Books · Reading · Writing

Fantasy isn’t literature.

“People who write fantasy and science fiction, like you [Brandon Sanderson], J. K. Rowling and many others… you aren’t authors; you’re writers. And these books are definitely not literature because they’re not real.”

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion on the merits of children’s literature and how reading and a sense of curiosity and wonder should always be nurtured. The wonderful Brandon Sanderson – author of the Mistborn series –  was there, and he spoke about his own experience with books and writing, and how – as a kid – he only became a reader when his teacher introduced him to fantasy. When all was said and done, one crusty critic blatantly told Sanderson that he doesn’t consider him or the likes of J. K. Rowling to be proper authors, just writers, and fantasy, science-fiction… that’s not literature, simply because it isn’t real.

A fantasy writer myself and a huge fan of Rowling and Sanderson’s work, I was seething. How dare he? But then Sanderson gave such a gratifying answer that left everyone clapping and the man looking around in defeat. He questioned this obsession with reality, what’s so wrong about things that aren’t real, what’s so wrong about imagining things? After all, there were many things that we currently have that weren’t real at some point, and would never have been if man hadn’t thought about them and imagined to be real. That power, that sense of wonder, is important to hold on to. Of course, he didn’t answer in so few words, but that was the gist of it. Continue reading “Fantasy isn’t literature.”

Reading · Writing

Don’t read my book!

Yes, you heard me. I don’t want anyone reading  the book I worked so hard to write. Not indefinitely, of course, but at least until I correct my horrendous writing mistakes. There are two reasons I avoid reading my books after I’ve published them:  1) I don’t want to find that I’ve missed some awful typos (like writing “nut” instead of “but), and 2) I don’t want to see how bad my writing is.

Sigh.

When they tell you that a writer is their own worst critic, they are definitely not joking. Seeing the words I wrote nearly three years ago makes me cringe. Heck, seeing the words I wrote five months ago makes me cringe. On one hand, that’s a good thing because it means I’m improving and my writing is becoming better and better, but on the other, it means I don’t like anything I published in the past. I’m almost embarrassed by it. Continue reading “Don’t read my book!”

Writing

If you know me, you owe me an excellent review.

My face when I get a good review.
My face when I get a good review.

Authors love reviews. We really, really do. Call it vanity, call it self-indulgence, but we really like it when people sing the praises of our books. At the same time, we feel somewhat afraid of them. I’ve received an okay number of reviews, and fortunately most of them were good, though two or three have managed to make cracks in my cocoon of review-induced happiness.

The best reviews are those written by complete strangers who you’ve never spoken to before, those who love your book  even though they’re not under  any obligation to be nice to you. Such reviews always fill me with such joy. On the other hand you have the reviews that make you feel as if someone wrenched your heart out and stepped on it. Then finally you have reviews from friends and family, which have to be good by default. In my previous post I wrote about how movie ratings are a lie. This applies to books too, where friends and family members are the biggest “liars”. Usually. Continue reading “If you know me, you owe me an excellent review.”

General · Writing

Oh reviews, you tickle me pink!

Reviews are important. There’s no point denying just how much a review affects us, regardless of whether it is positive or negative. Even if the review is generally positive, we still find ourselves paying attention to that very last less-than-good remark the reviewer included as an afterthought. The “If only the author had done this, the story would’ve turned out much better”, or “It’s a good book, but [include bad remark here]”.

That said, however, I actually feel surprised whenever a complete stranger reads my book and compliments it. It’s as if I cannot believe that all that praise is for my obscure novel. I almost want to tell the reviewer, “Hey, are you absolutely sure you’re not reviewing the wrong book?” Haha.

Continue reading “Oh reviews, you tickle me pink!”