Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Charlaine Harris blog entry for June 5th

this from Charlaine's blog

June 5, 2009


After the debut of DEAD AND GONE, the board was swamped with comments, conjectures, and criticisms by my readers. We (my moderators and I) expected this, though I don’t think any of us anticipated the volume of the response the book received, or the odd tone of some of the postings.

Let me tell you two true things, right up front.

  1. I know my books are not perfect. I know there are many valid criticisms that can be made about my writing. I will never stop trying to write a better book.
  2. I appreciate my readers, and I know that without them I wouldn’t have gotten to the wonderful place I’m enjoying.

Now that you know that, I want to let you know my thoughts on some more true things. The odd tone we noticed in some of the DAG discussion was due to this: a feeling of entitlement on the part of a few readers. It’s as if this handful of readers felt they should have had a vote in the plot developments of my book. They were angry with me that the book hadn’t followed their own desired blueprint. I had to quit reading the discussions on my own website, because I found that attitude incomprehensible and very distressing.

Novels are not written by committee. All the books I’ve read, barring those by the occasional writing duo, have been written by one person sitting in a room alone, working hour after hour in an effort to craft a book which will entertain and engage the reader. My novels are no exception to this rule. I create the characters. I know who they are, and I know who they are not. I understand them better than anyone. I reveal what’s happening to them in the way I’ve determined will tell the story I want to tell. As a result of the way I see the world, none of these characters are perfect, and there’s always the chance bad, even terrible, things will happen to them . . . because that’s the way life happens.

If you know perfect people who never make mistakes in their actions or their relationship decisions, my hat is off to you. If you know people to whom no evil befalls, I can only envy those people. If you know people who have no character weaknesses, well, I wish I could meet such paragons. Until I meet them, the people who inhabit my books will be flawed people who make errors in judgment, and sometimes bad things will happen to those people.

If this “policy” is offensive to you – well, I’m sorry. You may want to follow another writer. But I’m having a great time recording this long journey of Sookie Stackhouse, and I hope you continue with me to its end.

Charlaine Harris



KitchenBitch said...

All writers and tv film directors have this happen once a persons artistic work crosses the line of pop culture.

The fans feel they own it and anything the writer does they think they can do better because they think they know the characters better.

This happened to the Harry Potter novels and the Star Wars movies.

Jenni Lou said...

Too bad a few rotten apples spoiled Ms. Harris's mood.

That's why celebs tend not to read blogs and sites about themselves. It will make you crazy.

I love the world she created for us and I will not fault her for choosing whatever paths she creates for her characters.

Ana said...

Well... I respect CH and D&G was good to me, it felt different yes, but everything that happened was somewhat logical and necessary for Sookie...

I will continue to follow CH unless Sookie transforms in zombie and vampires can see the sunlight XD

isilwath said...

Not to be bitchy, but sorry CH, if you know your characters so well, you should know who killed who, and where important things were kept, and any number of big details and facts that you keep getting wrong.

Yes, the plot lines and characters are yours, etc, etc, and you have total control over what happens, and I am sorry of some readers made you feel otherwise. No one should feel entitled to tell you what to write and what to do with your characters.

On the flipside, it's my money and I hate spending it on a book that feels like you threw it together to meet your deadline. Where there are huge plot holes, glaring mistakes, and inconsistencies.

You say you keep trying to write a better book? Then write a better book.

Sorry if this pisses anyone off, but that's how I feel.

haxxai said...

I agree with you Izzy. You made very valid points.

I think she mostly made that statement in regards to people slamming the book cause it didn't go the way they wanted it to. I saw a lot of reviews like that on Amazon which is just stupid. If you're going to rate a book low do it because the of the huge plot holes, glaring mistakes, and inconsistencies.. not because the main character didn't hook up with the suitor you preferred.

I was fairly happy story wise because I prefer Eric but I definitely noticed the issues you pointed out. The book felt very amatuer to me.

C said...

