Sunday, December 13, 2009

Are authors allowed to write from their imaginations any more?

I’ve had a few fan emails recently that made this a very interesting question.

The first one was a few months ago from a woman who said she enjoyed both my erotic and non erotic books and thought my F/F scenes were very authentic, but wanted to ensure I was a lesbian for her to continue reading my books. I thanked her for her kind comments, but told her I was happily married to a man. She told me (sadly, she assured me) that she couldn’t continue reading my books since I was heterosexual. Then just a few days ago I had an email from someone on Facebook asking me to confirm if I was a Christian, because she couldn’t in good conscience continue to read my paranormal erotic romances (which she said she truly enjoyed) if I wasn’t a Christian. I answered her nicely saying that I really appreciated her kind comments about my work, but that I hoped my fans enjoyed my work for my characters, worlds and stories and that I didn’t feel my spiritual beliefs entered into the equation. She answered back saying that if I were truly a Christian that I would’ve proudly stated it and promptly unfriended me. I won’t even get into the sad irony of that particular argument :) which would be an entirely different blog...

Neither of these are the norm within my fan mail, gladly, but I thought they were both rather interesting. Both readers clearly stated that they enjoyed my books, which to me speaks for itself. After all, when I read a book, I read it for enjoyment.

Have we really reached a point where personal affiliations and life color the actual writing to that extent? I’ve read some Stephen King, but I truly hope that within his personal life he doesn’t go around murdering people in macabre circumstances, and I can’t imagine sending him a “fan” mail saying as much. I think I could understand if I was being outspoken about something that they found personally offensive – fair enough for them to choose with their consumer dollars where not to spend their money. After all, that’s the beauty of consumerism. But both of these situations left me a bit puzzled and bemused since that’s not the case. Now let me state, I’m not ashamed in any way of my personal choices or state of being. I just feel that if people enjoy my writing, those things don’t matter or come into play. I’m a good person and am tolerant of others and their views, and I suppose, naively I expect the same in return from others.

Am I being shortsighted? Is this the new face of being within the industry?

I’d love to hear your thoughts...

Tina/Cassie
www.tinagerow.com
www.cassieryan.com

18 comments:

Missy said...

How odd. As a reader I certainly choose books for their content not the beliefs or practices of the auhtor. To be completely honest I sometmes don't know who the author is until I've finished the book and look back at the cover :)
-Missy Jane

Cece Writer said...

I think there will always be peeps who question you, where you come from, etc. I don't think it's something we should take to heart though! I know you know this but I'm giong to say it anyway: you cant please everyone! Once we start worrying too much about our audience we only hurt ourselves as writers.

:D

Amie

Brit Blaise said...

Good grief! I don't know where to begin. Right now I'm writing gay demon hunters. Since I've never been a man, particularly not a gay man, I'd be at a loss what to say.

Actually, there's something very funny I could say, but this might not be the place!

You handled it well, I'd play with them like a cat with a ball of yarn.

Meow.

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Damn, I'm so disappointed to learn you are not a bible-thumping lesbian. Sadly, I've lost all respect for you, and myself for ever believing in you or your books. Now I have to go find out if Kim Harrison is really a witch . . . :)

Funny, I was just discussing this topic with Kate Douglas because a close friend was asking me about certain sexual practices that I describe in my book Wicked Harvest. When I told her I didn't actually do those things, she gave me a highly suspicious look, and basically called me a liar because I wrote about them so well I MUST have done them in real life. I told her I also wrote about a man becoming a demigod and, as far as I know, that hasn't happened . . . yet. :)

So, after talking with Kate, I've decided that when people ask me about my personal life, I'm going to say something very weird and cryptic, like, "In accordance with the prophecy, I cannot divulge those secrets."

Kate Douglas said...

Excellent post, and very timely, actually. Example--a few years ago I was invited to enter Wolf Tales in the LAMBDA Literary Awards, a writing contest geared toward books with a LGBT theme. I entered two years in a row, even though I didn't place in the finals either time. This year, LAMBDA narrowed their entry regulations so that only those authors who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are allowed to enter. It seems that so many straight authors were winning, the members were upset.

To me, this is absolutely ludicrous--the story itself should be the experience and the only thing about the author in question should be their ability to tell that story in a believable manner. I write characters of color, I write from a male point of view and often I write from a wolf's point of view. In my new series, The Demonslayers, in the first book a lot of it is from the point of view of a fallen demon? Am I any of these things? No. Do I carry it off? I certainly hope so, because that's my job.

