My friend author Gar Anthony Haywood has taken a long hiatus from attending conferences. But he's coming back for Left Coast Crime next month. But he's not going to be the same guy he was in the past.
I’ve revamped the act I used to do in public settings such as this and will be testing out the new and improved one at LCC. Gar Anthony Haywood, the conference panelist who never met a punch line he didn’t like, is no more.
It won’t be an easy transition for me. Going for the laugh has always been my M.O. when faced with panel audiences. One, because humor comes more naturally to me than eloquence and, two, because I used to regard writers who can’t bring themselves to crack a smile when answering a moderator’s question as stuffed shirts with an overinflated sense of their own importance. I thought it was better to be remembered as a joker than quickly forgotten as a smart and articulate egomaniac.
Now, I’m not so sure. At least, if being the most memorably hilarious writer at a conference has any long-term benefits, I would seem to have failed to reap them.
It isn’t just humor’s questionable value as a marketing strategy that’s driving my P.R. metamorphosis, however. I’m also looking to more accurately represent the literary heft I’d like to think my more recent writing carries.
I'm not sure he's right. I've seen way too many writers who think because they write dark, brooding, moody stuff that they have to be dark, brooding and moody themselves. I am a firm believer in just being yourself, and if you happen to be funny, that's fine. Nobody likes schtick, though, whether you are telling jokes or being the darkest guy in the room. My brother Tod writes dark stuff, and he's always funny on panels, and that didn't stop him from getting nominated for the LA Times Book Prize. Craig Johnson's stuff is procedural cop stuff that borders on the literary…and he's always hilarious on panels. Hasn't stopped Craig from being taken seriously, or for his books to win widespread acclaim. I guess what I'm saying Gar, if you're reading this, is just be Gar and stop over-thinking it.