Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Horrible Truth

Mes Amis

Its funny how people think of writers. All those press reports of how much JK Rowling or Stephen King earn really seem to set folks' imaginations flying. But the sad fact of the matter is that meeting a real writer can be a tremendously upsetting moment. Witness a friend of mine talking to a ten year old recently:

Kid (pointing out THE GOOD SON): "My dad says you know the guy who wrote this book!"

Friend: "Yes, yes I do."

Kid: "Wow, that must be so exciting!"

Friend: "I suppose so."

Kid: "Is he rich?"

Friend (thinking about all the drink I owe them): "Um..."

Kid: "Does he live in a mansion?"

Friend: "No."

Kid: "A big house?"

Friend: "No. He lives in a flat."

Kid: "Bigger than ours?"

Friend (thinking, well don't admit he rents): No."

Kid (crestfallen): "Oh. Well... is he tall?"

Friend: "No."

Kid: "I bet he does loads of interesting things every day."

Friend: (mumbles something because they can't admit that your writing hero spends his day in retail before going home and sitting around in a tatty dressing down swearing at a computer screen)

Kid: "What does he look like?"

Friend: (shows kid a picture of your author doing something very silly as its the only pic they have on their phone)

Kid: "Oh."

Friend: "Were you expecting him to look like James Bond?"

Kid: "Yes."

Friend: (tries not to laugh uproariously).

The thing is, this makes me laugh for a lot of reasons. Not least because recently a lot of people have been very confused by the disconnect between the characters I write about and me as a person. I'm a fairly mild mannered unreconstructed, beardy geek with a strange sense of humour. I'm not a hard man. Or an investigator. I don't know if I'd want to be any of these things.

But that ten year old has my number: I do want to be a very rich, very handsome and very tall man who does twenty exciting things before breakfast.

But for now, I'll settle for drinking two cups of coffee.

Au revoir



Steven T. said...

And who happens to write very well. Not too exciting, but also not something everyone (even very rich ones) can do.

ICORP Investigations, Inc said...

I enjoyed your blog and your style of writing.

Karen E. J. Petrie said...

Your friends all love you for who you are. I for one am looking forward to seeing you more when I move back to Scotland this summer.