Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hate the author, hate her books?

Yesterday I blogged about the disgruntled Twilight Saga fangirls who want to punish author Stephenie Meyer and her publisher for not giving them the story they had anticipated in the newly released Breaking Dawn. Today I looked in on Jennifer Crusie's blog and found Jenny considering the question of whether blogging authors risk lose readers when they post strong opinions. For her part, Jenny makes a careful distinction between who an author is and what that author writes:

P.G. Wodehouse did broadcasts for the Nazis, but I’m not giving up Bertie and Jeeves. Georgette Heyer made disparaging comments about her readers but they’ll get my copy of The Grand Sophy when they pry my cold, dead, chocolate-stained fingers from around it. Robert Frost was one of the biggest [expletive deleted] who ever lived, but “Two Tramps at Mudtime” is still the most beautiful evocation of work and love that I’ve ever read. I don’t want to have lunch with these people, I just want their words.

I was delighted to see two of my favorite authors, Georgette Heyer and Plum Wodehouse, mentioned in a single paragraph. Yes, I realize they were both disgustingly racist. But no novelists have ever tickled me quite the way they have. Unlike Jenny, I'd love to meet them for lunch (well, except for that whole problem about their being dead) as long as they behaved themselves.

I'd enjoy having lunch with Jenny, too, even though we're worlds apart on certain political and moral issues. I have cringed at a lot of things in her books, but I keep buying because, darn it, the woman is funny.

That said, there is at least one contemporary author whose books I won't buy because I can't separate who she is from what she writes. I'm not trying to punish her. I simply can't read her inspirational romance novels when I know she doesn't believe what she has written. I just can't stomach that hypocrisy. I'd rather have lunch with a dozen wisecracking, profane Jenny Crusies than with this one "nice" person who pretends to be a conservative Christian only to sell books.

What do you think? Have you ever avoided a book everyone was talking about because you didn't respect the author?


Vicky said...

For me, it depends on the book. I can lose myself in fiction or poetry no matter how little respect I have for the author, because the author's personality doesn't intrude on my reading at all (at least not noticeably). The same applies to fictionalised versions of people's lives - although some uneasiness does set in at this point. Autobiography and biography mark the point where my imperviousness to the author crumbles. If I dislike the author or the subject, that dislike will be at the forefront of my mind, irrespective of how beautifully the book is written.

Anonymous said...

One of the authors on a yahoo group I belong to told of a book signing she did where someone she knew asked her (while contemplating whether or not to buy her book), "Will I think less of you if I read this?" Hoo-boy! Can you believe it? She gave some restrained and appropriate reply, of course, but did a follow up blog on clever and scathing replies, I like this one: "Should I think less of you for asking?" LOL

I found your blog on a google search for good blogs by authors, and it seems they have you on the right list! Good stuff. I'm an aspiring author, two books pub'd so far, I write in the spiritual/inspirational genre, I'm a spiritualist (non-religious) Christian. I'll keep in touch with your blog - may I put it in my blog's blogroll?

My blog is Free Spirit, at:

Marvin D Wilson
Eye Twitter 2 -

Brenda Coulter said...

I found your blog on a google search for good blogs by authors, and it seems they have you on the right list! Good stuff.

[Laughing.] Many thanks, Marvin! I should tell you that somebody once found this blog by Googling something like, "the worst author in the world."

And yes, please do add NRJW to your blogroll. You'll get an automatic link back. (See the sidebar on my main page.)

Vicki, thanks for taking the time to comment.

Pattie said...

Who would pretend to be Christian to sell books? That seems odd and backwards to me. I'd be disappointed to find out it's one of my favorite authors.

Lisa Quing said...

I tried twice to post yesterday and lost my comment both times. My error, not the blog's. Hopefully I can manage it today. You'd think I was a newbie or something! lol

I can't think of an author I stopped reading completely because of their personal lives. I read widely, lots of different genres and styles, although not much "deep" stuff.

I also don't understand why someone would pretend to be a Christian to sell books. Hmm....

Brenda Coulter said...

Who would pretend to be Christian to sell books?

It's not for me to say whether she's a Christian or not. What bothers me is that in real life, she laughs at the conservative values she writes about.

And like Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

I can't recall ever deciding not to read a book because of the author. I did refuse to read The Da Vinci Code for the longest time because I figured it could never live up to the massive amount of hype. Eventually I did cave in and read the book. I'm glad I did. However, if an author turned out to be offense enough to me, I would probably choose to spend my money on some other author's hard work.

Sheri Boeyink said...

I haven't had this with a book yet, but with a movie, yes. I'll avoid any movie with a particular actor in it, because I don't support him or some of the movies he has made. But, if I stumbled upon a writer who displayed the same sort of hypocrisy, I would avoid the book as well.

Katie Alender said...

There is a YA author who wrote a cute little book using a pseudonym--I found out later that even the author's back flap bio, which made reference to events in her past, was faked, and that she had never done the things she mentioned--which to me took away a lot from the (fiction) book.

I've also distanced myself from an author who, I felt, had little respect for the segment of people she was writing for--felt above them, in a way. I got tired of reading blog entries ridiculing the people whom she would hope you'd find to be sympathetic, if she wrote them as characters.

Kristin said...

Sheri, I'm the same way. There are certain actors who just turn me off so completely off camera, that I could never watch a film with them in it.

As for writers...well, possibly. But if they were my favorite author or I like their books immensely, I'd probably just try to put it out of my head. However, if this was an author new to me, I probably would have a hard time picking up a book of theirs and reading it.

Tough topic.

Pattie said...

Sorry, guess I misunderstood when you said "person who pretends to be a conservative Christian only to sell books" that you were saying that person was not a Christian.

Anonymous said...

I bet I'm the only person reading this who's shallow enough to be OBSESSED with: Who is the Christian author Brenda hates???? I'm such a gossip fiend. Sorry.

Brenda Coulter said...

I could have phrased it better, Patti, but the operative word in that sentence was conservative, (not Christian).

Trudy, you made me chuckle. Believe me, dear, my likes and dislikes aren't all that fascinating.

GentleSpirit said...

hahaha GREAT replies ... had me giggling all the way :-D But hey ... who ever said it should be easy? (Grrrrrrrr who was the profound mind that penned these words ... I wanna hang, draw and quarter him/her :-/ *joking*) ... 'Only that it would be worth it in the end. Welllll ... lets hope so anyway! lol Like you guys, I'm a newbie author too, and I haven't found the streets paved with gold yet ... may I need to change the glasses 8-) lol

A kool post and replies, thank you! :-)

Carrie (aka GentleSpirit)

GentleSpirit said...

P.S. Ohhh ... SHE DIDN'T EXPECT THAAAT!!', as the TV Ad goes :-O lol So any follow up comments that want to email me, as advised here ... pls make sure to add: 'Blog Reply' in the subject space, as I usually delete all un-recognised mail by reflex reaction. :-P Thank you!