Separating the Author from their Writing

Does anyone else have difficulty separating the author from the book?

I prefer to know little or nothing about the author of a book before I start reading it. This equally applies to roleplaying books and it’s a roleplaying book that I’m having difficulty at the moment separating the creator (and his/her actions/opinions) from the writing. I don’t have a problem with dead authors. Once they are dead, everything about them is becomes simply “context” (historical).

The FudgeList has awoken and it got a bit heated there for a little bit. But I saw a comment from a writer on a blog about when the whole “Fudge is dead” debacle started. He hadn’t gotten involved in the list or this particular argument and had no idea what he was talking about yet he said something nasty about the Fudge community. It was only one line. However, all I could think was “asshole!” It’s a pity, because I would have bought one of his forthcoming books, now I won’t. I’ll probably never look at his work. He doesn’t know me and I don’t know him, but that opinion has tainted my perception of his him and his work. If I pick up a book of his, I’ll remember the comment. I could get over it and let it drop, but the problem is that it creates a barrier to overcome and therefore it makes reading one of his books effort. Why should I bother reading a book if it’s just going to be work instead of enjoyment?

I think Fred Hicks was right when he talked about prompting RPGs and always being positive. A single negative can lose you a customer and then the power of the internet is that if you hit the wrong person, it can have a much bigger impact then just one dropped potential sale.

It’s another reason why I find it hard to objectively read the work of friends. I see my friend’s personality in the work and it, well, becomes hard to separate my opinion of my friend from my opinion of his writing. It becomes especially difficulty if the writing is in a field of shared interest like roleplaying, because more than likely we’d have argued and discussed RPG design issues and I’ll see that shining through their work.

Which is perhaps why it’s a good idea for me to keep some distance from many of the RPG design forums like, theForge and story-games. My perspective of people’s work will become tainted by my opinion of the them, not their work. (TBH I think it’s more than likely that I have a tendency to shy away from very large online communities), I guess also perhaps that’s why I’m quite closed about my writing and my ideas. Afraid they’ll judge me rather than the work itself.

Anyone else feel the same about books?

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