07 September 2011

Pushing the Envelope

I'm reading this book right now that I'm really enjoying. It's called Beyond Eden and it's by the lovely Kele Moon. Now, before I ever really thought about buying this book, it was suggested to me, so I was checking out some of the reviews for it on the publisher's website, and there were a couple reviews on there that BLASTED the book. Not because the story telling fell short. Not because of shoddy writing. Not even because they felt like the characters needed something more. They were upset because the characters were unfaithful, and one person even went as far as to say that she was "shaking her head in disgust". Really? Truly? Now, I'm all for people having their opinions and having the right to post reviews for stories they don't like, but this is just going a bit overboard. Make it constructive.

I know that personally, as an author I strive to tell stories that are going to be as boundary pushing as the characters require. My upcoming release from Etopia Press was rejected from the very publisher that put out Beyond Eden, and one of the editor's reasons for doing so was because their readers get upset when someone cheats. I thought that was odd, but went along with it, anyway. I never thought people actually got disgusted over books enough to protest where everyone can see. Now, in the case of Can't Make You Love Me, Sean and Dylan aren't in an established relationship, but they do screw around quite a bit. So are reviews like the ones Beyond Eden got something I should prepare myself for? Should I try to censor or taper down what I write in an attempt to shelter the reader's sensibilities?

Despite the horror and insanity and often supernatural elements in my writing, I try to write the characters the way they would be if they were actually flesh and blood and walking down the street to the grocery store. People cheat. It's a fact of life. Sometimes you get into a relationship and you don't want to hurt the other person by breaking up with them. Another fact of life. Now, don't get my wrong, I'm not trying to justify or glamorize the act in any way shape form or fashion, but it happens. And if it can happen in life, why can't it happen in a book without people going up in arms? Why shouldn't authors be allowed to push the envelope and tell great stories just because people might get offended? If that's the case, I should shelve three or four of my WIPs right now, because I already know they're going to rub a lot of people the wrong way.

What about you? What are some things you absolutely can't take when reading a book? And if you encounter that element do you finish the book and then write a review expressing your distaste, or simply put it down and refuse to go back to it?

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