The stranger asks:
The author answers:
|You’re a novelist? Have you published anything?|
|You’re a surgeon? Have you ever operated on anyone?|
|Have you written anything I might have read?|
|Do you read novels?|
I read a couple every year.
Still haven’t figured out the formula.
|Literature or fiction?|
Any of your novels
made into movies?
|Only in my nightmares.|
Who do you get compared to,
as a writer?
My brother compares me to a
volcano of repressed anger.
My therapist doesn’t disagree.
|So self publishing, how difficult is that?|
It’s a challenge, from what I can tell.
I am not self published.
|You have a publisher? how did that happen?|
|I wrote a proposal and a first chapter. My agent tapped the right editor on the shoulder, the publisher bought it, and that started the ball rolling.|
|You have an agent? how did that happen?|
I wrote a lot of letters and talked to a lot of people
and had a really good proposal and first chapter.
|Could you introduce me to your editor, publisher, agent?|
|Wait, you write fiction?|
I plan to give it six weeks.
That should do it.
Now that’s a coincidence. I was planning on
learning how to take out an appendix this summer.
|That’s a no to the agent, editor, publisher intro?|
|Technically it’s a no, no, no.|
|So you’re writing a novel now?|
|Are you still practicing medicine?|
|What are your novels about? Any good reviews?|
|Funny you should ask. I’m wondering what kind of surgery you do and how your patients evaluate you.|
|You are tough.|
|Yes, I’m a published novelist.|
|So when is your next novel coming out?|
About six to ten months after I finish it.
|Really? So what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at home working? When will it ever be finished, the way you slack off?|
|Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.|
[This] was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. is crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms (Venture 49, 1957).
If you are a novelist and you live in a small town you run into people who have read your novels now and then, at the grocery store, at signings, when you stop by the neighbor’s place to ask about the missing newspaper delivery boy, at parties, on the bus.
It makes sense to be polite and respectful, no matter who you are. No matter what kind of questions they ask you. But sometimes it’s really hard. Now, every profession has a list of questions they fear. For physicians I assume it goes like this: you’re browsing the dessert table at a wedding and the groom’s great uncle charges right up and challenges you: Would you look at this gigantic (fill in the blank) on my [foot, head, rear] and tell me what it is?
The thing about questions from readers or would-be readers is that they are not always neutral or friendly. Once in a while you get a suspicious character who is sure you have cheated your way into publishing. From this person you may get a conversation that feels a little like an interrogation.
Sometimes you cannot get a handle on your temper.
This conversation didn’t go exactly this way. But I wish it had.
Person: So, you’re a writer, I hear. You don’t look like a writer.
Me: I get that a lot.
Person: What exactly do you write?
Me: Mostly novels.
Person: Novels! Really? Novels! Have any of them ever been published?
Me: Quite a few, actually.
Person: Oh really. Are you one of those Amazon self-published types?
Me: I am not. What do you do for a living?
Person: I’m a chef.
Me: Really? Have you ever cooked anything? Do you make money doing that or do you just cook for yourself? What kind of cooking do you do? Do you cook real food? Would I have eaten anything you’ve cooked? I’ve been eating pretty much every day for my whole life so that makes me an expert on food, and in fact I think I’ll be a cook. But I’ll only cook real food. I’m not interested fashionable stuff, it’s critical approval I’ll be after. And a television show.
Me: Thanks, you’re a real inspiration.
Before this spins out of control, I’d like to get something on the record.
I posted a question on Amazon’s Kindle Forum regarding an invitation I received for Amazon’s Whispercast program. Whispercast allows a person to register a group of Kindle owners, and then send materials to their Kindles. You can imagine this would be useful for teachers. Today I got an invitation to be included in a group by somebody I don’t know and whose name I didn’t recognize, and I was then surprised to see that there was no way to find out who had sent the invitation.
So that’s the question I posted on the Amazon Kindle Forum.
Let’s just say that I didn’t get a lot of help. In fact, the tone was confrontational pretty much right from the start. I responded in kind, when I should have just gone away and asked customer service my question. What followed:
–Four or five people piled on.
–I remarked on this phenomenon, and pointed out that I had heard about bully tactics on Amazon Forums.
–One person came back with the observation that I reviewed my own novel. To this point:
This was a reference to a specific review that I put up when The Endless Forest first came out because I had had so many emails asking about changes in titles and the order of the books in the series. Here it is exactly as it appeared on the page:
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the final book in the series.
By RL Green on May 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am Rosina Lippi, aka Sara Donati, author of the Wilderness series. To clarify some points of general confusion: This is the sixth and last book in the Wilderness series. The whole series, in order: Into the Wilderness (Wilderness Saga 1), Dawn on a Distant Shore, Lake in the Clouds, Fire Along the Sky, Queen of Swords, and finally: The Endless Forest: A Novel. Thanks to all of you who have left comments and such generous words about the books.