“Robert’s books about France, I’m talking with him…”

I want my novels to do my talking for me. And it is my characters who are meant to be the center of attention; they are the “celebrities.” I would prefer to stay in the background:

I am at heart probably more an introvert (as I explained in this post, here, back in February). I feel I am much better at discussing my writing in writing than I believe I am in talking about it.

However, as writers we are increasingly supposed to talk. (And some I see don’t seem to know when to shut up.) Recently I turned down an interview request from a US podcaster because I felt that I could not do full justice to her suggested main subject. I didn’t think it would be fair talking with her merely for the sake of just talking – even if doing that might in some ways perhaps have been usefully self-promotional.

I’m “happy” to talk about my books, but in going where you feel you aren’t “comfortable” there is also a danger you’ll badly mess up, and even hurt yourself with potential new readers. I’ve been a university instructor, and public speaking or discussion doesn’t bother me. Yet I admit as well that I have never been particularly good at “working a room” or at “small talk”:

[Excerpt from Distances. Paperback. Click to expand.]

Nor have I ever been great at “book chat” in small groups:

“Susan says you’ve written travel books about France?”

“Uh, yeh. But not exactly. They’re more…”

“I love France. Mike and I go there every year. [Raising her voice so her husband hears across the crowded room] Don’t we Mike?”

[Mike shouts back] “Don’t we what?”

[She shouts back to him again] “Robert’s books about France, I’m talking with him about them…”

That is why I love this blog. Also important to me is now Instagram – which I feel is the “friendliest” social media platform. The global reach of both together is also astounding.

In fact, I write this site deliberately as a “one-on-one” effort most of the time. It is meant to be “chit-chat”: I’m not writing here to a crowd, but to you as an individual probably reading this on your PC or your phone somewhere.

And this site is also meant to be, to varying degrees, fun… because, even if the books’ subjects are serious, discussing books should be, to some degree, well, fun.

And, as we know, making “small talk” on social media is so much easier than in person:

[Screen capture of Instagram.]

It’s something I suspect writers don’t want to think about. I detect most wish they didn’t have “to talk.” There is a perpetual tension between being “out there” and aiming for notoriety, which is certainly good for book sales, versus a desire to maintain a low profile and allow the books to be the “stars.”

[Excerpt from Passports. Paperback. Click to expand.]

My late uncle had the ability, my mother used to scoff, “to charm the birds from the trees.” He was indeed also devastating and magnetic whenever I saw him on television. He even appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show more than once.

For most of us, though, writing stories is what we do. If I’d wanted to be on television or on radio, I would have aimed to do that. But, ugh, there are always those types of writers out there who manage to do both so darn well. 🙂

Have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