Killing the Mystique: Can You Know Too Much About Your Favorite Authors?

Last night I was reading this fabulous post over at Dear Author on Three Must Haves for Author Websites. The tips were great, but what was even better was reading all the comments from readers on what they liked and hated about author websites.

Interestingly enough, not many commenters mentioned anything about author blogs.  Most were more concerned with having a user friendly site and easily finding book information. It really was all about the books--that was there main focus.

One commenter even said that she doesn't like to have the blog on the first page because she avoids blogs--reading the author's blog ruins the book experience for her. 0.0

Now I don't know if anyone else out there feels that way, but it did get me to thinking--at what point does our open-book online presence affect a person's reading experience? Having our lives and personality so easily accessible does kind of reveal the wizard behind the curtain a bit.

It used to be that we could imagine what we want about our favorite authors, just learning about them from the occasional article or interview. So we could picture that horror writer living in some old, spirit-filled house and typing away his manuscripts in a half-lit attic. We could weave our own image that matched the type of books they wrote.

Now instead we can hear about how that super scary horror writer spent his weekend taking a cake decorating class. It's real, but it does take away some of the mystique. (Kind of like when Ozzy Osbourne got a reality show. Or when Britney Spears actually started talking to the media without her people telling her what to say.)

But beyond that, I think the bigger concern may be that we can, in essence, create a new kind of "author intrusion." I covered traditional author intrusion in your writing here, but what I mean in his case is--you know so much about an author by following them that when you read their books, you *feel* the author's presence there and it pulls you out of the story.

For instance, a romance author tweets "I wish I could eat M&M's off Joe Manganiello's abs." (A valid wish, I might add.) But then you read her book a few months later, and her heroine is eating candy off the hero's stomach. Your mind is automatically going to scream "AUTHOR is here!" and it can yank you out of the story's world. Now, some people may not mind. It might be like a little inside joke--you know something another reader who doesn't "know" the author does. But it can go either way.

I don't think it's something we need to stress out about. But it does make a case for not venturing into TMI territory with your online presence. I definitely don't want to be reading a love scene in a book and thinking that the author is writing an autobiographical scene, lol. That definitely will pull me out of a story. *awkward*

I'm okay with sacrificing the mystique because the result is that you get to know an author and see that they're a real person. But there are also times when I wish I didn't know so much.

This is why when I went to a 30 Seconds to Mars concert and they were signing autographs in the lobby after the show, I didn't want to go meet them. My husband could not understand it. He was like--but you have this ridiculous crush on Jared Leto, don't you want to meet him? And I'm like--no, I don't want to ruin the fantasy image in my head. Of course, hubs then says: "This is because you don't want to truly accept that he's shorter than you, isn't it?"


But what do you think? Do you like knowing everything about your favorite authors? Have you ever been disappointed when you found out you really didn't "like" the author once you got to "know" them online? Do you sometimes miss the mystique? And have you ever had one of those moments reading a book where you felt the author standing there in the pages?