Big apologies to Anne Rice and any fans I might have upset with my remarks in an earlier post about a Time Magazine article concerning the possible publication of a new Lestat novel. Anne commented and later emailed letting me know there would not be a new Lestat novel. She can’t make it work, but is instead working on a” new supernatural series” with different characters and a Christian focus. I look forward to it.
I also was directed to a message on Anne’s site concerning this topic. She basically does not want to revisit the places and characters she gave birth to in her earlier books, and is putting her focus on new characters and subjects. Enough said. I was instantly reminded of the similar words of horror novelist, Poppy Z. Brite, who has done the same thing. Brite’s recent focus has been all about a gay couple running a restaurant in New Orleans. She received lots of frowns from angered fans who desperately wanted Poppy to write sequels to her older books or at least revisit the beloved characters she created when she wrote horror. She said no. She much prefers to write about new characters, and the recent ones in her Liquor series are indeed brilliant.
As a writer/author myself, who I am to judge another author for choosing to write about new topics in new genres? I have yet to corner myself into any one particular genre at all. My first book was considered gay fiction by some, although I called it Southern young adult. Ahem, there was no erotica in it, by the way. A lot of readers assume that calling something “gay fiction” means it has steamy sex scenes. Not so! But I have to admit, I’ve written a few erotic short stories which are in some anthologies out there. I’m about to publish my second book which is a bit of a romantic comedy. And currently I’m writing historical fiction. So there…I’m all over the map, aren’t I?
Sure, readers will complain when their favorite author leaves their genre for something completely and utterly different. How dare they get bored with writing about the same old thing we want more of! We may have no interest in reading their new books. We may boycott them and write rude posts about them in our blogs, but I think I know what it’s like for that writer. As a writer myself, I have a need to create, to expel my creative energy in whatever means are necessary. My mind is always churning. One day I’m writing about an obsessive compulsive coffee barista and tomorrow I’m writing about a piano making Civil War soldier. I’ve never written a bestseller. My biggest royalty check was maybe 300 dollars. Thousands of people never lined up to get my signature or hear me read. But I still write. I still find ways to fulfill that need, no matter what I’m writing about. No matter who, or how many, is reading.
It’s not always about the money. It’s not always about the paycheck. Sure, we need those things to sustain our livelihood. I work for a medical book and supply wholesaler by day to pay my bills. I’d love to write full time and open the paper and see my next book on the bestseller list. We all dream, don’t we? A million dollar advance? Hey, we might as well dream big, right? For writers, it still all comes back to that need to tell a story…no matter who is listening, reading.
In writing this post now and thinking back to Poppy, who returned to New Orleans after Katrina, and Anne who left New Orleans after the death of her husband, I’m reminded of an NYT editorial that Anne wrote a while back in response to the devastation of the Big Easy after the hurricane. You can read it in full here, but in it she says…
During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us “Sin City,” and turned your backs.
Well, we are a lot more than all that. And though we may seem the most exotic, the most atmospheric and, at times, the most downtrodden part of this land, we are still part of it. We are Americans. We are you.
In a way, this reminds me of that constant struggle between writer and reader and the need to satisfy the demands of someone. Writing for others, whether we are compensated financially or not, is very rewarding. We all love an audience. But there comes a time when we have to stop and just write for ourselves. And here I am writing this now for myself in my blog, knowing that someone might read it once I press that “Publish” button. Or they may not. But I don’t care either way.
I am a writer, and this one’s for me.