The Artist as a Mystery

My daughter is home sick and we’re all but snowed in and what I really want to do is eat grilled cheese sandwiches and drink whiskey but whatever the hell is going on in my GI tract is not a fan of grains or fat or whiskey and so I’m eating salad and fruit and writing a rambling run-on sentence about it. I have been completely sober for four days and I must say, I’m not a fan.

I’ve been thinking about how the interaction between authors and readers has changed in the last decade or more. When I first got into fantasy (back before Jesus rode dinosaurs, when the world was still flat) there was virtually no way to interact with a writer beyond going to conventions. As I lived out in the boonies of Ontario that was pretty damned unlikely to happen.

Writers were a mystery to me. All I knew about them was the little ‘about the author’ blurbs sometimes found in the backs of books.  That’s what I was accustomed to and so that seems normal. But times have changed. With internet and social media being so entwined with society, there is a lot of pressure on writers to be accessible in a way there never was.

Mick Farren was a Bacchanalian Dionysian god. He wrote about drugs and booze and rampant gods and devastated realities and he was his books. I never met the man, I have no idea what the truth is.

Is that mystery better than the truth? I have no idea. Would I have liked Mick even more if I’d had the chance to chat with him on Twitter? Maybe.

I’m torn. As a reader I love that I can interact with my favourite authors and that writers like Mark Lawrence, Kameron HurleyDjango Wexler, Teresa Frohock, Marc Turner, Brian Staveley, and so many others are so approachable.

As a writer I wonder if I’d be better off to remain mysterious.

The Mirrorist's EyeCome to think of it, I’ve had folks send me fan mail and share their Beyond Redemption-inspired art (look left) and I am so grateful for these amazing gestures. I think that wins it for me. Having the chance to hear what so many folks think about my books is an opportunity the writers of the previous age did not get to enjoy.

Okay. Screw the mystery.

Well mostly. Maybe I’ll lie about a few things now and then just to keep folks guessing.



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  • Frank

    Take heart in the fact that you’re not the only Ontario grimdark fantasy author to wonder about the worth of author blogging. He seems to have done okay over the years with this blogging thing though, or perhaps he’s gone increasingly off the reservation with his blog rants depending on your particular philosophical outlook, but at least not in a way that seems to be hurting his fan appeal.

    Plus, regular interesting blog posts is a way to remind your fans that you still exist. In a crowded marketplace, that might be the difference between picking up a new work of yours or not being aware that you even have anything new coming out.

    I have to say thought, this comment only if you’re willing to sign in with social media thing is kind of a pain in the butt.