Is there a less welcome question for writers? That’s the general perception. When asked about the origins of his ideas at a science fiction convention, Barry Longyear said “Schenectady.” You send two dollars and a self-addressed stamped envelope to a post office box and an idea is sent to you. It’s very possible his answer originated with noted cynic Harlan Ellison. Roger Zelazny supposedly once told an interviewer that he leaves milk and a dish of cookies on the back porch. In the morning the milk and cookies are gone and on the dish is a slip of paper containing an idea.
Even writers like me, with minimal publications, are occasionally asked this question. It’s not an easy one to answer, which is probably why many famous writers that get bombarded with the question respond with snarkiness. I haven’t gotten to that point. I don’t mind the question. Maybe because I know, like the writer who shows up for his reading only to see the host and his mother in the audience, that it’s sometimes better to be asked a question about his work, any question, than to be asked no questions at all.
So in the coming weeks I’m going to pose this question to myself, starting with my short story collection, Halibut Rodeo. I’ll write about the book itself, as well as each individual stories. I hope you’ll tag along.