LKH and the Negative Fans

The things I do for this site. I let Candy read and review Cassie Edwards. I dodge her attempts to make me read it to share in the badness that is Desire’s Blossom.

I’m kidding – I love writing on this site like you have no idea. So I took one for the team and read this entire rant/entry from the LKH blog.

Oh my stars, that’s a lot of words. Blue on black, too. My eyes are crossing more than usual.

I do agree with her idea that, yes, if you’re going to be a douche and go to her site and bash her because you don’t like her books, you run the risk of looking like a douche. She gets it, she writes. You don’t like the series. Got it.

The point of most of the comments here at SBTB, where we are brilliant and fair and oh-so-erudite, was that we were collectively disappointed with the direction Anita took as a character, and thus we stopped buying. We are classy about the venue we chose to air our comments, but we still say, ‘OK, this series has descended into sucktown and we aren’t buying it, literally.’ Seems LKH is ok with that.

LKH is right that the concept of the “negative fan” who is obsessive about a book to the point where they’ll do anything to demonstrate how much they hate that book, hate it hate it OMG the rage the seething rage the insanely lucrative rage that causes them to buy the book they hate hate hate with the hate of a thousand suns and a credit card filled with hate, is weird.

I’m with you, ma’am; that is weird. Though, yes, fans are fans, positive or negative, and therefore any publicity is good publicity, yadda yadda. To elicit such a response from a person, preferably one with a wallet with cash in it, can be a good thing in a way.

Where I raised a brow was this part: “There are books that don’t make you think that hard. Books that don’t push you past that comfortable envelope of the mundane.”

Ma’am, I was with you right up to that point. The generosity in your response to others bashing your books leads right into a cotton-wrapped insult about my ability to think intelligently. Way to evaporate my empathy there. Pfft. There it went. Or maybe I’m really stoopid and missed the point of your post. Was there clue cake involved? I’m lost when it comes to the clue cake.

I’m also lost when it comes to the idea that the negatively-obsessed fan doesn’t appreciate the characters as much as she and the adoring ones do. Speaking solely for myself, I was disappointed and stopped reading the series because I liked Anita so much and didn’t feel that her character later in the series matched who she was in the beginning. Many other comments here were in accord regarding Anita’s change, particularly in terms of her feelings of self-conflict. In the beginning, she was wonderfully wrought and so realistic I’d get serious jibblies when I read the books. Two of them are on my keeper shelf because they scared the crap out of me. Now? Two words: glistening orifice (TM Kaite).

So it’s not a question of reality vs. not-as-real-to-me. Anita was real-enough to me that when she changed as a person I didn’t like her as much, and dropped her much as I would someone in my real and actual life who did more harm than good.

Getting smacked in the ass by a rabid fanbase is not fun, no matter if you’re the author with the meanie douche fans trolling your boards, or if you’re the lone voice saying, ‘Man, I read this, and I didn’t like it, and here’s why I’m bummed’ only to have the rabid adoration-bent fans tie you on a spit over a very large flame. I empathize and suspect that a great many writers don’t read too many reviews from sources they don’t trust, even if that distrustful source is their own reader-response area on their website.

But to imply that the reason I don’t like the Blake series is because I’m either (a) dumb or (b) unable or unwilling to accept that the characters should tell me what they want to do as much as they tell Ms. Hamilton, is at least insulting and at most completely and utterly daffy.

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  1. 1
    Nonny says:

    I tend to agree… though, the other thing that annoyed me in the post was her essentially saying, “The sales back me up, nyah nyah nyah.”

    Mmmhmm. Okay, it’s a point, but it doesn’t mean everything. I know several people personally who keep buying her books because they hope that she will regain her sanity and return to Old School Anita. I have to wonder how many readers like such will take a look at her blog post and say, “Well, fuck you too, bitch, I’ll get it from the library.”

  2. 2
    Lisa says:

    Obviously, I am dumber than dumb, because I don’t appreciate the poorly written characters, sex, and complete lack of a real plot. Seriously, I want to send Anita and her harem to sex therapy because the sex bores me to tears. As I said in another blog, if my husband made love to me the way LKH writes her sex scenes, we’d be in sex therapy every week.

