Apparently, my dog, Teddy doesn’t think much of my writing. I mean, look what he typed in my latest chapter …
Friday, January 21, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
I guess I should take a moment to explain a little more in-depth than I did in my author note, and with a little more objectivity that wasn’t there at the time, either.
You know something? I love—LOVE—how attached people are to this story. I love that you (insert your own name here) want to tell me how exasperated you are in one form or another because it means that you love these characters as much as I do, and that is such a compliment, you cannot believe.
Funny, really. I remember thinking that there was such a good chance that poor Valerie was going to get bashed royally for the Bahamas trip. I knew it from the onset, you know? I knew it for a few reasons. Firstly, yeah, she wasn’t really thinking of Evan’s feelings. Of course, when he came upstairs acting like he was fine, why ever would she think that he was still nursing the bruised ego? I knew he was. You, the readers, knew he was. She didn’t see it. He never let her see that. And he’s never told her ‘no’, either. He’s teased her and told her not to do things, knowing that she would anyway. In this instance, he didn’t try to tell her, but that didn’t matter very much, given that what Valerie knows is that he always lets her have his way. Maybe that’s not the right way to state it, but that’s it in a nutshell. Add the warmth of the Bahamas to it, knowing that she adores warmth, and, well, did you honestly think she wouldn’t want to go? Yeah, neither did I. Heh.
Yes, it got a little troublesome to me, reading time after time how disappointed or let down people were in Valerie. All the while, I kept thinking, ‘They’ll know soon. They’ll see why things are happening the way they are.’ I still think that, you know? And no, for the record, I wasn’t upset by the backlash at Valerie. I knew it was coming, see?
The second reason that I didn’t really take the Valerie bashing to heart was simple. I write romance. I know that the majority of my readers are female (though by no means all, and I’m glad of that, too). I know that it is the female readers who tend to think that the hero can do no wrong. (Don’t believe me? Think back to the chapters where Evan first revealed his true name to Valerie, and remember what he demanded of her, recall how he demeaned her completely when she asked him to dance with her. No, he didn’t really get the heat nearly as bad as she has been the last few chapters.) The heroine, however, is a difficult character in romance. I think that writing a good female character tends to be harder than anything else because, as a writer, I want her to be ‘real’. I want readers to identify with her in some regards, even if it’s not a complete understanding. There is always a little bit of myself in these women. In Valerie, there’s a lot of me. No, I wasn’t abandoned as a child, at least, not in the way that she was. Evan knows, maybe better than she does, that her way of thinking and system of belief is based upon one thing: every single person in her life who should have loved and protected her have hurt her. Love, for her, is the most frightening thing that there is.
The thing that I guess kind of hurt me the most was the commentary on Evan, about how he is weak in this story, and I guess that maybe it could be seen as such. He does do a lot to accommodate our heroine. I don’t think it’s weak, though. I really don’t. To me, Evan’s willingness to put her first above himself and despite of himself is a strength, albeit not a traditional one. In many respects, I think Evan is very likely the strongest emotionally of all the Purity men. I mean, seriously. Can you see Bas putting up with Valerie’s emotional baggage? Can you see Gavin keeping his faith while she tells him she doesn’t want him time and again? And Gunnar? Forget about it. Yeah, I can’t, either. Evan is willing to give Valerie the time she needs to deal with her demons before demanding that she make a choice, and while part of that is likely fear that she’ll still pick Marvin over him, it’s the giving nature that he inherited from his mother and his father that shines through, I think. Valerie was very right when she said that Evan has a beautiful soul.
Unfortunately, Evan, like Valerie, doesn’t always show his true thoughts or express his true feelings, either. ‘Smile,’ Gin had once said. ‘Smile and don’t let him know that it’s killing you inside.’ Evan is very much his mother’s son. He has different reasons. He’s never had a woman who took him seriously. He’s been conditioned to be what everyone wants him to be: to Cain and Bas, he’s the problem child (at least life was never boring, right?) To Jillian, he’s the good brother who is always there for her to lean on. To Sydnie, he’s the kid brother she never had. To Madison, he’s the friend who doubles as a ‘girlfriend’, too—someone she can sit around with and laugh over the girly things, but who also fulfills a basic need without the messy attachments that go with it. To the various women he’s met over the years, all they’ve wanted was a plaything, and Evan became that, too. And now Valerie? Evan gets scared, too, and yeah, he gets discouraged, though maybe not as easily as others might.
Now that I’ve explained all that, I figure that it’s time to explain why I was upset. Sometimes I get reviews saying that the characters feel real to them, and that’s so great. Those make me happiest because the same characters are very real in my head. (No, I’m not nuts, and I don’t think they truly exist…) I might write the stories, but oftentimes, if I’ve done my job right in the first few chapters, I’ve already set their characters in place, and often, they end up doing things that I didn’t plan on. That’s fine, in my opinion. They normally don’t veer off too far away from where I ultimately want them to go.
Let me also say that I’m not “mad” at anyone. I’m not “angry” or anything like that. I don’t want anything bad to happen to this reviewer, and I don’t want them to stop enjoying the stories, either. I was just discouraged, I guess, and it was the sum of the whole that got to me, in the end. It made me wonder if I really was doing that badly in crafting this story in particular, and that really made me question myself and my ability to write. Reviews can be both good and bad. I know that the responses I’ve read were genuine. I know that most people adore Evan and his idiosyncrasies, and honestly, I can understand the overall frustration with Valerie’s inability to accept what’s right in front of her. I also know that, as a reader myself, there are times when you just want to shake the main characters because we, as readers, see the whole, not just one part or another. Sometimes I think that’s a blessing, but often, it can be a curse, too. Because readers know about Evan’s lineage, they know that Evan will be forever faithful to Valerie, but …
she doesn’t. And I have to wonder if sometimes readers forget that she doesn’t know about that.
I know; I know. I’m writing more on this than I usually do about characters—at least, ones I’m writing currently. I guess I just wanted to explain myself and my feelings. I just want you all to know exactly where the author’s note had come from. It didn’t come from anger or anything at anyone in particular, exactly. Well, maybe toward myself. After all, these things should have come out in the story itself, and ultimately, if it doesn’t, then it is my fault for not finding a way to make everyone understand it. For that, I apologize, truly.
I’m actually almost done with chapter 135. I do hope to post it Friday, on schedule. (I usually release Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays). Of course, after the next few chapters, there is a good chance that I might have to go into hiding for a while … I guess we’ll see what bashing might come my way after that lol.