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As you do, I found a note by Hamilton to her "negative readers". Those poor people who dare to express their critical opinions that are not in line with her, on her message boards. It's written in such a way that it demands to be sporked. Thus I present to you "Laurell K. Hamilton's note to her negative readers, the annotated version".


Dear Negative Reader,

It's funny, I almost never go on the board. I think I can count on one hand the times I've seen the message board. I would pick tonight. I'd had a nice evening out with friends. I'd read a chapter of Trin's new Fairy Realm book to her. Then for some reason, we look at the board. I look at the board.


"We" look at the board? Who is we? Is it her and Trin? Of course the way it's phrased it feels like she's referring to her herself. At least to me. It's the "I look at the board" that does it for me. She's being redundant. She is included in the we. She doesn't need to separate herself from the we. But she's doing this for stylistic reasons. It makes it feel more personal. This is something she is doing, even if she is in the company of the "other".


Let me say that all of you that hate the books, and have decided not to read them anymore, I am happy for you. I know that when a book series that I read takes a turn I don't like I stop reading it. I put it down and I walk away, and that's that. If you're unhappy with my books, and have decided you never want to read another thing that I write; great. I mean that. 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. I have my list of stuff like that. So good for you, you've decided not to read me anymore. Good luck, God speed.


And here we're showing an over-inflated ego. She implies that her books make you think hard. A bit much when you consider that she's basically writing trashy romance novels. Or as she calls them "erotic fantasy". Erotic fantasy is not written with thinking in mind. It's written with ... well sex in mind. If she wanted to write something that is thought provoking she shouldn't be writing trashy novels and instead go back to the way the Blake story used to be when it wasn't sex every other chapter if you're lucky. She's doing the same sort of thing when she says, "other things that frighten and confuse or just piss you off". By putting them in same sentence, Hamilton is saying that you're easily frightened and confused if the books piss you off. You don't understand what they really are about. That they're really about pushing boundaries and if you don't read it then you're not interest in expanding yourself and you're mind.

But let me say, one thing puzzles me. When I decide not to read an author, or series again. I don't go on their message board and keep talking about the books I don't want to read. I don't say that I stopped reading at a certain book, but strangely, am still able to talk in detail about books that have come out since then, thus making people reading my post wonder how I know so many details if I haven't read the books. Either A: You have read the books, and don't want to admit it. Or, B: You haven't read the books and you are taking your opinion from the posts of others who have read the books, and hated them. Those are the only choices I've been able to come up with. If there is a more logical explanation, I can't find it. Either you are closet readers, or you're letting others read them and report back to you like negative scouting. So you're left with an opinion based on someone else's opinion, or you are reading the books in secret. If the latter, you seem to hate yourself and me for the fact that you read the books. I recommend you don't read the books, it will save you pain, and give you more time to read things you like. It seems a logical solution.


And here, she's implying that if you talk about her books, even in a negative way you must A) really still like them or else why would you be talking about them, or B) you're a mindless sheep who is going with the crowd of silly people. She's using "logic" as her basis of her argument not seeming to understand that if they don't like the books, that doesn't mean that people don't want to talk about them. They wish to discuss, for lack of a better term, literature. They're being critics and sometimes, you know, critics give it a thumbs down. Also, what better place to engage in a conversation of a book and its merits on a message board devoted to the book you want to talk about. The fact that she doesn't want those poor negative readers indicates that she's more interested in praise than actual discussion.


Let this post also put to rest the idea that I don't know that a small minority, albeit a loud minority, hates my series. I've known that for awhile. Like the first time someone stood in line for hours at a signing, smiled at me, and had me sign the book, then said to my face, "I hated this book. I hate what you've done with the series." I blinked at them, and said something like, "Sorry to hear that." When I ask, "Why do you read the books then?" Answer, "I keep hoping they'll get good again." Jon and I have heard variations of this across the country from a maybe five people. But strangely, having someone say to your face, that they hate your books and at least twice, that they hate you stand out in our minds. Since I wouldn't stand in line for hours to tell someone I loved their work, the fact that people stand in line for hours to tell me they hate my work, just puzzles the hell out of me. I don't get it guys. I'm not going to get it. I finally realized that I'm not going to understand this noisy, unpleasant minority of my fans. Because you are fans. Only fans would spend this much time and energy on anything. It's a strange kind of fan, a negative fan, but you spend so much time and energy hating and complaining that some part of you must love the hate and complaining. It's the only explanation I've been able to come up with. But I don't really understand.


