Monday, 7 June 2010

Author Info

I often find myself asking authors for 'about fifty words about themselves'. The reason I do this is a. because everyone else seems to and b. some readers seem to like it. They don't just want a read a story by Stanislaus Howitzer. They want to know something about this guy. So, appended to each tale in ST is something like this:

'Stanislaus Howitzer has worked as a whelk-wrangler in Alaska, a missile consultant for the North Korean government, and as second-unit cameraman on Poirot. His first collection, BLARGH!, will be available from Mental Books in the autumn. Of his writing he says: 'I use big crayons on cereal boxes. From that, all else follows.''

Well, something like that. I often skip the author biog stuff. Why? Well, I've often wondered. Perhaps it's because regard the creative process as a bit of a 'black box'. Stories, after all, are generated by the human brain, which may (or may not) be the most complex thing in the universe. It's certainly the most complex thing in my universe, and I've been using a brain for as long as I can remember. Perhaps longer.

Put another way, I think author biogs merely remind us of the human limitations of the people who write stories. They live here and not there, they do this and not that. But that's like saying 'Albert Einstein made a point of never wearing socks'. Does this tell us that geniuses are always eccentric about socks, or indeed anything else? No. The mental prowess that gave us relativity might have been vaguely related to an impatience with conventional attitudes to footwear, but it's a rather tenuous link.

I'm rambling. What do you think of author biogs? Does it matter if you know absolutely nothing about a writer? Or do you feel that, when you read a really good story, you're getting a glimpse of a person you'd like to know more about?

5 comments:

Steve said...

I'm not really interested in the details of the author, although I'll read them if they are available. If the story is good, it will stay in the memory as will the author's name, whereas their occupation etc will be forgotten by the time I finish reading the story (unless, of course, they happen to be a whelk-wrangler, pickled onion taster etc).

jimsteel said...

I like 'em! Especially the whackier ones.

valdemar said...

Right, that's 1-1, so it's like the World Cup.

Sam said...

I think they definitely add something.

valdemar said...

Ooh, a late entry, missus! I'll carry on with author biogs, because now the authors themselves expect to be asked for them. And it doesn't take much room - what's a couple of pages?