Monday, 25 February 2013

It’s never The End online

When you finish a good book, do you rush to the Internet to find out more?

I always do. It’s an extra delicacy that’s impossible to resist. As soon as I close the book, or release the kindle to its stand-by picture of crudely rendered pencils, I’m at the computer, googling. (Not goggling, Victorian time-travellers, although I do a fair amount of that online as well – usually in bafflement at obscure websites on subjects such as milk-bottle collecting).

Why am I googling? What do I want to know at this stage? Just... more, if possible – more about the story, about the characters, about the author.  I like to read other people’s riffs on ideas or themes, and I like to read interviews with the author to find out what inspired them to write that particular story.

Sometimes I’m curious about what the authors look like.

You know how dogs sometimes resemble their owners? I want to see if the author looks like their genre – e.g. whether they are suitably detective-like for crime fiction.

 (I’m thinking a no-nonsense hairstyle, some sort of beige raincoat, a look of noir in their eyes.)

Actually, let’s follow that cliché tangent...

  • Historical: A vague impression of dust, free-range hair, a monocle, a defiant cardigan
  • Romance: A Very Interesting necklace (if a lady), a Very Interesting cravat (if a man), a secret yearning to walk by a stream in a meadow (both)
  • Horror: A quiet unassuming air, with quiet unassuming hair. If they are distracted in conversation assume they are thinking of ways to horribly kill and maim.
  • Comedy: Hair that can comfortably host its own stand-up show, a jaunty outfit, oversized accessories
  • Sci-fi: Like a blinky-eyed mole, recently emerged from its secret Mole Lair
  • Supernatural: Black clothes, cross or skull silver jewellery, tattoo of name in Wingdings font* on arm
  • Thriller: Super-fit, hair swept back as if just stepped off speed-boat, aviator sunglasses, loves Bond.

This is probably why my novel makes slow progress. You’ve got to love a tangent or two (sung to the tune of ‘You’ve got to pick a pocket or two’ from Oliver!)

In this novel, one thing counts
On the page, ideas must mount
I’m afraid these don’t grow on trees
You’ve got to love a tangent or two

What else am I googling? (Besides lyrics to parody.) After I finish a book, I like to read reviews to see what everyone else thinks – and, to all authors who worry about reviews – this is the only time I read them, after I’ve finished the book. A bad review on Amazon would never put me off your book as I’d never see it first. I can understand why authors worry, after all, I’d be gutted to see a miserable review of my own book, but from a reader’s point of view, it wouldn’t inform my choice at all. Does anyone actually go to Amazon to browse reviews to decide what to read? (There’s a lot of 'to’s' in that there sentence.)

I find this sort of googling adds another layer to the story. It’s like wringing as much pleasure as possible out of a sponge.**

I once wrote about a character that couldn’t bear to watch films as she didn’t like to think there was an ending. The character was an over-wrought imaginative teenager, and it was surely only a coincidence that at the time I was also an over-wrought imaginative teenager. Sometimes I feel like that about good stories. They fill my mind so much that I need to google every last drop out of them and only then can I let them rest in peace. Before the Internet I’m not quite sure what I did. Quite possibly I never actually paused between books but hastily picked up the next to consume, and so stayed continually giddy drunk on stories, rather than go through the hang over feel of an ending. Now I like to pause and reflect a little. And, of course, google the hell out of it.

What about you?

*Is there an actual point to Wingdings? There are three versions on my copy of Word (and a bastard child – webdings) so someone out there must know.

**I’ve never passed by a sponge and thought let’s wring it for a bit of a giggle. I’ve never even looked at a sponge and thought of it as an entertainment source, to be honest.


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

This made me laugh for so many reasons! For starters, I do the exactly same thing!! Never trust reviews before I read the book, but I love to see what others are saying afterwards. And I adore your presumptive descriptions of authors. Though it did cause a ripple of worry about my own photo. Yes, I know... I look like my dog!!

Maria Zannini said...

I usually read reviews before I buy the book. But I do Google afterward--and sometimes while I'm reading.

Debbie said...

I read reviews after I've read the book. If I'm reading a book that I can't get into I'll check out reviews to see if others had the same issue.

Old Kitty said...

I do these to films more than I do with books but if it's a book made into a film then even better!! I think most books have pics of the author (well print books) but I like it even more if there's gossip about them! LOL! Oh google what DID we do before you came along!?!?

p.s. I've just used webdings to see what it was all about! LOL!! According to wikipedia (ahem!) it is "a true type dingbat font". So there! LOL!

