Since I've been a published author, and especially since I've been an active blogger, people have felt free to say the darnedest things to me.
When my first book came out (MAIDENSONG, w/a Diana Groe), I was so proud of it, I propped a copy up on a shelf in my office at the bank where I worked. That led one person to comment:
"Oh look! There's an author out there with the same name as you and she was nice enough to give you a copy of her book!"
I'm rarely at a loss for words, but really, what could I say that wouldn't make the other person feel two inches tall?
For those who came in to my office and realized they were looking at the 'author out there,' the question was:
"Why are you still working at the bank?"
I resisted the urge to answer "Compound interest is my passion."
The truth is "why-are-you-still-working" was the polite, thinly-veiled version of:
"How much money did you make on that book?"
Which is something I still get quite often. Especially now that I write full time.
Money is the last taboo. Normally, we'd sooner ask a person's sexual orientation than grill them on their finances, but total strangers feel perfectly comfortable asking authors for specifics about their income. I think it's because the perception is that we all get 6 & 7 figure advances and the royalties roll in like clockwork each month. The truth is publishing is like every other field. A small percentage of practitioners account for the lion's share of the income. That's just how the world works.
And because I write romance, that's opened up a whole other line of questioning. My personal favorite is:
When are you going to write a real book?
As opposed to the 8 pretend books I've sold to a NY publisher, some of which have been translated into German, Dutch, Italian, Russian and Spanish?
It's ok. I know what's behind this question too. What they're really asking is:
When are you going to write a book without all that sex?
And the answer is "When I stop writing about life." My stories are about relationships and all that entails.
Then there's the flip side of the equation. At my very first signing, a reader came by my table, picked up my book and asked:
"How's the sex in this? I like the really filthy stuff."
Well, a happy consumer knows what she wants. I told her she probably wouldn't like my book. I really try to make sure all my scenes, the sex scenes included, serve the story. They must advance the plot or deepen and reveal character. Otherwise, they become part of the never-to-be-seen collection of highlight reels left on the self-editing chopping block.
Since I've been blogging steadily, I've received some interesting questions. I try very hard to be transparent on my blog because no one can keep up an "author persona" day after day. I am who I am.
But that doesn't mean I'll share EVERYTHING!
Just this week I was asked to contribute a bit to another blog about "My Favorite Sexual Position." I am not making this up! She was very polite about the request and she's one of my Facebook friends, so I did send her something, but mostly it was just that despite the level of heat in my books, I'm really a rather shy person.
Besides, I don't write about how I have sex in my books. It's about how my characters connect. (I can hear my DH reminding me that all writers have to research their material, but as with every other bit of research, we don't share everything we uncover!)
Ok, now it's your turn. Is there anything you'd like to ask me? I will probably answer (but just remember I make things up for a living! LOL!). If you're a writer too, what's the strangest thing anyone's ever said to you?