Friday, October 29, 2010

Another book, Another Review, Another In-depth Interview

The blogging community has been very good to me over the last two years. With the release of Wintertide, I was disappointed to see some of my favorite reviewers no longer active. On the positive side, new ones have appeared. In my previous post I mentioned Ruled By Books, where Jamie Chambers did a review of Wintertide. This week Mr. Chambers posted an interview he did with me, where he asked questions about my writing technique, my fans, and the use of the Internet to market the books. He even tried to pry information out of me concerning Percepliquis.

At the same time this week, Scott over at Iceberg Ink has been busy. He just discovered The Crown Conspiracy. After devouring it, he read Avempartha and wrote reviews on both. His review on Crown was particularly well done. I say this not only based on how much he praised it, which was flattering to say the least, but more importantly because—he gets it.

Over the last two years, some people have commented as to why they disliked my books, or why they disliked certain aspects of them. And while a few have very legitimate complaints, I feel the majority are often missing the point, or making inaccurate assumptions. Oddly enough, the same is frequently true for those who love the books, as they too assume the wrong idea—they just don't have a problem with it.

I have often wondered why non-fantasy readers appear to more readily appreciate my books, while veteran fantasy lovers are much harder to win over. Many are hesitant or skeptical when reading Crown, and they usually soften a bit as they finish Avempartha. I have to wonder if avid fantasy readers are to some degree conditioned to expect certain things in a fantasy story: length, detail, world-building, grittiness, archaic language, etc. When those items are missing, they scoff. Readers new to the genre, don't have to fight with these preconceived notions about what a fantasy book should be.

Extensive reading in the genre also makes some fantasy fans too quick to jump to the conclusion that: they have seen this before. Granted they have good reason to be jaded. Fantasy books all too often reuse the same characters to tell the same stories in the same manner. Those who are well-read are quick to judge and categorize any story within the first few pages, or even by the back cover blurb. Given that my stories unabashedly use many of the most traditional elements and archetypes, it is understandable that they may jump to the conclusion that this is the same old thing.

I purposefully write my books to be fast-paced, develop characters slowly over several volumes, and refuse to allow world-building to interfere with the story. I think, to some genre-hardened fantasy fanatics, I am easily dismissed as they think the missing length and detail wasn’t a matter of choice, but rather a lack of skill.

As I've mentioned, even some who immediately like the books either don't know exactly why, or like them initially merely because they are different and they make for a nice break from their more serious reading. For this reason it is always nice to see a review like Scott's at Iceberg Ink, who as I said—gets it, or at least as much as he can having only read the first book. He appears to understand and appreciate the intentional decisions about style that I made when writing the books, which is often a sticking point for many, (why is the dialog so contemporary sounding? Why are the characters so shallow? Why isn't there more description?) What is more fascinating is that he grasps these ideas after only reading Crown. Usually readers require at least Avempartha to begin understanding what I am really doing—and for those true hardcore fantasy fans, it can often take to Emerald Storm to quell their ingrained paranoia that insist the rug will be pulled out from under them the moment they dare to believe.

So if you are interested you might take a click over to Jamie's and Scott's sites...and no, I have never met, nor am I paying, either of them. Although given their comments, perhaps I should.


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