show, and something happens, and you think, “That did NOT just happen. I refuse to acknowledge that just happened.” That’s resistance. The concept (and the phrase itself) comes out of the philosophical literature, but after reading a lot of work on fandom from a variety of disciplines, I think there’s actually quite a bit of evidence that audiences pushing back against, subverting, re-writing, and re-interpreting stories is one of the core foundations of fandom.
So what has all of this taught me as a writer? For one thing, it’s taught me that it’s not just acceptable for people to view my books and characters differently than I do, it is crucially important that they do so. The meta-text that surrounds a book or television show is so much richer than the source material ever could be alone. I think, from a creative standpoint, I’ve also come to realize more and more how important it is not to over-tell a story. So much of an audience’s imaginative engagement with a story world is in filling in the gaps. The scenes we didn’t get to see. The ambiguous moments that can be interpreted and re-interpreted. The things that might happen next. The histories of minor characters that have been hinted at, but not yet revealed.
In his book Mimesis as Make-Believe, philosopher Kendall Walton argued that fiction is just a prop for readers to jump-start their own imaginations, an “invitation to imagine.” That’s something I thought about a lot while writing The Fixer, down to the very last page.
Barnes, J. L. (2015). Fanfiction as imaginary play: What fan-written stories can tell us about the cognitive science of fiction. Poetics, 48, 69-82.
Thanks to Bloomsbury Kids, I have a finished copy of The Fixer to giveaway! (US Only)
Check out the other stops on the Tour
The Reading Nook
The Young Folks
The Quiet Concert
Writing My Own Fairytale
Teen Librarian Toolbox
Writer of Wrongs
Reader of Fictions