Friday, September 09, 2005

Final Thoughts

It's like a train wreck---I keep trying to turn away, but can't.

I stated earlier that I'm not going to defend myself, and I won't. All opinions are valid, and I appreciate everyone sharing them.

There were many folks who emailed me rather than posted. Thank you as well. Here's the final tally:

26 people think I'm fine with how I'm doing things. Thanks for the support, but if I'm hurting people's feelings, that isn't fine at all. I'm not concerned with the people who view me peripherally and find me obnoxious. Someone once said, "The people who don't like you are never going to like you. The ones who do like you will forgive you."

But if I did hurt your feelings, it wasn't intentional. And again, I apologize. My goal is to be entertaining, not to traumatize my peers.

7 people think I'm the anti-christ, and should be put to death. Fair enough. Even though I'm sure he doesn't want my endorsement, I'd like to express my appreciation to Charles Benoit, who had the cajones to rip me a new one and sign his name to it. Very cool. I much prefer someone saying that to my face than talking behind my back. If you can stomach standing next to me, I'll buy you a beer at B'Con 2006.

8 people think I need to tone it down a little, or maybe more than a little. You may be right.

7 people urged me to seek help for a drinking problem, and one even offered to sponsor me in AA. Thanks for the concern. I did a little Googling, and according to this test I have a low dependence on alcohol. I also lack any of the symptoms of alcohol addiction. B'Con was the first time I've gotten annihilated in public since college.

4 people asked me for blurbs, even while in the midst of all of this controversy. I'm way behind in my reading, but dammit, I will read your books, and if I like them I'd be thrilled to blurb them. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

2 people complimented me on the fact that I helped raise $8000 for charity at the auction.

Why is it when I act like a loudmouth on a panel and drink too much that's grounds for excommunication from the mystery world, but when I work my butt off and do some good, no one cares? Rhetorical question.

I think that is all that needs to be said. Personally, I'm sick of hearing about myself---which may be a first. But here's a caveat to all who read:

The mystery community is pretty tight, but not so tight that secrets can't be kept. I've learned that there are people who have disliked me for years, and I've never known.

I'm not alone in my ignorance. If you think you're universally liked, guess again. People talk. Gossip. Bitch. Moan. Complain. Point fingers. There are people who don't like you, and chances are you'll never hear about it.

Watch your glass houses, folks.

Love and success to all, even to the ones who can't stand me.



JD Rhoades said...

4 people asked me for blurbs, even while in the midst of all of this controversy.

*Rolls on the floor laughing*

Well, hell vato why didn't I think of that?

John Schramm said...

At least three people said to me: "You haven't read WHISKEY SOUR yet?!?!"

So, I bought it.

I was going to anyway.

I approached you in the lobby to ask you to sign both books for me. You were so happy and appreciative that I bought WHISKEY SOUR.

You're a good man, Joe.

Anonymous said...

You can't please everyone. You come across as a nice person on this blog. I haven't picked up your books yet, but I plan to when I'm in the States again. (Currently overseas for work)

Anonymous said...

Who doesn't like me? Bastards! Have some balls and tell me!

moi said...


I owe you an apology.

I read my prior note to you. It was much harsher than I intended. Even though I've never met you, you come across quite clearly in your writing and blog as a hell of a nice guy. The fact that you're even asking for opinions about events at Boucheron shows a lot about you.

I think it's smart of you to reconsider things. But don't flog yourself about it. Sorry I contributed to that.


Jim Winter said...

Joe, there's an agent I really, really want to pitch. After numerous recommendations, three clients and a high school buddy of said agent all raving, three people at Bcon said, "Um..."

One hates all agents, and the other two (Two people whom I consider mentors and one of whom is a close friend) just said the guy's a jerk.

At the end of the day, it was 9-1 that this guy is a pro, whether they like him or not. So he stays on top of the short list.

Joe, you are always going to rub some people the wrong way, no matter what you do. Close your mouth and say nothing, and there will be those who say, "God, Konrath's standoffish."

Believe me, I'm doing the post-mortem myself, but I have some very blunt friends who will tell me, "Dude, you're really making it hard on yourself."

At least you aren't cursed with the voice of Zeus like me, where people can hear you whisper over in the next county.

Stacey Cochran said...


I was standing in the back of the room with David Morrell during your panel. I distinctly heard one guy whisper with pure excitement to his wife: "That's Konrath!"

My feeling is that you are our generation's Stephen King.

I just worry about your health, but you know, fuck it, you only live once.

I do think if you're on a panel with other people you might think about toning it down. You just totally stole the show from everyone else on the panel. But it's like watching Jack Nicholson early in his career; everybody thought he was an asshole, but nobody could take their eyes off of him.

I just pray that you don't drink yourself into an early grave.

We might have to form one of those awkward and uncomfortable interventions...

Hang in there, big guy...

You're going to be a legend!


Anonymous said...

You're wrong, Joe. I am universally loved.

Except by that one mystery author I had never met, but who still found a reason to dislike a complete stranger.

