Saturday, January 21, 2006

RIP PBW

Rumors about authors are funny things. We hear them from friends, colleagues, readers, booksellers and even our own agents and editors. We read about them in biz rags and on industry blogs. Like any gossip, rumors can spread like wildfire, especially if they have anything to do with an author's professional wrongdoings, as James Frey just found out.

One of the most enduring rumors I've heard surrounded the dismaying but apparently forgivable change of direction a popular author's work took that chased off many of her readers. While I was a bookseller, at least a dozen customers told me the exact same thing -- "Her writing is horrible, but I heard she's going through a divorce" -- and that rumor is still going around the biz four years later.

As a hobby I collect rumors about myself, which usually sound like something out of a Twilight Zone episode. I think it's because I write SF. Anyway, here are ten of my favorites, and in parentheses at the end, the source of the rumor:

1. I only published a science fiction novel in order to break into the romance genre (colleague.)
2. While serving in the AF, I met real alien life forms (slightly unbalanced booksigning attendee.)
3. Someone tried to kill me at a writer's conference (internet rumor.)
4. I am a man pretending to be a woman (discussion board.)
5. Author Holly Lisle and I are the same person (internet rumor.)
6. I don't make public appearances because I am disfigured (genre rag.)
7. Author S.L. Farrell and I are the same person (amateur expose web site.)
8. My StarDoc novels are semi-autobiographical (book club critic.)
9. None of my editors have ever met me (colleague.)
10. I'm deceased (colleague.)

Now for fun, guess which two of these rumors actually have a little truth to them.

34 comments:

  1. Some choices are whacko (2, 10)

    Others cannot be a little bit true because they're either/or (4, 5, 7, 9 and 10)

    That only leaves three choices, and of those I'd choose numbers 1 and 8 as 'least unlikely'

    Talk about over-analysing a simple blog post ;-)

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  2. Holly Lisle once tried to kill you at a writers' conference and you were consequently forced to fake your own death to escape her wrath?

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  3. Okay, here are my two guesses.

    Someone tried to kill you is probably a gross exaggeration of an intense fan interaction at a writer’s conference. And your StarDoc novels, while not actually autobiographical, probably do have a lot of you in them, what with you being the author.

    Am I even close?

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  4. I'll guess #2 and #8. Wow, you've got some juicy rumors!

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  5. mikaela8:21 AM

    Let's see number nine and... eight?

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  6. I'd believe 8 & 9 though 10 is tempting.

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  7. I have to go with 8 and 9 as the least unlikely.

    I want to note that, as a librarian in a technical college library, I meet real alien life forms on a daily basis.

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  8. You were in the Air Force.

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  9. It'd be way cool if #5 were true, although I don't see how it could be, unless #2 is only partly true and you're actually an alien that doesn't need sleep.

    I'm guessing that 1 and 9 are the least untrue.

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  10. They might not actually be aliens, but some of those USAF folks are weird enough to seem like it... I should know, I'm dating one of them. ;)

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  11. I'm voting for #2 and #3.

    Because I have insider informations proving that you and Holly are both the same man writing as S.L. Farrell from beyond the grave!

    woooOOOoooOOOOooo
    (them's spooky noises)

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  12. No, tambo. That's not quite it. PBW is a man pretending to be a woman writing science fiction solely to break into the romance genre, since PBW, Holly Lisle, and SL Farrell are all the same person who had an affair with alien life forms while in the Air Force (so they'd be able to write romantic science fiction), but then a disfigured editor tred to kill them at a writers' conference, so they faked their own death to escape, resulting in a shattering of the psyche and four distinct personalities resulting.

    Four, you ask? You thought there were only three? Hadn't you heard? Well, I'm not going to start any rumors.

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  13. Number 2! Number 2! I bet you have met some people you probably think ARE alien. ;)

    Just kidding, I vote for the one where you have never met the editors, as it is totally possible to do that. I also vote for the 'autobiography' inside Stardoc.

    Can I vote for Jean's theory as well?

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  14. my guess are #8 and #9.

    I hope its not #10. I'm scared of ghosts.

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  15. My guess: 1 and 8.

    However, I suppose if you were a disfigured ghost, killed at a writer's conference, partying with aliens (that you met on your StarDoc travels) while masquerading as S. L. Viehl, Holly Lisle AND S. L. Ferrell with plans to take over the romance genre - that would be pretty cool!

    ~Sapph.

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  16. wow... those are some out of there ones.

    I'd say 2... maybe... you said some truth and you were in the USAF.

    And 10. I've never personally met any of my editors, either. Just email corrspondence mostly.

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  17. #2 you were in the AF
    #6 you don't make personal appearances

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  18. I'm still wondering if Ferfe was seriously about wishing #10 was true, lol. But in true rumor-monger fashion, I'm only going to give you half the truth:

    9. None of my editors have ever met me (colleague.)

    The truth is, only one of my editors has ever met me in person, and she's no longer working in the publishing business, so technically speaking this is true.

    The other rumor that has a little bit of truth about it? For mysterious reasons that I hope will drive you all crazy, my lips must remain forever sealed. :)

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  19. aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!
    Forever is a long time, I've heard.

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  20. I'm terribly sorry to hear of your demise. If I had known, I would have sent flowers along with the address for your next of kin to send the new novel to.

    Now to the teaser... wow, there are some with a shred of truth to them? Okay, will the real Lynn Viehl please stand up... and identify your sex please?

