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Writers and Readers don’t always Understand Each Other

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This post from Rebecca Bryn resonated with me because I recently received a couple of critical reviews of Strongbow’s Wife. In one case the writer of the review kindly e-mailed me pointing out a couple of minor period details that I got wrong. The other claimed to have had his faith in the book destroyed by the appearance of a minor  character who aspired to write ‘poetry in the Greek fashion’. Impossible in Medieval Britain according to my critic. Trouble is he was a real person who did indeed write epic poetry emulating Homer.
Rebecca is definitely one of my favourite authors, though I have yet to read The Silence of the Stones. I guess it’s time I did.

via Unpleasant and juvenile? Bad reviews -2

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5 Comments

  1. Rebecca Bryn says:

    Definitely time you did, Frank 🙂 It’s a bit frustrating when readers question things you know are true, but not everyone has the time to check your facts. Again, it’s down to trust, I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Phil Huston says:

    Barbara Park sold well over 60 million books. I think she’s easily the best flash fiction novelist of the 20th Century. The entire series of Junie B. Jones are textbooks of genre condensation. And her comment, to the people who busted on her dialogue of a 5 year old as not being perfect and teaching young readers the proper way to speak was (and I paraphrase here) – The people who don’t get the difference between a story and an English textbook, I don’t have time for that conversation.
    People who ignore the story looking for a reason to snipe to be sure you know what rung of the ladder you’re on with them should carry no weight. I don’t want to be a travel guide wherever a character may go. Here’s a warehouse in LA, or a football stadium in small town Oklahoma, or a bridge I’ve never been to in Cambridge. It’s the conversations and experiences to be had there that resonate, not the exact color of brick. That’s all like looking for out of focus palm trees in the distance of a scene that’s supposed to be Michigan and taking it seriously. We should climb into a book with a suspension of disbelief, and until that is ruined by something beyond our ability to follow along, it is what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • franklparker says:

      I take your point, Phil, but there is always going to be someone who knows that warehouse or the bridge in Cambridge (Mass. or UK? There are a lot of bridges in Cambridge UK!) I think, too, that for historical fiction it is important to try to be as accurate as possible with one’s portrayal of the period, rather than perpetuate too many myths! I was particularly irritated by the man who assumed the myth that people in England in the Middle Ages had no knowledge of Classical Greek was true and that my character who did have such knowledge was unbelievable.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Phil Huston says:

        Life is too short for those people. However, if you know a female who went to Cambridge in the late 70s/early 80s who would like to talk about it across the pond, send them my way! Maybe I’ll fix that whole bridge bit!

        Like

  3. Sha'Tara says:

    I’m not an author so I can’t be sure but I think that authors, like entertainers, need to develop a particular kind of thick skin.

    Liked by 1 person

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