Aidan has written a very good article over at his blog (‘A Dribble of Ink’, link’s on the right hand side, check it out!) about how the Internet is bringing writers and their fans closer together. In Aidan’s words, “a shift that is taking authors off their untouchable pedestals and placing them down among their fans”. As a blogger I agree with Aidan when he says that this is a good thing (and when he says it might a bad thing too but more of that later). If it wasn’t for the Internet and email etc, none of us bloggers would be doing what we’re doing right now. Instead of being able to interact with authors, their publicity agents and so on we would all be stuck reading interviews in magazines and thinking, ‘those aren’t the questions that I want answered’… I remember the buzz I got when I emailed an author, for the first time, and they answered (it was Tad Williams talking about the work he was doing on ‘Otherland’). I still get that buzz if an author, or someone connected to the business, emails me!
I was wondering though, are the broken barriers and redundant pedestals such a good thing? Part of the reason we all love reading sci-fi/fantasy so much is because it provides us with a means of escape from a mundane world and it’s troubles. Do we really want to tie these magical worlds to a person who has all the motivations, issues etc that we do?
Picture the scene; you’ve read a book of breath taking beauty and splendour. For however long it took to read you were transported to a world of marvels. You finish the book and while you’re sad that it’s over you know that you can go back anytime you like. Thanks to the Internet, you can bare your soul and tell the author exactly how their work made you feel. You find their blog/website and register a comment but what you don’t know is that the author is trying (unsuccessfully) to quit smoking and has battered their kitchen table into matchwood in a fit of temper at writers block.
What you get back is a comment saying that they really wanted to go into chartered accountancy but writing was a quick and easy way of making money… It’s an extreme example (and none of the authors I have spoken to came back with a comment like this!) but you know what I mean. Do any of us really want to know that the real tragedy of Elric was that he died so Michael Moorcock could replace a leaky roof on his shed?
Magical worlds are fragile, so fragile that they must be kept in books and only allowed to flower in your mind. I love talking to authors, the more the merrier in fact, but I think that I’ll keep them on a pedestal for a little longer…