Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Annoying things people ask authors

One of the lovely things about RNA meetings is that everyone there is in the same boat, or at least adjacent ones. No one asks you the irritating things you usually get asked whenever you reveal what you do.

These include the assumptions that you're writing about yourself, your friends and family. Maybe people are desperate to recognise themselves in books; whatever it is, just mention a skin tone or hair colour, accent or nationality, or heaven forfend a name a little like someone else's, and everyone's convinced they know who you're writing about.

At RNA events, I'm often asked if I write full time. This is so much nicer than the "So do you have a proper job?" phrasing, which means the same thing but also manages to imply that writing is a sort of hobby. Even worse is, "So don't you do anything else, then?" But then, authors are paid to think about how words go together--and how not to insult someone deliberately.

I don't know a single author, published or unpublished, who hasn't been asked where they get their ideas from. And I don't know a single one who could answer honestly. I think Terry Pratchett put it best, when one of his characters invented a sort of helmet to try and stop the constant inspiration particles from colliding with his brain.

It's like with Shakespeare (well, sort of). You know how there are people convinced he didn't write his plays because he'd never been to the places where they were set, and that no one in his family had any history of writing, and--gasp!--may have even been illiterate! Well? So? No one else in my family can play the piano, but no one assumes my brother fakes that. Can't we allow the clearly brilliant Mr Shakespeare the nous to, I don't know, ask people about these far-off places?

Which brings me onto the sniggering question I'm asked when people find out I write erotic romance. "So do you research your books (nudge, wink) personally?" Yep. All of them. Everything in them--I've done that. Even the one with the faery wings and the flying.

As for, "Can I be in your book?" there's only one sensible answer: No. You're far too annoying.


  1. So... Where do you get your ideas?

    My non-writer friends always ask me that. My standard reply now is "from the crazy guy who stands outside Oddbins and yells."

  2. Dentist asked me that this morning. I just groaned. Of course, it was hard to do anything else with half a hardware shop crammed in my mouth.

  3. It must be an industry rule that dentists have to wait until they've got all their tools in your mouth before they start asking you questions. A rule thought up by the same people who insist hairdressers only talk to you when they've blowdrying your hair.