An Author’s Betrayal

It’s no secret I’ve always been a bookworm. I used to gulp down books like water. My library–even as a child–has always been large. Many of my books are now electronic but the library, virtual or not, just keeps growing. Authors have always been my friends. They’ve given me such joy, I often think of them as family even though nine times of ten I have never met them. I could never understand how some people treat writers as celebrities and keep tabs on all the dirt they manage to dig up on them. I prefer to think of them as ethereal beings, not quite fictional but not quite real either. I don’t want to know the dirt and the skeletons they keep in their closets–because let’s face it, they are humans like everyone else. I want to focus on their writing and the characters and worlds they create. So you can imagine how I feel when a writer betrays their own writing, their own creation.

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I used to read a lot of fantasy and years ago I picked up a book in the store which would become one of my favorite fantasy series ever. I fell in love with the characters, the world she built, the story than unfolded. Maybe because the two main characters were gay, the author developed a specialized following. LGBT characters were not common at the time. These wonderfully three-dimensional characters develop a romantic relationship which was both sweet and realistic with ups and downs, doubts and moments of insane happiness. All while partnering in some seriously dangerous adventures. I fell in love with the characters, the way the author told their story, and the intricate world she created.

A few years later, maybe pressured by her publisher or the fans, she wrote and published an anthology of short stories about the characters. According to her, the fans had requested more details about the characters’ relationships, a sort of behind the scenes glimpse at their romantic lives. It seemed intriguing to this romantic fool, so I bought the book. To date, this was the only book I have ever thrown away. I was utterly disgusted by it. It was hard to believe these sordid, crude stories had been written by the same hand who had written such lovely prose before. Filthy language, terribly graphic sex scenes, well-loved heroic characters that were now being portrayed as bottom-of-the-barrel creatures concerned only with bodily pleasures. She effectively destroyed the beautiful images I had created in my mind of these wonderful, rich, multi-layered characters. I was mad! I felt betrayed. I felt the author had somehow betrayed her own characters.

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When the last book in the series came out shortly after, I bought it but I couldn’t read it. I couldn’t erase the images her short stories had placed in my head and couldn’t face the characters I had once loved so fiercely. The book is still on my bookshelf waiting to be read.

We all have different levels of tolerance for different things. I stopped reading The Outlander series midway through the first book because of something Jamie did to his wife. I just couldn’t “face” him after that so I never finished the book and have no intentions of reading the rest of the series. What’s your threshold of tolerance? Have you ever been betrayed by a favorite author or favorite character? What would–in your opinion–make you stop reading a series you loved?

Riddles and Triggers

I was flying high most of the day yesterday. I had finally finished my latest book, one who is a little darker than what I normally write and had been giving me some trouble. I also got the chance spend some time with wonderful friends that evening. By the time I got home I was lighthearted and happy. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.

My husband was clicking through the channels looking for something to watch and for some reason he settled on this movie with Keanu Reeves which I hadn’t ever heard of. I wasn’t watching. I was trying to read my novel and begin the major “fixing up” I’m sure it needs, but I just couldn’t escape the dialogue in the movie; the cursing and the plain ugliness of the plot and the characters. I asked my husband to change it a few times but that didn’t happen. The longer I was exposed to the absolutely horrible, gratuitous, violent, and base content of the movie the more disturbed and angry I became. To the point I couldn’t handle it anymore. I snapped! I went to bed feeling awful and had one of the most restless nights of the year.

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I’m not sure why I react like this to certain movies, or news, or sometimes even music. It’s a real riddle to me. I have a visceral reaction to certain types of violence which can come in many forms; a scene in a movie or show, an angry song, an act of random violence. When other people love horror movies I abhor them. Not because I’m scared, but because most horror movies of today are just an excuse for creative (or not so creative) acts of mind-blowing violence.

When I was younger I used to think that maybe I had been a victim of a violent crime in another life and that these scenes, or music, or certain words had become triggers for memories I didn’t even know I had.

Music can do it as well. If you want to irritate me in the space of a few seconds play some hard rock loud. Something like Metallica or AC/DC makes me feel like scratching somebody’s eyes out in anger. I grew up with metal so why can’t I ever listen to it without feeling a quickly burning wrath inside of me? Another riddle.

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Anybody who knows me also knows I am possibly the least angry person they have ever met. I’m a great believer in second chances and I normally find ways to excuse even the worst of behaviors. Why do these things anger me so then? As a writer I want to believe that maybe it is indeed a reflection of a past life. There’s an interesting premise for a story, right?

What kind of things make you irrationally angry to the point of making your heart hurt? And do you know why that is? Can you help me solve this riddle?