    But after Obsidian Butterfly, every Anita book became interchangeable and exactly the same, as evidenced by the fact that I read two, and don’t remember the titles or what they were about. I don’t waste my time, money or INTELLIGENT brain on reading reviews anymore, because the atttitude LKH has taken regarding her “negative readers” has made me realize she is never going to change these books to the treasures they were in the beginning.

  3. 3

    I agree with you about nodding my head up to the point where she said we weren’t bright enough to get it.  Then it was all over for me.

    I’ll get Harlequin from the library ‘cause I like Edward—a lot—and I’m hoping the book won’t be a total clusterfnck.  Literally.  But it will be the first LKH I’ve read in over three years ‘cause the series began to slip away into something I didn’t want to bother reading.  Not a hate comment, just an observation that life’s too short to waste on bad scotch or bad books.

    Thanks for taking the hits for us, Candy and Sarah.

  4. 4
    Merry says:

    I stopped reading LKH’s blog long ago when the posts started mirroring her books, i.e. long and rambling, making little sense. I would absolutely have to agree that I’m offended by the idea that it is not “OK” for me to be smart and dislike her books. However, I’m not a person who needs to go out of my way to say so in amazon reviews or on a message board somewhere. I just log my displeasure at where the series went by … well, not buying the books anymore.

    Kim Harrison filled the gap with her wonderful series. Not as emotionally gripping, but very well written.

  5. 5
    R*Belle says:

    I can honestly say that I never read any of her books, but I certainly will not start now.  Any author that writes a post that starts with “Dear Negative Readers” is not somebody I want to send money to.  I thought part of the point of reading was to be engaged by the book—to generate discussion.  I understand not caring for hateful fans, but she should take the high road and not step into the middle of the fray.  That is only going to make things worse.  If she can’t take the heat she should get out of the kitchen and take her message boards down.

  6. 6
    dl says:

    Yeah, her attitude about sales was probably the final straw for me (along with that sucky Minstral’s Kiss).

    Like Nonny said…“Well, fuck you too bitch, I’ll get it from the Library (if I bother).”

    My word…history73.

  7. 7
    Robin says:

    I just bought used copies of the first four books in this series (I know—I have strict instructions not to read beyond Obsidian Butterfly) based on the last discussion of LKH here.

    I tripped over the exact same sentence Sarah did—up to that point, I thought, yeah, she has a point about readers who go out of their way to dog on the series.  But OTOH, as is clear to me from Hamilton’s own attitude about the series (the characters are so real, the situations so complex and the issues so important, etc.), one of the reasons authors write long series is to buid in staunch reader loyalty, the kind of loyalty, in fact, that compels a reader to buy the next book in a series even knowing it might disappoint.

    I understand that kind of reader desire to see a series you love regain the tracks—I’ve felt it with another series I think has diminished recently, and I know how hard it is to refrain from hoping that THIS ONE will be the fix (I now buy that series used, though, in audio so I don’t have to fight as much with the copyediting).  I understand how readers might feel that the kindest cut would be for the author to stop writing the series totally, just as I understand how the author wants to keep it going as long as possible.

    I doubt there’s an author alive who doesn’t feel that his or her work is superior and its fans extra special intelligent—but thinking that and saying it are two different things.  If the vast majority of Hamilton’s fans are so behind her and the series, no need for defensiveness, right?  Because really, that’s how her rant struck me—as completely defensive and more about her need to exorcize disparaging comments from her psyche. 

    It’s ironic to me that series are so popular these days, but that there seems to be little understanding for the “betrayed” series reader.  And yet, it seems to me that betrayal is very much appropriate for readers who have been cultivated as emotionally loyal to a series like Anita Blake or Merry Gentry or Harry Potter, for that matter.  And while it may not be the most rational emotional response, sometimes its base is rational—that is, when an author breaks the rules he or she has set for characters and situations without regard for internal logic or basic rules of plotting or character development.  Because what loyal reader doesn’t want to remain loyal?  Sure it may not be the author’s “fault” that a series changes, but the author may play a role in turning off readers.  But I guess no author wants to think that some of those super intelligent special readers might be the ones reacting negatively to some of those changes.

