While checking out some stats on Amazon (thanks, whoever bought Fire and Sid this past week!) I noticed that there was a newer review in my cue. For Threads of Malice. The reader gave it one star.
I honestly don't have a problem with bad reviews - I know my books aren't for everyone and I'm totally cool with that - but the reader obviously didn't read any of the numerous other reviews bluntly stating the subject matter of the story, or realize that my stuff, especially Threads, is gruesome, violent, and brutally frank about the dark underbelly of humanity. And, I'd like to take a moment to note, despite the violence and horror of Dubric's world, it's nothing in comparison to what happens to real people when captured by sociopaths and murderers.
My characters are fiction. Pretend. Mere imagination. Serial killers do things to real, living people that are horrific beyond comprehension. As twisted as I'm often said to be, I can't even imagine how anyone could actually do what I've read during research, let alone the worse acts that no one outside of law enforcement ever gets to see. What I make up is pale and frothy in comparison to reality and I always, always, try to offset some of the darkness with a bit of light from humor, romance, and family - an important facet of my work that doesn't usually brighten the reality of murder.
I wish I could apologize to this poor woman. I dunno what she was expecting, but obviously Dubric's version of John Wayne Gacy was too much. While I don't expect to thrill every reader, I also don't want to leave mortified, angry readers in my wake either. It's a hard line to walk sometimes, remaining honest yet inoffensive. I just tend to step toward the 'honest' side of that choice.
Some days I wish I could have NC-17 for Violence and Depravity stickers put on the books. Especially Threads.
Or, as my buddy Michele often suggested, 'Do NOT Eat Tacos While Reading This Book!'
(She was eating tacos while first reading the autopsy scene. Maggots. Remember the maggots? Apparently the combination wasn't pleasant. ;) )
Anyway, if, by some miracle, that reviewer is reading this, I am sorry that you hated the book, that it was too gratuitous and you thought the violence served no purpose. I am. I'm sorry that you had to endure the depravity and perversion. I don't want to disgust people, so in that I obviously failed.
But, in the mid 70's, a man named John Wayne Gacy raped, tortured and killed more than 30 teenage boys and young men in far nastier ways than I put in Threads. Gacy finally got caught, thank God. But there are others out there, roaming free and doing similar and worse things even now to men, women, children, and the elderly. It happens every day. For real. I've tried to write 'nice books' but it's simply not in my makeup. I cannot do it. During my forays into the dark, however, I try to shine the brightest light I have and report honestly on what I see. Abuse. Murder. Madness. I don't choose these topics, they choose me. And I always, ALWAYS, try to tell the unvarnished truth as best I can. I might write fiction, but I don't lie. And I don't flinch.
The books really aren't about the dark, though, they're about the people, the good people, who stand up and say that they will no longer allow this to happen. And they stop it. They're about how no matter how awful, how incredibly, impossibly awful things get, Dubric will endure, regardless of how heavy the burden of his ghosts becomes. How Dien will protect the weak, even if it kills him. How Lars will always get back on his feet and snarl at the dark.
How someone has to say NO! I won't allow it anymore!
And, in the end, that someone succeeds.
I write about the people who refuse to falter in the face of evil. And that, I am never sorry about.