Weekly Geeks 2010-09: Do books do the talking or do you want more from your authors?

This week’s Weekly Geeks is about the following:

Having recently been told that I’m odd because I’m not terribly interested in author interviews I’ve started to ponder whether there are two types of readers…those who stick to the books versus those who like to know more about the author’s background, thoughts, motivations and writing process.

So, what about you?

  • Do you seek out interviews with authors of books you’ve enjoyed? Why or why not?
  • Do you interview authors on your blog? If yes what did you gain from the interview process? If no is it because you don’t want to or because you haven’t felt able to ask an author yet?
  • Do you subscribe to the blogs of authors you like? Which ones? All the authors you like or only certain ones?
  • Do you track down author websites or look for biographical information about them elsewhere? Would you skip reading a book if you couldn’t find out anything about its author?
  • Have you hosted an author on a blog tour? Was it someone whose books you already read or did it introduce you to a new author?

I don’t think it is odd at all if someone is not particularly interested in an author, but only in his / her books. I’m the same. If I like a book, I only want to know whether there are more from its author. I don’t want to know the biography or the background of the writer.

I don’t seek out author interviews. If I come across one with an author I really like, I might read it and even find it interesting, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find it. And I wouldn’t interview authors on my blog or host an author on a blog tour for the same reason. Mind you, if authors comment on my blog I enjoy the dialogue, but then it is about a certain book and not about the author him-/herself.

I am a subscriber to several authors’ blogs, not of all the ones I like, but some. Not because I want to find out more about their lives, but rather to get updates on new or upcoming books, excerpts etc.

I definitely wouldn’t skip reading a book just for the lack of information about an author. If I want to read a book, I couldn’t care less about what I can find out about its writer.

This topic brought two books to my mind. There is this German gothic novel called “Vier Tage währt die Nacht” by a certain Dorothea S. Baltenstein. According to the publishing house the author only wrote this one novel in the 1920s before she died at the age of 30. Nobody knew more about her, but the novel was reviewed positively by everybody when it came out a few years ago (it was supposed to be an attic find). Only some time later it turned out that there was no Dorothea S. Baltenstein, but the book had been written by a German teacher and four of his students. It is said that the publisher who eventually bought the novel had required a pseudonym and a fictional author, since nobody would have bought a Gothic novel written by a teacher and a few students.

And then there is the case of Toyotama Tsuno who wrote Japanese poems and had them published in a book called “Gelöstes Haar”. She was supposed to have lived in Paris and died from tuberculosis at a young age (seems to happen often to fictional writers) and only later it turned out that the supposed translator of the poems, Manfred Hausmann, was the actual poet.

So what if the biographical details of the authors were made up and had nothing to do with reality? I liked both and I couldn’t care less about whether it was a fragile Japanese lady living in exile, an equally fragile German lady from the 20s, a group of people experimenting or a German male journalist who wrote them. If that makes me odd, too, so be it.

6 Comments Write a comment

  1. I had to look the German book up. My German is rusty, but I managed to translate most of the title. I have to practice more. Anyway as I read your post I thought of The Princess Bride. Have you read this book? Goldman says this is a french translation and throughout the book he references the changes he has made. The original sounded so good I looked for it for months. I was really interested in seeing if anyone else had translated it; I looked Goldman up to see if he had an references to other authors. Boy did I feel stupid when reading about his work, I found out there is no french book. He made the whole thing up!
    There are many books that have been successfully ghost written, though I wonder if they would get away with it today? Carolyne King (of Nancy Drew fame) had a “bio” but when a reporter dug deep it had to come out that there was no Carolyne King. Today I am sure bloggers would be looking for her to interview; I do not think the ruse would last too long. Even so die hard fans of Nancy Drew did not care; what matters was that Nancy Drew existed in books.

    Reply

  2. Sari, yes I have read The Princess Bride, but only after I saw the film which I loved. I think a lot of people looked for the original before they realized that Goldman made all that up.

    Gautami and pussreboots, thanks for your comments.

    Reply

  3. I’ve recently come across some very deceptive author photos e.g. the author is nearer 50 but the photo nearer 30. But in general I like to know a bit about the author although I’m more interested in the book. I do go to writers events to hear authors speak though. I like to hear them reading their own books.
    .-= Kerrie´s last blog ..Weekly Geeks 2010-08: Books vs Authors =-.

    Reply

  4. Like you, I don’t care too know too much about authors. I generally only seek out information if it enhances the reading experience in some way or if it is crucial to understanding the context of the book.

    I have never heard of the German book that you mentioned but it makes for an interesting story.

    Here’s my weekly geeks post: http://everybookandcranny.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/weekly-geeks-do-the-books-do-the-talking-or-do-you-want-more-from-the-authors/
    .-= Nicki´s last blog ..Weekly Geeks: Do the Books do the Talking or do you Want More from the Authors? =-.

    Reply

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