When I started writing my DEAD series, an idea came that I had to wrestle with for quite a while. In a world that would eventually become lawless and very brutal, where would I draw the line? As the Garrett McCormick character came to mind, I had to make a choice on how to handle him. I knew that he would probably become the most hated character in zombie fiction...but the subject matter was going to be tough.
What I decided to do was focus on the strength on the individual that would become his victim. I wanted to really make Kirsten a strong person internally. That was only part of it, though. The other thing was even more important: what degree of detail do I allow.
I decided to borrow from one of my idols in suspense...Alfred Hitchcock. He was a master at taking you to the edge and then letting your mind fill in the blanks. I am of the belief that the human imagination is an excellent tool that every writer should rely on even more than his or her own words. If you lead them to a dark room and walk away, the reader can make that room far more scary than any description I could put into words.
I make it a point to read ever review I receive. Good or bad, I always look to see what I can learn. After all, the readers are my employers when you get down to it. Now...will I compromise my writing for a person's opinion? Nope. But constructive critique is always useful in improvement. Every so often, I get reviews that hammer me for the brutality that I can easily say comes from the scenes with Garrett. The thing is, I DO NOT go into detail. Personally, I would be uncomfortable writing those scenes and they would just be awkward and creepy. So...I take it right to the edge and then leave the reader to their own devices. Interesting how I get a review every once in a while that blasts me for my "graphic rape scenes". Okay...where? Here is where I will quote on of the reviews, this one makes me point at the screen and say, "YES! Thank you!"
"David" writes: "...I have read a couple of reviews complain about brutality, etc. For those who may be leery of that aspect, I can assure you that it is not excessive or gratuitous, and certainly the sexual violence is not that different from A Song of Ice and Fire (which contains incest, slavery, rape, child rape (Daenerys), copulation with spirits, metaphysical intercourse, etc; and about few people bat an eye). That part of the story is a facet of human nature about which the author has written. A repugnant facet, to be sure, but it does reflect the reality of some people's behavior. Overall, the sexual tone of the book is pretty tame and positive toward women in general. Most of the sex is consensual and occurs between adults."
Alan says: "...Violence and sexual activity exists but are carried at soft beetroot and lime settings....graphic they ain't."
Now, I am a big opponent of writers going off on a tirade at negative reviews. Seriously, if you can't handle them, then don't write. It is part of the business. Suck it up buttercup. My only issue is when people make claims that just are not true. Hey, if you don't like the plethora of characters and varied story lines? That's cool. I can respect that. If you just flat out thought the story was lame...I'm okay with that too. You are absolutely allowed your view, and I do not begrudge you posting that 1-star missive...it actually adds credibility to all those glowing 5-stars in my opinion. (I actually have a small cadre of haters that go so far as to 1-star every title I have out as an audio book and give "not helpful" votes to any of the positive reviews. Seriously...by the time you get to book 4 or 5 in the series and rate it a 1 star...wouldn't you stop reading it by then?) But when you slam the story for elements that do not exists, I have a question for you...
What is lurking in your mind?
I have been attacked via email by people who say I am obviously f****d up in the head. I have haters that spew things on the social media about me based on things that they know little about and even make up parts to try and deride me both personally and professionally. The reality and the stories have some distance between them, but that is not what I will be getting into here. I know who I am, and I know that my only goal as a writer is to create a world that lives and breathes. I want it to be "real" and not a bunch of candy-coated drivel. Try to watch your news the next few days...now imagine if all order, law and structure was removed and people could act in any manner without fear of punishment? Scary...isn't it!
If you are reading this, you probably have read my DEAD series. What do you think? Do I go too far? Did my idea of trying to make Kirsten into a mentally strong girl who would not be defeated by her tormentor miss the mark? Would the series have been better is that whole section of the Vignettes been left out?
Weigh in below with your comments.