Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Open Letter to Laurell K. Hamilton

Dear Cranky Writer:

While browsing thru a couple of my favorite blogs(Dionne Galace and Smart Bitches)the other day,there was mention of a direct letter from you to all of the"negative readers" out there who have trashed your books online and have even told you to your face that they hate your books but want a copy signed for them nonetheless.

I can understand how that can be peeving and for people to show up at a book signing for the sole purpose of being rude to you is not cool. However,some of this dislike is brought on yourself when you say things like this:

"Life is too short to read books you don't like, so if you're not having a good time, stop doing it. I'm sure there are other books out there that will make you happier than mine. There are books with less sex in them, God knows. There are books that don't make you think that hard. Books that don't push you past that comfortable envelope of the mundane. If you want to be comforted, don't read my books. They aren't comfortable books. They are books that push my character and me to the edge and beyond of our comfort zones. If that's not want you want, then stop reading. Put my books away with other things that frighten and confuse or just piss you off."

Implying that your detractors are nothing but ignorant prudes who only seek literary comfort food doesn't help your cause there,dear. It makes you look rather snotty. As for "pushing the comfortable envelope of the mundane",I hate to tell you this but some other folks have beaten you to the punch-guys like D.H. Lawrence,the Marquis De Sade and this Henry dude who hung out with a French chick named Anais. You might have heard of them. Even Anne Rice wrote a few titles that pushed people to the edge of their zones that didn't have vampires or witches in them.

I know that mean things said about you online are not fun to read;anyone who has been on the internet for awhile runs into some hassles sooner or later. Most of us have been flamed atleast once(I know I have)but you can't let that get you down. Take a more realistic approach to the whole thing:

It also doesn't assist your position when you tell those who hate on your books that they are the minority simply due to the fact that you're making plenty of money from your work:

"And if you don't think you are the minority, well, sorry, guys but you are. I have the sales figures to prove it. Each book’s sales are more than the last. The vast majority of people standing in line love the books, love the series, and tell us so."

Well if the vast majority love your books(you said yourself that only about five people have the nerve to be rude to you out of all of the signings you've done),why worry about the few who don't and still read your stuff anyway? Doesn't that make you a winner there? You're never going to make everyone happy nor should that be your goal but it wouldn't hurt to listen to some of the complaints out there. Getting all Ranty McRant only reflects poorly on you:

One complaint from those who read the Anita Blake books is that there are too many male characters to keep track of and many of them seem to exist for the exclusive purpose of being handy sex partners whenever Anita's ardeur hits her. You balk at the very notion of such a thing:

"As for the people who keep suggesting that I simply start killing characters because Anita has too many men in her life . . . The characters aren't real to you. They are real to me, and to a lot of other people. I, and a lot of readers, would feel an emotional loss if some of these guys died. Obviously, you, negative reader, do not feel anything for the people you would urge me to destroy. I am sorry you do not love them, or at least like them, as I do. I have failed as a writer that you could kill them, and feel nothing. There are series out there that have many fewer characters. Go read them. There are series out there that it's obvious the writer sees the character only as a plot device, a means to an end. Go read those people, and you and that kind of writer can have a good, non threatening time. You can read about people that the writer could and does kill with little or no remorse. But I am not that kind of writer. I don't enjoy reading that kind of writer, so I don't write that way. My characters are real to me in a way that makes me miss them. For God's sake, I'll be in the mall and see something, and go, "Oh, it's the perfect gift for (fill in the blank)." I've been in line with the present in my hand, before I go, "Wait, these are make believe people. I can't buy them a Christmas present." I guess I could, but there's no way to give it to them. They aren't THAT real. But they are real enough that I see things that make me think of them in the way you think of a boyfriend or a husband, or a best friend. To suggest that I just start killing some of them, to make things easier to write and more comfortable for you, negative reader, to read, is sort of well, you put in the word. I can think of several, but you choose. You choose with this understanding. The holidays are only just past. Think back to the moment you stood in line, or saw in the window, that perfect gift. The one that you knew would make someone smile. That gift you knew, you just knew, would light their faces up. Remember how warm and happy it made you to find that present. Remember the anticipation of the joy it would bring the person you care about? Now, remember that I've done the same thing for many of the characters you would have me kill. They aren't real, but sometimes they feel real to me. If that level of involvement with imaginary friends seems crazy to you, well, then I can't explain it. You either understand that the biggest disappoint some years is that I can't walk into the other room and hand that imaginary person a present that I know they would love. I wouldn't know what to do with most of my characters for real, twenty-four seven, but sometimes I, like the positive fans, wish they were real in a way that mere imagination cannot make them. Maybe you, my negative reader, did not understand how I feel about them. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. You didn't understand that they are real to me. Or maybe this will not move you, maybe you do not feel for the loneliness of the vampires that have not known love for centuries. Maybe you do not feel for Anita's torment as she's pushed further and further outside her comfort zones. Maybe you do not feel any of that. If you don't feel it, then I have failed you as a writer. I am sorry for that. If you do not feel the touch of my characters, the emotional pain, the emotional triumphs, then I have failed you. You should stop reading me. My writing does not weave magic for you. I am sorry. Go, with my blessing, but do please go. I have done my best for fourteen books, and it is not good enough for you. I cannot reach you. It must be some failing in the writing, in me, but whatever the cause it does not speak to you."

You know,you don't have to kill anyone off,there are other ways of cutting loose some folks like having them move out of state(like you did with Edward)or put someone in a coma,etc. If soap operas can do it,you can too. Sometimes less is more.

Not to mention that if you're so into the fictional world that you've created that you are forcing yourself not to buy Christmas gifts for imaginary people,it's time for the waiter to bring you a reality check. I'm an artist's daughter and know plenty about being in touch with your creativity but spare me this insane nonsense about how coldhearted someone is who doesn't understand the lovesickness of a vampire and his woman. You do know that vampires aren't real,right?

I've enjoyed your books even when they're jumped the shark(or humped the shark rather)because you do have a way with words. That ability is a double-edged sword and it cuts both ways. You're making Anne Rice look like a model of stability with stuff like this and who are these writers you're talking about who"sees the character only as a plot device, a means to an end"? Name some names,why don't you?

I don't know if I'll be reading your next book in either the Anita Blake or the Merry Gentry series anytime soon but not because the books are disappointing me,it's due to your attitude towards those who refuse to blindly accept anything you put into print is disappointing. As for your internet hecklers,there's only one way to truly get back at them but the legal fees you would incur from that course of action would wipe out all of the big bucks you've raked in so far:

So,good luck there and just remember this-" If money is all you love, then that's what you'll receive." You can substitute "unquestioning adoration" for money,if you wish to.


Lady T and the rest of the on-the-fence readers

P.S. For anyone who wants to read this ode to unappreciative fans in full,please click the title link to do so.


Anonymous said...


lady t said...

Scary,isn't it? Hey,Robin-do you shop for gifts for your characters? It seems like a new author trend there:)

Anonymous said...

Uh, no, can't say I've gone off the deep end like that quite yet. I love them, I enjoy spending lots of time with them, but I do happen to know they're just my imaginary friends.

Couldn't believe that part of the letter. Bizarre. And kind of creepy.