About a week ago, I was asked – along with some other authors – to respond to an interview question for a feature story in the A2 section of The Age. The question was: “What question or questions do journalists never ask you, and what would your answer be?”
I don’t know if my response (which was a little off-beat) ever made it into the story, but I thought I’d share it here:
Q: Tom, as a journalist, I’d like to help you re-invent your persona as an author. What kind of author would you like to style yourself as today?
A: Sometimes I feel torn between dispelling romanticised ideas of the artistic life and in fact mischievously adding to the romantic idea of being an artist. For example, although part of me wants to champion the idea of being ‘accessible’, I also have fantasies of being a more mysterious author – an author as elusive as the characters in my stories. My characters, as fictional creations, can be viewed in less literal terms. Maybe I envy them for that.
Some authors do acquire a mystique of being unknowable. Maybe the most common technique to get it is by being famously prickly – grumpy and even intimidating. I recently spoke about this to my publisher. We jokingly agreed that I’m not old enough to develop a “grumpy old man” persona. At any rate, I’m not sure I can pull off grumpiness whilst still being loveable. And I probably do want to be loveable. So, in my fantasy world, I would be asked a question such as “What are your artistic influences?” and I could reply “You know what? That’s actually a very personal question so I’m going to pass on answering it” and everyone would say “Awww. Tom Cho is so mysterious and it makes us love him all the more. Yes, let’s not know his artistic influences. Good on him.”
Update: It turns out that this response was published in the article in The Age.