Thursday, June 03, 2010

When you just don't get it...

I’m reading a book I saw favorable reviews for on two different websites. That combined with a 4 ½ star RT review I decided to pick it up. I’m always on the lookout for new historical authors because as an aspiring historical author I want to see what people are buzzing about.

With this book - I don’t get it. Not to say it’s awful. It’s very well written. It’s just very traditional and slightly unbelievable. Big powerful nobleman falls for working class girl. Courtney Milan did something similar although her working class girl was a fake psychic. With Milan’s book I totally bought it. But with this one, not so much. I didn’t see enough in the heroine to make me believe the guy shucks everything to be with her.

In an environment where it seems new books seriously need to be pushing boundaries – I did not get that vibe here. But I guess there is a place for that too. People want the comfortable storylines they are used to.

But this is not a review site and I’m not here to talk about specific books unless I love them. What worries me when I read something that I find … enh… that everybody else loved is that I’m out of step with the mainstream. It’s ridiculous I know. Nobody knows more than a published author how differing people’s opinions can be. I’m always amazed when I see reviews on my work where people loved it and hated it in equal measure. To my way of thinking – it’s either good or bad. Not so to agents, editors, reviewers and ultimately readers. Take the same book send it out into the world and most of the time you’re going to get really different opinions on it.

Which is why when I see several people all saying they loved the same book, I jump. And then when I don’t see what they see… I think… oh no. I’m out. What I love is not what everybody else loves, therefore I must be wrong, therefore I’m never going to make it…. ahhh!!!

It’s like my experience reading Twilight. I wanted to look around and find out where the hidden cameras were. Seriously, this is being compared to Harry Potter? I was drastically out of touch with what mainstream felt about that book. And I’m not going to lie… I worried about that. Take it or leave that book is what people want. It makes me worried not only about if I’ll sell, but who I will sell too.
Okay – we all know as writers, we’re neurotic. But mine stays with me until I read something from some bestseller and I think… oh good. I like this person. Many people like this person… I’m back in baby!

So are there authors who you love who might be out of the mainstream? Any that you don’t care for that are HUGE! And let’s face it - if they are huge they won’t care if you don’t like them because they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.


Karen W said...

Oh yeah. With all the buzz about JR Ward, of course I rushed out and bought several of the books. I couldn't even make it through the first one. I just didn't get it. The story held no appeal.

But there are other authors (like Lisa Kleypas) who I'd heard buzz about and I read a loved. Though Lisa is known in historicals, I actually started reading her first contemporary. Since then, I've bought everything she's written.

I've always just chalked it up to different tastes. I've know several Rita winners and when I picked up their books, I was meh. It's ok. Not great, but not bad either. I just don't get it.

I think as a writer we have to stay true to ourselves and then just hope enough readers find our vision, our voice appealing.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I know...I totally know what you're talking about. But for every book that pushes the envelope and sells well, a whole bunch of books fall in behind it that seem slightly derivitive. We're also writers, the worst worst worst people to try and please. I don't want to please writers - God, no. Too damn hard. Too damn scary.

To tell you the truth - I am having a hard time with the world of dark Urban Fantasy. It seemed like all these tough heroines, were all just waiting for the right bad guy to look at them twice and then the whole book just becomes a bad paranormal romance, which is fine. But why this new subgenre? Why was every one of them the same? Why was the world going ballistic for these books?

Eileen's was the first one I read that didn't seem like it was trying to be a paranormal romance wrapped in a different cover.It was a mystery and the heroine was tough all the way through, especially when she was showing weakness. That worked for me.

I totally did not understand this craze - it seemed derivitive, but I couldn't figure out of what and then I read the first Laurell K. Hamilton and now, you know, I get it.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Karen - good one. JR can be polarizing. You love her or hate her. I loved her. I'm on the fence now. She's getting too dark for me and I know what's coming in this book and I don't know if I can go there.

And interestingly Kleypas is someone I'm always like... why don't I read her? She's a best seller, everybody loves her. If you know EXTRA good ones give me some titles - I would like to try her historicals. I definitely want to give her a shot.

For me... my secret just can't read her author... Cruise. Love her. Love her workshops. And when she described her writing process I totally understood why I had problems with her books.

But she's usually the one I don't admit to because people like Molly will say... YOU DON'T LIKE Jen Cruise - ARE YOU INSANE!!!

Sorry Molly.

Eileen said...

Oh, I hate that out of step feeling! It drives me nuts. Do I not know what's good? What's wrong with me? If the whole universe loves it, can it possibly be that they're all wrong and I'm right?

I have way way too many to list. Recently, it was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I was just bored. I couldn't finish it. I kept falling asleep. You can totally put Twilight on that list. I hated it. Eat Pray Love, too. I absolutely despised it.

Jennifer Crusie, eh? I loved loved loved Tell Me Lies and Welcome to Temptation and Drive Me Crazy. Since then? Ho hum. I agree. She's funny and engaging in person and gives great workshops, but I'm not feeling it in her books these days.

My really terrible secret? Debbie Macomber. You couldn't meet a nicer more gracious human being. I loved knitting and crocheting. Why don't I like her books? What's wrong with me?

Maureen McGowan said...

I kind of think it's awesome that we all (and everyone else) don't love the same books.

I mean, for everyone to like them they'd have to be kind of vanilla, right?

We were talking about the UF thing on the weekend and while I get Molly's complaint about them... I don't really agree. I think it's about what you want/expect from the books. But the only paranormal romances I've ever been able to get through without yawning, were JR Ward's. So clearly I like non-romance story elements more in that type of book..

Sinead M said...

I couldn't get through Twilight, I do not understand the craziness regarding the books or the movies.

I could never love the Judith Ivory historicals when every reviewer was raving about them.

Eileen said...

I feel you, Maureen, and can even allow for say a Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream book. Now I hate Mint Chocolate Chip, but I can see why someone else might like it. The ones that drive me nuts are the ones that I think are Vomit Chip ice cream that everyone else seems to love.

Is it that they're not Vomit Chip? Or do I just not understand that Vomit Chip is tasty?

Anonymous said...

You're telling the story of my life - lol! It's okay not to love what the rest of the world loves, except that you can't always find what it is you love. The Nielsens have different results in San Francisco than the rest of the country. But it is frustrating when others dictate what's out there and, as a writer, you feel your chances of getting published are diminishing. But every once inawhile I do find something I love that everybody else loves. And someday that may be true of my writing.

Good point about not pleasing writers - we are a hard bunch to please - we know too much and are too critical.

But I'm not looking for anything that pushes the envelope - I'm also not writing envelope-pushing stuff. I want to receive/give an experience and over-the-top doesn't do it for me.

And thank you for saying what I've been feeling - totally didn't get into Twilight or vampires or anything like that - not now - not when I was young and Dark Shadows was popular. I'm waiting for things to swing back my way. :)

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