Folks, I haven't got any better at posting, but I hope this arrives in the right space. The comments about "stupid questions" makes my blood boil Hope you get this. Best, Lee Lamothe


I’ve been away from the site for a while, finishing a couple of projects. (No, I won’t use this to self-promote; the next book is the next book …  we all have one. The tone of this thread is too vapid and foolish and depressing to use as a marketing tool.)

Having been asked the question about the source of “stories” regularly over the past god-knows-too-many years, I have to say I think Mr. Leonard and Mr. Parker were having a bit of relaxed amusement among professionals. (I’ve briefly met Mr. Parker – Mr. Leonard not at all – and I couldn’t imagine Mr. Parker saying, or writing, anything to patronize a reader, except perhaps in private as a form of humor.) To take their green room discussion as gospel  – as in the old foolish rules like “write what you know” and “never start a book with the weather” – is to do a disservice to the person asking the question, presumable a reader. An actual paying customer. Because Mr. Parker and Mr. Leonard wrote some very good books doesn’t make them saints or truthful or particularly accurate.

 Would you prefer, as I see moronically on some sites, questions like, “If you were on a deserted island, what record would you take?” (Presuming the desert island had power of some kind and a competent person to maintain it.) Or, “Who would you invite to dinner?”, or want be stuck in an elevator with or “Do you write in your pajamas.” (Me, I’d want to be stuck in an elevator on a desert island playing the original vinyl of Sounds of Silence and having dinner with Hannibal Lecter, he wearing a silken chastity belt and me well-armed.) Ther is no stupid question that a reader or fan or a simply interested person can ask. No question is stupid, only stupid patronizing writers who roll their eyes and tsk-tsk when asked. Because they’re, like, cool jaded published artists and not like the rest of us. I put to you this: if a critic at the New York Times, in the course of an interview or profile, asked the question about how you came up with ideas, would you throw up your hands, call him or her stupid, and walk out?

When you write – publish, anyway – you put yourself out there and anyone can ask anything and you, as the person who signed the book and presumably wrote it in exchange for their increasingly spare cash and their limited leisure time, are obliged to not be superior or living large above the curiosity of that ignorant “common man”. God, be grateful they even notice you’re in the trade.

I’m with Mr. King on this one. I suggest the next time someone asks you where ideas come from, I’d be amused if anyone on this site – the writers, anyway – loudly told that person that they’re stupid, their question is stupid, and then refused to sell them a book because: why reward stupidity with your genius? I work in several “creative” fields and I have to admit that when I met a writer recently who wrote a very outlandish novel, I said, “Geez, man, where’d you come up with that one?” And he told me. If he hadn’t, I would have relied on a quarter century of street newspapering skills and take his ass apart, literally or figuratively, his choice.

 I disagree with Mr. Coleman. Belittling anyone who reads a writer’s work and who asks any question is … well, very close to the ceiling of ignorance.

It’s about money and mouths. Put one where the other is.

Get over yourself. You aren’t curing cancer.

Lee Lamothe

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Comment by Dan L. Coleman on October 7, 2013 at 1:38am

Well, Lee, first of all, no, no one would likely say something belittling to an inquisitor, since it would be both cruel an stupid, as it certainly would be for the interviewer to say out loud what he/she is maybe thinking about the writer, "Gee, what a moron for a writer. Your writing stinks."  It's also unlikely a reviewer from the NYT would ask the question. But this is a forum where we can say these kinds of things with impunity, or ought to be. And when folks ask me this, it doesn't anger me, or even disappoint me because I kind of expect it. And I'm never disappointed in that. A friend once asked me where I "got my ideas." I said, "Where do you get yours?" She said, "What ideas? About what?" And I said, "There you go. You have to have a 'What' before you can have an idea about it." And we had a brief but good laugh because the whole argument is low on the importance scale.

But you are correct: there is no such thing as a stupid question. When someone asks me something that I might ordinarily think of as stupid, I try to respond as if it is a child asking, and I would never say something cruel to a child, intentionally. And because we adults aren't all knowing about all things, then we, too, are child-like in our curiosity and deserve an intelligent, thoughtful answer to any mundane question.

Comment by Dana King on October 4, 2013 at 12:19am

Thanks for the follow-up, Lee. A good blog post should prompt engagement, and I see I was able to do that.

I think Parker was having a bit of fun with the hostess, who had not read the book and was working from a list of questions prepared by her staff. I suspect Parker fully expected her to smile and have a comeback for his little joke. When she missed it completely, I would have done exactly what Leonard did; the option was too delicious to pass up.

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