I cherish some of the questions I hear about the writing business. I wish I’d written more of them down, but maybe a few will give you an idea of how they flow.
The serious ones are fairly standard and predictable: “How did you begin?” (“I was drinking, see, and I wanted to do a non-fiction gun book…”); “Who published your first novel?” (“Me.”); “How’d you get discovered?” (“You been drinking?”); “Do you make much money?” (“It’s an expensive hobby-so far.”)
Another level of queries include, “Why don’t you make it into a movie?” and, “Have you tried to get on the Oprah show?” or,”Nice covers. Did you draw them yourself?” A regular one is,”I think my life has been really interesting; I want to, like, write it down and get somebody to help make it good, you know, and get me a really good agent-you know anybody?”
There are always concerns about content, of course. “Are you dead certain that Colt made revolving RIFLES? I ain’t ever seen one.” (“Wanna see one? Wanna SHOOT one?”)
On page 92 of DOG SOLDIER MOON, one of my protagonists has a chat with his two-year-old daughter. A couple of folks warned me that the conversation was simply unbelievable for so young a child, yet it was almost verbatim one I had with my granddaughter when she was twenty months old. Which is why it’s still in the book, despite the warnings.
A writer-friend was doing an event in a tent at a Civil War reenactment, up in the Shenandoah Valley. Two ladies spotted his sign, came in and said, “So, this is a book signing?” When he answered yes, they each picked up a book, signed it, put it back down and walked away. As he said later, they probably don’t get out much.
My favorite questions have been about my book covers, which are displayed at my website (http://www.mckendreelong.com)-at a recent county fair a fortyish school teacher picked up NO GOOD LIKE IT IS and asked if the Confederate cavalry officer on the cover was me. Not fifteen minutes later, another teacher picked up the same book, read the back cover, then asked if the novel was about my “wartime exploits.” I suppose they thought I looked pretty good to be 170 years old. The cover of DOG SOLDIER MOON shows a Cheyenne Dogman in full battle regalia including an eagle feather war bonnet; it’s a striking painting by Steven Lang (www.langart.com), exquisite in the details. When I gave the first copy to my granddaughter, a freshman at College of Charleston, she said, “So, Pop-what’s the deal with the dude in the Afro?”