For the past few days I have been following the blog posts of M/M book reviewer, Elisa Rolle. I saw that she was in the US on vacation, touring the east coast, and I contacted her about possibly meeting in person.
To my surprise, she accepted an invitation to meet me at my home on her way back to New York, from the Baltimore Washington area. Then we started private messaging each other through livejournal.com, where we both have blogs. For some reason, my AOL account kept bouncing back all the e-mails I was sending her and I didn't want to miss out on a chance to meet her in person. I was so determined that I actually posted my home address and phone number on her comment thread, knowing I should not do something like this on the Internet. Thankfully, when she saw it, she covered it up.
I don't remember exactly how long ago it was, but I met Elisa, online, through a review she'd written about a short story I wrote. The short story is titled, "Irene's Cabin," and it was published in an anthology by Alyson Books a few years ago. The story was a romance; the characters were totally in love and there was a very happy ending. And Elisa seemed to like it, so I thanked her in the comment thread.
After that, I started reading her blog regularly. I liked her taste in books and I'm always looking for good recommendations when it comes to my own personal reading. We seemed to connect through the comment thread and we built a nice online friendship without even realizing we were doing it.
This past year I did in in-depth interview with Elisa and I published it here and on gayagenda.com. The questions were geared toward M/M fiction and book reviewing, but the answers I received were detailed and smart. I gained an even stronger respect for Elisa after that interview. I also learned a few things I didn't expect to learn.
I never, not in a million years, thought I'd get a chance to meet her in person unless I actually went to Padua and visited her myself. But it happened today. She pulled into my driveway at one o'clock this afternoon, she sat in my living room and we talked, and then we went out to a restaurant and had lunch.
Elisa was traveling with a good friend, Alessandra, who was doing all the driving and all the navigating. I was amazed to hear how much ground they covered while in the US. They drove between Mt. Desert Island in Maine and Virginia in a record two weeks time. We talked about books, about authors, and about publishers. We probably bored poor Alessandra to death. But the time passed too quickly. When we arrived in the restaurant, the room was filled. By the time we left, we were the last people left from the lunch crowd.
Online friendships can be simple or complicated. It's an entirely different way of connecting and communicating. I've worked for editors for years that I've never met in person. I've never actually met my own agent. My friend, Ryan, has been an online friend forever, and I've never actually met him in person, either. But yet I feel as if I know these people. And that's exactly how it was with Elisa. I only wish the time we had this afternoon hadn't passed so quickly.