The hazards of social media and contemporary representations of fandom are the central themes in Greenpoint writer Brenna Ehrlich’s new novel, “Placid Girl” set to debut August 25 with a book launch event at Word Bookstore on Franklin Street.
The novel follows Hallie, a teenager frustrated by her boring, suburban life, who tries to drown out her misery in the music of a masked musician named Haze, who hasn’t been heard from in five years. Until one day, when she receives flirtatious messages from someone claiming to be the musician, over a photo-sharing app. Determined to find out who he really is, Hallie sets out along with a friend, and an aspiring music journalist to Haze’s comeback concert.
Ehrlich was inspired by how people interact on social media – the way it eliminates boundaries of social etiquette and how it makes celebrities, who in the pre-social media, internet age, occupied a rarified, untouchable stratosphere, instantly accessible.
Ehrlich is a senior writer and editor at MTV, and has written for Mashable, Heeb, and wrote a netiquette column for CNN. She has drawn on a lot of her own interactions with the music industry while writing the novel.
Ehrlich was also inspired by the darker turn some of the interactions can take on social media and how the anonymity of online communication can often lead to improper conduct. She had heard about teens engaging in inappropriate relationships on social media..
“It was interesting to see what goes on outside the framework of social media,” said Ehrlich. “You wonder if it could be something creepy, and I sort of went from there. Initially it was inspired by Lolita, but then I changed the focus to fandom, and the interactions between fans and musicians and how that can be a dark thing.”
Ehrlich previously co-authored a book titled, “Stuff Hipsters Hate,” but for this venture she started her own publishing company, All Ages Press, so she could have more independence with her writing as well as to publish the book in a timely fashion. It was difficult – hiring an editor, designer, publicist, among others to get a legitimate publishing company rolling, but for Ehrlich it was worth it.
“The subject is so timely that to me it seemed like the book really needs to come out now,” said Ehrlich. “The publishing industry is still very traditional. It’s sort of like a gated community with a lot of gatekeepers, so starting a press allowed me to do my own thing.”
For the Word book launch later this month, Ehrlich will be joined by other writers as they share their stories of extreme fandom as well.
Placid Girl Launch Event, August 25, 7 p.m., Word Bookstore, 126 Franklin Street, for more information visit http://www.wordbookstores.com/event/brenna-ehrlich-presents-placid-girl.