eM has this nice post up about being in love with books/character and idolizing writers in her youth (ie about three weeks ago) and then growing up and having scales fall from her eyes when she met writers in real life.
Its the worst thing to be if you like reading/films, a features journalist. Completely impossible to have any illusions about starry types. I remember being very disappointed with the first writer I did a profile on for the Telegraph, and dont even get me started on actors.
That said, a lot of writers do manage the whole aura thing. Rushdie has a distinct halo, Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth have the whole polite genius thing, Hari Kunzru radiates smartness, Rana is quietly impressive, Ruchir Joshi is all seen-the-world-and-know-the-stories , Rupa Bajwa is all serious and intense until you get to know her better, Radhika Jha manages to be both friendly and super-artist, Indi makes you want to have a notebook on standby and Sarnath makes do with being more wildly eccentric than any of his characters. Naipaul has a massive aura too, but its more of a sleeping hippo at zoo/Jabba the Hutt sort of thing; you kind of want to poke him with a sharp stick and see if he’ll chase you. I wish I had an aura too, I think there’s a shop in Palika where you can get a pirated one cheap.
Note to self: Cultivate mysterious writer aura for more sales
Note to self (underlined): This is NOT achieved by pottering around flat with hair standing up, wearing a T-shirt that says Pea Brain.