- by Laura Resnick
Here are some handy suggestions about what to say if you happen to find yourself thrust into a novelist’s company and cannot escape…
10. “I read a lot. I love books. I’ve run out of places to shelve all my books.”
Most people don’t read books. But most writers began life as voracious readers, and now we make our living from voracious readers. So we love to meet voracious readers, and we enjoy talking with someone who loves books.
9. “I’ve read all your books, and I can’t wait until the next one comes out.”
Most writers will marry you for saying this. The rest will at least put you in their wills. Most of us only meet people who’ve never heard of us (which jibes with what our publishers tell us about our sales figures), and who, upon meeting us, tell us that they don’t read the kind of trash that we write.
8. “I shamefully neglected all my personal and professional responsibilities from the moment I started reading your book until the moment I finished it. So I blame you for the shattered wreck which I now see that my life has become while I was fully absorbed in your novel.”
The writer’s job is to remove you from your reality and put you firmly in the one she has created. And there’s nothing we like better than hearing that we succeeded to this extent!
7. “I tried writing once. It was so hard!”
We respect you for having actually tried writing, since most people never get beyond just TALKING about how they’re going to write someday. And, yes, it’s hard. We appreciate you for noticing that and saying so.
6. “I could never write a book.”
Writers like meeting people who recognize that writing a book is a grueling process of skull-crushing endurance, and that not everyone can do it (never mind do it WELL). We mostly meet people who think they’re going to write a breathtaking work of staggering genius someday when they have some spare time.
5. “My favorite writer is [enter name here].”
Most people don’t read books at all. So it’s delightful for writers to meet someone who reads, and who is passionate about a particular writer’s work. (But keep in mind that if your favorite writer is this week’s trendy “it” girl or guy, then it’s a lot telling a chef that McDonald’s is your favorite restaurant.)
4. “You are my favorite writer.”
A writer will wed his children to your children for saying this. So only say it if it’s true.
3. “I seem to spend all my money on books.”
Most writers have fervent middle-class aspirations, such as living in some form of climate-controlled shelter, raising kids, and eating regularly. To achieve this, we must sell books. So we love meeting people who buy books.
2. “What are you working on now?”
In fact, I personally don’t like to talk about my work. Read my books if you’re interested in my work; stay off the subject if you’re not. But most writers, if asked to tell you about their work at a dinner party, will still be talking when the sun rises. (I speak from bitter experience.)
1. “Tell me about some of your books.”
See number 2.