I was reading this article today (Norwegian only, sorry), and I had to laugh. Basically, the article is about a Norwegian mystery/crime novelist who talks about receiving mails from students doing book reports or semester assignments on him and his novels. He claims that the threshold for e-mailing the author personally is way too low in this country.. Why? Because not only are students e-mailing him asking for basic facts to put in their reports, but some even ask him to send them entire summaries of his novels. In other words – they are asking the author to do their assignment for them.
I found this immensely amusing because well, I’ve had some similar experiences myself. Though, I have yet to be asked to summarize my own novels, and so far nobody has asked me to answer their assignments for them, but I have had my share of e-mails with all kinds of weird questions that I cannot imagine are relevant to the sender’s book report.
I understand that the author in the article wonders if he should laugh or cry when he is mailed a list of generic questions, that are basically just copy-pasted from the demands made by the assignment. Still… At least you should know the gender of the person you’re doing the report on?
As amusing as I find this entire thing, I also do think it is a bit concerning that so many students take the easy way out, rather than doing their own assignments, or reading the books themselves. You’re only fooling yourself in the end, and honestly, there is a book for everyone out there, but to find it means to read.
Remember to do your own homework, kids!
With that said, I just want to clear something up. I mostly commented on this because of the hilarity of someone actually asking the author to summarize his own novel in 100-200 words, rather than doing it themselves. Does anyone really expect that the answer to this would be “Yeah sure, here is an in-depth analysis of my own novel for you.”
Not only is it ridiculous, but it’s also quite disrespectful towards someone who put so much work into this book, and you’re practically saying “I don’t care about your novel. I don’t want to read it. Tell me all about it yourself.”
As an author, I’ve had some harsh experiences where I’ve been at my table at some event and someone comes up, drawn in by Lanny’s amazing cover art, picked up a copy, flipped through it and then said “Ew, it’s an actuall book.” As much as I understand that not everyone enjoys reading, or that maybe my genre isn’t their thing, please consider the feeling of the author when they’re sitting right in front of you. Constructive criticism, and discussion is welcome, but don’t step all over the author without even having a valid argument!
I’m sure nobody means to hurt the author when they do things like this, and most authors probably just shrug it off and laugh, but the worry lies in how they don’t seem to consider the author at all. Moreover, cheating as a whole doesn’t bear witness to much self respect.
Woah, I didn’t mean for this to turn into a rant, I originally just wanted to share the article, but got carried away.
When it comes to me, I am always happy to answer your questions – I am, after all not your generic, best-selling author, so the amount of information available online is limited. You won’t find me on Wikipedia (as far as I know?), so if you’re doing a book report, or project on my writing, contacting me might be your only resort.
I don’t mind this one bit – in fact, I am incredibly honored whenever someone have chosen my novels or me for their assignments. It is a really strange feeling, but I’m very thankful!
However, know that while I will reply to any questions you might have about my writing, or personal details that might be relevant for the assignment, I will not tell you what my novels are about because you didn’t bother reading them (though, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be picking me for your assignment in the first place, right?) . And, there are certain personal questions I won’t answer, namely concerning my family etc. But honestly, how relevant are my parents’ middle names to your book report?
What I’m trying to say is that I hope you will all consider before asking mundane questions to an author and asking them to solve your assignment for you. In some cases, the only way to get the answer you’re looking for, is to search out the author themselves, and that’s okay. And most authors are slightly narcissistic in nature – we love talking about our own projects, so most likely we’ll love the attention, but be respectful!
This entry is all over the place, so I think I’ll finish here. But if you have any wish to contact me about my writing for a project, don’t be afraid to do so, just drop me an e-mail!