I am sure Mrs. Harris has a few more irons in the fire than SVM. Also, if people are getting so frustrated with spending their money, perhaps go to the library, where you wont be let down for spending the 20 bucks on the book. I think she is doing a great job, She has 9 of these books, in addition to several short stories. I think perhaps some fans in the different camps are getting antsy. I know if I were a hardcore viking fan I wouldn't exactly like the way book nine ended...but I digress. She is giving us these books. She is not asking us for our notes on them. If people feel that strongly that they are poorly written, just don't buy them any more. I would hate to see her soured because a small contigent of anal retentives were worried about a minor tidbit like the color of Jason Stackhouse's truck or the name of a Merlottes regular(yes i know there are more, but do they really have that much bearing?). I have read the books several times as I am sure most that love them have, and have not found any major mistakes that would change where the plot is going NOW. Perhaps the nitpickers could send her a list so she has it all in front of her next time. In other words, put up or shut up.
This has been my honest opinion, because hey, we aren't exactly reading the classics here. I apologize in advance if I may have offended anyone in my little rant.

hdgcat said...

While I completely agree with CH about where her story and characters are going...and I realize she's trying to write better..I'm still confused about why there consistently are major mistakes/errors when she has people who get paid to catch these things. That I don't understand. Something as simple as how old Pam is or when Bill was turned are pretty simple to keep track of ....and can be confusing and irritating to someone trying to enjoy a book series that depends on consequences. As to storyline,she can take it anywhere she wants as long as its consistent with how she's built the characters. There are a lot of "shippers" on these boards and they're the ones most upset with DAG,which is a shame.

Anonymous said...

Writing books is just a business. So its very simple... she had a deadline to put out another book!

Nancy said...

I agree, isilwath. CH has stated many times that she isn't good with long-term planning, which is fine--but keeping track of things that have already happened? C'mon. You've said you PAY people to do this. A basic filing system would take care of it. It really pulls readers out of the book when things like that happen, which spoils the experience.

I am thankful that Alan Ball has the opportunity to read the books as a series, and hope he can construct a world much more self-consistent. Introducing major characters earlier than they appear in the books--such as Sophie-Anne at end of season 2--will help this a tremendous amount, also.

" Dallas " said...

Not bitchy Izzy – just opinion and everyone has one and as you know we famously disagree on this!

I disagree about 95% with you on this. You are right the Sookie books are famous for inaccuracies and only 2 or 3 mistakes in 10 year’s and 9 books are mistakes of import. I would also note that in subsequent printing the mistakes are being fixed.

In a very detail filled book series filled with hundreds of characters and entire worlds of supe cannon –I’d say that’s a pretty good average.

I fault 80 % of these problems to the people who earn (lots) money from the sales of the Charlaine Harris books. (Publishers, agents, proof readers, editors etc) Everyone one who works with her KNOWS that she is not a detailed writer that plans and outlines in advance – THEY should help her fact check the books.

What I fault Charlaine for is NOT hiring ( and asking for ) help, until just the last few months she has run the Charlaine Harris.com empire from her little garage office in Arkansas without even employing an assistant. She has been writing all the books (over 30 from all 3 series) done the marketing and promotion without adequate assistance. I’m sure that mind set come from the YEARS of being a starving author who just has to do it all alone and on a shoe string. (I know you and other authors are familiar with that) I think it also may be a ‘woman thing’ to thing you can do it yourself and handle everything and you must be weak in some way if you can’t do all this and raise a family, make a life with a spouse, take care of elderly parents and be involved with your church and community. CH is sure like a lot of us…

Now as to the complaints about DAG that CH is addressing here, you know I’ve talking to lots of fans through this web sit and on the radio show (we did 20 reviews the night you were on) and MOST of the complaints weren’t about the little detail mistakes THEY were as she said “readers felt they should have had a vote in the plot developments of my book. They were angry with me that the book hadn’t followed their own desired blueprint”

When I spoke on the DAG review show THIS IS exactly what I talked about was that in my opinion if you are a strong shipper ( want a permanent Sookie relationship) for one of the Sookie suitors you saw the book completely different than other readers who are not , in my experience ( and obviously Charlaine’s ) they were not complaining about the Clancy / Chow mistake or even the death of Claudine they were complaining about the plot and that all wasn’t revealed or presented about their favorite character in the way and in the light they wanted for it to happen.

She has not blogged one word in the last month- so she had bit her lip and let the dust settle and calmly now written her opinion on the complaints and I say, HURRAH Charlaine!

One more point as to purchasing books – NO ONE in this country has to purchase a book. Luckily almost everyone everywhere is only a few miles from a public library where books can be checked out for FREE! (cassandra ;))

**This response is not just to Izzy (thanks to everyone who has expressed their opinion) and yes to Nancy ( she’s posted since I started this ) but DO NOT get us started on the True Blood inaccuracies – ARGGHH !

