Friday, 28 January 2011


By Richard Jay Parker

Just thought I'd pick up on Peter's interesting blog about writers and their appearance (see previous). Obviously a writer's physical attributes are irrelevant to the quality of their work - which I for one am certainly grateful for. Thankfully authors have their eye-catching covers in lieu of any Waterstones beauty pageant.

I think the mystique of writers has been greatly altered by technology. Previously, a name on the front of a book was often all a reader had - maybe a photo and a one para biog at the most. Nowadays, if a reader wants to know more about a writer there's myriad ways they can find out more - writer's website, Facebook page, clips of them reading excerpts from their work on YouTube etc

They can also interact with them on Twitter and feedback about the book they've just read which makes the writer/reader relationship more immediate. Not all writers want to subscribe to this, of course, but it's certainly becoming a bigger part of every bestseller's promo regime.

Personally, I think every author should be willing to spend time interacting with the people who have been kind enough to invest their time and money in their work. Book signings and talks have always provided a platform for this but technology has made it that much easier.

On the flip side there is an argument for retaining mystique. I do remember reading a series of books by a well known author. His black and white photograph used to be on the back of all his books and, as a young reader, I couldn't help but imagine him as the protagonist in the stories. I was somewhat disillusioned when I saw him interviewed and found him to be the complete opposite to what I'd imagined. I soon got over it though.

Maybe writers should keep some of their powder dry and not allow themselves to be dissected too much and that's certainly something they can control. It's good to show yourself but let's hope there's never a series called 'I'm An Author - Get Me Out Of Here!'

It's always reassuring to know we're all human though and when I've met authors who have written some pretty dark books and found them to be approachable, humorous and friendly it makes me even more of an admirer.

1 comment:

  1. PD James looks as though she spends her time knitting and baking scones. In reality, she is more likely to be thinking up fiendish uses for knitting needles, or lethal concoctions to put in the scones... Of course, authors who post on blogs, facebook, etc might be very different people to the personas they present. (We do spend a lot of time creating characters, after all.) I remember one interviewer described me as a 'mild mannered teacher' by day who transformed into a bestselling crime writer at night. Not sure my pupils would agree about the 'mild mannered' part!!