I've heard a bunch of theories on different types of fame. My favourite - one of those one-liners I use far too regularly - is that I'm famous in my own loungeroom. Well, I am. I get occasional interviews but that's not me being interviewed, it's normally an article being done on one of my subjects. I just provide the sugar-coat to make the bitterness of history go down. Or something. (I am full of "Or something" today - must be the water. Or something.) People reading the paper or listening to the radio aren't looking for Gillian Polack. They're looking for King Arthur, or foodie stories, or the Medieval latrines in Winchester.
Bigger writers (more important writers? bigger sounds like a waistline measurement. If writing fame were measured by waistline, I would be laughing all the way to the best-seller lists.) are interviewed for different reasons, of course. Interviews of Gillian-as-Gillian tend to be by small local papers. And mostly they don't get published. Pity. Newspaper photographers in general are *wonderful* and I look so much better than I do even in my loungeroom.
Today I'm wittering, can you tell? Normally when I am in doubt about an AW chain I segue to food. Food is safe. But food was the subject of my interview today, so it isn't safe.
I think the truth is that I'm uncomfortable with the idea of fame. What I want is to be known and loved by a huge circle of very intelligent and wonderful friends. Strangers staring accusingly and saying "I hate you. You killed my favourite character" are not people I am keen to be round. I rather suspect that the famous authors to whom this happens may not want to be round them either.
What's the difference between a published writer and a famous published writer? Garth Nix once theorised about books launching writers to a higher orbit. If you take off high enough (at any time in your career) that book will sustain other books. The higher your orbit the more books it sustains. Terry Pratchett launched so high with his Discworld books and keeps writing so brilliantly that he increases his orbit. As a result, he is a permanent satellite. At the other end of things is me. I have these tiny little booster rockets that take me five seconds away from the ground and then I come right back to earth. Terry Pratchett is a permanent feature of the firmament. Not just the firmament of the little world of hard-working writers, but the wider world. His orbit is high enough and stable enough so he is famous. I get occasional interviews and get to see my name in print. Sometimes I get noticed by powers-that-be, but always mildly. I lack glamour.
One day I might reach an orbit of some sort. Until then I am famous in my own loungeroom, and very glad of it.
Maybe I will be glad of it forever. I saw Neil Gaiman at Continuum last year. I met him for about 2 seconds so all my crucial questions went unasked. As they do. If I wasn't going to meet the person I was going to analyse what was happening and the constraints on him. As Gillians do. I watched the phenomenon of fame. Neil spent almost all of Continuum surrounded by what looked like a stifling cottonwool of people who loved him and his work and gave him no freedom. He was amazingly courteous in the face of it all. I am not so nice. I rather suspect I would hate a crowd of truefen keeping everyone else at bay. I rather suspect that hate might manifest.
My dream orbit is a low one. I want readers. Lots of readers. Even lots and lots of readers. I just don't want that personal fame. I don't want to become even a little star in the firmament. I rather suspect I *like* coming back to the ground when my little burst of jetfuel runs out. The big thing that makes me search for more jetfuel to reach higher and higher is that a few hundred feet up from me are readers. I like readers. OK, I also like income. Money and readers. So what I need is to get into a low orbit. Or a medium one. I just don't ever want to be a permanent part of the night sky.
Maybe the next writer in the chain gang has a different opinion, being a movieish bod? Go visit Of Chapters and Reels and find out.