Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Guest Blogger, Alan Orloff

Please join me in welcoming author Alan Orloff as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress as part of his Virtual Blog Tour.

Alan’s debut mystery, DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD, was published this month by Midnight Ink. With the release of his new book, I ask Alan to be a guest blogger here.

Thank you, Mason, for inviting me to guest blog today. Here are some of my Thoughts In Progress about the different faces one wears—on paper, in cyberspace, and in “real” life.

I enjoy reading and critiquing other writers’ manuscripts for all the usual reasons: It’s interesting and educational to see how other writers handle certain situations, it’s fun to get a different perspective, it’s entertaining reading good stories, it’s helpful (I hope), and it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble (usually).

But there’s something else I find fascinating, especially when I read manuscripts or books by people I know well. It’s the difference between a writer’s writing voice and his or her real “speaking” voice. And by voice, I’m actually talking about “personality.”

Have you ever known someone who is dry in person, but is Jerry Seinfeld’s funnier brother on paper? How about the guy who answers questions with one-syllable grunts but writes like William F. Buckley? Or what about the author with the foulest mouth imaginable who writes cozies? (No, I don’t have any particular cozy writers in mind here!)

Perhaps it’s like the guy whose singing voice is drastically different than his talking voice (Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle) and Ozzy Osbourne come to mind. Hey, wouldn’t you like to see/hear that duo?).

I find this dichotomy fascinating.

Of course, it’s not just the difference between a person's “live” personality and
written one that’s interesting. How about the difference between peoples’ online personas (as evidenced by their emails or blogging) and their “novel-writing” selves?

And what about the difference between interacting with someone online versus interacting in person? A few days ago, on this very blog, Mason wrote about how much she enjoys going to bookstores and seeing her cyberpals’ books on the shelf, because she’s gotten to know them online. I always wonder how similar a person will be in person. As I meet more of my cyberfriends at conventions in the upcoming months, I guess I’ll find out!

I’ve gotten comments along these lines. “You’re funny on your blog, but in your, not so much.” Talk about your left-handed compliments! Maybe I should be less funny online, so I won’t disappoint any readers.

Which “me” is real? The blogging me or the novel-writing me? And what about the quiet, reserved “real” me versus the “blogging my innermost thoughts” me? Maybe I should just wear a pair of Groucho glasses and fake moustache to avoid the whole problem.

Of course, many people are exactly the same in writing as they are in person. What fun is that?

I find it all fascinating.

How about you?

Thanks so much Alan. Alan said a post I wrote on Saturday lead him to write this post. I definitely like your take on defining friends, Alan. Thanks again for guest blogging here today. Alan (who is also a blogging buddy) will be “hanging around” here today to answer any questions you might have and to respond to your comments.

The first in Alan’s new series, KILLER ROUTINE - A Last Laff Mystery, featuring Channing Hayes, a stand-up comic with a tragic past, will be out Spring 2011 (also from Midnight Ink). For more information, visit



  1. Mason, thanks for hosting Alan- you manage to get really nice guest bloggers all the time.

    Alan, interesting question you bring up. Why just the blogger me, and the writer me? Aren't the me-s that different people see quite different from who we know is the real me?

    I guess part of the reason we write is because there are so many different me-s wanting to find expression.

    ~ Rayna

  2. Thanks for hosting Alan, Mason.

    Now this is interesting! Yes, I've thought the same things you have. I'd say I'm more open online than I am in person(the introverted thing.) I think an online persona is maybe an extension of our real one?

    Looking forward to meeting you at Malice Domestic!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. Great post! Maybe one of the reasons we write and blog is that it is a way for us to express different aspects of our personalities that we might not be comfortable expressing in person?

    I love meeting online friends in person, and I can't say I've been disappointed yet. It adds another layer to the relationship, and I've found in most cases that online friendships easily translate to real life friendships.

  4. Mason - Thanks for hosting Alan; isn't he a terrific "houseguest?"

    Alan - It really is interesting, isn't it, how people's writing is different from their "real life" selves. Ingrid may have a point that we write to express different aspects of our personalities. I know that when I write, I integrate parts of myself that it would be hard to express "for real." Maybe that's just what we writers do - we live vicariously through our characters, at least to an extent.

