Friday, July 20, 2007

Authors taking a chance versus reader expectations

In the past few days there's been a lot of discussion about a mystery/romance author who did something in her latest book that outraged many loyal fans of her series. Read about it here and here. I haven't read the books so I don't know what it is, but just from the rants and commments, I can take a guess, and I know I'd be pretty furious about it, too, if I had invested the time and emotional energy in reading the series.

It got me to thinking about what authors owe their readers, aside from the very best story they can create. The issue is particularly pressing on me right now because I'm working on a story that is very different from anything I've done before. It's a story that's important to me. As I've written it I've come to care for the hero and heroine very much. The story celebrates a kind of heroism that is very relevant right now.

But... I've built a reputation for doing certain kinds of books and while I've written in multiple genres, there are things all my stories have in common. This story doesn't have some of those things, although it will have a HEA. Since my books are erotic romance and I take the romance part seriously, it would be breaking a covenant with readers if I didn't have that.

Still, readers looking for the sort of elements my stories normally have may be disappointed. When and if the story is completed and contracted I will try very hard to be sure potential buyers know that this story is different and why I felt the need to write it.

But I also have plans for an entire new series that I think will seriously please the people who've bought my other books.

-- Katherine Kingston


Denise A. Agnew said...


I thought I'd posted on this earlier, but somehow my comment didn't show up. Arghhhh. I congratulate you on taking a chance with the new stories and going in a different direction. I think when an author's style is truly something a reader enjoys, they will read pretty much anything that author puts out, even if it is in a slightly different vein. I totally believe in writing something different once in a while because otherwise the muse can go stale. I know mine did and now I'm having a great rebirth in ideas and creativity because I'm writing new things. :)

Denise A. Agnew

KS said...

Yes, I agree with Denise. I think your readers will be more than happy to read something fresh from you.
The reason for the other controversy is that romance means HEA or HFN, and neither was delivered. I can see the author's point though, which makes it even more important that you at least have a feel for the entire arc of a series before you begin. At least, this way, you can keep a consistent vision throughout and, hopefully, avoid such, um, intense reader disappointment.

Kaz Augustin ... the "other" KS ;)

Katherine Kingston said...

Thanks, ladies. And Denise, you know I'd read anything you wrote. I'm looking forward to wonderful new things from you!


Lauren Dane said...

The books aren't romance though at least not as they're marketed and not how I read them. I have no problem with an author telling the story she needs to tell.

Sometimes, a story takes a turn you didn't expect and you write the book the way it needs to be told.

I don't always have the entire arc for a series before I write either. I owe my readers a well written book, I owe my characters the story they want to tell.

Katherine - write what you want to write, I can't wait to read it.

Jaynie R said...

I dunno what other bloggers are talking about cos I don't read them any more, but based on an experience I just had - I was really annoyed to read a book this week that was marketed as a romance, and the guy who I thought was the hero was killed by the heroine in the last chapter *sigh *

I screamed and threw it across the room. It was a fabulous book, and if it had just been marketed as urban fantasy then I would have been prepared and not cared if it had a HEA, but to do that to me - arhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Casie Ryan said...

Good for you to take a new chance as a writer! I think as long as you are open with your readers that this is diffrent, that's all you can do. I'm sure many of your fans who love your writing will happily follow you into this new forray :)