  8. 8
    kardis says:

    I too thought that the first part of the post was fine. But the accusation that these “negative readers” needed books that don’t make them think? I think (oops there’s something I’m not supposed to want to do)I’ve never found her books mentally engaging- even when I enjoyed them. I don’t find it insulting so much as weird. So much of that post was weird, actually, I think (damn, again!) I may have brained my damage. Now then, I believe I read something in this post about cake…mmm, cake.

  9. 9
    Maura says:

    Amidst the ego driven rant, she makes quite a few good points.  Basically, if you no longer like her books stop buying them and find something you like better.  Frankly I am tired of the whining.  Sure her books are not the same as they were in the beginning.  If they get to the point where it’s too much I will stop reading, but I certainly won’t blast all over the internet about it.  There are too many good books out there for me to read!

  10. 10
    dl says:

    I’m a reader, so totally not the rabid fangirl type…except for SB, rarely read or post on message boards.  Just pop into author sites for new release date info (although…aaagggh! many don’t update).

    But, in the interest of honesty R*Belle…I think LKH has attempted all of your suggestions.  It’s my understanding she rarely reads her own message boards, never participates, and usually ignores those critical of her writing (I really don’t think she cares, maybe the voices in her head are louder than her fans). But personal rudeness and attacks on her family, hubby & kid, are almost guaranteed to send her into a fanrant.  Awhile back the personal comments were particularly nasty, and I think her boards were down for awile…maybe, I really don’t follow the drama of it all (or anyone else).

    But then again, she has some really strange fans…

  11. 11

    Speaking of negativity and Anita, here’s a link to “Chris’s Invincible Super Blog” where he takes on issue #3 of the new Anita Blake comic.

    http://the-isb.blogspot.com/2006/12/annotated-anita-blake-vampire-hunter.html

    This is not inspiring me to run out and buy the comics version of books I enjoyed.  I prefer my vision of Jean-Claude in my head to what an artist envisions.  And the rat king?  Not at all what I want with my morning coffee.

  12. 12
    Robyn says:

    The generosity in your response to others bashing your books leads right into a cotton-wrapped insult about my ability to think intelligently.

    Exactly. Although it’s difficult to feel insulted by someone who wants to buy her characters Christmas presents; I’m starting to feel sorry for her.

  13. 13
    JulieT says:

    It was the utter lack of a plot in the later books that made me quit reading. I don’t mind characters developing. I don’t even (much) mind them developing in ways I don’t like. I get that they’re the author’s work, not mine, and it’s the author’s right to develop them as the author pleases. I even like crazy, kinky threesome sex. Yesiree, give me some of that in any book. No complaints at all.

    But her first books were so GOOD in terms of plot. Really good mysteries, aside from all the sex and the vampires and werewolves and other freakiness. Just. Good. Mysteries.

    Now they remind me of porno movies that have no plot, where everything other than a sex scene is meaningless dialogue that makes no sense and it’s all a jumble of naked limbs and glistening orifices.

    I’d buy a new book of hers that contained a good mystery, regardless of whether Anita was her old conflicted self or her new sex crazed one. I just wanna read a good STORY, darn it.

  14. 14
    Arethusa says:

    I’m sorry, I lost all sympathy for her when she more or less stated that I was stupid and THAT was why I don’t like her books anymore. What, I have to start dreaming about Jean-Claude and searching for his wish list on Amazon before I can truly appreciate her Great Works?

    Bitch, please.

  15. 15
    megan says:

    I haven’t been over there in a LOOOONG time, but its nice to know some things never change.

    Also?  Is she kidding with the implication that her books make you think?  The only thing her series makes me think anymore is, “I wonder how much it would hurt if I poured bleach directly onto my eyeballs?”

