I read a few posts about Charlaine Harris, the author of the True Blood series, that she is getting death threats because fans don’t like how she ended the series. It is very scary, and I’m not surprised that the author is refusing to participate in the promotional tour. Who would be crazy enough to put their life in danger over a story that provides entertainment?
The author has every right to form the characters, write the story end the series as they see fit.
Or do they?
I was outraged reading the post, but my great surprise came shortly after when I checked my social site messages. I received a message last night from a woman to my author page.
I’m an insignificant author compared to the bestsellers, my books sell only a few copies compared to bestseller books and readers either love it or hate it according to the reviews posted on the books and the recently published audiobook. I write stories that I would love to read, and I always thought it is up to me as an author to play with the characters, events or write about what I want.
This message not only puzzled me but questioned my role as an author as well.
“I love the way you write, I have to give you that. It’s like the way you say and describe things just pulls me in. But, you should really write proper books. What I mean is that I like the love triangle and I fell in love with Bela, but what’s with that ancient mumbo-jumbo stuff and secret society? You don’t need that in the book and it’s confusing to keep everything in mind what’s going on. And then she goes to the past and evil Morana can read what she writes? Why don’t you just write a clean story without the Hun stuff? I would enjoy a nice romance story from you. And she’s too much of goody-two-shoes! Make her a little eviler and younger, and the sex scenes should be livelier too. I like how the book ended, though. It’s just you should write stories that are simple and not this complicated. As I said, I love the way you write, I can picture everything, it’s just too complicated with all that stuff that in my opinion you don’t need in a book.”
I have no clue how to respond to this message.
Did we reach the age when books are ordered a-la-carte?
Should every author follow the cookie-cutter formulas to write romance, fantasy and so on stories?
Well, had I follow the formula when I wrote my fantasy series, I could have churn out a book within a month. Change the names, add a few different places and events, and voila, you have a book!
Perhaps that’s what the majority of readers expect?
Maybe because we do everything with increased speed nowadays, the majority of readers don't take time to savor a story and read the book slowly? Perhaps a complex story with soul searching, slowly and deeply developed characters and plot or more than one plot line is too much for speed readers? Maybe what they want is just a few characters, simple story line and plot with not so "goody-two-shoes" characters but psychopathic killers or kinky sex scenes?
Sure, If you like my writing style, you can order a book.
I will write it for you for about $30,000. You describe the characters you like, the place and time, scenes and plot, and I’ll publish the book as, “The story is written by me following the instructions of the a-la-carte order of so-and-so.”
I guess until I get such request, I will stick to my writing style and develop my characters and the plot as I like it.
Erika M Szabo
Author of magical realism, fantasy and children's books, Publishing Coach at
Print & eBook