by Ken Bruen
Should writers live up to the expectations of their readers, should e.g. Lee Child be more Reacher in his appearances? Or Barry Eisler be more like Rain . . . Scratch that, Barry pretty much is .
My point, which I’ll eventually make, is readers get a picture of the author from what they’ve read, so is it better if they never actually get to meet the writer . . . because by Christ, most of the time, they are in for a shock.
If you write about psychos and convincingly, when your readers meet a mild gentle soul . . . are they going to go, Hello?
For a long time, readers and reviewers believed that Jim Sallis was black; he couldn’t have written such a compelling, convincing character as Lou Griffin if he were white! Jason Starr has written some of the most noir characters to come down the pike since Charles Willeford, and a few weeks back, taking his daughter to school, he got talking to one of the other dads and told him he was a noir writer. The man went, "You!"
Jim O. Born writes of the homicide squad and so believably that he won the major award last week . . . congrats, Jim. And he is just the funniest sweetest guy till you see him demonstrate weapons and talk about his daily job . . . as a cop.
Vicki Hendricks writes the sleaziest down in the gutter noir that I’ve had people say to me, "That can’t be a woman?"
And I tell them she is a lecturer and they go, "Not the same person."
Years ago, Val McDermott and I were together at a convention in Germany and as we huddled over a brew, Val said, "See, the looks?"
She added, "They figure, two hardboiled mystery writers, discussing mystery and mayhem when we’re actually exchanging photos of our kids!"
I write about the lowest of the low, the losers, the alienated, the seriously deranged and when my readers meet me, they always ask, "Are you sure you’re Bruen?"
I think so, most days anyway.
The best example of this was two years ago when I went to Dublin to meet a Sunday Times journalist, and we agreed to meet in The Shelbourne. The hotel closed a week later but the two events are not connected.
I was early and saw a lady breeze in, all biz, power dressing, well, I mean she was English and thought that shite still mattered and was glancing furiously at her watch. I approached and asked if she was looking for Ken Bruen.
She gritted and, "He’s late."
When I told her I was, am . . . the person, she stared at me in total wonderment and said, "But you’ve manners?"
She’d read me books, and works, C.V. and expected a branded hell’s angel. I was a sad bitter blow.
We did the interview and she kept snapping, "Don’t do that irony on me!"
You’ll gather that we didn’t bond, become email buddies and go on to write a book together.
When the article appeared, the heading was . . . Benign Thug.
I can certainly be thuggish but benign . . . I’m working on it.