This post was originally conceived back at the beginning of July. For some reason I kept putting it off, and off, and off–hopefully not because I knew on some level it was a bad idea!
Authors do a lot of things to promote their books. We see those efforts played out in the blogosphere with blog tours and giveaways, cover reveals and interviews, and it spills over into Facebook and the Twitterverse so that, some days, it seems you can’t turn around without running into this person or that one promoting his or her book. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this, except for the potential for burnout for both the promoter and the promote-ees, and let’s face it, I hope to be one of those promoters myself some day. It’s just part of how the book/author world works these days.
Now, I certainly don’t mind this, and as I said, I hope to be on that ride myself one day. There is, however, one particular type of promotion that I don’t think I’ll do when I get to this point. I’m talking about the character interview and related types of posts.
You know how these go–maybe you’ve hosted one on your blog. Maybe you’ve done one for your book. In the character interview, you answer questions from an interviewer–as a character from your book. I’ve read some of them, and they can be fun, sure, but as I’ve read them, I’ve always found myself thinking, “Wow, that is so NOT for me.”
I can’t really explain why I feel this way. It’s not like I don’t like my characters. I do. I like them a lot, even the bad ones. They are my creations, I’ve lived with them in my head for months, maybe even years. I know them inside out and upside down. I know what they love and what they hate and what they fear. They are, in many ways, quite real to me while I am writing them, and I hope that some day, they can be quite real to you and thousands (hell, go big or go home, right? Millions!) of others. Stephen King is still asked about Carrie White. John Irving is still asked about T.S. Garp. Maybe twenty-five, thirty years from now people will still be asking me about Chris Burke or the Barton family, etc. It would be an honor to have that sort of impact on people that they would want to talk about my creations long after the fact.
Yet talking about them is different that what happens in the ‘character interview’ posts. There was a post Sophie Masson did at Writer Unboxed last month (Extending A Character Through The Internet And Social Media) where she talked about the success she had with this. Ms. Masson created blogs, Facebook pages–she even had musicians create music for a fictional band she wrote about in one of her books and did videos on Youtube! She had a lot of fun with it, and her fans (and publisher) loved it as well. In her view, it was quite a success, and I’m sure it was.
That’s not for me, however. The thing that comes most quickly to mind is something Jerry Garcia said when asked why the Grateful Dead allowed (encouraged, even) audience member to tape the band’s shows: “When we’re done with it, they can have it.” It’s the ‘done with it’ part that sticks with me so much. Characters exist pretty much within the framework of their story; when the story is done, so are they. I don’t spend much time thinking about literary characters and wondering what they would do in this situation or that, or if they like the same ice cream I do.
This is not to say in-character blog posts, interviews, pinterest, etc., is wrong–it’s just wrong for me. What about you? How do you feel about Extendo characters? I’d love to know. Thanks, and have a great weekend!