So a couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending an author event at my local Independent Bookseller (MacLean’s Booksellers) where MacLean’s were hosting a book launch of sorts for local author Wendy James as she spoke to fellow crime writer and friend Jaye Ford about her new release The Lost Girls (Wendy’s book) and the return of the domestic novel. All in all the night was a great successes, with MacLeans Booksellers bursting at the seams with book lovers, life long fans and family members.
Throughout the night Wendy and Jaye talked casually to each other about their books, writing habits and how they first met and became writers. It was a fantastic night, filled with laughter, good-natured teasing, and a hell of a lot of great questions from the audience. One gentleman in the room for instance asked a question that has fascinated me ever since, he asked both Wendy and James what their views where on the idea of writers and workshops and whether they thought that writers could be taught or was it something naturally ingrained within oneself. I’ve never heard this question asked before and was immediately floored by it; and like most of the room, I waited silently as the two authors considered their answers over.
When I was studying at university as an undergraduate a lot of my classes where English or Creative Writing based, and because of this it meant that majority of my classes were writing workshops. My experience of these workshops and how productive they are is mixed, and it really depends on what type of day you get me on as to how I favour them. I will say though, that the success of a writing workshop comes largely down to the creativeness of the lecturer and how they broach the subject, as well as the mindset of those in the class at the time. Having thus taken a variety of workshops and having read my fair share of ‘How To Write” books, I was eager to hear what these two talented ladies thought about the subject and I wasn’t disappointed by their answers.
Together the pair decided that although you could be taught part of what makes a person a writer, they also felt more was required in the process and thus from the individual then what could ever possibly be taught in a classroom. For they agreed that although a writer can learn how to write in a workshop, and certainly how to better their work, one still needed their own push and passion to write in the first place. Wendy for example had been writing diaries all her life, and it was during a drunken girls night that she read one out loud and realised that she could in fact write.
The originality of this question in both topic and form (I’ve been to hundreds of author events now and never heard it asked once before) made me wonder what else people would like to know about or from authors? I’m a quiet person out and about and are way too terrified to ever ask a question in public ( I go red and shake, it’s not the most attractive thing to watch happen) no matter how bad I want to know the answer. Or better yet, what kind of questions do you like to hear authors asked? Are you keen to learn about the types of books they read? Or how they get their ideas? Or are you more interested in their writing process? Who Influenced them? How long and when do they write? Personally I love to know what they are reading currently and a bit about their writing process. I find it fascinating to listen to authors talk about how they write and why, and what their publishing journey was like, but I know a lot of people who find that boring. Who want to know more about the characters, why something happened the way it did, or why the cover art was feature the way it was. So I’m curious, what would you ask if you had the chance?
I’ve got a signed copy of Wendy James The Lost Girls to giveaway to one lucky reader who leaves a comment below about the kind of questions you would most like to ask an author if you got the chance? Keep in mind I don’t have access to these authors and can’t answer them for you. Or better yet, what’s the best question you’ve heard someone ask an author (you don’t necessarily have to remember the answer they gave, but if you do, tell me that as well).
Because of postage restrictions (unfortunately I’m not rich and postage can be a problem) I’m restricting this giveaway to Australian Residents Only. The Giveaway closes on Wednesday April 30 2014, with Winners drawn via Random.org announced via a blog post on May 1st.
If you’d like to read a transcript of the night and see first hand what makes these two writer’s tick make sure you checkout the Newcastle Herald’s article on the night here.