One of the marketing suggestions I've seen for authors, self-published or not, is for them to tie their work into some current event in some form. Viz., Brad Thor observing that the recent swap of five Gitmo detainees for a hostage is reminiscent of his book The First Commandment.
This sort of thing has always made me uneasy, because it seems like yet another way to encourage authors to become marketers, or rather to denature the distinction between their work and the promotion of it. Or, in plainer language, are you going to be more inclined to read someone's work because they point out things like this, or less?
In my case, less — not because I have a thing against military fiction, etc. (I don't), but more because I can't help but apply my own standards to such behavior. If an author I knew did that, I'd feel like they were spamming me; that's why I'm reluctant to do it myself.
Other people often have entirely different levels of tolerance for such things, and I might simply be missing out on an opportunity. (Tell me what you think below.)Read more
Normally I don't do these kinds of tag-you're-it blog games, but I got tagged by Steven Savage, for whom I would carry a back-box of Gatorade through the Sahara on hands and knees. The way this shtick works is, you get tagged to answer four questions. To wit:
So, let us begin the beguine.Read more
Last night a friend mentioned he'd discussed Flight of the Vajra with someone at a geek meetup, although the lead-in was a bit oblique.
Other Person: "I don't read long stories as much as I used to."
Friend: "This book has a guy punching another guy in the brain with a city."
Other Person: " . . . what?"
Yes, this sorta-kinda does happen, but it's that the climax of the story, and it's far from being the most important thing that happens in it. But it's become something of a running-gag-explanation for my friend, who drops it in peoples' laps as a way to spark their curiosity about it. He also came up with a great one-liner to describe the book, one which never fails to turn heads: "A more responsible version of Tony Stark has to save the galaxy, and his elite strike team consists of a circus acrobat, the Dalai Lama, Commissioner Gordon, Seven of Nine, and David Bowie." (I'm putting that on cards and using them for my table pitch at the next con.)Read more
Fellow author and industry colleague Andrew Conry-Murray has published an interview with yours truly. My favorite of my own lines:
I bump into plenty of folks who say they want to write SF or fantasy, but don’t seem to have any curiosity about the genres other than what they’ve already read in them, or seen on TV. If you don’t read outside your own genre, if you don’t read nonfiction, if you don’t read anything older than you are, if you don’t have an interest in current events outside of the need to reinforce your existing prejudices about the world — then you’re not going to produce anything that isn’t a recapitulation of the previous generation of work at best. You have to peer further, be a more curious and empathic person. That’s what SF and fantasy are supposed to be about, anyway — bigger and better horizons, right?
Again, work and the busy-ness of settling in (finding a house, getting access to my stuff in storage) has intruded on blogging time. So, some Fold news, delivered with my customary lack of spoilers.Read more
One of the better pieces of creative advice I've received is "Look for the cracks in things." Leonard Cohen has a couplet along those lines: there's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in. But the right way to apply that advice eluded me for a long time.Read more
Artists certainly are allowed to make films that only satisfy their own creative pursuits. But blockbusters — more than any other kind of film — are conceived of as a way to entertain and satisfy audiences (so they can make money). Modern spectacles feel like they're built to entertain and satisfy their filmmakers instead. They're not considering who their destruction is actually for anymore. They're just doing it. Or, as Vulture wrote, when it comes to destruction porn, "No one necessarily asks for it; it just kind of happens."
My own reservations about how this unfolded in Man of Steel are actually not what's most on my mind when I think about this.Read more
One thing I've noticed about myself vs. other writers with a Web / social network presence is how much more explicit and candid many of them are about their work while it's still being produced. E.g., Twitter updates about word counts or editing status, or even posting the whole thing to their blog incrementally (my friend Scott Delahunt has been doing this with his Lethal Ladies and Subject 13 projects). I don't think these approaches are bad or wrong, just that I've found that they're not the approaches I prefer to take.Read more
People tend to want artists to do the same thing, and it is incumbent upon artists to do something that the audience doesn't want — yet. I'll tell you this. I won't follow an artist who will be led by his audience. Because I don't want to have to follow an artist that I have to lead.
The comments about Silicon Valley aside (I use and make a living off this technology, but I see more and more every day why many creative people are embittered about it, but that's another essay), it was this comment — courtesy of Marc McKenzie, hat tip — which caught my attention.Read more
The usual way in which we plan today for tomorrow is in yesterday's vocabulary. We do so, because we try to get away with the concepts we are familiar with and that have acquired their meanings in our past experience.
This insight is a big part of why I'm convinced most any attempt to talk about "the future", especially in SF, is always going to be some form of talking about the here and now. When I wrote Flight of the Vajra I didn't really think the future I was imagining was the future we were going to have, or even a future we were likely to inhabit. It was a future, one I used more as a way to muse about where we're headed or even where we are right now. Such is the way of skiffy.
What I don't think we should ever do, though, is settle for only that. Today's tomorrow shouldn't look like yesterday's tomorrow if we can help it.Read more