Rumors about authors are funny things. We hear them from friends, colleagues, readers, booksellers and even our own agents and editors. We read about them in biz rags and on industry blogs. Like any gossip, rumors can spread like wildfire, especially if they have anything to do with an author's professional wrongdoings, as James Frey just found out.
One of the most enduring rumors I've heard surrounded the dismaying but apparently forgivable change of direction a popular author's work took that chased off many of her readers. While I was a bookseller, at least a dozen customers told me the exact same thing -- "Her writing is horrible, but I heard she's going through a divorce" -- and that rumor is still going around the biz four years later.
As a hobby I collect rumors about myself, which usually sound like something out of a Twilight Zone episode. I think it's because I write SF. Anyway, here are ten of my favorites, and in parentheses at the end, the source of the rumor:
1. I only published a science fiction novel in order to break into the romance genre (colleague.)
2. While serving in the AF, I met real alien life forms (slightly unbalanced booksigning attendee.)
3. Someone tried to kill me at a writer's conference (internet rumor.)
4. I am a man pretending to be a woman (discussion board.)
5. Author Holly Lisle and I are the same person (internet rumor.)
6. I don't make public appearances because I am disfigured (genre rag.)
7. Author S.L. Farrell and I are the same person (amateur expose web site.)
8. My StarDoc novels are semi-autobiographical (book club critic.)
9. None of my editors have ever met me (colleague.)
10. I'm deceased (colleague.)
Now for fun, guess which two of these rumors actually have a little truth to them.