When someone who is a fan of your books says that they're hoping they get better again, that might indicate that -not that they hate your books- but they're upset that the quality has gone down. If you get those sort of things perhaps you should think about well why might someone say that about my books. Now there's a difference between negative readers who do things like "OH MIGAWDS THIS IS THE WORST BOOK EVER I CANT BELIEVE YOU YOU WOULD READ SUCH TRASH!!1!!!WHAT ARE YOU SOME SORT OF STUPID MORON?" And those that actually express their opinion and back it up with sound statements. Sometimes, also, it's good to see the negative reviews and what other people think is wrong with your book because maybe it might - if there are certain reoccurring points - be a good idea to look at them and see if maybe they are right.


Also, why wouldn't you stand in line to tell someone you like their work. Everyone likes to hear that their work is appreciated, especially from strangers. But I guess Hamilton is too good to do that. I know that Anne McCaffery certainly seemed to appreciate the fact that I said her works inspired me to write (seriously). And I had a long wait. I also got to ask her a question during her panel which was utterly awesome. But I digress. I'm certain Hamilton doesn't mind people standing in line to meet her, but that's because it probably inflates her ego.


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. Some people even ask for more police procedural. I want more, too. If the person asks nicely, not rudely, or in that tone that seems to imply if I don't do what they want the series is doomed to failure, I listen. The arduer is a pain in my, and Anita's butt, too. But I believe in my world. I've done this major metaphysical event. I won't just 'fix it' because it's hard to write around. God, knows, sometimes it is. But the arduer is moving along. I've got my fix in mind, but it's logical, not something that's merely convenient, or because some people hate it. But the arduer is not going away. If that's what you guys are wanting, then it ain't happening. Leave now, because more arduer awaits. The arduer is evolving, as are Anita's powers, but I don't see the arduer going poof.


Robert Newcomb and Christopher Paolini have major book sales too. They still suck ass. People are dumb too. But yes, people do love the series, but that doesn't mean that she still shouldn't listen to that minority. In fact it might be a better idea to listen to the negative reviews because it might offer things that need to be looked over. As for the arduer, Hamilton's didn't need to create it in the first place. Yes it's a "pain in the butt" but it's also useless and a plot device that distracts from, you know, what's supposed to be the actual plot. The arduer may be evolving but that isn't a good thing necessarily. Especially if it takes over the entire book. It doesn't have to go poof, but it shouldn't be used as the way it currently is being used.


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.



I have a lot of characters that I like and I've had to kill some of them. I particularly liked Darian, a rather roguish fellow, charming and in the end he sacrificed himself. I didn't expect him to do that. I didn't want him to do that, but he volunteered. Or to put it in less crazy terms, his death would have the most impact on the other characters. I don't think that the readers who mentioned that she kill of some of her characters wouldn't feel nothing, more that they think it would have more impact on the story. Or it could be that they're just really annoying and pointless. Yes, you shouldn't use your characters as plot devices, but if you don't put them in danger of dying -in these sorts of books - or in danger at all, then the reader doesn't worry about them.


The fact that she buys presents or thinks about buying them for her characters means that she's a wee bit out of touch with reality. Okay not a wee bit but a lot bit. As much as you care about your characters, they aren't real. They may feel real in your head, they'll protest being out of character and the story won't work, at least in my case, but they're not real. It's one thing to listen to your characters, it's another thing to forget that they're not real. She should see someone about that.


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.

There's nothing wrong with characters feeling real. It means that they're well developed. However if they become so real that gifts are being bought for them, then it's gone beyond healthy to insane and in need of help. It's an obvious sign of not being able to tell the difference between reality and things that aren't real. The idea of wanting characters be real and interacting with them is a basis for fan fiction. The fan author wants to interact with the characters so they create a story where it happens. It's pure wish fulfillment, but there's nothing wrong with that. The negative reader isn't interested in how Hamilton feels about her characters, except, perhaps by being mildly creeped out by it. They're more interest in reading a good story. The fact that Hamilton seems to think that they're attacking her friends when they suggest such things means that she's completely missed to point.

And it's not that we don't feel for the characters. We just don't care. Which, yes, means that Hamilton has failed 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. Go, and find someone who does speak to you. Someone who's characters are plot devices, so the books are neat, understandable, clinical, and utterly organized. My books are logical, to me, understandable to the vast majority of my readers, but they are not neat, they are not utterly organized or clinical. They are big, messy books, a lot like life. I wish you luck out there finding a writer that speaks to you. If we all liked the same kind of writer we'd all read the same books, and we don't. So go out there, find someone you like better, read them. You will be happier. I want all my readers to be happy, so go be happy. Enjoy the rest of your life. I mean that.

Life may be messy, but that doesn't mean that there shouldn't be some logic in the story. Truth is stranger than fiction. And a story needs structure. They can be messy, but they still have to make sense. They still have to move forward from point a to b. And things need to happen.

Which they don't.

To summarize her argument here, Hamilton has used the fan brat stand by of "If you don't like, don't read. It's not my fault that you don't understand my brilliance." Which, as this is a giant Sue story, it makes perfect sense that she says that.


Essay
Essays

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