Sunday, April 27, 2008

Entertainers All...

Life falls into patterns. Here I am once again, blogging from a lounge in Narita airport (Quantas, rather than Northwest, just to give the illusion of change). In about twelve days I'll be coming back this way, and I have to figure out what to do with nine hours in Japan. Too long to hang around the airport, not long enough to do anything with.

Life is good. I proofread the first 60 pages of the UK version of The Graveyard Book on the way out (is it a hawthorn tree or a hawthorn bush because I describe it as both? Can something I describe as spike-topped metal railings also be described as a fence?), and I slept. (Yesterday I found my iPod Nano, mysteriously missing for a year, in the pocket of a coat I last wore, er, a year ago, so went to sleep on the plane listening to 1941 Jack Benny shows.)

I seem to do a lot of proofreading in Australia. (There's those patterns again.) Last time I was in Australia, for the Sydney Literary Festival, I was proofreading Fragile Things. Tomorrow I'll try and wrap up the US and UK proofs of Graveyard Book.

If I hadn't slept I would have read -- I'm currently reading Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road. It's wonderful -- a [Chabonesque] [Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser]-ish story, filled with swordfights and intrigue and people in disguise. (I just edited that sentence -- I'd written "currently reading for pleasure" as if there was some other kind of reading -- the sort you endure, I imagine.) And there are those patterns again, as I read an essay by Michael in the LA Times that made me grin with delight.

Go read it. It's lovely (and not because it says something nice about Sandman). It's up at,1,909788.story

Mr. Gaiman,

I took photos of the newly-released stage adaptation of Neverwhere earlier this week in Chicago. I'm not sure if this is the right way to get these to you, but I wanted to send along a link to the pictures from the show since you weren't able to see it in person.

Mike Thompson

It looks amazing -- I have to try and get to it in May, before it ends.

Hi there!

Though I should be finishing up a paper for my English literature course, I couldn't help but procrastinate and ask you a question.

You see, I'm a college student as well as an aspiring author. However, I'm currently majoring in public relations. That's right, I'm one of those freaks who uses writing to make people money, doesn't mind public speaking and actually gets excited at the thought of a marketing plan.

My question to you is, is it common for business people to show up in the more creative side of the writing business? Have you ever met anyone who worked in advertising/PR/marketing for awhile then gave it up for novels?

Furthermore, do publishers like to see that an aspiring author has a business background?

While I do love having my course work during the day and unleashing my imagination at night, I do hope to one day combine the two of them when my novel gets published.

Anyway, thanks for your time. Once all this final exam business is done I can get around to reading AMERICAN GODS; I certainly enjoyed ANANSI BOYS and look forward to more books with deities gone wild.

To take your second question first, publishers don't care. If you're selling a novel they don't care if you have a business background or a nursing background or a carpentry background or a writing background. If they have a story about you that they can put in the press releases, that may make life easier for the publicist ("Author Maisy Green was raised by wolves in the jungles of India. Sold into a freakshow she taught herself to read from abandoned newspapers and a complete library of Agatha Christie novels stolen from Delores the bearded woman, a crime for which Maisy was subsequently imprisoned. Her talent was recognised when her first novel, WHO KILLED ROMULUS? was shortlisted for a Writers Behind Bars Award.) But they don't care about anything more than whether you can write and make them turn the pages, and whether they can sell your book.

And to take your first question second, yes, it's common for writers to also be business people. And doctors. And editors of Plant Engineering magazines. And all sorts of other professions and inclinations. I've known a number of publicists who were also writers -- Jack Womack at Harper Collins, who was my publicist for some years, is also Jack Womack the amazing author, and he's kept writing while working as a publicist.

I've also known some sales and marketing people who started out as writers and then became business people and hoped for the time to write, or wound up with a company policy that stopped them writing, and they normally aren't the happiest of people. (I've never had writers tell me, drunkenly, that they wished that they were in marketing, while I've definitely listened to marketing people drunkenly mourn their vanished writing careers.)

Labels: , , ,