Thanks guys for the GREAT discussion….

Nancy said...

Hrm. The publishing world is a strange place, Dallas. I am a professional freelance copy editor. I do not work on fiction (I get boring scientific stuff), but I do have a little knowledge of the fiction world. The publishing staff is simply not responsible for these types of errors. You could make an argument that CH's acquiring editor should read the novels more closely (although hasn't CH's switched publishing houses somewhere along the way?), but copy editors and proofreaders can only be responsible for errors contained within each book as it stands alone, not errors that occur between books, as most of CH's do. Certainly, unless an author has very powerful clout, CEs/PRs will never be the same from book to book. This stuff is the author's responsibility, whether she delegates it to a staff assistant or not.

My larger complaint, and this is not just about CH's book but also applies to other long-running series, is a gradual change in format. DUD was a tightly paced mystery with other genre elements. Each book has taken a step further away from the mystery format. Look at Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake books--the first few were well-plotted and paced mystery/crime novels, but after 5 or 6, that tight plotting went out the window. CH is trending that way and it's a darn shame. That won't stop me from reading them within a week after they come out, of course. ;-)

" Dallas " said...

Ok, point taken then as I said she and her editor should know from previous books that she needs to HIRE a story / fact checker.

Call it whatever you want ..but she needs one to stay on these thousands of little details.

It could just be a few hundred bucks to one of her amazing chatroom moderators.

That's a good point --I do love that it's a serial mystery and not JUST a romance novel.
Thanks, Nancy ...

cathy said...

I would be happy to edit them for free. In fact I think they should hold a Sookie trivia contest to select a lucky fan for the job. After the book finishes it's usual process the winner would check it for consistencies within the series. Who better qualified than one of her hard core fans. After all it's the fans who catch the mistakes in the first place right? The prize is you get to read it before that long awaited release date. As for the plot and characters these complainers, should take a stab at fan fiction to achieve their personal desired outcome. Look at Terrie Botta she did it. Her stories are entertaining, her personal desire is apparent but is she true to the characters, no way! I do not even recognize Eric. It is odbvious that it is from a girl's perspective. Charlaine keeps her characters true to them and believable she mixes the perfect blend of action humor and romance. The woman is brilliant!!!

Sharon said...

My gripe was that I felt the book ended too abruptly. For example, Claudine's death was just thrown in there in a one-liner. I hated for her to die, but that wasn't the rub. She just wasn't given much of a send off, if you will. It just seemed like CH had to finish the book off quickly for a deadline.

Don't get me wrong - I love these books and have the book and audio editions of all of them and I won't quit reading/listening. But there was another book that came out about the same time as this one. It was Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward. I mention it because it retailed for the same price as D&G, but was 3 times as long and excellently written and edited. It, also, is part of a series I dearly love. So, somehow, writing clear, consistent stories can be done. I think the hiring of a detail-oriented helper is an excellent idea.

I also think readers who have loyally followed these books, and mostly have spent their hard earned money on them, should be allowed their opinions.

Anonymous said...


I disagree with people who are upset over DAG because the characters didn't do what they wanted them to. That is a sense of entitlement and I'm glad Charlaine sees it for what it is.

However, like the last commenter noticed, there are other things that are upsetting. Claudines death was just blurted out so nonchalantly. And all the plot holes, lack of depth..the first half was really great and then it seemed poorly patched tgether in the end to make a deadline.

I have high hopes for the next book and hope Charlaine can deliver!

" Dallas " said...

Hey k pop

Well, I don't think we've really seen how Sookie will deal with Claudine's death and the loss of Niall nor Amelia with Tray.

Im sure on the 3rd day after their deaths.

Now if you think that it felt poorly patched together at the end -then that's a perfectly reasonable criticism IMHO.

citizenerased said...

I feel really bad for Charlaine that she feels she has to defend herself like this. She should really stay away from all the bitching and whining, most of which is perpetuated by slightly too obsessed people from Team Eric or Team Bill. Seriously, if you have this ideal fantasy about whatever vampire tickles your bits go and read some sodding fan fiction or even write some! Don't bully the poor author into writing what you want, she should write what suits her.

I really enjoyed Dead and Gone, more so than the last 3 books. Sure there are inconsistencies but I just ignore them. I don't expect great literature from the SVM books! As for the ending, it was a bit rushed, but the story takes place over 3 days or something so I expect the emotional fallout to come in the 10th book.