The desire to know everything

#1
When I get into a new author I like to find out stuff about them, how they write, what inspires them. That behind the scenes stuff is fascinating to me - even if I haven't read a book I'll still be interested to know how an author works. Anyone else like this kind of stuff too?
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#3
If I'm brutally honest, no.

I'm the same with my favourite musicians too ... I couldn't really give a toss about what they do, who they are, what their opinions and political stance is; I just care about the music they make!

I follow a few authors on twitter, but only the ones who actually have interesting things to say (Scott Lynch, Brent Weeks and Joe Abercrombie to be precise). I haven't read anything by SL or BW either.
 

Antoxx

Journeyed there and back again
#4
I'm with TTB on this one. I'm not at all interested in the mechanics behind what makes their writing so good, I just like reading it because it is so darned good. That said, I've got no interest in writing myself (well apart from investment commentaries which I do for my job), whereas I reckon someone who might be interested in writing fiction probably would be much more interested in what you're talking about.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#5
I don't, in general, care what an author does in their own time. I don't mind the knowledge, especially if it came about from me stumbling onto their site or something, but I rarely seek it out.

That said, if I find out an author is a massive douchebag, I tend to judge their work on it, and end up liking them significantly less (and not buying any more of their books, if applicable. I have the same hang-up with music, which is a large part of why I steer clear of 'hate' genres like black metal and a good portion of rap.

Also, since it's mildly related to this discussion, I feel like saying the 'interviews' they have -- as 'Extras' -- at the end of a number of fantasy books nowadays do annoy the crap out of me. This is kind of independent of my desire to know anything about an author. I've looked up authors occasionally on a lark just to get an idea what they were about or what they were doing. But these interviews feel forced, and I probably wouldn't want to read them even if I was curious about the author, just because of that. I don't know how common they are among ALL fantasy books, but Daniel Abraham had one in the Dagger and the Coin (not sure about the second book) Brian Ruckey had it for Winterbirth, pretty sure Brandon Sanderson had one too. Augh. Stahp.

(note: apparently I can go on for awhile about this, so feel free to stop here if you don't feel like reading me ramble tiredly about it)

It's like, I get it. An author, and indeed probably any kind of artist, loves to talk about their work. As a not even published (yet!...hopefully) author, I understand this. If you ask them questions about it, boy howdy are they going to give you answers. But these interviews? They're presumptive for one, and stupid in addition to that. They don't ask interesting questions. The first question in Winterbirth (that was the closest bookshelf to me, so I grabbed it) was 'did the story come first, or the world?' Like, a) who freaking cares because what a crushingly retarded question, and b) how could the world have realistically come before the story anyway? This isn't Tolkien you're talking to, or even Erikson. You're talking to an unknown and fairly average author who wrote a trilogy so heavily based on Pictish history that you have to squint to see the fantasy in it. Why on earth would you assume this guy has his own hustling, bustling world that he made up before having any idea as to the story? If that was the case, there would have been hints that he had some bigger plan running under the surface, like Erikson's constant offhanded mentioning of crap you've never heard of, or Tolkien's constant allusions to Middle-Earth history.

If I am curious about world details, or the nitty-gritty of how the story was written, I have a computer, and google, and no compunctions about using them. So the interview (especially in the FIRST book of a series; it would make some sense if it was in the last) just comes off feeling self-important, or, if it was the publishing house's idea and not the author's, like their marketing and PR skills are about as adept as that of the guy who thinks making 'Team' into the acronym Together Everyone Accomplishes More (almost always on the heels of some sports/workplace spat) is an appropriate idea in any situation, ever. It is not. It's ham-fisted and obnoxious, and probably accomplishes absolutely the opposite of what you may have been well-meaning-ly trying to do. And uh...I guess I could have just said it ham-fisted and obnoxious without involving the team thing, but yeah. Anyway.
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#6
I don't, in general, care what an author does in their own time. I don't mind the knowledge, especially if it came about from me stumbling onto their site or something, but I rarely seek it out.

That said, if I find out an author is a massive douchebag, I tend to judge their work on it, and end up liking them significantly less (and not buying any more of their books, if applicable. I have the same hang-up with music, which is a large part of why I steer clear of 'hate' genres like black metal and a good portion of rap.

Also, since it's mildly related to this discussion, I feel like saying the 'interviews' they have -- as 'Extras' -- at the end of a number of fantasy books nowadays do annoy the crap out of me. This is kind of independent of my desire to know anything about an author. I've looked up authors occasionally on a lark just to get an idea what they were about or what they were doing. But these interviews feel forced, and I probably wouldn't want to read them even if I was curious about the author, just because of that. I don't know how common they are among ALL fantasy books, but Daniel Abraham had one in the Dagger and the Coin (not sure about the second book) Brian Ruckey had it for Winterbirth, pretty sure Brandon Sanderson had one too. Augh. Stahp.

