I love my readers. I really do. I love talking to readers. I love hearing their stories too: how they were in a relationship like A&J’s or how my books make them laugh or make them cry. How reading my stories can make a hospital waiting room bearable or offer company on a lonely, rainy night.
I’m a professional writer of commercial fiction. I don’t have any illusions about my role in the greater scheme of things. But if I can provide a few hours of intelligent amusement and entertainment in someone’s busy, stress-filled life, I am content.
And the fact that I can earn a comfortable living doing what I love makes me patient with the occasional rude and intrusive fan. But I have to say, I do see an increase in the number of rude and intrusive online interactions.
That’s not the only reason why I hired a virtual assistant – I hired a virtual assistant mostly because I couldn't BEGIN to keep up with everything – but it is one of the reasons.
Like this letter I got a few months ago:
I've been reading one of your books, which I'm enjoying a lot. Out of curiosity, are you a woman writing under a nom de plume? There is a similarity in your writing to another author I read. I've had the experience before reading m/m fiction written by female authors. The gender doesn't bother me at all, but I prefer it if it's out in the open.
Many thanks from a fan!
Ugh. So offensive on so many levels. I’d say misogynistic creeps like this guy/gal are one of the main reasons I’ve refused to drop the veil.
How is it even remotely your business?
But it’s the smarmy, chummy hey there! Just curious about something personal and private that clearly you don’t want to share but I prefer if it’s out in the open.
Oh! Well, heck, if YOU prefer it…*splutter*
The offensive part is the pretending to be a reader, let alone a fan. I’ve had several fans make the connection to Diana or Colin or Briony – in fact, so many that I have the bad habit of thinking everyone knows now. And that’s my mistake. But the vague “one of your books” and “another author I read.” It’s a fishing expedition.
Well, people are curious about other people. That’s why People magazine sells millions of copies of what amounts to inane gossip. That’s okay. I understand curiosity.
But this: m/m fiction written by female authors. The gender doesn't bother me at all
Sure. Except even though it doesn’t matter AT ALL, you really, really, REALLY want to know. So much so that you’re writing a complete stranger and asking personal, clearly private information.
Coz if I’m using a pen name, it's not an accident, right?
I started this journey so long ago – nearly twenty years ago now – with my original point being if you couldn't tell from the work, it obviously wasn’t relevant. Oh, if I were writing memoir or autobiography, if I were online with a fake photo and posting about my struggles or life as a gay man, sure. I could see it might be relevant. But I have said from the start I'm using a pen name and I am not writing my own experiences. I write mystery, fantasy, adventure and category romance. Sometimes with gay characters. Sometimes not. I write genre fiction. How is which restroom I use relevant?
The only people who want – need -- it to be relevant are bigots. They are outraged and insulted at the idea, but this is the truth. They are prejudiced. Biased. And if I won’t give them that crucial piece of the puzzle, they don’t know what to think. They can’t be sure and it makes them crazy.
And it makes them very angry. Because as much as they try to rationalize it, they know in a dark and moldy corner of their heart, that they are indeed exactly what they hate and resent in others.
But it’s different coz it’s them. And I’m the bad guy.
I despise them. And yet…I know that it usually isn’t fueled by malevolence. Some of it really is a product of being a reader in the Age of Entitlement. For some readers the books, the stories, aren’t enough. They want a piece of the author too. Attention, acknowledgment, recognition. And honestly, I love interacting with readers. I am happy to recognize and acknowledge readers and the role they play in my life. I have become close friends with many readers. I really do love some of my readers.
But. But in the end all I really owe any reader is the best book that I can write at any given moment. That’s it. That is the sum total. Buy my books or don’t buy them. The books are the only thing for sale.