Staff Member of the Month: Rivka
For years she’s watched over the thousands of crazy fans who have found a home on CoE. She’s the mastermind before whom we stand in awe. Programming, hiring staff members, solving problems, serving as 911 AND the police force… a complete list of Rivka’s accomplishments around here would be pretty useless. Better to just go out and explore the site! But first, let’s hear what she thinks of this place… in her own words.
• Are you relieved that the initial craziness after the LotR movies were released is over? Does it make you a little sad?
I’m a little relieved that things have slowed down now, in that when I started the site, I was a full-time student, and had a lot more time on my hands to work on the site back then. Since I work full time now, I really don’t have 4 hours a day to put into the site anymore! But of course, it’s sad as well, to see how much slower things are — the site used to be much more active when the movies were out. I do miss those times a bit, although realistically, I would have a hard time keeping up with the needs of the site.
• Even though running a site and posting don’t often go hand in hand, do you have a favorite forum?
It’s true, I don’t post much, although I do pop into all the forums every few days to see what’s going on. My favorite forum to read is the Books Forum, because I find the conversation in there stimulating. It’s amazing how site members can always find new and interesting aspects of Tolkien to explore.
• What one piece of advice would you share with new members of CoE?
Make sure you always have dry socks? In regards to CoE itself, I guess I’d tell them to not get overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to explore, and please read (and follow!) the rules. There, that’s three pieces of advice!
• How is the Lord of the Rings different from other books you have read?
Tolkien’s writing has a depth and specific style that most modern writers don’t have. I read a lot of genre fiction — fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, and while I don’t think most of it is _bad_ writing, I wouldn’t consider most of it to be writing that will go down in history as being a great or classic work like Lord of the Rings is. I find authors like Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, or Anne McCaffrey immensely enjoyable, but they are what they are; I find it unlikely that 50 years from now, we’ll be studying their works in college classrooms like we are Tolkien.
• Designing a website takes a lot of work. How did seeing FotR inspire you to create the Council of Elrond? (was it a desire to meet other Tolkien fans? An eagerness to try something big? On that note, did you have any idea it would ever grow this big?)
The main reason I chose to build the site was because of the technical challenge (and that’s why I continue to maintain it). You see, at the time, I was in library school, and learning all kinds of new and exciting things about how the Interwebs work 😉 And while my colleagues were doing boring stuff like making up websites that were school related, or you know, helpful and informative, I thought it was cool to make fansites. At the time, I would never have guessed it would grow as big as it has; at the time, I was happy if we had a few thousand total members.
• Did you dream it up in one night, or did the idea come to you slowly, drop by drop?
I can tell you exactly how it happened. As soon as FotR ended, I turned to my husband and said “I’m making a site about Lord of the Rings.” He said, “Okay, dear, have fun.” I already had one about the X-men that was very similar in format to CoE, so I had a pretty good idea how to get started. I was a little crushed when I got online and discovered that there were already dozens of good LotR fansites out there already, but I said, “Heck with it, I’ll make one anyway, and I’ll do it bigger and better.” We started relatively small…but just started adding everything we could think of in that first year (anytime a staff or site member said “Hey, we should do _____”, we’d just go ahead and add it to the site), and you can see the end result!
• We’ve heard rumors that your inbox is almost always full. How many pm’s do you generally get on a normal sunny day?
Nowadays, I generally get about one or two a day; there was a time where I’d be getting as many as 5 or 6. My problem is that I have a lot of PMs that I can’t get rid of because they’re important. So I keep cleaning out the last 5 or 6 PMs, which will be good enough for a few days, until I get full again, and then the cycle starts again. I _could_ just put something in the PM code that would give ME more PMs than everyone else, but hey, we’re all equal here. What I really ought to do is just save all the “important” PMs to my computer, and then delete them from my inbox, but man, that takes too much work.
• The Council of Elrond is home to many people from all corners of the world. Has the site lead you to visit any cool places you never would have gone to otherwise?
I’ve been a homebody for the last few years…I am going to Scotland in a couple of weeks, but not for any particular reason other than curiosity. I do really enjoy all the different people I’ve “met” online over the past several years, especially the staff, who have come from all corners of the globe.
• Not only is Beauty and the Beast your favorite Disney movie- you’ve also created a site about it! What is it about this deliciously monsterous fairytale that you love?
Yikes! I can’t believe you stumbled across that old thing. That was one of my very earliest sites, made many, many years ago. Yes, B&B is my favorite fairy tale, because it’s one of the few fairy tales where the two main characters actually spend some time together before falling in love. That makes it more “realistic” in my opinion. How many fairy tales have the two characters fall in love with just one evening, or even worse, just one kiss? But Beauty and the Beast spend weeks together, learning about each other…and even better, she learns to love him despite his monstrous appearance.
• What do you think? Is The Hobbit ever going to become film?
I’m firmly convinced it will happen eventually. If pure drek like some of the stuff that has come out this past summer can get made by the studios, do you think they’re going to pass up the opportunity to make a sure crowd pleaser and money maker like The Hobbit?
• Is your cat named after Fredegar Bolger?
Nope. She’s over 12 years old, and I got her long before I read Lord of the Rings for the first time 🙂 I named her Fred just because I like the name.
• What is your favorite thing about being a librarian?
• Do you hope to become a full-time web programmer eventually?
I’m going to combine these two. I actually only worked as a librarian for about a year and a half. It turned out that being a librarian was not as much fun as I thought it would be…looks like spending two years and several thousand dollars on graduate school probably wasn’t such a good idea! I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that enjoy library work; I unfortunately am not one of them. I do better in jobs where I don’t have to do customer service type stuff…which is why I am now a full-time web programmer (I often go the whole day without interacting with anyone – awesome!), and have been for over two years. See, kids — making a fansite _can_ get you your dream job. I actually do use CoE in my portfolio, and my boss was pretty impressed with it; it’s part of the reason why he hired me.
Thank you Rivka, for everything you’ve done for Tolkien fans around the world!