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.