Meeting Your Favorite Authors

 

Did you ever meet your favorite author? How was that for you? Results tend to vary. The most common way to meet authors is at conventions. There are some things you should be aware of.

Now some few are just as witty and interesting as their books. That’s not as common as one would think. Here’s the thing about real life: it’s a first draft. Authors normally make many many revisions of their work. That wonderful book you enjoy so much might not have gotten that way on the first draft. It could have been crap until revision number eight or so.

Authors often work pretty much in isolation. They tend to live in their heads. Writers who emerge from their writing caves, blinking at the sun, can be less than stellar conversationalists. Full time writers can be strange creatures indeed. Those with normal jobs have to deal with the real world on a regular basis. That requires at least some minimal standards of social skills and hygiene. The full timer guy can develop all kinds of idiosyncrasies with no social checks. Approach these authors slowly. They are often confused and easily startled.

Then there are the well known authors who are dicks in person -really terrible people. They achieved their fame, not necessarily by producing stellar works, but by relentless cut-throat promotion. Everywhere they go, everything they do, its about self promotion. I find them boorish as hell. In fact, not only will I avoid any writer’s panels they are on, I’ll avoid panels where they are in the audience as they never shut up. They will collect a small following of sycophants who will stroke their ego just to be near a “big name” author.

Once in a while you will meet the “author who does not want to do this anymore.” They may have written a pretty decent science fiction book and made a few dollars doing so. Their publisher, smelling money, insists on more of the same. They would lock him in a basement and force him to crank out serials if they could. Instead, they find that a writer saddled with a mortgage and bills to pay works almost as well. The poor guy might want to branch out into writing mysteries, but the publisher invested in him as a science fiction guy, so will actively discourage such foolishness. These guys tend to be grumpy as their hearts are not in it anymore. I’m amazed a how long some of them can keep going before their writing goes completely down the toilet.

There are a lot of different types of authors out there. They do have a few things in common. They are creative people trying to get by in a tough business. Don’t expect them to be normal. If you do meet a perfectly normal seeming author, be wary. He probably has dark secrets and a basement full of bodies.

-Raymond M. Coulombe

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