Our second guest blogger for March is here! Don’t you just love Mondays? I do! I truly enjoy seeing everyone interact with authors and writers they might never have gotten to hear from before, and the discussions we have on Monday are always fun and enlightening. Today will be no exception. Sharon A. Crawford is here. Author of Beyond Blood, published by Blue Denim Press, and a member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sharon is talking about how readers and writers connect with one another – in the same way we will all connect today! Happy reading.
Get a Room – the Ultimate Author and Reader Connection
Readers and writers like to connect on Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs. Videos on YouTube give the reader some idea of the author’s persona. But they are not connecting physically. As the title of a song made famous by the late Peggy Lee (back in pre-online days) asks, “Is that all there is?”
But get an author in a “bricks and mortars” room with a group of readers and more can happen. Call it creative magic, call it real connection – whatever you wish, but it is like the icing on the cake.
Why else do authors still do readings and interviews in libraries, cafes, pubs, at book clubs, writing festivals and conferences? Sure, we authors want to sell books, but we want to meet our readers in the flesh. And when you do like me, partner up with authors from a writing organization, the atmosphere can escalate into a literary, or in my case, criminal high. No drugs needed.
As the crime fiction author of the Beyond mystery series (Beyond the Tripping Point, 2012 and Beyond Blood, 2014, Blue Denim Press) and a member of Crime Writers of Canada, I often “appear” with other crime writers to do readings and author interviews. A recent appearance at the Beaches Library Branch in Toronto, Canada, turned into an incredible evening.
Nothing about this evening was expected. A sudden early snowstorm prevented an out-of-town author from coming. I was waylaid by public transit delays and frantically phoned the library to say I would be late. Two of the authors were already there, so I was still determined to make it.
I’m glad I did.
There were four of us crime authors reading and talking about our writing – Nate Hendley, who writes true crime (Steven Truscott – Decades of Injustice, Five Rivers Publishing, 2012), Steve Shrott who writes comedy-mystery fiction (Audition for Death, Cosy Cat Press, 2013) and D.J. McIntosh who writes historical thrillers (The Book of Stolen Tales, Penguin Canada, 2013), and me. A very diversified criminal-writing gang.
I arrived as D.J. McIntosh was just finishing her reading. Did I say “reading?” Yes, she read, as did the rest of us. But our reader audience wasn’t content to just listen. They got right into the presentation, right into the moment, bombarding us with questions on crime writing, where we get our ideas, how we write, our characters. etc. and with Nate Hendley, where is Steven Trustcott now and did he interview him? As we answered their questions, it became more than just a q and a. It was a conversation. It was as if we had all been siphoned off into a separate universe away from everybody and everything else (including the snowstorm) to get to know each other. These readers weren’t present only for entertainment. They wanted to connect. And so did we.
The readers were all ages, from young children to seniors. (I had to watch what I read as my fiction is for 14+). We found out at the end of the evening why those children were there with Mom or Dad. They were checking out different careers and that evening it was authors. I should have twigged in from some of the questions about what book authors earn and don’t-give-up-your-day-job answers. Yes, we sold some print books and probably more e-books later. And maybe set the seed for some future crime readers and writers.
Speaking of readers and authors connecting, there is Sisters in Crime, a world-wide organization begun by mystery novelist Sara Paretsky and other women mystery authors in 1986, long before Goodreads and LinkedIn existed. SinC was originally started to raise the profile of women crime authors. Chapters began springing up all over. Members include crime authors, librarians, publishers, and readers. SinC Toronto, which I belong to, also includes a few male crime authors. We call them “brothers in crime.” The criteria is still to promote crime authors to readers, but I find something else going on – that personal connection between authors and readers. And while SinC is on Facebook, it’s connecting in a real room that binds us together, almost as if we are stuck together with honey.
To answer Peggy Lee’s question – for today’s authors and readers, there is much more to life when we meet in person.
Sharon A. Crawford
Sharon A. Crawford, a former journalist, is a freelance book editor, writing instructor/tutor and author of the Beyond mystery series. She is Writer-in-residence for Canadian Authors Association Toronto, a member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime Toronto, Professional Writers Association of Canada, and runs the East End Writers’ Group.
Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.