Today's my last day as a guest here. Sigh. I'd stay here forever if they'd let me.
I wasn't always so vocal online. Like a lot of writers, I was pressured to create an online presence by my publisher. At first it was just the author website, with the basic biography and a few book tour pictures. Then it was a reader message board, where I slowly found myself responding to my new online friends with personal messages, out there in the virtual world for all to see.
Then, when I published Dead Connection (about a serial killer who finds his victims online), I knew it was time for MySpace (remember them?) and Facebook. I worried. A lot. My peers could see this. My students would read this. OMG, as the young people say.
I know some writers who have dealt with the online world by creating a separate writer persona. They purport to put themselves out there, but the self that's out there isn't really them.
Others have just said no. I'd list them here, but I can't find them online.
I began with trepidation, posting initially only about my books. But then writer friends found me, striking up public conversations about not only writing, but also vacation spots, favorite city hang-outs, and dog shenanigans. Then came the long-lost friends from high school with pictures that could have stayed lost longer.
Prom, circa 1986
There were also the academics, even a couple whose Kingsfield-ian personas are so well honed I never would have imagined they watched Arrested Development or read Entertainment Weekly. Suddenly all my audiences were in one place, getting to know the parts of me I had unknowingly kept from them.
Prior to my leap onto the World Wide Web, I had more personalities than Sybil on a bender. I talked theory with my academic friends. I talked cases with the lawyers. I talked favorite TV shows and the neuroticism it takes to write with my fellow crime writers. I wore frumpy suits in the classroom, fashion-victim wardrobe experiments for SoHo. You get the drift. I unconsciously tailored different parts of my personality to share with the diverse people who made up my daily world.
I no longer try to wear different hats for different audiences. I write crime fiction. I write law review articles about prosecutorial power and criminal defenses. I love my husband and dog. I'm fascinated by pop culture. I blog — and guest blog, and Facebook, and Tweet — not just about my books, but whatever I find interesting.
The Internet made me this way, despite my own instincts. The Internet has also put me in touch with readers I will probably never meet in person. It has allowed me to experiment with stuff like live web streams and a private book club where I'm talking to readers, chapter by chapter, to avoid any "spoilers" to be stumbled upon on an open site. (If you want a password to the book club, check out the details here.)
Thanks for letting me wear my varied hats here as a guest blogger this week. If you'd like to stay in touch, please do so here, here, and/or here.