Don't sweat it, Joe. Life's too short.

Anonymous said...

But meanwhile, you are being defensive. You're warning people that everyone gets gossiped about and to watch out. Joe, you asked for all this. Just read what works for you, alter your performance or not, but don't start being accusatory about what you got in comments when the whole point - you said - you wrote all this was to get feedback.

The issue wasn't - is everyone universally liked? It wasn't are people creul? It wasn't should people tell you to your face or chose to be anonymous? You said you might have a problem. Folks answered. Now you're pissed.

Oh well.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Joe doesn't strike me as pissed at all. I don't know where you're getting that from.

Sounds to me like he's merely trying to analyze the response. Nothing wrong with that.

Bob Farley said...

Do what works for you, Joe, but listen to yourself when you ask yourself questions. And then, listen to yourself when you answer.

People who complain that your schtick is the same each convention, well, did they ever follow a successful band or comedian around and hear how those entities performed the same thing each night? You're the same. You take what works. If a chord strikes a dissonance time and again, you change the music, that's all.

From a personal standpoint, I once looked forward to the pleasures of the bottle on a semi-regular basis, until I found those pleasures harder to attain and, most frighteningly, harder to remember. I won't go into details. They're the stuff of unbelievable horror novels, but the upshot is that for the past 15 years I rarely have a drink and I'm as freaking crazy as ever.

So, just listen to yourself, dude. And keep writing (as if you needed to be goaded into that!). You're an inspiration, though from the schedule you keep and the works you produce, I think you must be at least three people.

Anonymous said...

I think there's more than one lesson for JA, and everyone, to be learned here.

There's the lesson about drinking too much in public.

There's the lesson about being more in tune with the needs of your panelists when you're a moderator.

And there's the lesson about folks in the mystery community who find it okay to badmouth others behind their backs.

If you thing poorly of a peer, that's okay. Everyone has an opinion.

But if you tell everyone in the bar that you think less of a peer, that's not cool. That's wrong.

I've only been to a few conventions, but I've met several folks who spread negative comments, rumors, and BS.

I once thought that this was a friendly, tight-knit community. Now I feel like I should be looking over my shoulder, in case they start talking about me next.

Rob Flumignan said...

Joe, all I know is your panel was the only one that actually made me want to go down to the dealer room and buy some of the panelists' books. And because you made us keep repeating their titles, I actually remembered what I wanted to get. Your moderating style might be "unconventional," but some of those panels could have used a little juice. I heard some people say a few things about it afterward, but I got the impression their complaints were more along the lines of "Oh, that crazy Joe..." Like how you complain about how your mother dotes over you, even though you secretly like it.

Anyway, that's my small bit. I think you helped your panelists more than hurt them. No matter what, you're going to get differing opinions on that one, though.

PJ Parrish said...

Not all authors shine in front of a mike -- and they know it. So some of this is jealousy. I've seen your gig for a couple years now and you've matured into a good and generous moderator. As for being disliked in "the community," hey, join the club. At Bcon this year, my sister and I were publicly vilified as "offensive" and "hated by everyone" by a very inebriated woman who happens to be the main squeeze of one of crime fiction world's kingmakers. I thought, hot damn, I must be getting somewhere in this biz if I'm starting to piss people off!

So don't worry. Screw 'em. Be yourself. But if you ever throw me over your shoulder again in a hotel lobby, I will tell your wife.

PJ Parrish

Anonymous said...

Just some observations from someone who buys books, thoroughly enjoys your work, isn't an actual author (yet), had a high-functioning alcoholic for a dad, and has no patience for people who don't enjoy the ride of life ...

1) Would I care if I saw an author acting like an ass at a convention? (Grimace, because even I don't like the answer.) Yes. Why? Because - as far as I'm concerned - you're at work. And I'm a client. You don't have to be a stiff, but show me you're not a jackass at heart, and I'll forgive a lot. What if you ARE a jackass at heart? Well, at least be self-effacing about it.

2) Eventually you'll come up with 2 groups of panelists - those who hate working with you, and those who love working with you. Forget about the "whys" of the former group, and ferret out the authors in the latter group. You'll all have a better time, and so will your audience.

3) Whatever path you take re: alcohol, remember you won't be the first. Many people drink socially, many people drink themselves to death. Fans seem to simultaneously embrace and revile both. After living with an alcoholic for many years, I'd have to think most online tests are bullshit. Alcoholics are already fooling themselves, why would some clicks of the mouse open Pandora's box? Only your family knows if you really have a problem. Ask them. Listen. Take their answer seriously, even if it sucks. Change if they suggest it. And then get on with life.

4) I did have the opportunity to meet you once, during a signing in Seattle. You were a nice guy. After a few raucous jokes (all of them appreciated), I asked if your wife missed you while you were on tour. You showed some very earnest and naked emotion in your answer. Be good to your family, be a good husband and a good dad. Those are the people that will visit your grave, my friend - not panelists and perhaps not your fans.

Good luck.

And when can I get a copy of Rusty Nail?! (How does one obtain an ARC, by the way?)