Mark Terry

Monday, August 18, 2008


August 18, 2008
My friend Erica Orloff and I had an e-mail conversation this weekend about violence in fiction. She calls it "torture porn" and we both agree that there are limits and that a lot of it bugs us. To read her thoughts on it and my over-long comment, click on the link.

But that's not what what I'm writing about today.

I got to thinking about this because of the author in question (Not Erica, but JA Konrath). I, like many of you, have favorite authors. You probably have a bunch that, when their books come out, you've either ordered them in advance from Amazon or you rush out to the bookstore on the first day or first week and pick up their books.

Even, maybe, if you haven't liked their last couple books. This could be because the books sucked, or as I've noticed in myself recently, I've changed and seemed to have grown out of some authors. (A topic for a different day, I think).

Stephen King is an example of this for me. I still respect him a lot, but I don't really read his new books too often. From time to time he'll get one out where I think, "Hmmm, that sounds interesting" and I'll go pick it up, but I used to buy his books in hardcover as soon as they came out.

Ridley Pearson, same thing.

A better example for me is James Lee Burke. When I discovered him around his 4th book or so, I ate them up, hunted down his earlier books and couldn't wait for the next. And abruptly, I stopped. In this case I can pinpoint it. He started another series featuring a Texas Ranger, and I reviewed it. And for some weird reason, it killed James Lee Burke for me. Part of it was the realization that Burke was using pretty much the same tricks and they were suddenly transparent to me. But there may have been other reasons.

What I'm getting at here is that sometimes I feel a loyalty to an author and I buy their books for reasons that don't necessarily have anything to do with the book. I felt that way about Tom Kakonis, who wrote a couple brilliant thrillers than wandered into some areas I didn't enjoy, but I kept buying his books because I felt I owed him--we'd corresponded a bit when I was trying to break in. 

This is more common now with blogs and the Internet because we feel like we know the writers when they respond to an e-mail or respond to a blog comment. But I've been going through an odd period in my reading life where authors and genres I used to obsess about aren't satisfying me the way they used to. I don't think it's the authors, I think it's me. I'm changing and so are my reading habits. And yet, I'll pick up a book by them...

Even when maybe I don't want to.


Mark Terry


Blogger MissWrite said...

I really think the whole 'stages' thing of certain authors is something almost everyone goes through. At least I know I do, and apprarently since you do too it's not all that unusual, lol.

Really, I've had authors that I just adored suddenly feel bland to me. Sometimes, like you said, you can't even say exactly why, and sometimes you can. It really doesn't matter.

Your other point is more poignant. The Internet especially has made writers more 'human', and more connected to their readers. One of the authors I had the above disenchantment (really can't think of an appropriate word for it) with is an active blogger and I still really admire them. I just myself rushing to buy their new book, or gobbling up every word they say like I used to.

Luckily for them, they have a host of readers, and new ones every day so I'm sure I'm not missed. LOL

I do think that the 'connection' thanks to the Internet mostly, although it possible before the web, not as likely, gives that disenchantment more of a guilty feel to it.

Whenever I read the aforementioned writer's blog I feel a little guilty for not having read their latest novel... yet anyway. LOL

7:44 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

I guess it goes both ways. There is a female author of a very popular series . . . and I know her to be a back-stabbing, rather vicious liar. This isn't secondhand gossip. I witnessed it. I not only can't bring myself to read her (even though I might enjoy the books) . . . but I would even go so far as to say in person, if someone asked me, I would disuade them from buying her not out of spite but a sense of . . . I don't buy products that aren't fair trade, I avoid Exxon. I like to put my money where my mouth is . . . and so no, I don't want that kind of person to profit on the way they conduct themselves.

On the flip side, I think Joe Konrath has done a great service to many writers. I can think of quite a few writers who just strike me as helpful, encouraging, who I know firsthand to be caring people who want to help others who passionately love the written word.

And then, one step further. I know of a couple of writers (Andrew Vachss being one of them) whose personal lives and causes I so respect that I would buy their grocery list even if I have outgrown their books (I no longer really enjoy Vachss the way I used to--I've changed).


9:07 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Good point. I think I'm luck to-date in that I haven't been jacked around by any authors I've met. Ignored, yes, but most have been pleasant and distant, although I've had some be sort of rude to me, but maybe I was just between them and the restroom.

Thinking specifically of Joe, yes, he's a good guy, he's very generous with his time and encouragement to other writers. He blurbed The Devil's Pitchfork. Rusty Nails bothered me. I liked Dirty Martini. It made me ambivalent about Fuzzy Navel, but he sent me an ARC when I did an interview with him for ITW. Will I buy the new book? Dunno. Maybe. Maybe not.

That said, there's only so much time and money to go around and with some authors I find myself quoting Bartleby: "I prefer not to."

9:23 AM  
Blogger Zoe Winters said...

Ha! Bartleby rocked! I loved that story. It cracked me up, because I am SO that guy.

Though I had a theory he was a vampire, cause he never ate or went out in the daytime it seemed.

3:04 PM  
Blogger kitty said...

erica, is the "female author of a very popular series" Evanovich?Grafton? I'm just guessing; those are the only 2 who come to mind off hand. I heard really nice things about them. How about a clue?


4:00 PM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

When I joined RWA, I bought one copy of each of my chaptermate's books. I automatically buy my blogging friends books (except this year).

I'm off buying books this year, which means I've only bought about five or six or so. I went through a stage where I was buying a lot of "shoulds," and realized I wasn't reading them. I was also buying a bunch on my automatic buy list and realized I wasn't reading them, either.

I seem to have a new and shorter list. This year I'm auto-buying Barry Eisler, Joseph Finder, Marcus Sakey and Jason Pinter. I love their books. And of course the bones you throw my way now and then.

But I'm at a weird stage where I just can't seem to find books (except the above) I just LOVE reading. It's unsettling. It's like when you really want something to eat, really badly, but you don't know what you want and you can't seem to find anything that satisfies.

It's driving me nuts.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Hi Kitty:
No . . . much younger. I have actually heard great things about Evanovich's loyalty.

And I have only run into TWO authors in so many years who were truly awful in that way. The good ones outweigh it. I have said a hundred times that I do not read books like Debbie Macomber's--but you won't find a nice woman writing today. Julie Elizabeth Leto . . . another gem. Cathy Yardley--sweetheart . . . I wish her every success. I don't know any of them well, but . . . you know there are terrific ones out there. Vicki Hinze is another one who gives back a hundredfold.


7:24 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home