Friday, August 03, 2007

The New Intimacy

I wonder what Agatha (Christie) or Enid (Blyton) would have thought about this kind of thing. I don't think Agatha would have liked it, anyway.

I speak, of course, about the New Intimacy between readers and writers. It is no longer enough for a writer to sit at home and write the books. Dear me, no. Neither will it suffice for an author to go on the occasional book tour, give readings, and answer questions for a few minutes at the end.

No. Nowadays Web 2.0 interaction is all the rage, my dears. If things go on the way they are, readers are pretty soon going to want to be present when their favourite author buys his underpants, or gets fitted for a new bra.

By way of example, witness the case of Philippa Gregory, bestselling author of The Boleyn Inheritance and The Other Boleyn Girl. On Sunday 16 September, at 2.00 p.m. EDT (you'll have to work out for yourself what this is in Europe), Ms Gregory is hosting a live web event for her fans around the world.

'Never before,' says her publisher, Touchstone, 'has an author such as Gregory participated in an interactive web event of this magnitude.' Oh, but they all will before long -- mark my words.

Philippa Gregory LIVE will feature a 'live simulcast' (whatever that is) of Ms Gregory speaking to an audience in London. She will discuss her historical research; writing process; her latest novel, The Boleyn Inheritance; the upcoming major motion picture based on The Other Boleyn Girl; her next novel, The Other Queen; and where she buys her bras.

If you want to get truly intimate with Philippa you need to register in advance. And it's worth doing, apparently, because 'throughout the one-and-a-half-hour long event, online attendees will have the opportunity to ask Philippa their own questions and interact with other fans and book clubs.'

What fun, eh? Bet all you wannabes just can't wait for it to happen to you. Good luck, kids.


Anonymous said...

How depressing to an author who sees writing as a gift and to whom the very word 'celebrity' is a turn-off.
Having just given up a self-publishing firm because of the pressure to sell oneself in order to sell the novel, and now (so it would seem) publishing houses are likely to require the same, I think I will crawl back into my shell and just go on writing.
Can't stop - it has become a habit.

Gladys Hobson (Magpies Nest Publishing - the 'publishing house' for a shell-dwelling writer))

Anonymous said...

Is this another of those things that one's Aunt Mildred and all the in-laws and blogging friends will watch--along with a few other hapless souls that are so bored they actually want to watch Philippa Gregory drone about how she did historical research?

I read the Wikipedia article on this 2.0 thing. Mybe it is the rage of the future, but it appears it's a nothing that exists merely if you wish it to. It's a windmill or a dragon by choice.


Kitty said...

And yet, in this reach-out-and-touch-y'all society, we communicate even less.


Anonymous said...

Is it the Web format that's causing such issues? Because for years I've enjoyed the talks with writers featured by City Arts & Lectures... and as a librarian I'm always interested in how other writers do research. I'd think a "Web event" would be much kinder on an author's time (and sometimes, ego) than making the rounds of bookstores.

I like in-person readings, I think our culture benefits from book programs, but we can't all get to them... and silly hype aside, this could be a successful model.

Anonymous said...

oh the good old days when readers were happy (?) to establish "intimacy" with a book and nothing else! this web 2.0 seems to be a great promoter of the illusion that there might be something MORE to people if you meet them in a virtual (and highly confusing) "space" - as in reality most of us are obviously so bored with each other...

Anonymous said...

Charles Dickens gave readings of "Christmas Carol" during his day. I've a copy of the reading and as I recall it is slightly edited by him to suit the needs of a live performance. As an actor I also recall that it reads wonderfully. The difference then was being able to sit with other live persons, listen to the tones and inflections of the author, and otherwise have a jolly good time at the theater.

Imani said...

It doesn't strike me as egregious. Didn't writers always give these kind of talks, the only difference being that one has web access to it now, for those who can't make it? PRs are paid to make it sound fancy and ground breaking but it's very 1999 to me. Blogs are a more relevant example of the "New Intimacy", IMO.

lady t said...

I was fortunate enough to meet Philippa Gregory at a BEA author signing and she seemed most agreeable to me. She was very pleasant and had a couple of ladies-in-waiting types dressed in period costumes with her(you gotta love the PR stunts at these conventions)and we even joked about them alittle.

If this is something the author wants to do to connect with his/her readers,what is so bad about that? Not everyone subscribes to the "aloof writer" persona and not every writer has to get touchy-feely with their audience. Yes, you do have to put yourself out there to sell books and if the internet can make that easier for everyone,isn't that a good thing?

Anonymous said...

This is something I've been railing about lately. Only I've been saying it in relation to small, personalized, and self-publishers: there seems to be more interest in marketing books than in writing and making good ones first.

I understand the attraction consumers and readers have for personal contact with their favorite movie stars, sports heroes, and celebrity authors. And I realize there'd be none--and none of this--if books and other products weren't selling. But please ...htp://

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't do it. It's hard enough (looking back on time spent writing any story) to put in the time between juggling work and so on in between writing, let alone devote time to readers.

It's a sad state of affairs if authors are transformed into Paris Hilton's of this world.

Even blogging can be annoying at the best of times, but it enables one to keep one's distance. There's a difference between writer-reader intimacy (in the form of a novel, short story,etc) and face to face celebrity type appearances (that can be overblown, and are usually geared toward book sales anyway; some writers may be forced to promote themselves in this way by small companies). I used to work for a publishing company that once sent a letter to its writers to tell them to take a lesser royalty due to natural disasters (like the drought we have in the state I live in), in order to help the company 'keep afloat', so authors would then do anything they could to sell their educational guides and whatnot, just so they could have a better chance at being kept on.