Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fiction and friction

I've been pondering an interesting thought today: that the most difficult people I've worked with in the last few years are not readers of fiction. I wonder if this means something in the broad scheme of things; perhaps it's a lack of imagination or perhaps they set their thwarted imagination loose on beleaguering whomever they are dealing with... like... er... me.

I had a situation with a client about six years ago. I thought she sounded like trouble when I first spoke to her, but the task itself sounded interesting - developing the layout for a book - so I took her on. She had virtually no budget. Which brings me to another thought: that people with little or no budget cause the most bloody trouble and are the most pernickety.

She was a nightmare. Total nightmare. Would ring me at 10pm or before breakfast with changes she wanted to her template. Was hassling me the day before my wedding until my soon-to-be-husband took the call and told her to bog off. (I'd told her not to call but to no avail.) The weird thing was that she wouldn't tell me what the book was about so I had no sample material to draft up and show her. Finally I loaded one of my own short stories in so she could see margins, how images fitted in etc. She read it and said it was very well edited, but on the whole she didn't read fiction.

I visited her home office a few times. She was right. She had bookcases lined with business books, books on success, books on self-help, books on every subject but those you could escape into with an imaginary character.

Same goes for last year's client who still owes me thousands and who is, it seems, untraceable at the moment. She doesn't read fiction either, but reads inspiring books, business books, books on neuro linguistics...

75% of my books are fiction. I like my life that way. In future, before I take on a new client, I'll ask them who their favourite author is.


  1. I love a good escapist novel... Not sci fi or fantasy but I will be happy with Ken Follet in WW2 or in the 1300's.

  2. I'm into Golden Age murder mysteries at the moment or newly/recently published novels set in that era. Pure escapism. Not a mobile phone in sight!