    But I will agree my life has gotten better since I quit reading, hoping it would get better again.  I have now gone 2 years and it feels great.

  16. 16
    Josie says:

    I thought she made a couple of good points but… I’m sorry, I kind of can’t get passed that comment about buying Christmas presents for her characters. I wonder what she bought Anita? A super size box of extra large condoms? Extra large because, well lets face it, entrance to the harem seems to demand a BIG DONG.

    I am one of the many disappointed readers of LKH who, as she so politely suggested, just stopped reading. It was tough, but I’m glad I finally broke free… Especially now after reading her little hints about the Harlequin and hearing that there are 3 more poor bastards joining the harem. I just know it’s going to be Edward damn it.

    Darlene that blog was very funny… Thanks for sharing.

  17. 17

    Why does it always come back to lacking intelligence?

    It’s like on an anime forum I posted on, where I expressed the opinion that Winry Rockbell is a dingbat. Another poster mentioned something about it having to do with inadequacies on my part, people needing to LEARN, etc. etc.

    I replied that nobody has to learn anything, that’s the beauty of opinions. If I think she’s a dingbat, I’m not insecure, I just think she’s a dingbat.

    People are allowed to not like something—they shouldn’t have to be insulted or flamed if they express that opinion in a polite and constructive manner. If they’re jerks about it, well, you reap what you sow.

    As for a decline in quality—I always wonder, when I see an author get up in arms like that, if the defensiveness stems from their enacting their “no edit” clause and realizing they really did need an editor.

  18. 18
    Kim says:

    I will admit, I’ve never read anything by LKH and I’ve never been inclined to read anything of hers, either. Is it possible to be even less inclined now?

    First, there was that eye-poppingly painful turquoise on black entry… the headache’s receding a bit now, thank God.

    Then I hit the whole ‘no one else can possibly write as complex and compelling characters as I do’ aspect. What’s that all about? Somehow, I don’t think my brain’s been turned to mush by Jude Devereaux or any of those other ‘dumbed down’ writers. No lacking in self-esteem there, huh?

    WTF with the Christmas presents, though? I’ll admit, when I’m writing, my characters become real to me – in that I talk about them at dinner, or my daughter will ask me what so-and-so did today. And I do miss them when I’ve finished. But then I go on to my next project. I don’t go shopping for them. I thought my talking dialogue (sometimes with a British accent, no less) out loud was nutty. Yeesh… I can just see me admiring a cashmere sweater that would look just divine on the hero of my first book. Where are the guys with the butterfly nets when you need them.

    Just my two cents.

    my word ver – nuclear 22. I like it.

  19. 19

    I have to admit I’ve never read a LKH book and I’m sure it’s not because my IQ is too small.  Anyway, I was intrigued enough to go over and read what she wrote.  I have only one question—what the devil is the arduer?

  20. 20
    Anon says:

    Out of curiosity, which are the two on your Keeper Shelf? (Obsidian Butterfly is on mine. Edward! But I haven’t been reading regularly since then.)

  21. 21
    Jaye Patrick says:

    I got the impression, during that long and excruciating rant, that she’s aware of how misdirected the books have become, given how much time she spent on her explanation. It’s an issue, I believe, she’s been struggling with for some time. (Also the fact that books are doorstops, as well, because she ‘wants to give readers value for money’.)

    She’s been writing pot-boilers, and won’t admit it.

    I’ve read the boards and it seems like the more intelligent readers are leaving. Those who are left bitch and argue with one another.

    I’d give her kudos for staying with the characters and with what is happening to them, but it’s time LKH took control. As a writer she controls the story, not the characters. I mean come on! Buying prezzos for them? Nope. Sorry. That is some f*cked up thinking.

    I agree with LKH that the arduer is here to stay; it was part of Anita’s evolution. I do not agree that the sex should be the major plot point. (Hell, change Anita’s name to Vegemite. Why? Because she’ll spread for anyone.) It can be a part of a greater story, but LKH is so enraptured by… hmmm… that’s probably a little too personal… then again… no, don’t go there.

