Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Being Fluffy Tuffy

For good reason, a lot of writers swear they never look at reviews. They don't want to see them because for as much as a great review feels validating, a terrible review gnaws at you until you want to find the person and scream at them about all the things they didn't get. Because that's the thing about writers, though we'll accept constructive criticism and concede certain points, in the end, we're sure we're right.

Unfortunately for me, I'm weak willed and not one of these writers that can avoid the curiosity of what's being said about my work. So, I went trolling and came across a review of Zombie Blondes the other day that really upset me. It was on one of the endless book review blogs. Now, unlike some people I know, I don't have a problem with these blogs. In fact, I'm very appreciative of them. I think many of them (especially those run by teens) do a better job of getting information on new books out to other teens than publishers ever have. But with more reviewers out there without a literary background, it strongly increases the the chance for the "Oh my god! I HATED this book" review. And in some ways, those sting more coming from the audience than from some picky librarian.

I guess what really bothers me about the negative Zombie Blondes reviews (and there's a lot of them, though I'm happy to say there's a lot of good ones too) is that so often the review doesn't stem from the book but from the reader's expectations. Being part of a genre trend (though let me point out that Zombie Blondes along with Generation Dead were the start of the trend), doesn't help. The current zombie and vampire books all fit a mold of which my book doesn't belong to, but gets lumped into. 

My books isn't a light-hearted romp. It isn't an action novel. It isn't a romance novel in a goth disguise. MY NOVEL is a novel about the willingness to ignore bad situations, about shutting off that voice inside us that is warning us against certain decisions in favor of temptation. It's a novel about the lure of fascism and the regret of succumbing to its appeal. It's a novel about the cult of popularity and the abuse of power structures. It's about seeing past the surface of society and glimpsing the fettering evil ugliness that makes it run. 

But alas, I know these things shouldn't bother me. Maybe I just to need be more like my cats, fluffy tuffy and let it wash over me. But it's not in my nature, which doesn't bode well for me since it's also in a writer's nature to be overly sensitive. I believe Richard Brautigan summed us best in this metaphor.

I will be very careful the next time I fall in love, she told herself. Also, she had made a promise to herself that she intended on keeping. She was never going to go out with another writer: no matter how charming, sensitive, inventive or fun they could be. They weren’t worth it in the long run. They were emotionally too expensive and the upkeep was too complicated. They were like having a vacuum cleaner around that broke all the time and only Einstein could fix.

 She wanted her next lover to be a broom.

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