As a writer, I’ve been asked quite a few questions about my books. I’m never sure how the answers will be construed once I make an attempt to satisfy the curiosity. For the most part, a lot of the questions throw me. For starters, I’m not used to being asked about my self or my personal process. It’s not something I examine regularly. Being an introvert, you’d think, as I spend most of my time with just myself, that I’d have a handle on the topic of me. Just because I spend 90% of my time alone doesn’t mean I can articulate about myself. You see, there’s no need to articulate things about myself with myself. The act of being alone requires no spoken or written language, and goes largely unexamined.
I’m not being combative, but that’s the thing that’s most often taken for granted. Writing is a mostly solitary pursuit, so most writers are introverted. It should be no surprise that we struggle to communicate about ourselves. Personally, because of the introversion, I’d prefer less chatter about myself and more about my books. That of course, is counter intuitive to the business of presenting books to the public.
There are a lot of questions I’d liked asked about my books. Mostly, I would like someone who has read one to ask me a question about something subtle they caught in the book. To me, this shows a care in the reading. They connected to it on a deeper level than just a weekend read to pass the time. Likely, they’ll revisit the text. Remember growing up, that one book you kept reading over and over? I miss that feeling of connection. I used to wonder what it was like to be the author and hear the response of readers to that effect.
Such questions would show interest. It would show that the person really read the book, and aren’t just shopping for a reason not to read it. Too many potential readers are searching for a reason not to read your book. The to-be-read piles of most of the authors and readers that I know are pretty high. It just makes sense to them to eliminate a potential read at the start, much like a junior editor dealing with the slush pile.
The usual questions that are asked, though, I think, do a disservice to reader and author. Where are the clever questions? Enough with asking: What’s it about? That’s such an impossible question. My book is about fifty million different things, depending on what you’re wearing that day, ate for breakfast, your last name, blood type, who your best friend was in Pre-K…A potential reader who asks this is asking “How does your book fit into my reading list?” I can’t possibly know unless you supply the list and a CV. Better questions, need to be asked of authors. Leading questions.
Instead of asking, what’s it about, ask does your book have a character of color as the lead, a woman, is there talking animals? Think about what it is you like to read, and then ask in the form of a question. I loved Lord of the Rings, is it anything like that? If so, tell me how. That’s a winning question, not that I see a correlation between LOTR and my books. In fact, I love and respect LOTR so much, I feared writing anything like it. However, it is about making impossible choices and doing what must be done despite yourself. In that way, they’re alike. Who knows? That might be the exact thing they’re looking for. I do know, that question lead to the sharing of a lot of information about me as an author and the work I am doing.
I’d like more questions like that. The ones that try to discern the fit between my work and their list with creativity and interest, not annoyance and apathy. If I looked at every book I came across with the latter attitude, I’d never read.