  5. Great cover! Midnight Ink always does a great job! On the other side of the coin, it's always fun to meet an author who writes exactly like they speak. Elizabeth Peters comes to mind with her Amelia series. Amelia IS Peters.

  6. Thanks Mason and Alan for this thought-provoking post. I'd think that a little bit of us, some part, uses different genres for different expression. But it does seem that the author's essence has a way of shining through the words, in each capacity.

  7. Rayna - I think my life would be easier if there were only one me--and there'd be less disagreement in my head!

    Elizabeth - Yes, it will be quite interesting "reconciling" the online personalities with the "real" personalities at Malice. Almost as much fun as all that book talk.

    Ingrid - You're right. I can insult people all day long online, but I would never do that in person :)

    Margot - Yes. It sometimes is fun to write about a character doing stuff I would never do. Like, um, stalking someone.

    Deb - It is neat to find an author who is just like their characters, especially when that author IS such a character.

    Joanne - That's a good point. I think that underneath it all, you can really get a sense of an author's true self. Usually.

  8. I'm not sure, but I don't think I'm different online in my blogging and in my comments then I am in real life. But then again, I haven't written fiction yet, which will probably change that dynamic. Hmmm. Interesting and thought-provoking post.

  9. Interesting points. When I left Florida, a volunteering colleague, whom I'd always categorized as dry and boring based solely on the presentations we did together, 'friended' me on Facebook. His comments on my posts there are always witty. I'm still getting used to seeing that humorous side of him.

    As for me, I'm definitely more outgoing on line. I still have some inhibitions when I'm writing--the fear that people will think I'm my characters.

  10. I write long and short. My short fiction is quite dark, but not my longer work. And neither is like my blog voice. No, my name isn't Eve.

  11. The book sounds fascinating. I'll have to check it out.

    I'm a closet writer--I do a lot of writing, but rarely send anything out (Although I do have a few things out at the moment.)

    One time, I had written a story in the third person and decided that particular story might be served better by being written in the first person, so I started over in the first person, but the voice of that person was so alarming and disturbing I could not continue writing.

    I hate books where the main character is obnoxious and unlikable, but that was just the the kind of voice that was coming out of ME!, It frightened me, and I didn't want to think that that person lived inside me. Is that part of ME?

    I like Dean Koontz and Childs and Preston's Pendergast because they both seem to have HONORABLE characters, even if bad (horrid) things happen.

    Now I am curious, though, what would happen if I continued writing that story I put aside?

    People have often said to me that I am nicer in correspondence than I am in person--but also, they've said the opposite--that if I am angry, they'd rather hear it from me in person that read about it in a letter or email.

    Oddly, my poetry is quite dichotomous--it is often either very dark or very light. Same with my art. My prose tends to explore more of the grey areas.

    This was an interesting discussion. I'll look forward to the book of such a thought-provoking author.

  12. Karen - Interesting. I often am surprised by how my perceptions of myself differ from other's perceptions of me. Sometimes it's like they're describing a totally different person than who I think I am!

    Terry - Believe it or not, I've never had the thought/concern that people will think I'm my characters. Heck, in my mind I'm writing complete fiction! Now you've got me worried!

    Carol - It's interesting that your writing differs so much based on the length of the work, and still different when you blog. I bet you're a fun dinner guest!

    Mary - Thanks for stopping by and commenting! That would be scary to have some jerky persona emanate from within--unless of course, one is trying to write like a jerk. I wouldn't have any dichotomy regarding my art or poetry (if I ever did any)--it would all be terrible!

  13. Alan, I want to thank you again for guest blogging here today. I definitely like your take on friends.

    Speaking of friends, I'd also like to thank everyone for stopping by today and saying hit to Alan. Margot, you're right - he is a terrific houseguest. Thanks again.

  14. Mason - Thanks so much for inviting me to guest blog here today. You are a gracious host and your blog readers had some excellent comments about the different faces of a person. I'll be sure to turn off the lights when I leave!!!!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.