Take care

snafu said...

Nice idea, but you missed out the comic book writer, I have one in my family and all his friends in that line of work look similar to him in a general sort of way (even the female ones). Maybe you should have a think about that yourself rather than I describe him.

MorningAJ said...

Wingdings are great for creating interesting borders between chunks of writing. And lots of other 'trimmy' things.

PS Do you know you still have the word verification on?

Out on the prairie said...

It is fun to see how you feel compared to that of others

J.B. Chicoine said...

I think that would be one of the biggest compliments paid to an author--to be Googled after-the-fact! It also makes me think more about the content of my blog and website--yikes, what if someone actually wants to know stuff and I am (or my content is) just plain old boring...I suppose that's one plight of the 'private'!

By the way, I love the hairstyle on your avatar--quirky-in-a-good-way vintage! Very classy!

Dewena Callis said...

When I find an author I love I want to find out everything they've written and yes, background of their life. I want to read their autobiography if they've written one or biographies about them. My curiosity knows no limits, well, some. I'm not a stalker but I want to know what makes them tick. And their photograph is so important and I always do feel happy when I think, "Oh, I just knew she would look like that."

Could Rumer Godden have looked anything different than what she was on her book covers? Could Nigella? I don't think so.

Johanna Garth said...

I love reading the reviews too AFTER I finish. If I read them midway or before I feel like they color my opinions.

Laura Marcella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura Marcella said...

I do this, too! I love finding out more about the author and the inspiration behind the novel. I do this after watching movies, too. I know a lot of random trivia that has helped me more than once while playing Trivial Pursuit!

I also like reading reviews after I finish a book. It makes me laugh some of the things people say because I wonder if they even read the same book I did! And some reviews bring up points I hadn't considered, which is always good for thinking more beyond the novel.

penandpaints said...

I do that too! It's awful to let go of a brilliant book, when you just don't want it to end! As for reviews, I read them, but it doesn't put me off a book if it's bad, after all, enjoyment of a story is down to personal taste :)

Anne Marie said...

I have googled some of the books I have read, but perhaps not to the extent as you do...however, I think I will google more from now on...

Maggie May said...

Yes...... I have often looked & researched the books if I have enjoyed them.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Julie Musil said...

I've done this, too! You'll laugh, but I did this after the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. I became obsessed with Christian Grey. I'm not proud.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

If I like a book, sometimes I actually do look up the author to see what else he/she has written, and to see their personal p.o.v. and decide if it matches what I got out of the book. And sometimes I just google the title to see what other readers thought of the book. I love the Internet for those kinds of possibilities. I used to go to our library's main branch to look up author information, but now it's so easy to learn more about the author and their writing process (via interviews) on the Internet.

Kittie Howard said...

Your genre descriptions were perfect! I've also googled around for more info at times. One book set in the Guernsey Isles really caught my imagination so I looked for a web cam. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the historic sites mentioned in the book and then how the setting had evolved into today's world.

Giles Kristian said...

Great post and made me chuckle. Also made we wonder if I look like my genre (historical). Now you mention it, do I detect the faintest impression of dust? I dare say my monocle could do with a wipe.

Talli Roland said...

Haha! Love your romance cliche. :) I do love to see what authors look like.

Aditi said...

Hi Jayne, I really liked the part about the authors! :) Sadly,nowadays, the authors prefer to add a photo in the books and kill the thrill of finding out that the author looked freakishly similar to what you had imagined him/her to be!

About the books,you've done a great job distancing yourself from the internet before and while reading the book. I have fallen into a compulsive habit of reading the reviews, even the plot!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I've written a mystery and, after reading your blog, was tempted to go tell my husband I have a look of "noir" in my eyes. But . . . it's a middle grade mystery. So I probably don't. I have the sensible hairdo instead.

I always enjoy your posts, Jayne. As for reading reviews, I don't pick books that way. I love to read reviews, but they go right out of my head afterwards.

Unknown said...

I Google all the books I read after reading them, whether I like them or not. Reading is solitary, and it makes me feel connected to a community, if it's only the community of others who read the book.

I like to argue in my head with reviews I disagree with.

The best books make you sad when they're over. You'd really like another chapter, but stuff about the author is better than nothing.