5 Secret Facts About Secrets of a Fangirl

Growing up often means growing out of the things we loved as kids. But sometimes, we hold on to a few things from our childhoods that we aren’t ready to let go of. Maybe it’s that one stuffed animal you’ve had since you were a baby or perhaps it’s your love of Harry Potter. Holding on to a piece of your childhood isn’t a bad thing at all. It can be comforting to have something special to turn to as you face challenging schoolwork and changing friendships.

In Secrets of a Fangirl, Sarah Anne is a middle school girl obsessed with the MK Nightshade series of books and movies – something her bestie deems uncool. Being a star athlete with a reputation to uphold, Sarah Anne lives by a set of rules to keep her geek identity a secret. It works pretty well for a while, but when she is selected to participate in an ultimate Nightshade fan contest, having a secret identity becomes a challenge.

5 Secret Facts About Secrets of a Fangirl

Sarah Anne loves lacrosse, and the MK Nightshade series that everyone was obsessed over in grade school. The problem is that she’s still obsessed, which is way too nerdy for a popular kid like her. So she hides her geekiness with a set of rules meant to keep her geek and jock selves separate.

Except when she’s offered a spot in a Nightshade fandom contest, where the winner gets to see the new movie premiere in LA. No one seems to think Sarah Anne can win, since she’s up against a pair of guys in high school–but the more she’s called a fake fan, the more determined she is to wipe the floor with her competition. As long as none of her friends or anyone at school knows what she’s doing.

Can she keep her geek identity a secret, win the contest, and manage to keep her friends even though she’s been living a lie? Sarah Anne is going to have to make some choices about what’s truly important to her and which rules she’s going to break to stay true to herself.

Secrets of a Fangirl
AUTHOR: Erin Dionne
PUBLISHER: Arthur A. Levine Books
DATE: May 28, 2019

While Secrets of a Fangirl is a fun, lighthearted story, we loved how it was also an honest look at both middle school friendships and the realities of fandom a lot of us can relate to. Sarah Anne feels pressured to be “cool” by her best friend. Not only does she have to keep something that is SO important to her a secret, but she also feels obligated to go to the school dance with a boy she thinks is mean because Roxy insists that she should.

For Sarah Anne, her interest in MK Nightshade is the source of her problems but also turns out to be the catalyst for empowerment and self-discovery. After being faced with sexism both in Science class and on the Nightshade fan panel, Sarah Anne becomes fired up and inspired to prove everyone wrong. This is something a lot of women experience whether it be online, at school, or at a fan convention. Just because you don’t “look the part” doesn’t mean you’re not worthy or shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Get to know more about Sarah Anne as author Erin Dionne shares 5 secrets about bringing Secrets of a Fangirl to life!

Author Erin Dionne Shares 5 Secret Facts About Secrets of a Fangirl:

FACT #1:

Sarah Anne is a huge fan of a fantasy book and movie series that I made up when I was writing a different novel, called Lights, Camera, Disaster. Since I had so much fun writing about just a little bit of the Nightshade Universe in that story, I decided to go into it more and make it Sarah Anne’s fandom in this book. I love watching and reading stories set in other worlds, so this started me thinking about writing my own fantasy novels!

FACT #2:

Sarah Anne plays lacrosse — and she’s really good at it. Although I love sports, lacrosse is not something that I’ve ever watched or played. So I asked my friend’s daughter, who is a lacrosse player, to teach me how. We spent an evening in their backyard, tossing balls at a trampoline and catching them with lacrosse sticks. I had so much fun, and it made me better understand how to write those scenes in Secrets of a Fangirl.

5 Secret Facts About Secrets of a Fangirl
(Image courtesy of Erin Dionne)
FACT #3:

I consider myself a member of three or four fandoms: Star Wars (I’ve been a big fan since I was a little kid!), the Avengers, and Harry Potter. I regularly wear my Harry Potter sneakers and my Princess Leia t-shirt, among others!

One year, I went all-out for Halloween, and painted my face to be Darth Maul, one of the bad guys from the Star Wars franchise. A few friends didn’t even recognize me!

5 Secret Facts About Secrets of a Fangirl
(Secrets of a Fangirl emoji provided by Arthur A. Levine Books. Emoji designs by Maeve Norton)
FACT #4:

Sarah Anne and her BFF Roxy text a lot in the book. I wanted to have them use emojis, like we do in real life, but the ones we have on our phones are protected by copyright law. So the book designer made all new, special emojis, just for Secrets of a Fangirl! I especially like the rainbow and palm tree ones.

5 Secret Facts About Secrets of a Fangirl
(Image courtesy of Erin Dionne)
FACT #5:

A lot of the people in the Nightshade fandom are boys, and they believe that girls can’t be as into the stories as they are. This makes Sarah Anne really angry, and she decides to enter the Fantastic Fan contest to prove to those boys that she knows her stuff and is just as good as they are — if not better.

This aspect of the story was inspired by my daughter, who is 11. As I was working on this book, we had a conversation about something we saw online, where a girl was being teased for being a Star Wars fan. Kids at that school were saying that Star Wars is just for boys. My daughter was astounded by that. So we talked a lot about people’s expectations for girls vs. boys, and that theme now runs through Fangirl. I hope kids who read this understand that fandoms, occupations, and stories are for everyone — there are no such things as “boy” stories or “girl” stories!

Secrets of a Fangirl is out today from Arthur A. Levine Books. Looking for even more stories about surviving middle school life? Check out She’s the Liar by Alison Cherry.

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