(note: apparently I can go on for awhile about this, so feel free to stop here if you don't feel like reading me ramble tiredly about it)

It's like, I get it. An author, and indeed probably any kind of artist, loves to talk about their work. As a not even published (yet!...hopefully) author, I understand this. If you ask them questions about it, boy howdy are they going to give you answers. But these interviews? They're presumptive for one, and stupid in addition to that. They don't ask interesting questions. The first question in Winterbirth (that was the closest bookshelf to me, so I grabbed it) was 'did the story come first, or the world?' Like, a) who freaking cares because what a crushingly retarded question, and b) how could the world have realistically come before the story anyway? This isn't Tolkien you're talking to, or even Erikson. You're talking to an unknown and fairly average author who wrote a trilogy so heavily based on Pictish history that you have to squint to see the fantasy in it. Why on earth would you assume this guy has his own hustling, bustling world that he made up before having any idea as to the story? If that was the case, there would have been hints that he had some bigger plan running under the surface, like Erikson's constant offhanded mentioning of crap you've never heard of, or Tolkien's constant allusions to Middle-Earth history.

If I am curious about world details, or the nitty-gritty of how the story was written, I have a computer, and google, and no compunctions about using them. So the interview (especially in the FIRST book of a series; it would make some sense if it was in the last) just comes off feeling self-important, or, if it was the publishing house's idea and not the author's, like their marketing and PR skills are about as adept as that of the guy who thinks making 'Team' into the acronym Together Everyone Accomplishes More (almost always on the heels of some sports/workplace spat) is an appropriate idea in any situation, ever. It is not. It's ham-fisted and obnoxious, and probably accomplishes absolutely the opposite of what you may have been well-meaning-ly trying to do. And uh...I guess I could have just said it ham-fisted and obnoxious without involving the team thing, but yeah. Anyway.
Can you elaborate? ;)
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#7
Also, since it's mildly related to this discussion, I feel like saying the 'interviews' they have -- as 'Extras' -- at the end of a number of fantasy books nowadays do annoy the crap out of me.
This is pretty standard for Orbit which would cover Ruckley and Abraham's Dagger and Coin series. I found it most obnoxious in Michael J. Sullivan's Riyria omnibuses that Orbit picked up (one of the few cases of self-publishing success).

Back when I was hanging out at Book Country more, Elizabeth Moon joined. I am not a huge fan of her work, but I found her discussion contributions on Book Country quite interesting. Apparently there really are people out there who want to know her world down to exactly what some vegetables she made up look and taste like (redroots, for those of you who have read her Paks books). She finds the questions a bit baffling, was the sense I got. My point is, there are people who thrive on this kind of stuff. I don't happen to be one of them.

If I'm brutally honest, no. I'm the same with my favourite musicians too ... I couldn't really give a toss about what they do, who they are, what their opinions and political stance is; I just care about the music they make!
This was my reaction, too. I think it's one reason I was such an easy convert to iTunes. I never read the liner notes on CDs anyway, so I don't miss having CDs. I don't generally read authors' blogs or seek out their websites. (Plus, like Amaryllis says, I know how to use Google.)
 

Hand of Fear

Journeyed there and back again
#8
As long as the author can write a good book I don't bother with finding out any more information about them, all I'm interested in is the story if I wanted to know more about someone I would buy a Biography.

The only time I would look things up, would be to do with the actual characters in the book.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#9
Personally I enjoy reading interviews. I don't care if the questions are stupid or if the answers are really obvious. A lot of my favorite writers have a lot of really interesting things to say on more subjects than just writing. I find it interesting that Paul Kearney learned all he knows about sailing from Patrick O'Brian and that he has never come to close to sailing in real life and that an agent he previously thought the Monarchies of Gods wouldn't sell in America because they're too sophisticated (a statement which Kearney vehemently disagreed with as the worst kind of patronizing). Dan Simmons believes were living in the golden age of speculative fiction and that almost all science fiction movies are crap. China Meivelle is an extreme socialist. I like knowing what the authors I read have to say and what they are like and what their beliefs are. The writing advice is also quite inspiring to me in some cases. P.S. - following anybody on twitter is a complete waste of time in my opinion.
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#10
Nah don't care. I sometimes have a look. Abercomrbie seems like a cool, if a bit aware of himself, dude. Rolfess seems like a champ. Butcher seems to be unconcerned about his appearance, which if there ever was an author i'd like to be hot, i'd be him (such a pity).

But yea, normally don't care. I hardly ever read the about me in the back of the book because it makes me all ... awww your such a normal person. it makes me like the book more coz i feel a more personal connection with the author, which isn't practical when u want to review them.

Mostly though, i just don't care.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#11
Butcher seems to be unconcerned about his appearance, which if there ever was an author i'd like to be hot, i'd be him (such a pity).
Yeah, the pictures I've seen of him are unremarkable. Makes me wonder if I ever passed by him in the mall or on the street, when I lived back in Missouri, and totally just didn't recognize him.

I do usually read the "about the author" section but most of the time they aggravate me. There are too many authors who try to be cute and mention their cats that help them write (my cats DO NOT help me write; if anything, they interfere) or their accordions or their previous jobs as chicken pluckers.
 

João Ribeiro

Journeyed there and back again
#12
Well my curiosity sometimes is peaked and I do a quick Wikipedia search but I don't go all out stalker about the writer. I feel that there is a risk of being disappointed with the person and that can affect if I enjoy the book or not.

For example, Christian Bale is a great actor and the third coolest Batman of all time after Michael Keaton and Adam West but the guy is a prick in real life so I'd rather not know that and just enjoy.
And let's face it sometimes it's just not important. I don't care if Sanderson is a Mormon or a Christian or a Muslim. The man is what he chooses to be and as far as I'm concerned he is a brilliant writer and I crave for his stories, not his religious inputs.