Friday, May 15, 2009

Author, Author

Five authors in one car and the talk is bound to turn to famous authors. The newbie was really distressed to hear one of her favorite children’s authors was not a very pleasant person. She felt her enjoyment of this author’s work was forever tainted by knowing that this woman was not kind and generous but prickly and abrasive.

At the time, I thought she was na├»ve. People are people and not all of them are warm and fuzzy. I’m okay with that.

Then tickets for a James Taylor concert went on sale. And for the first time in a long time, my visceral reaction was no. I didn’t want to see him play. And I know why. I’d found out he’d been like in his younger days.

I’d read the book Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller, which is about Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. A wonderful read, full of insights about the sixties and fun facts about the singer/songwriters’ lives. And loves. And, I have to tell you James Taylor doesn’t come off very well.

I know he was young, and an addict to boot, but he was a jerk. He’s not that person today, but the songs that l loved were all written in the time period. Now instead of insightful and meaningful, I read the lyrics as indulgent and misogynous.

It shouldn’t matter, I know. The author/songwriter should be judged on her work. Nothing else. But people react. They don’t like what that author stood for, who she voted for in the last election.

The internet has made it much easier to get to “know” your favorite authors. I’m thrilled when Dana Stabenow comments on my Facebook page or when Joshilyn Jackson writes about the difficulty of sitting down to write every day. On the other hand, language used by another author on a blog turned me off.

So my question is this: in this era of Facebook/Twitter/blogging, when is too much information too much?

What about you? Has meeting an author turned you on or off her work? Has something someone tweeted or posted offended you enough to swear off buying their books? Do you worry about the image you’re projecting as an author?


Betty Hechtman said...

I have had some of the same thoughts about artists in various fields. Should my feeling about their art be colored by what I know about them as people?

I change the radio station when certain singers come on because all I can think about when I hear them is what objectionable people they are.

I do think there is too much immediate information floating around. It's too easy to email or tweet something without thinking it through or maybe even reading it over to see how it sounds.

Monica Ferris said...

I had an author be extremely rude to me when I tried to tell him how much I liked his work. I never bought another book by him.

I know we're not supposed to do this, you're right, we're supposed to judge the work, not the author. But I think an unpleasant experience has consquences.

That's why I try to play nice.

Kate Hathway said...

I have had several very nice interactions with writers from their blogs (such as here), and I've read books I might not have just because of it. I ended up dropping the reading of an entire blog because of a very unpleasant interaction with one writer (out of 5), and if she wrote the best book in the world, it would have to be the only book in a 20 mile radius for me to even glance at.

My face-to-face encounters with writers (at scifi cons) were almost all great, and while I'd been a fan before, there was an added thrill to reading their work after meeting them.