As the author, I hope to make my readers believe and accept a different reality. I feel sorry for those readers so narrow-minded and so trapped in their own tiny belief system or gender identification that they're unable to expand their minds to accept the FICTION they're reading.

My spiritual beliefs have absolutely no effect on the spiritual beliefs of my characters, so there's no reason they should have anything to do with my readers, either. The only platform I've actually tried to promote with my stories is that love is inclusive. True love doesn't care what color, race, age, gender, or even species you are. If you love with all your heart, treat your partner (or partners as the case may be) with honor and integrity, that's all that counts.

If my readers can't accept that kind of story from a white, heterosexual grandmother, that's their problem, not mine.

Kate Douglas said...

LOL...Hey, Anitra! Timely conversation we were having, eh?

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

I know! I think she was eavesdropping on our emails . . . wait, that gives her witch powers! I'm telling!

Aurelius Incarnas said...

Rather than the new face of being in the industry, this sounds more like the old face of humanity in the new stream of communication. You know the face--the one that funnels us into poorly defined demographics like race and nations. I just find it encouraging that these type of questions are the exception to the rule found in your fan email inbox. how frightening a thought it is to live in a world where all people choose only to absorb information from people who are 'like them'

TinaGerow said...

Wow! I pick up a four hour shift and come home to find that this blog was a very lively topic! :) Woo Hoo!

Thanks all for stopping by and posting.

Missy, Cece, Aurelius - Amen :) Thanks all!

Anitra - I LOVE the "according to prophesy" answer - I might have to "appropriate" that!

Kate & Anitra - Mwaaahaaahaa! My Seduction series IS about witches...just didn't know I was eavesdropping, too :)

Brit - you're not really a gay demon hunter?? I'm crushed!! :) I sooo wouldn't be where I am without you and the Butterscotch Martini Girls - I'm thankful for you guys every day!

I'm off to write some more (deadline looming) even though I'm not a succubus, Archangel or Demon...lol! :)

Christle Gray said...

WOW! I can truly say that the personal belief system of an author NEVER plays a factor in my enjoyment of their work, or if I even read the book in the first place!

In fact, I think it's pretty cool if someone can write so well for a character or situation so far removed from their everyday life that the author pulls the reader in completely and makes them believe in the authenticity.

I become impressed, rather than thinking it hypocritical.

What does it matter what religion or political views the author has?

People just never cease to amaze me in their audacity.

TinaGerow said...

Thanks for stopping by, Christle. I totally agree - if I love an author's work, their personal life and beliefs don't really sway me. I do admit, however, that if when I meet an author, if I like them, I enjoy their work even more....and sadly, the reverse has been true on occasion, too, when they were less than nice...

Marie Tuhart said...

This is fascinating, to say the least. I read for pleasure, and never think to ask an author if they've done something they've described in their book. And I would never stop reading an author because of their beliefs or sexual orientation. Now I'm off to write a menage scene and no I've never participated in one. :)

Marie Tuhart

TinaGerow said...

I hear ya, Marie :) Thanks for stopping by. I read because I love the stories. If I find them believable and compelling, I don't care if the author has done or even personally knows half the stuff in the book. I figure that's what research and "suspension of disbelief are for" right? :)

Have a great day! :)

Kate Pearce said...

I've had a few like that myself. The latest criticized my use of the word "God" as taking the lord's name in vain. I wasn't quite sure how to reply to her, because my faith has nothing to do with how the character's in my books express themselves when in extremis, sexual or personal. It all comes down to the old adage 'you can't please everyone' right? I think I've given up trying or I'd never write a thing.

Vijaya Schartz said...

Very interesting entry, indeed. But readers are entitled to their opinions. A reviewer once wrote about one of my books that it was racist, because I implied that civilization once prominent in Africa had declined in that continent over the milleniae. Go figure. I thought I was just stating facts. I pride myself in writing characters of all races. Should I limit myself to my race and my culture? Think not.

Donna Hatch said...

Wow, I can't wait for the email from a fan asking me if I really ever was a man served in the British Secret Service during the Napoleonic Wars...

TinaGerow said...

Kate - I totally agree. You can never please everyone, and I won't change my writing to try to. For those people who "get" my writing - woo hoo! For the rest...there will be someone else they "get". :)

LOL Vijaya - Agreed.

Donna - ROFL :)

Alexis Walker said...

Very interesting, Tina. While in academia, majoring in Literature, we were being told to ignore the writer's life and to approach the text as it's own entity. Seems like a good approach for everyone when it comes to reading Romance.

I love Anitra's response. I think we should all come up with our own unique comeback that basically says, my personal life is personal :-)