Monday, April 11, 2011

Next career move: Fangs?

Last month, I was at a bar having a few drinks with a friend. When my companion got up to use the restroom, I pulled out a memo pad and jotted down some character notes related to a discussion we'd been having. While I was doing that, the waitress came over with our next round of drinks.

She paused and arched a brow at me, eyeballed my notepad, and wrinkled her nose. "Are you a reporter?" She also moved her tray aside, as if my answer would determine if we got our drinks or not.

"Uh. No. I'm a spec-fic writer."

Blank stare.

"I write horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. But mostly horror."

She set our drinks on the table (whew!), then paused. One hand hugged the tray to her chest like a shield, the other rested firmly on her hip. She narrowed her eyes. "You don't look like a horror writer." And she spun away.


I got the same reaction at the writer's conference. "You're a horror writer? But you look so . . . normal."


Do people expect romance writers to walk around in Victorian clothes spouting poetry? Do they expect children's writers to carry a box of crayons and be bubbly? Do they expect literary writers to look ponderous and wax philosophical in person? Yeesh . . . I don't even want to think about how they expect erotica authors to look . . . (sweaty?).

And what's a horror writer supposed to look like, anyway? Psychotic? Depressed? Like I could snap at any moment and start beating people to death with a celery stalk? Am I supposed to be broody and withdrawn? When I smile, is it supposed to look like Wednesday's attempt at smiling during the camp scene in the Addam's family movie?

Stephen King looks pretty normal. M. Night Shamalan is as cute as a Teddy bear. Ann Rice looks like a Sunday school teacher I once knew.

I may look normal, but I'm weird . . . honest! A little edgy, even. I have a tattoo . . . does that count? And it's not even a Tweety-bird tattoo (I debated between the tribal winged cat and Cartman from South Park, and the winged cat won out). I own guns and have a collection of skulls . . . they aren't human skulls, but I should get at least partial credit, right?

Guess I'll have to talk my dentist into giving me fang implants to build up my authorial credibility, lest my fans be disappointed when I (someday) show up at a book signing! Or maybe not . . . I have a tendency to chew my lip while concentrating . . .

What about you? Have you ever faced the "but you don't look like a ................. writer" comment?

~ ~ ~

This week's links for writers:

Self-Editing Tips at The Blood Red Pencil

The Enchanted Inkpot: Our Best Advice for Writing Fantasy

7 Uneasy Coercion Tactics That Will Force You to Write

Zap the No-No Words

Torgo's Writing Process


  1. Now I know that every sweaty person I see on the street is an erotica writer!!

    Crazy how people make assumptions about what genre writers look like!

  2. So true! I love busting those preconceived notions and labels.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


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