    Actually, LKH has mentioned that Anita’s relationship changed with her own…

    …uhh, the fact is that LKH needs to be rid of (not necessarily kill) some of the characters and accept the pain (Asher banished? Nathaniel jailed?). The books need a better copyeditor, the porn needs to return to sensuality or toned down, and crimes need to be solved!

    Oh, should Anita (aka Vegemite) jump Edward’s or Olaf’s bones, then I will know LKH is writing for herself and her most fanatic fan base, and not for those of us who so enjoyed the books, and never, ever, buy them again.

    Okay. Rant over. Getting back into my box.

  22. 22
    SB Sarah says:

    To add to the fun of Darlene’s links, check this page out: the image of Anita on the wiki entry for Anita Blake?

    Looks just like Gillian Anderson, no?

  23. 23
    desertwillow says:

    Okay just yesterday I resolved to give up on LKH and never read her stuff or think about her again. Here I am breaking it. Sigh…

    Here I go:

    I thought plenty when I read her books – I thought – how did this woman ever get published? Then I thought, ‘how does this bitch get away with writing this sloppy crap? Then I felt challenged – I thought – this is crap – Hey! I can write crap!!

    I’ll admit I read up to Cerulean Sins and the first three MG’s and had fun. They were fun; they were escapist; they were imaginative.

    But LKH’s books have never been that good when judged against other writers. They were mediocre at best with holes in the plots you could drive a fleet of 18-wheelers through. Even OB with Edward playing a key role was a big yawn. I can think of several examples spread across all that I’ve read where I said to myself – this is stupid.

    Intellectually, her books have never been – intellectual.

    Now she writes sloppy, creepy porn and is getting rich. And she’s getting a lot of attention that she does not deserve because she’s able to get a lot of people riled up. And she’s an even worse writer today than she was when she started.

    Now she gets to call the people who are buying and promoting her books stupid and negative as if a person actually needs to have any kind of education to read her stuff. And she’s able to continue to write badly edited, badly written crap.

    Does that make her the Paris Hilton of the publishing world?

    If we ignore her will she go away?

    I’m done now and tired of this woman completely. She’s to strange. I do hope I offended only the right people.

    I’m going to cleanse my brain by listing some authors that are better writers (some by enormous leaps and bounds; others by pretty big leaps) than LKH and they treat their readers with more respect (I don’t even like a few of them but they’re still better). Here goes:

    Maggie Shayne
    Christine Feehan
    Nora Roberts
    Sherrilyn Kenyon (Did I get her name right?)
    Cheyenne McCray
    Kim Harrison
    Karen Marie Moning
    Neil Gaiman
    Christopher Moore
    Arturo Perez-Reverte
    J.R. Ward
    Jennifer Crusie
    Emma Holly
    Linda Winstead-Jones

    There, I feel better. Hope has been restored.

    why89???

  24. 24
    desertwillow says:

    Oh Hell!

    I forgot to mention:
    Charlaine Harris
    Susan Krinard
    MaryJanice Davidson

  25. 25
    Liz Burton says:

    I must admit a sense of deja vu as I scrolled through Ms. Hamilton’s tirade. It read very much like the one Anne Rice posted at Amazon a while back when some of her loyal fans had the temerity to suggest an editor might be in order for various reasons, including the abysmal pacing of her then-latest book.

    There’s an unfortunate tendency for popular writers to believe their publicist’s hype. Reading the ads in the industry magazines that talk about how superb their writing is and what a blockbuster every new title is, they become brainwashed into thinking it’s all true.

    I suspect the human tendency to coast when it becomes clear the money will flow whether the quality of the product is up to par or not might be a factor. I also suspect that the resulting negative feedback inspires a response like that one because, deep in their soul, the writer in question KNOWS they’ve sold out.

    Any good writer’s characters are real to them. They will never be real to the readers otherwise. It’s also true not all characters are going to resonate with all readers. However, when a character turns in a direction that is so far off the mark readers can no longer recognize them as that literary friend they had before, the writer has failed no matter how “real” they may be to him or her.

