Thursday, March 7, 2013

More Common Questions Asked of Authors, with Phoenix Johnson

Another month is under way and we're back to me for Author Chat Friday. Last time I covered three of the most common questions asked of authors; "Will your book be in print?", "What happens in the next one?" and "Being an author must be so awesome, you get to stay at home all day!".
This week, I have another three doozies authors are asked or may overhear readers saying. What I'm aiming for with these posts is to let readers know that the obvious questions are questions we are tired of hearing, and there are some that are down-right rude and disrespectful. So please, next time you get the chance to talk to an author, be they friend, family, or your favourite author of all time, just stop and think before you speak. You'll be doing everyone involved a huge favour!

"I love *insert favourite character here* from your book. I'm thinking about writing my own novel, do you think I could use *aforementioned favourite character*?" 

Derek: please don't "borrow" him!
Yes. Sure. Because we love having the characters we worked so hard for to be "borrowed" and, in a lot of cases, not credited back to us. (Sarcasm, by the way) NO! Fan art can be great, I will admit, but when it starts to make money and become famous, then there could be a problem. Copyright. The author who originally wrote that character/storyline has legal ownership of that character/storyline, and if it can be proven that the now-famous-fan-art has indeed used said character/storyline without accrediting it to the original author, the fan-art author can find themselves on the wrong end of a law suit. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but when we're talking about intellectual property, then it's called theft. So please, if you're interested in writing your own story, put the same amount of hard work and thought in to creating something original, just like your favourite authors have done. Sure, the fan-art thing worked for some authors, but many others would face law suits. So play it safe, and create your own. You'll find more satisfaction from creating your own worlds, characters and stories anyway, believe me!

"What is the wildest/weirdest thing you've done in the name of research?"

I get that, with erotica especially, it's a natural reaction for a reader to be curious. Has the author tried those positions? Is this what the author enjoys sexually? Now, while the want to have those questions answered is natural, please, PLEASE do not ask us. What we write and what we do in private are often completely different. What we write is supposed to be fairly wild to get your attention; what we do in private... well, that's private. Think of it like this: would you ask your siblings what they're craziest sex-capade is? More than likely not. So please, when it comes to our sexual lives, think of us as a sibling; too much information! 
As for non-erotic... well, that comes down to the author, if they want to share or not. I know myself, after seeing the first Saw movie wondered what the heck made the writers think of those storylines. And I did wonder if they'd tried any of that for real... Then I thought I really don't want to know... So for the non-erotic authors, you could probably ask, but I wouldn't promise an answer. It's an irksome question!
Now, this leads on to the next question...

"Have you done everything your characters do in the story?"

Well for some stories, it's physically impossible. I mean, there are some characters that fly, for crying out loud, or, like in Wolf Smitten, there are werewolves or other paranormal creatures. Just not possible, though it can be fun to pretend. However a lot of authors live vicariously through their characters. What they write is what they'd love to do but don't have the courage or time to. Thinking that authors do everything that their characters do, out of research or just because authors write what they know, is a little naive. Some authors are able to actually live their books; most of us have to settle for less. Doesn't mean we're not happy, we just don't all have the crazy, dreamy lives that we give our characters. 

So hopefully I've helped enlighten you some more on what authors hate being asked or hate overhearing. We're people too, just like you. If that question might annoy you, then it will probably annoy an author, so think before you ask. I would also like to thank Delena Silverfox, Angela Castle and Imogen Nix for helping me with the questions this week!
Thank you!