Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hate mail, bravery and Suzanne Brockman

Hey sorry this is so late. The New England Conference was incredible. Yet another small regional conference that I would totally recommend for those authors looking for the conference experience without the Nationals insanity. NEC is a smaller conference than New Jersey, but they have huge caliber authors in their ranks and so they have really interesting workshops. One of those authors is Suzanne Brockman.

I didn't know any more about Suzanne than what she puts out there in her books. She obviously has an incredible work ethic, a passion for research. A mutated gene somewhere that allows her to plan a fiction series out to the like the 40th book. She lives around Boston. Her husband has started writing. One of her sons is gay.

Jules Cassidy, a gay FBI character she created about a million books ago, she claims has been her most popular character. He keeps showing up and showing up and I imagine as her son and her family became more plugged into gay rights, politics and love affairs, the bigger Jules storyline. Until finally, in a mainstream heterosexual blockbuster romance novel, Jules got a love story. A love story that grew and morphed and became it's own book and then grew and morphed more and became it's own Novella that featured a gay marriage.

You can imagine there are people out there who hate this. Who now hate her. And because she has a website and a button people can click to get in touch with her - they let her know. She gets hate mail.

I've gotten three letters from people who say they will never read another one of my books, because of something I've written about or something that was on my website. And these three letters have tormented me. It just kills me that there are people out there who are so angry with something I wrote they took the time to tell me I suck and they wouldn't be buying any more of my sucky books. Three letters.

I can't imagine how many Suzanne has gotten. Or how vicious or mean or personal. Obviously, she cares deeply about this issue as it pertains to the health and happiness of her son. And frankly, I think it speaks volumes about her gifts as a storyteller that she gets more letters that say "thank you for writing about this." But still - she put herself out there. And she's staying out there.

I was just really blown away by how brave she is.


Kimber Chin said...

I think all you authors are brave. With everything you write, you put a little bit of your soul out there.

I get constant hate mail for my non-fiction blogs (mostly men that don't think women should be financially independent - still a lot of those good ol' boys out there). Some of the female financial bloggers get death threats and have stalkers(seriously).

But what we talk about isn't as personal as fictional writing. That would be a double whammy. Very hard to take.

Anonymous said...

Some days, I'm astounded at the wonderful things that happen in the world. The humanitarian efforts, good samaritans, scientific breakthroughs, technology...everything :)

But then I read things similiar to what you just wrote and I get so angry that there are still people out there who can hate somebody based on sexual preference or race. Really, it floors me. But how are you supposed to reason with the ignorant?

I haven't read Brockman's books, but I admire her so much for what she's done, and I hope she continues to keep it up. By posting your beliefs, you're putting yourself out there for public consumption. You're taking a risk. Some people might become hostile and tell you how much they think you suck, but for every one of those, there are others (like me) who love to read beyond the book and we think you're pretty damn cool for it :)


Maureen McGowan said...

I was blown away by her chat and keynote, too. And I loved the analogy she used to talk one of her long-time fans out of "never reading one of her books again". ("I don't boycott Sarah Michelle Gellar just because she made a horror film and I dislike horror films.") Alas, reason does not counter blind hatred borne from prejudice.

I also was blown away by the reader who told her that her personal beliefs and opinions had no place in her books. Huh? Whose opinions and beliefs does that reader think an author will put in her books?

Her keynote was amazing. It said a lot to me about how timid we writers (or women?) can be, how fearful about not offending others, that the crowd didn't burst into spontaneous applause several times during that speech.

Anonymous said...

Wow! sounds like an amazing speech. And good for her for putting her beliefs out there. It amazes me too that in this day and age a reader would be offended by what sounds like a wonderful character who happens to be gay.

Makes me want to read all her books.

Maureen McGowan said...

I know, Sinead! She sold two books to me this weekend and I've never read her. I even bought the gay marriage one in hard cover.

Molly O'Keefe said...

One of the things she talked about at her keynote was the big Cassie Edwards plagerism scandal. And, I'm not excusing Cassie of any wrong doing, but in reading about this situation I just felt bad for her - I felt like she was not only picked on because she was a fairly unimaginative writer and then it turned into this insane personal attack. So, I felt bad for the lady. But then Suzanne brought up the article written by the ferret expert that Cassie had used practically word for word in dialogue! And the expert, when asked said how surprised he was to have his words in a trashy romance novel. Everyone cringes at the word trashy and Suzanne said she wanted to raise a protest but then realized she couldn't. In this situation it is a trasy romance novel. The situation is trashy and romance novels and writers are at the center of it.

Well, when you put it that way. I'm pretty pissed at Cassie Edwards.

Maureen McGowan said...

Yes, Molly... I think what I took from that was that even if some of the bias against the genre is unfair... unless all writers of romance strive toward excellence, then at least some of the reputation is deserved and the bad ones bring down the entire genre by association.

Maybe I'll blog about that on Wed. Unless I've shot my wad now, as Sinead would say, LOL.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Maureen I think that's exactly true! And everytime something trashy happens in our genre - a ridiculous photo on the fonr page of a big paper, a plagerism scandal etc... we are all left having to defend ourselves. Everytime a reader reads a bad romance and then says something to me about it at a signing -- I'm forced to defend myself when I had nothing to do with the book.

Anonymous said...

The problem is not people are haters of an alternative lifestyle, but they are looking to fill a need by reading a particular author who gives a particular fantasy. Mixing a gay sexual/romance story with a hetero romance story doesn't mix because it reaches two different needs. For those who have a problem with this viewpoint the same goes for any preference - such as people want to emerge themselves in the world of single moms finding love and romance or certain ethnic groups, etc. It's a preference and you are buying authors which stick to that preference. People don't read romance stories to be politically correct - but to fill a need in their romance style or to help discover what type of person they are attracted to or even to learn how to romantically interact with "image" of their choice. These books are more powerful than you can image and as a psychologist specializing in women recovering from sexual abuse or domestic violence - I know what I am talking about! Suzanne took a chance with the Jules' affair but she destroyed many of her reader's comfort zone by interjecting a gay relationship with Jules in a hetero romance storyline. Jules' love affair should have been a stand alone book.

online reading romance said...

I pretty much never comment on stories . . . but this one is exceptional. Thanks for posting this. It really makes sense the way you put it. Wish someone else had told me sooner.

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