Saturday, February 12, 2011

Taking your work home with you

I recently announced that I'm expecting a baby in August, which was met by a wonderful and overwhelming flood of kind notes and congratulations. It also triggered a few questions which weren’t entirely unexpected—such as if I'd be giving the baby a "vampire name" or buying the baby "vampire clothing."



What's intriguing to me about this is how personal an author's work becomes in the eyes of many, more so than other jobs. No one suggested I get baby clothes with the Microsoft Windows logo on them, in honor of my husband's employer. And when my brother (who works at Pfizer) and his wife were expecting, no one asked if they were going to name the baby Rogaine.

An author's job is perceived differently, and I think there's probably good reason for that. My brother doesn't need to decorate with pill capsules or consume all the drugs he manufactures in order to do his job well. There isn't an attachment there. But, I can say with certainty that the worst things I've ever written were scenes where I just wasn't emotionally invested in the content. The best scenes I’ve created--in the eyes of others too, not just me--were those in which I just loved everything that happened. I could feel the action and the characters' emotions. That connection translated to good writing.

Now, does that love of what I'm writing equate to an obsession with vampires in my personal life that trumps all other interests? Eh, not so much. I really don’t relish the thought of getting an all-black wardrobe for my child or doing a bat-themed nursery. (Actually, if I could do the nursery in fluffy, pastel-colored bats, I might be on board with that). My point is that there's a line here. The content of what I write doesn't have to consume all of my waking interests, but my heart definitely has to be in what I'm writing. The day I'm indifferent toward the urban fantasy/paranormal genre is the day I need to switch it up and starting writing Scottish historicals.

So, my questions are: what are others' experiences with this? Are you a writer (or do you know of a writer) who actually dislikes the subject matter but writes about it anyway? Is it possible? Fellow urban fantasy peeps, do you find yourselves owning (either through gifts or your own acquisition) copious amounts of demon and zombie accessories? Are you constantly associated with what you write? And perhaps most importantly, am I dismissing this vampire baby theme too quickly? Because that picture's pretty cute...

7 comments:

Laura said...

Congrats, Richelle on your pregnancy! I missed that announcement!

Depending on what you have, you'll name it what you and hubby like! But if it's a boy, Adrian or Christian is still cool:)

Jaye Wells said...

Forget the nursery. I want to know which of the Leaguers you're naming the baby after.

I myself struggle with this creative identity crisis. A relative who is, shall we say, obsessed with the occult was so excited that I am a published UF author. "Now we have so much in common--the paranormal!" Um? Have you met me?

What people don't get is an author can be, and usually is, intellectually fascinated by many topics. But interest does not necessarily translate into adopting a lifestyle based on what fascinates us.

Barbara E. said...

I missed that announcement too, so congratulations Richelle!
Have fun decorating your nursery in whatever theme appeals to you, and I look forward to seeing some pictures.

Cathy said...

MY thoughts?

1. Morning sickness. Bummer.
2. Oshkosh B'gosh in Woodinville has killer sales.
3. Eugenie can't even have a kid or the world is all...ya know evil..weirdness. What were you thinking???
4. I need more chocolate
5. Lestat is SUCH a cool name for a baby, ya know?

Cathy said...

I'm kidding. I'm happy for you. :) It doesn't matter in the end, your fans love your stories. :) "Jamie Fraser" would be AWESOME for a baby name, but at the end of the day, if you named your kid Sam, I'd still read your books.

You'll find some of your fans very well balanced. We like and respect your work. Period.

A. J. Larrieu said...

I think Jaye Wells said it perfectly: "Interest does not necessarily translate into adopting a lifestyle based on what fascinates us."

A little bit of distance is essential. If I want the worlds I create to be internally consistent and believable, I have to see them as an outsider does, with clear eyes. If I drink too much of my own Kool-aid, I'll start getting into trouble.

Jackie said...

Baby Vlad. Who wouldn't love that? :)

Who the HELL Do We Think We Are?

We're a bunch of paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors who occasionally blog, make filthy jokes and prowl the halls of conferences and conventions with switchblades!

Current roster: Mario Acevedo, Michele Bardsley, Sonya Bateman, Dakota Cassidy, Carolyn Crane, Molly Harper, Kevin Hearne, Mark Henry, Stacia Kane, Jackie Kessler, J.F. Lewis, Daniel Marks, Richelle Mead, Kelly Meding, Allison Pang, Nicole Peeler, Kat Richardson, Michelle Rowen, Diana Rowland, Jeanne C. Stein, K.A. Stewart, Anton Strout, and Jaye Wells

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