    LOL

    How about #9--I can see that as not all that unusual.

    Now if you say you met an alien I may have to seriously consider re-routing the flowers to the local asylum in your name.

    maybe 8--you could have some aspects of your life inside the character...but if you say you're still waiting for the 'mother ship' to return... I'm not even gonna bother with the flowers. They don't hold up well in deep space.

    #3?--With fans nowadays, that wouldn't be that big of a surprise. Mayby instead of flowers, I'll just send Mace.

    Those are about my only guesses. If you wrote a sci-fi to break into romance, you picked a strange way to do it. It probably would have been easier to burst into the Harlequin, or Avon, offices wearing spock ears and holding up the vulcan greeting while shoving your romance manuscript under their noses. At least it would have made them laugh.

    Please, please, please let us know what the actual answers are though, or I'll have to send the flowers to myself in the asylum.

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  21. Yup. That'll drive me crazy. Fortunately, it's a short trip. Less than a tank of gas needed for that.

    I'm wondering how much this has to do with Cherijo's secret...that would tie in with the semi-autobiographical part of #8.

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  22. Sadly, all the rumors about me are usually true.

    Here goes:

    1. I only published a science fiction novel in order to break into the romance genre (colleague.)

    Obviously false --since you break into romance by first breaking into military fiction.

    2. While serving in the AF, I met real alien life forms (slightly unbalanced booksigning attendee.)

    Could be true to those who believe UFOs are have been in our atmosphere, but my guess is, probably not.

    3. Someone tried to kill me at a writer's conference (internet rumor.)

    I am guessing THIS is the almost-true one. I am guessing someone threatened to kill you at a writer's conference for some bizarre reason.

    Why guess this one? Because writers conferences always have a wee bit o' jealousy running amok.

    4. I am a man pretending to be a woman (discussion board.)

    Hmm...I guess no on this one.

    5. Author Holly Lisle and I are the same person (internet rumor.)

    I kind of like this rumor, having recently finished Holly's wonderful novel Talyn. But given that Holly's voice in fiction seems very different I vote Nay on this.

    6. I don't make public appearances because I am disfigured (genre rag.)

    This is MY reason, but I doubt it's anyone else's...

    7. Author S.L. Farrell and I are the same person (amateur expose web site.)

    I don't know this writer's work, so I'm out of luck on this guess.

    8. My StarDoc novels are semi-autobiographical (book club critic.)

    May be true -- all fiction is semi-autobiographical in some non-James-Frey way.

    9. None of my editors have ever met me (colleague.)

    Okay, you copped to this already here.

    10. I'm deceased (colleague.)

    Bzz! False!

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  23. I'm still wondering if Ferfe was seriously about wishing #10 was true

    Think of it. A ghost blog. If you were dead, and could master the ability to write from the grave ... what better way to reach an audience?

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  24. When I saw the title of this entry this morning, I thought you meant you were killing the blog, so, in a manner of speaking, I was envisioning #10--at least in a literary sense. (Is that a nasty word? Looks around before slinking back to the blogosphere.)

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  25. The other rumor that has a little bit of truth about it? For mysterious reasons that I hope will drive you all crazy, my lips must remain forever sealed. :)

    I'm guessing since you've admitted to writing books under another name that your contract prevents you from talking about . . . #7 is probably not too far off the mark. :)

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  26. I like rumors. They're fun. They make me laugh. Not confirming or denying them makes me a woman of mystery, too...

    Oops, okay, so #4 is definitely not true. This rumor-perpetuating stuff is harder than I thought.

    I am also not deceased (yet, and thank you, Ferfe, you had me worried there) so #10 is completely false.

    And that new rumor about Doug Clegg being my long-lost twin brother?

    Douglas Clegg wrote: Sadly, all the rumors about me are usually true.

    (claps hand over Doug's mouth) Is complete nonsense.

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  27. Hey, Jean! Decaf!

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  28. Ahh, my guess was going to be that your editors had never met you -- but you confirmed that before I could make my comment.

    I doubted that someone tried to kill you at a writers conference, unless it was someone envious of your success who decided to spread a vicious rumor to attempt a character assassination.

    I would have picked the alien life form one since, living in the Keys, I suspect I see ALFs regularly. I wasn't positive about your Air Force service, however. *g*

    Now, PBW, are there any rumors that you'd LIKE us to start?

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  29. Mary Stella wrote: Now, PBW, are there any rumors that you'd LIKE us to start?

    Let's see, maybe something believable...I know, you could tell people that I'm really a killer whale who was taught to behave like a human in a secret military laboratory before having my brain transferred into the head of a Playboy Bunny (plenty of room there), after which I escaped and now hang out a lot at a major aquarium, where my former mate performs daily and exchanges a lot of frustrated looks with me.

    Or just say Bio Rescue was kinda sorta autobiographical. :)

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  30. I know, I know! You're actually deceased! *-*

    Let's face it - how else could someone know so much about the publishing industry when all of the rumors say you have to sell your soul to be published? You can't live without a soul, so that means you'd have to be dead. *-* Or maybe just a demon...hmm, is that a rumor, too?

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  31. Andi wrote: Let's face it - how else could someone know so much about the publishing industry when all of the rumors say you have to sell your soul to be published? You can't live without a soul, so that means you'd have to be dead. *-* Or maybe just a demon...hmm, is that a rumor, too?

    Probably. Or the Darkyn books could be autobiographical. You just never know....

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