Why I Don't Enjoy Seeing Authors Live
Updated: Feb 10
With the one exception that is the great Derek Landy, who performs live author interviews like a comedian does stand-up, seeing authors live is not something I enjoy doing.
For years I got extremely excited whenever I saw an authors name on an event schedule near me, and took to going to see authors as often as I could afford to.
However, amoungst all the excitement of seeing the people who created some of my favorite worlds and characters in the flesh, I could never quiet get over the underlying disappointment.
My first piece of advice would have to be not to go and see two authors at once. I've made this mistake a few times now and found that whenever their are two authors on the stage at the same time their is an uncomfortable jockey for the spotlight.
Adding to this obvious discomfort between the two authors is the preference of the interviewer. I once saw such a live author interview where the interviewer was evidently more interested in one of the two authors over the other, knowing every book one author had written and none of the others.
This added to the fact that the crowd was made up of people mainly interested in one author, rather than both like myself, meant that the spotlight was entirely on the 'more interesting' author and the other was nearly completely ignored.
Another issue I have with going to see authors live is the number of ignorant questions coming from the audience, and occasionally from the interviewer. Though I do not blame people or want to discourage people from asking questions at any time, it can be extremely grating when a member of the audience asks a questions that has already been had, or that would have been answered if they had actually read the book.
Then you have the book signing. Most live author events end with a book signing. A chance for you too que for a very long time, usually in an area not designed for housing long ques, your favorite book in hand waiting for the opportunity to personally speak to the author, and if you're lucky snap a picture with them.
Though this is incredibly exciting, it often ends in discomfort and disappointment. If the author in question is particularly popular you could be queuing for an hour or more, only to finally reach a very tired human being who is under growing pressure to complete the signing and leave. By this point you yourself have sore feet from the slow edge forward you've been doing for endless minutes.
At this point, your question prepared and your excitement building the author takes your proffered book, signs it, thanks you and you get moved along. Leaving with, yes a signature, but rarely a photograph or any meaningful exchange.
Although these things have amassed to put me off the venture, they are not what has made me stop going to these live author events.
Sadly the thing that has put me off seeing authors live is the bubble popping. When I have taken a particular liking to an author I cannot help but begin to formulate ideas about who this person is.
Sadly, on too many occasions now, my bubble has been burst by seeing the person in the flesh. Though I still love their work, my interest in them is suddenly seriously harmed, and against my best attempts the image I had created and the reality are too opposite to not change my overall view of them and in turn their work.
This I know is a selfish disposition. We can not expect the people we admire to be exactly who we picture in our minds, nor can we ask them to live up to those ideals.
Yet somehow, when added to all the other issues I have with seeing authors live, remaining behind the pages of their works has become my favorite place to be.