Tis the beginning of the Holiday Season and that means the beginning of the “Party Season”. Since most authors are introverts, they are predestined to hate parties. Rooms filled with strangers who drink too much, get too loud and ask too many questions make most of us want to run back to our writing cave where we are alone in the quiet.
I’ll confess, I can swing from introverted to extroverted like a clock pendulum, so I am usually less uncomfortable with the multitude of repeated questions I get at parties. Here are some common questions and my answers.
“Your husband told me you write Mommy porn.” This is where I want to kill Macho Marine and wonder how long I can withhold sex. As some of you who follow my blogs know, MM doesn’t read my books….but his best friends do. My usual answer is something like. “He’s such hoot, isn’t he? Yes, I am an author. I write Romantic Suspense, kill’em and thrill ‘em. Or as our daughter calls it, Run, Gun and Fun.”
“So you write books. Are you published and everything? Can I buy your book at Walmart?” Blushing, I usually answer, “Yes, I’m an author and yes, I’m published, but no, you won’t find my books at the grocery or department store. You can order it on Amazon, though.” This is where I feel like I should whip out my promo material and point out all the links. But I don’t because we’re at a party.
“I tried to write a book once but just couldn’t do it. Guess I got writer’s block.” There are so many responses to this statement but I usually just inform them with statistics. “Less than five percent of people who claim to want to write a book actually start one and about one percent of all those people actually complete a novel. Less than ten percent of those people actually get a publishing contract.” I never bother to tell them that there are over ten thousand romance authors out there all vying for the same readers’ attention. Or how little money we make.
“Where do you get your ideas?” I’m not sure about other authors but I have about a dozen plot lines and twice that many characters running around in my head all the time. But telling someone who has had a few drinks that truth makes them look at you like you’re crazy. If I’ve had a few drinks and blurt out that reality, they hand me the business card of their most recent therapist. Most often I smile and say, “Oh, they just come to me.”
Sometimes they get bold and ask, “Do you write about yourself and Macho Marine…you know…in the sex scenes?” I try to be sure I haven’t recently swallowed my drink because it has actually been ejected through my nose before as I choke on that thought. I usually laugh and tell the truth, “I write fiction. I write what women want, not necessarily what we get.”
As a former journalist, and after working more than thirty years in public relations, I have lots of friends who are writers and wanna-be authors. My all-time favorite conversation usually comes from that sector of partiers, who by the way are hearty drinkers. “I don’t want to tell you my story. You might steal it.” First of all, that’s not my story and I have more than enough of my own. Second, every basic story has been already been written, you just get to write your own variation on the plot. Third, you could give a room filled with authors the same 25-word writing prompt and you’d end up with twenty-five different stories. “I don’t think you should tell me then. It’s your story. You should write that book.”
On the flip side of this rant, I LOVE going to conferences and talking with readers about books. They genuinely want to know the answers. At a Holiday party, it’s small talk.
Authors, tell me about the questions you get asked at parties and what kind of answers you give.