Saturday, April 09, 2011

Odd Thoughts

The world is very strange and if you think you have anything at all figured out, Dear Reader, you are misled. And I, Donis, have an observation or two about that.

1. I read an interview with Jean Auel in my local paper today. I'm sure you remember that Auel is the author of the blockbuster Children of Earth series, the final installment of which has just been released after an eight year hiatus. In the interview, Auel said that when she wrote her first book, Clan of the Cave Bear, she was just practicing and didn't expect that it would ever be published. She only writes stories to please herself and doesn't worry about success. I've heard Diana Gabeldon (Outlander) say the same thing. From this I conclude that if you want to be happy and successful, don't give a rat's hindquarters about what anyone else thinks of you.

2. I was moved to ponder deeply after reading Frankie's entry on "branding" oneself. (below) Do I want to try and cultivate a brand? Readers certainly brand authors. I do. When I read a book I like, I am inclined to look for others by the same guy since I assume that any book of his I read will contain the same elements I enjoyed in the first. This is why authors use pseudonyms to write in more than one genre or style. I'd think twice about using the name Donis Casey on a novel about cannibal prostitutes. Lovers of my Alafair books might be shocked and hold it against me.

3. People have extremely skewed perceptions of themselves. For example, I watched a taped interview of myself on television a few years ago and I was stunned. I hardly recognized the woman on the screen. She seemed soft-spoken and genteel with...I don't know...bit of a sly twinkle in her eye. I didn't know her at all. I expected to see the person who lives inside my head - Kali, Destroyer of Worlds.

Finally, and all kidding aside, I just finished reading Julia Spencer-Fleming's latest, One Was A Soldier, which is due for release on April 12. Even though it's been three years since the last installment (2008's I Shall Not Want) in Spencer-Fleming's series featuring Epsicopal priest/Army helicopter pilot Clare Fergusson and Miller's Kill, N.Y. Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne, it was worth the wait. Readers have been waiting for eight years to see how the tension between Rev. Clare and the married Van Alstyne was going to play itself out, especially after the murder of the chief's wife in All Mortal Flesh.

One thing about Spencer-Fleming's books that has always impressed me is that she is a brave writer, and I think that willingness to write the truth - about human nature, about weakness, desire, pain, love - is what makes a book special. Too many of us authors are faint hearted when it comes to dealing with the hard stuff, but that's what it takes to create a body of work that'll speak to future generations of readers.

She always pulls off a kick in the gut ending for her books, as well, and One Was A Soldier is no exception. I thought it was a great read.


Vicki Delany said...

I suspect that bestselling authors who say they never, ever, not in a million years, expected to be published are in the same boat as the actresses who say they never, ever diet and can eat everything they want but just are lucky they they happen to fit the norm of a modern movie star.

Donis Casey said...

I actually went to see Auel speak today in the auditorium of Tempe Center for the Arts. About 350 people showed up. She related that she had five children before the age of 25, then went to college at 28, got an MBA, wrote Clan of the Cave Bear, and joined Mensa. I have no comment. I'm just saying.