NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Q&A Session. Sort of...


I’d love to say that I received hundreds of readers’ letters/emails a week. I don’t. (What is wrong with you people? :o)) Those I do get, however, are wonderful. Really. I now have friends that I chat about dogs with and others that I discuss the latest football results with and these friendships started from one lovely letter from a reader.

The things that often amazes me about these letters though is the range of questions I’m asked. Some are totally off-the-wall. At least, I think so. 

Some of the common questions:

Q: Do you write direct to screen or use pen and paper?



A: I get this a lot, usually from aspiring authors, and I have to give my usual wishy-washy answer. It depends. If all is going well, I write straight to screen. I love to see that word count increasing rapidly. However, if the writing is complete dog poo, I have to sit with a glass of wine, a notepad (a special lined notepad with yellow pages - yes, really) and a pen (a blue gel pen since you ask).

Q: Do you write every day?

A: I used to answer this with a very definite Yes. I’d climb onto my soap box and say that writing is like a muscle and that the more it’s exercised, the stronger it becomes. Now, my answer is “Chance would be a fine thing.”.

Q: Do you work with music or in silence?



A: Again, it depends. If it’s going well, I’m probably listening to the local radio station. If it’s going ok-ish, I’ll be listening to music - anything from Leonard Cohen to Counting Crows. If it’s going badly, I suffer in silence.

And now we come to the more unusual questions…

Q: If you could only save one thing from your burning house, what would it be?

A: Um - well, I’m assuming the dogs are safely outside, yes? Oh, and my husband would be out there too? (Did you notice how I got my priorities right there?) So, if I was thinking with my head it would have to be something as boring as my phone. That way, I’d have access to my books, my music, my work, my friends, my Facebook and Twitter feeds, etc. However, I expect I’d be thinking with my heart and would risk life and limb to rescue a silver rose bowl that my late father made. (I can hear my dad tutting at the stupidity of that. :o))

Q: Which do you think is more advantageous for a crime writer, knowing criminals or police officers?

A: Sad person that I am, I don’t know any criminals or police officers. I fervently hope that having a good imagination and enjoying doing research is the biggest advantage.

The email that arrived on Monday, however, came up with the best question yet. (This was from Sally in Essex who said lovely things about my books. Thanks, Sally. *I’m waving*). 

Q: Presumably, like most writers, you enjoy a healthy lifestyle. (I was already rolling around on the floor at this point.) How do you find time for exercise and eating healthily when a deadline is looming?

A: Where do I start? A healthy lifestyle? Me? Nooooo. I have 3 dogs and walking them is the only exercise I get. Truly. And when I say walking, I mean walking. No running is ever involved. Perish the thought. When they’re fed and walked, I collapse in my chair with a cup of tea or coffee and some chocolate or a cream cake, and I write. I often have a salad for lunch but the benefits of that have already been undone by the chocolate and/or cake. I don’t cook so have to rely on husband’s somewhat limited skills in the kitchen or eat out. I can’t remember the last time I drank water. It’s tea or coffee all day and alcohol in the evening. 

I’m going to be laughing about that one for weeks…

So writers, what’s the oddest question a reader has asked you? And readers, what do you want to know when you write to an author? I’m curious.


Meanwhile, I hear chocolate calling… :o)


8 comments:

Rita said...

Readers I connect with have NO idea what goes on with writers. I do remember one woman who was rather shocked I didn’t know James Patterson. Snort! She thought all writers knew one another and got together frequently to chat. Most questions come from a real interest and I give simple answers. Anything concerning money I consider odd and rather rude and don’t answer. I do believe the oddest question, or maybe it was a statement, you should give books away. It’s no big deal to put thoughts on paper. Sigh. And no….I didn’t need bail money.

Anne Marie Becker said...

This reminds me of the assumptions and questions I used to get when people learned I was from Texas... "So, did you ride a horse to school?" Yep. Every day. *snort*

I haven't had any *interesting* questions lately, other than how many books I sell and how much money I make, and when did I expect to make a bestseller list. Kinda personal, and this was from an extended family member, so it came as a surprise. I deflected that one quickly. But otherwise, it's the typical "where do you get your ideas" or "when/how do you find time to write."

Oh! I think I hear chocolate calling, too... ;)

jean harrington said...

Shirley, You must be one of the few people in all of western civilization that admits to not walking around clutching a plastic bottle of water ALL DAY LONG. I'm going to join your club! Enjoyed your post and your answers to readers' questions. A little levity is just what the country needs 13 ( long) days before Election Day. Amen. Carry on.

Shirley Wells said...

Rita, I'm shocked that you don't know James Patterson. When he next pops in for a coffee, I must ask him to rectify that, lol. As for the whole giving books away statement, I would have needed bail money. In what other profession would you be asked to give away freebies? Grrr.

Anne Marie, that's too funny. I bet a lot of those assumptions about your Texas lifestyle came from Brits. We always assume people from Texas ride everywhere. :o)

Jean, welcome to my club. Nice to know there are two of us who don't clutch bottles of water all day. :o) As for the election, you have my sympathy. At least it's only 13 days away. Even in the UK we're getting tired of it. Hope you get the result you want!

Toni Anderson said...

Shirley--we are so alike! The dog/s, the water thing. I've tried to drink water. I really do. I always figured tea was water.

I've also received the most wonderful emails from readers. I think the weirdest ones are the letters that praise your work, and then tell you to drop the mucky romance stuff and swearing. "Er...so you liked it?" :) And, yes, getting asked what I earn is really off-putting. I'm waiting for that to come up again.

Bigs hugs!

Shirley Wells said...

Toni, we definitely have to form our own water-free club. And I agree, tea is water. :o)
Oh yes, the letters that praise and then find something to criticise are priceless.
I'm curious about the person who gave me a 1* review on Amazon that said "Haven't read it yet." Lol. I'm hoping for 2 or maybe 3* when he/she has read it. Or perhaps I ought to be grateful for the 1*. :o)

Maureen A. Miller said...

Okay, so I got misty-eyed about the rose bowl. I would do the same thing. :)

I had a high school girl write to ask if she could interview me for a graded report she would be submitting. She didn't want to be a 'bother', so she only emailed me one question....per email...thirty emails. LOL

Shirley Wells said...

We'll have to hope our houses don't burn down, Gladys, or we'll look a bit silly clutching something utterly useless. :o)
Oh, I love the story of the high school girl not wanting to be a bother. LOL.

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