Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It’s All About Me, Even When it Isn’t

Another reader on Amazon.com complained that the characters in TDD have no morals.

I continue to be baffled by this criticism because, as I’ve said many times on this blog, the central theme of that novel is a question of morality. I suppose your average reader can’t relate to a heroine who has killed (or, depending on how culpable you believe Garnet was when she released Lilith, “allowed to die”) several people. For all intents and purposes, though, you could certainly consider Garnet a fairly active accomplice to murder.

I still believe she’s a moral person, however. She killed out of self-defense, a defense, I might add, which works for many juries in this country. She was also vastly out-numbered and out-gunned. Had it not been for her willingness to unleash Lilith, Garnet would have died that night. A point that I thought that I made abundantly clear throughout the novel.

She also is wracked by guilt. Yes, she can sleep at night and even joke about it, perhaps, (partly because she’s the queen of denial) but she’s also never been entirely convinced that what she did was the right thing, even though it saved her life. Garnet also unleashed something dark within herself and struggles throughout the novel to make peace with that. (Lilith is, in essence, a big, fat metaphor for the human capacity to do harm – and maybe even take pleasure from it. But my point is not to glorify that, but to expose it.)

Maybe people don’t like that darkness. Or maybe I failed on some level for these readers, and my intentions are not all there in the pages of the book, despite my best efforts.

It’s interesting to me that this particular reader also thinks that Garnet slept with Parrish, which she most certainly does NOT. They get close – partly because Garnet is feeling a pang for something familiar and Sebastian has just revealed his darker side, which she initially revolts against. Garnet kisses on Parrish, she wants him, they get naked, but then things stop.

The stopping is kind of the important bit.

Isn’t it?

Or am I to assume then that the readers who find Garnet and company immoral are the careless readers?

This may all boil down to the cover art. While I love it, and I think it helped sell books, there is a bit of a disconnect – my book isn’t nearly as light and airy as the cover suggests. (Ironically, I’d proposed an even lighter book, but the editor who bought it said he wanted it darker with more sex and violence.) So, anyway, maybe the readers who can’t connect to Garnet were expecting her to be something else despite the bloody, murderous image in the prologue (which perhaps a careless reader might skip?) and all the references to the Dark part in dark goddess Lilith.

I don’t know the answer, but, what I do know is that I should never read my Amazon.com reviews. They make me crazy and, like right now, stop me from writing. I know I can’t please everyone, but part of me tends to take this kind of criticism personally. I feel like the comments are directed at me, rather than at the reader’s experience of my book.

I suppose the reviewer in question would just say I was being self-important.

7 comments:

Steve said...

I find it funny that the reviewer complained about the characters being too realistic. Your reviewer was looking for boring black and white cardboard cutouts when you delivered characters with realistic motivations and conflicts. IMHO the negative review reflects well on you as an author.

tate said...

Good point! Thanks, Steve, you made me feel a lot better.

Steve said...

Glad to be of service ;)

Karaoke Diva said...

Please please please don't change your characters! The moral gauge is not set in stone and is different for every person. I love the way Garnet veiws the world. I wouldn't want her any other way.

tate said...

Oh, don't worry. Despite getting my "whine on," I can't really change the core of Garnet's personality too much -- given that she's based a lot on me. :-)

Naomi said...

Stop reading your Amazon reviews! Stop stop stop stop stop! If you MUST know your sales rank or something like that, have Shawn check. Or if she tells you about annoying reviews, let me know and I'll see about having Ed add your pages to his daily routine of checking mine.

I avoid my Amazon pages like the plague. Seriously, nothing good comes of reading Amazon reviews when you're struggling to get a book started.

Mel said...

Frack that reviewer and the horse they rode in on.