I was lucky enough to go along and see Richard Morgan at his QWC-FQ gig in Brisneyland last night. He was funny, erudite and unpretentious. He talked about his writing, his inspiration, his journey to becoming a fulltime writer, and his complete lack of planning when he writes (a comfort for the rest of us to know that successful writers also fly by the seat of their pants). He was generous with his time, answering all questions, signing books for everyone who asked and chatting to everyone who came along.
I was also lucky enough to score a pass to go along to dinner with Richard, his lovely, clever wife Virginia, Kate Eltham and Rob Hoge of FQ, the fabulous Ron and Ian of Pulp Fiction Books, and the lovely man who footed the bill, the very charming and intelligent Brendan Fredericks (publicist with Orion-Hachette).
How authors behave is one of my favourite topics. I’ve seen so many authors behaving badly, acting as if a book deal has somehow rendered them godly, as if they no longer need to be polite and generous to their readers. The longer I’m around the profession, the more convinced I am that there should be a compulsory class for writers called Author Behaviour 101. It would cover broad topics such as ‘Don’t be an asshole to the people who buy your books’, ‘If your first book tanks, you better have been nice to the people you met on the way up coz you’ll be seeing them again on the way down’, ‘Be nice to the bookseller’, and ‘Don’t piss off the publisher/publicist/sales team/your agent’.
Not everyone can be charming and funny. But everyone can make an effort not to be unpleasant and ungrateful. If you don’t like doing readings or answering questions, then suck it up. It’s part of the business and it’s part of how we have to promote ourselves. Not everyone gets to be Thomas Pychon. Hell, Thomas Pynchon doesn’t even get to be Thomas Pynchon anymore. Being seen by readers, talking to them and interacting with them is essential. Failure to do so will affect your career adversely.
My point? I don’t know – I got lost too. Oh yes! Author Behaviour 101 – Richard Morgan goes to the top of the class. He should be the model all wannabe authors take as their template. He ticked all the boxes for top marks in Author Behaviour 101 – gold star!