Saturday, August 1, 2009

Author Bites - Sean Beaudoin on Snark

What I wanted to know the most from Sean was his snark. Just reading an excerpt of Fade to Blue, it's obvious that snark is the man's middle name. Thing is, snarking that hard can have some drawbacks. Here's what Sean had to say about it.

Donna, so graciously accepting this guest post and allowing me to ramble a bit in the wake of the release of my new book, Fade To Blue, asked me to comment on the tone in the voice of some of the characters. Essentially, where did it come from, and what were my intentions in using it? Well, the stark and fearful truth is, I had no intentions. I sat down with an idea and kept pounding away at it until it became a book. It’s the exact same method I used on my first one, Going Nowhere Faster. That book has a very different cast of characters and voices, but a variant of the smirk-lipped tone is definitely in evidence. Which mostly comes from that fact that it also happens to be the way I think: nipping at the heels of sarcasm through jaundice-colored glasses. Or drinking at the well of irony wearing sandpaper pants. Lousy and decidedly mixed metaphors aside, a sort of benevolent cynicism is my survival device. It got me through high school and college, so I’m loath to abandon it now. You could make the case that we’re all neck deep in the output of the John Stewart Generation, dealing with the hypocrisy of politics and the absurdity of pop culture through a thick balm of snarky quipping. And it’s an argument you’d probably win. But I didn’t set out to imbue my characters with that worldview, they have it because I have it. And I have it because it’s in the air I breathe and the fat-free pudding I eat and the twenty-five dollars per suitcase I now pay at the airport. Sometimes I think one day I’ll be like Hemingway (heavily bearded, thrice married, and standing on a dead rhino) and write in totally different styles from book to book. Then I realize, oh, wait, Hemingway either sounds like himself or a characterization of himself in everything he’s ever written. It seems to me I have nowhere to go except in a straight line. One idea leads to another. That idea grows and changes and mutates like a beaker full of strontium, but it ultimately all comes from the same not particularly nuanced source. The funny thing is, I’m the kind of person who reads a book and automatically thinks “I want to write like that.” I read Alice Munroe, and I’m desperate to get in the head of Canadians. I read Charles Bukowski and I want to bet on horses and scribble poetry on napkins. But that feeling fades as soon as I pick up something new and want to be it instead. I’m not good enough to speak in anyone else’s voice. Or maybe I’m finally wise enough not to try. And to answer Donna’s question as to whether it was a hard sell with the publisher (the great people over at Little, Brown) due to the tone, I’d have to say no. They (the great people over at Little, Brown) keep buying my manuscripts, which I take to be a fine indicator. I just finished You Sell Wesley Payne last week, and it should be on shelves in the fall of 2010. Meanwhile, I’m taking a few days off before beginning an adult noir detective novel set in San Francisco. My working title is Kiss Fist, Eat Floor. So, maybe I am shifting gears. But I have the feeling my gumshoe might be sort of a wiseass. Even so, I’m sure he’s the kind of guy who would rush to the store and immediately buy four copies of Fade To Blue.

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