Monday, October 14, 2013

Sometimes Your Personal Back-Story Matters

Two days ago I was invited to an "Educator Breakfast" at Barnes & Noble. This is a regular event put together by bookseller extraordinaire, Crystal Perkins. Crystal a B&N manager, an event coordinator for the Las Vegas Valley Book Festival, genius of all things publishing, most well-read person I know, and all-around amazing person. Two of the attendees "skyped" in from their various locations: Eileen Cook from Canada and Chris Howard from Colorado.

The set up of the conversation was a question and answer (amongst teachers, librarians, readers and writers), where we got to know one another, and discussed all things bookish. It was informal, fun and totally engaging. Here's what I got out of the experience:

Sometimes Your Personal Back-Story Matters

Eileen Cook is a fascinating author. She used this this one-liner that I am totally going to steal: (I'm paraphrasing) As a child, I dreamed about growing up and becoming an author, which is about as practical as wanting to grow up and be a princess. So funny! So true! So she went to college, studied psychology, and worked in the field of psychology for many years until she finally published her first book, which drew greatly upon her expertise. Her background is incredibly interesting and makes me want to read every word she writes. It also helps that she is a lovely person.

Chris Howard is an equally engaging author. His English accent doesn't hurt matters either. The dude studied natural resources management at Colorado State University, worked for the National Park Service, and led wilderness adventure trips for teenagers. No wonder he wrote an awesome post-apocalyptic adventure.

Whether we want to admit it or not, as writers we must one day step out from behind our computer screens and engage with readers. Don't you think it might help if we are interesting? If we have some kind of backstory to highlight why we became writers, why we decided to write the books we wrote?

Two great examples that come to the top of my mind are:
  • Lydia Kang who is freaking doctor and has written a thrilling science-techy book called CONTROL which comes out December 2013.
  • Christina Farley who is a school teacher, lived in Asia, studied martial arts and wrote a kick-A mythological paranormal set in Korea. Her book GILDED comes out next year.
Which authors do you find fascinating? And have you given any thought to your backstory and what will make you interesting to readers?

14 comments:

  1. Aw, thanks Jessie! That is so sweet of you! I think that there are so many interesting backstories that we don't know, among all our writer friends. You just have to dig a little!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amanda Hocking is one author I had a huge fascination with. Back stories help readers feel closer to the author and sometimes might draw in readers more than the book.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi, Jessie, love the look of your website. It's always interesting for me to find out the unlikely stories behind how some authors came to writing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Awesome post, Jessie! So glad you shared. I've never put much thought into this, but it's totally true. It really does make a difference! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can't wait to feature Lydia and Christina on my blog. Am reading Lydia's awesome book CONTROL right now. Please don't tell me I can't hide forever. That's one of the things that scares me most about getting published.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a good thing you are so interesting, Natalie! Everyone will love you when you hit the spotlight!

      Delete
  6. What a wonderful experience. Um, my back story is pretty boring. That's why I write.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Such a great post! I think about this a lot when I read more about authors. I'm especially fascinated with the ones who have lived in other countries and/or have a rich life outside of writing. Leigh Bardugo was a makeup artist in Hollywood and is still in a rock band. Megan Shepherd has spent lots of time in different countries. Hopefully I'll keep living a full life that will also enrich my writing. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. This post makes me wonder what skeletons will come out of my closet! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is awesome! I love the info about Eileen Cook cuz it reminds me of myself! I always wanted to be a writer but was told it was impractical so I too went to college and graduated in psychology. LOL! I loved learning all about psych and I think it's helped me to be a better writer.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great point about who we are being important to what we write! Sounds like an awesome event you went to. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Jessie! Long story...but I just came across your funny comment on my blog, the day you became my 300th Follower...in March of 2012! And I just discovered I didn't have your blog on my Blogs I Follow list, so I came back over and just re-followed you. Because I'm sure I was a follower at one time. Don't know what happened! Loved this post. I know Lydia, but haven't gotten her book yet. I agree, she is AMAZING! I especially love her Medical Mondays. Have a great rest of the week!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Girl! I am just seeing this. Thanks for the shout out! *tackle hugs!*

    ReplyDelete