Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Way To Turn Off Readers, man!

Okay, so I just tried to read Anne Rice's Angel Time and wow, I got as far as 118 pages before I simply had to stop.

Never before have I ever felt so much that a book was preaching to me. It was a heavy, ham fisted, 'correct-your-life-before-it's-too-late' morality tale that genuinely almost borderline offended me.

Apologies to Wendy Howard and Nicole Hadaway whom I know liked the book but, man, if I had known that Anne Rice had changed her style so dramatically, I'd have steered clear.

(Yep, this is one unique post in this blog, I know).

The thing is I was a Catholic but chose to become an athiest.

Too much didn't add up and you don't need to be a Christian to follow the ONLY rule worth following from The Bible :

'Treat Others As You Would Like To Be Treated.'

That's it! It's that simple! The rest is circumstantial.

So Anne Rice wrote The Vampire Chronicles, a series that (deservedly so) brought her world wide acclaim, fame and fortune, a group of dark yet beautiful vampiric tales that took you somewhere and allowed you to experience a real yearning, deep, soulful, immortal fictional landscape.

Then there was Memnoch The Devil. A novel basically about a conversation. Lestat and the Devil have a chat....

.....and that's about it.

That's the whole novel.

I gave up on that one too.

It, unfortunately now, seems like a strange and befuddled 'prequel' to the sanctimonous, holier-than-thou Angel Time.

The book starts well.

Asks big questions, sets up an intriguing protagonist. We get to learn about a sweet, healthy, determined past shrouded in brutal tragedy and are drawn in. We are on the same page and we like it.....

.....then there's time travel, monks, 13th century Norwich, battling Jews and devout Catholics, prayer upon prayer upon prayer and.....

....I didn't get much further.

So, my question (no, the whole post is not to slag off the book) is; writers should write for themselves, but should you hold anything back? Show some reserve?

Things that turn YOU on as a writer will hopefully turn on others......

......however, how far do you go to present a fictional story WITHOUT seemingly thrusting your religious, metaphorical, anaylitical, whatever, thoughts and beliefs upon the reader, almost without warning? And forcefully?! Not offering them for debate.....

I got no warning with Rice.

Though her prose is infamously heavy and often without capable editing (how often should you explain how a candle's flame flickers in the wind??), I have always loved her work. This book not only bored me but I honestly wanted a refund.

So I asked myself; have I ever pushed my own beliefs upon my audience in one of my stories? Was I too obvious in displaying my lack of belief in a God? Were any of my subjects palatable but my treatment of them distasteful?

I throw the question out; should you, as a writer, preach wholeheartedly as a storyteller?

(PS : No disrespect meant to any faiths and beliefs. I may not believe but I always respect.)


  1. Wow, man! I just stopped by to say hello and I find this! She got you all stirred up, didn't she?
    This was a heavy post which deserves a serious response, but I'm not sure I'm in the frame of mind for that. This week has sucked pretty bad, and all that I want to do right now is grill some hamburgers and wash them down with a few beers.
    I will say that I tend to want to tell a good story that will appeal to most readers...without alienating most of them. I like the good versus evil stuff, but I don't want my readers to put the book down and find another, you know?
    One of these beers tonight will be for you, brother... :)


  2. She really did, James. I HATED that book!

    Raise a glass to me, my vamplit brother!