Those of you who recall my angry, swear-filled post on PIRs may remember that I was interviewed for The Australian that week, then the interview wasn’t used. Interesting, then, to see this piece in The Weekend Australian by the very same journalist:
But one of the most depressing moments in the past few weeks was supplied by an agent who, when approached to contact one of her authors (a woman whose three novels have done so well she has international status), said she did not think it was appropriate for the author to comment. The author was too young even to understand what was going on (she’s 30-odd), according to the agent; besides, she was in the middle of writing a book, so was probably unable to think about anything else. Pathetic.
That “pathetic” agent was somebody very close to me, and this journalist whom I won’t name (let’s call her Ms Sorensen… no, that gives too much away; let’s call her Rosemary S) has only told half the truth. Yes, The Agent did turn down her request to contact The Author, but that’s what agents do: they know where their authors are at, what other demands are being made of them, how close their deadlines are, and they decide what’s best for them. For the record, my understanding is that The Agent didn’t say The Author was too young; rather, she said that The Author hadn’t been in the industry very long. (Also, basic fact check issue: The Author has only published 2 books, not 3).
The other thing that Rosemary S hasn’t said is that The Agent–who is a passionate advocate of Australian books–gave her the number of another author who might be able to help: somebody she had already had a number of long and detailed conversations with about PIRs, and whom The Agent thought might be able to offer useful commentary.That author was me, dear reader, and we all know how that turned out.
As an aside, Rosemary S was somebody with whom I’ve had a friendly professional relationship over the years. We’ve had a few drinks together in the past, she’s slung a bit of work my way, etc. So this is all the more dismaying to me. The two people of whom she wrote are very much in my inner circle, a favourite aunty and a sister-figure, if you will. Am I taking this personally? Well, yes, I am; there is simply no other way for me to take it.
Now, I’m not going to call anyone a fucking liar or even an unprofessional hack. That would be harsh. But I am going to look a bit closer at this word “pathetic”. Tossed off like that in a column, it only has its common meaning: limp, weak, not good enough. In fact, the word means, according to the OED, “exciting pity, sympathy, or sadness”. I certainly feel sad for a professional relationship lost; I certainly feel sympathy for the two good women so unfairly maligned in Rosemary S’s bitter dummy-spit; and, yes, I feel more pity than scorn for the journalist. The whole situation is pathetic, isn’t it?
* of course, some journalists are very nice 🙂