Authors are nice people
I originally considered a more “click-bait” title for this post: “Are authors nice?” I decided not to do that, because from my own experience, some certainly are.
It’s interesting…writing is, generally, a non-social activity. Most writers, I’m sure, write in isolation…maybe with the door closed. We see fictional representations of authors’ families knowing not to “disturb” them while they are writing. Those stories are written by, well, authors, so you would think they would know.😉
I can write with my Significant Other in the room, typically, but it can really bring me out of the flow if I get asked a question.
Fiction authors can “create their own friends”.😉 Of course it isn’t the same, but it’s a complete misunderstanding that authors completely control their characters. For characters to be effective, they need to have character…which includes them “refusing” to do something out of character.
It seems very likely that some authors become authors in part because they are uncomfortable with flesh and blood people. They aren’t comfortable socially, but they are still instinctively driven to explore social situations.
Some authors appear to fit that stereotype, perhaps becoming virtual recluses (J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Pynchon…).
It’s different for contemporary authors. In today’s social media climate, many authors communicate regularly with fans, and are much more open. Amanda Hocking comes immediately to mind…one of my favorite Twitter feeds (although there hasn’t been as much textual content recently, it seems).
There have always been nice authors, though. Writing fiction (and even much of non-fiction) requires empathy…you have to understand how people feel.
I’ve had a few experiences where authors were kind to me, and I wanted to share them with you.
I want to be clear here: these three experiences had nothing to do with me being a writer. In each of these cases, I can guarantee you the authors were already established…and had no idea who I was. I was just part of the public…I say that to eliminate any possibility that they were being nice to me because of what small influence I may currently have as a blogger.
I’ve been interested in “cryptozoology” since I read Gardner Soule’s The Maybe Monsters when I was in elementary school. That led to an interest in all sorts of things “Fortean”, and in critical thinking and why people believe what they believe.
Loren Coleman is a titan of the field, having written several truly significant and bestselling books. The author appears on television shows and radio.
Importantly, Coleman is also dedicated to public service, and is famously generous with other interested people (well-known and not)…not always the case in that topic (or in many others, of course). One example? Creation of the
which is currently being expanded in Maine. Loren is often there in person, speaking to schoolkids and adults alike.
The museum didn’t exist many, many years ago when I started an online presence which I called “Weird World”.
It turned out that Loren Coleman had already used the name for (as I recall) a TV pilot which didn’t go to series.
It would have been easy for an established author like that to simply make me, at the time a “nobody”, stop using the name.
Instead, Loren gave me permission to use it.
That wasn’t necessary. That didn’t give Loren Coleman any advantage. It was just an act of creative generosity.
I did start calling it “Bufo’s Weird World” to differentiate it, but I’ve never forgotten that act of unnecessary kindness.
“Uncle Forry” was a science fiction fan from the 1930s. Forry is credited with having been the first “cosplayer” (wearing a costume to one of the very first science fiction conventions), coined the term “sci-fi”, and was most legendarily the editor of “Famous Monsters of Filmland”. I’m sure my love of puns comes in part from “4E”, although Oz and Alice helped as well.
There are many prominent filmmakers today who credit Forry and Famous Monsters for inspiring and encouraging them.
I was young and at a World Con. I had a ride to the airport…so I spent the remainder of my money on the last day in the “Dealer’s Room”.
Then my ride left without me.
I had no way to get to the airport. I didn’t have credit cards…I had nothing at that point.
I saw Forry across the room (I was a Famous Monsters subscriber).
I had some Super 8 rolls of film I hadn’t shot yet.
Not sure what to do, I went over to Forry and asked if this celebrity wanted to buy some of my unexposed rolls.
Naturally, Forry asked me why, and I explained my dilemma.
“Uncle Forry” gave me ten dollars.
No way to know I wasn’t scamming. No way to know I’d actually use it to get to the airport. Just out of…humanity.
Years later, I happened to see Forry Ackerman at another convention…and returned that $10.
Perhaps most heartwarming to me, Forry said, “Oh, you were that [person].” I was surprised that I was remembered…it had certainly been a few years.
Sort of like Loren Coleman, Forry had a museum…the family house. It was called the “Ackermansion”, and strangers would be taken through to see thing like a real Bela Lugosi Dracula cape, or an armature from King Kong.
The irreplaceable collection was eventually broken up and sold off…something that can still spontaneously strike me with sadness. That’s right…out of nowhere, I can be sad about a garage sale. I think they may regret it now, but I’ve always been disappointed that one of the millionaire “monster kids” of the 1960s who became huge successes in later decades, didn’t buy it and keep it together.
This situation is a bit more modern, and perhaps different…but I’m still very grateful.
When I wrote my first book for the Kindle store, I didn’t know much about formatting an e-book. I’d taught computer programming, so I do know tech, but each technology is its own thing.
I didn’t know how to do an Active Table of Content (AToC), where you can click/tap and go to a chapter.
As I recall, Michael Hicks answer my question at what was then Amazon’s DTP (Digital Text Platform), now Kindle Direct Publishing.
Again, no selfish reason to do that for Michael Hicks…it was just being kind.
Out of that kindness, I did read the In Her Name book…which is what converted me to reading on a Kindle. It was a great book (the series as since been…reconstructed, so that particular volume isn’t available that way).
In all three of these cases, it was simply an author being nice to a stranger…proof for me that (at least some) authors are nice.
What do you think? Do you have stories of authors being nice to you? Feel free to share them with me and my readers by commenting on this post.
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