Before we get to the topic at hand, allow me to note the very nice review of OMW from Professor Bainbridge. Thank ye kindly, sir.
Also, yes, I realize that I’ve been mostly writing about writing here recently, with only the occasional off-topic post to leaven the mix. This very much has to do with the fact that I’m intensively re-editing Rough Guide to Science Fiction Film chapters and doing pieces for an upcoming Uncle John book, and both are taking up pretty much all of my brain cycles at the moment, leaving little time for trivialities like world events. I’m all about writing, and probably will be for at least another week or so. Fair warning.
Now, as long as we’re on the subject of writing, let me answer a question posed in one of the comment threads, which is:
As a writer, what is your perspective on the sensationalist books that are released and just absolutely bought up by the truckload by the general public? Case in point. The Amber Frey book that came out last week, where she’s documenting her relationship with Scott Peterson. Anyone that doesn’t know who that is, hasn’t had a television on, read a newspaper, or visited a news web site in a VERY long time. Anyway, how does that make a published author feel? Someone who has worked years at their craft to get published and recognized, and yet this person is in it for “15 minutes” and gone. I realize publishers don’t care about the content as much as the earning potential. I was just curious as to an author’s perspective.
As a writer, I’m almost entirely unconcerned about it. To begin with, most of the time the books folks like Amber Frey write (or more accurately, someone else writes so as not to make the putative “author” look like a total idiot) and the ones I write aren’t really addressing the same audience; it seems really unlikely that there’d ever be a time when someone is in the bookstore agonizing over having to choose either Old Man’s War or Witness: For the Prosecution of Scott Peterson. So I don’t really gnash my teeth with each sale, thinking “that could have been my book.” It wouldn’t have been my book. Nora Roberts or John Grisham, on the other hand, might be annoyed — the whole melodrama of the Scott Petersen case is right up their respective textual alleys. But you know, they’re not exactly hurting.
Secondly, life is capricious and weird, and there will always be someone who does not seem to deserve the fame and wealth thrown at them. Amber Frey’s great claim to fame is being huckstered by Scott Peterson into having an affair. Is this a firm foundation upon which to build a lasting career in the public eye? No, but it’ll do, and to be flatly honest about it, someone would have written up a lurid tell-all about Frey’s relationship anyway, so why shouldn’t she get the money for it? I mean, I’d rather she get the payday for her trouble than some hack spinning out the tale from newspaper clippings and court transcripts. Soon it’ll all be over for Ms. Frey, and she’ll go back to doing whatever it is she does when she’s not known for being a murder’s moll. Hopefully, she’ll manage her money well.
Ms. Frey’s fortunes — or the fortunes of any person who suddenly erupts out of nowhere, makes a bundle of cash for dubious reasons, and then returns to obscurity as quickly as they arrived — affect me not in the least. The fact she can get a book deal in the snap of her fingers while other people toil for years to do the same is monstrously unfair, but there are so many other things in the world that are monstrously unfair — and of genuine consequence — that this one example of unfairness is quaint by comparison. If other people want to be bothered by it, they should by all means worry that mental scab until their irritation is assuaged. But don’t see why I would want to bother.