Author accessibility

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We are well into the digital age of publishing. Almost every book is available from an online source and nearly every author has an internet presence. Contacting your favorite author is as easy as posting a comment or firing off a quick e-mail. More often than not, your favorite author will send you a reply in a reasonable amount of time.

This was not always possible. Back in the olden days (15 years ago)  fans had to write letters and lick stamps, and if even if you got a form letter in response it was something to be treasured. Authors had this mysterious air about them. I always imagined my favorite writers holed up in a dusty office hunched over an antiquated typewriter. I now know that this was likely not the case, but the thought of Isaac Asimov tweeting about a burrito he ate on Tuesday for lunch seems kind of obscene to me.

What if J.R.R Tolkien had a blog? What would his day-to-day ponderings be like? Surely it would be epic on a scale I can’t even fathom. I think my misgivings about author accessibility are possibly childish. I should grow up a bit and be glad we’ve shelved the mystique that used to surround the titans of SFF literature.

I can now not only read amazing works by geniuses like Rothfuss, Scalzi, and Martin, but I can also gain insight into who they are as individuals. I can spot correlations between the person posting cat pictures on their facebook page and the amazing works of fiction they produce. It actually provides another level to admiring an author that wasn’t an option before.

What do you think? Do you miss the days when the back cover bio was all you really knew about your favorite authors? Does the political and diary ramblings of your favorite authors detract or add to their body work?


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JUSTIN BLAZIER (on FanLit's staff September 2009 – September 2012) Like many fantasy enthusiasts, Justin cut his teeth on Tolkien. Due to lack of space, his small public library would often give him their donated SFF books. Justin lives in a small home near the river with his wife, their baby daughter, and Norman, a mildly smelly dog. He doesn't have much time for reviewing anymore, but he still shows up here occasionally to let us know how he feels about stuff.

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9 comments

  1. If he didn’t eat burritos, I’d be happy to make him some of my famous green chile BBQ burrito mix for him to sample. Wouldn’t it be great to have dinner with your favorite author???

    The internet makes things possible. I am still in awe of great writing whether I access information about the author online or not!

  2. I don’t necessarily miss the old days. I think that, in some cases, it is nice to know a bit more about the author–though of course, one would never want to intentionally commit the “intentionally fallacy” when it comes time to do an analysis of a piece of writing. Working with literary criticism, like I do, knowing more about the author does make it harder to stay away leaning on the author’s supposed “intent.” For example, did J.K. Rowling purposely intend for Harry’s parents to be dead based on what was going on in her life in regards to her mother? Would I have known this bit about Rowling’s life if it was 20+ years ago? Probably not. So I guess what I’m trying to say is–I’m on the fence. Author’s lives are interesting.

  3. SandyG265 /

    I actually like being able to learn moe about an author’s writing process. Especially when an author gives background information on how they researched the book and how they came up with their characters.

  4. I actually met old Ike on 3 occasions. He was one of the first authors I know of that switched from typewriters to word processors. He had an old TRS-80 that gave him tons of problems. I was selling computer furniture at the time and was visiting a computer store that leased space on the top floor of a world famous toy shop on 5th. Avenue… (brain dead moment, can’t remember the name).

    He took the time to sit down with me and talk about his books, and some of the other titles I own by other Classic Age authors. He was funny, witty, and actually listened to what you had to say.

  5. I wonder how authors who’ve transitioned into the age of accessibility feel? I’m sure being on the other side of this access has its pros and cons.

  6. April /

    I like it but I can see where it has its ups and downs. For an author – always being on display in an effort to assist in the marketing of their work must be exausting as well as rewarding.

    I recall once receiving a hand-typed letter back from an author when I was a teen. I was so happy to have been noticed it was silly. I still get giddy if for some reason an author contacts me, even though I speak with several on a regular [digital] basis now.

  7. Elida /

    I think it’s cool to know a little bit of their lives, it makes you realize they are not that different from you, besides some of them give you bits of info of the stories they are working on…

  8. Maria, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks. Please contact me (Tim) with your choice and a US address.

    • Good thing someone above told me about this (Thanks April!) I forgot to follow this thread!

      I do live in the US and I’ll check the stacks and send you an email! Thanks so much!!!

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