  26. 26
    Sphinx says:

    With regard to LKH’s comment of “I don’t need you, I have your money”—keep up that attitude and your fans will sure as hell cure that little paradox.

  27. 27
    Anonymosity says:

    “You mean you don’t like 300 pages worth of gratuitous, meaningless sex, little to no plot, and sloppy writing?”

    “No. No, I don’t.”

    “Clearly, your taste should be called in to question. Fine. Go read mindless pap that doesn’t creatively challenge your ideas about romance and sentence structure.”

    “Oh, okay.”

     

    Oh, and I <3 MaryJanice Davidson. She’s hee-larious. I know some people don’t like that her books aren’t plot driven, but I find them so lovable that I don’t mind. And her blogs are great.

  28. 28
    Courtney says:

    Yes, that comment about the readers basically being stupid irked me.

    What got me more, was then going on to say that all other books have cardboard characters only in place to move along a plot. Wait. What? Because last I knew, most romance novels were almost primarily about character and character development. No?

    I was thinking I’d read her latest just to see how it goes, but now I’m not so sure. I would have borrowed it from a friend anyway, unfortunately, the series has dropped out of my auto-buy list.

  29. 29
    TheADDAvenger says:

    I really don’t understand why people are still buying her books when no one likes them anymore.  I originally thought these sales were all from fans who forgot they preordered their books online but that can’t be right, can it?

    I also don’t understand is why she thinks her books are so intelligent.  I felt dumber after reading Danse Macabre than I did before I looked at the first page.  Besides, the lack of plot, I didn’t remember a single significant character developing point from that book.  She had sex with so many people, I don’t remember who they are and I can’t tell them apart anymore!  What progress did Anita make in this book?  How was she a different person at the end of 300+ pages?  If someone could tell me what this book did for Anita as a character besides making her into a total slut, I will take back every negative thing I’ve said about it. 

    Why do artists NEVER LISTEN to their fanbase?  Why do they think they’re too good to for constructive critisism?  You’re fans are the ones that are paying your bills, NOT your publicist, editor, shrink, whoever. 
    It’s very obvious that she’s writing for her own amusement and not for her fans.  The fact that she never looks at her message boards astonishes me. 

    After all the whining on her blog, the thing that pissed me off the most was her complaining about the ardeur.  If she, Anita and an exponentially growing number of her fans don’t like the ardeur, why doesn’t she do something about it?! 

    I’m sorry sweetie, all christmas shopping aside, these people are figments of YOUR IMAGINATION (unless you’re in need a large dose of lithium).  They are not real.  YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR OWN WRITING.  I don’t believe that you think the ardeur is a problem, because if it were, you would’ve fixed it.  Your complaining that the characters and the stories do what they want and you have no control is utter bullshit.  That is the biggest excuse of laziness and inattention I have ever heard.

    You’re writing is not a picasso, it’s not art.  There are dozens of writers out there that are making Anita Blake knock-off books at this very moment.  Their doing a better job at the Vampire Hunter genre than you!

    You had a good thing in the beginning, why would you change it?  What would happen if after 20 years or so Tampax decided they were no longer making tampons because they didn’t feel like it, and instead they were going to make oven mitts?  The tampon’s character development is moving away from the bathroom and more towards the kitchen?!  Well guess what, no ones gonna buy Tampax products anymore.  Good-bye New York Times Bestseller list, Hello bookstore clearance bucket.

  30. 30
    eggs says:

    I love LKH’s blog.  I check it every day for updates.  She’s batshit crazy, and that makes for some fun reading.  I do not, however, buy her books anymore.  I bought books 1-4? and loved them.  Then I picked up book 12 (Incubus Dreams) at one of those 75% off book stands.  I went to wiki to catch up on the plot so I could enjoy the book and found a reference to ‘the infamous scene’ on page whatever.  Naturally, I flicked straight to page whatever to find out what the infamous scene was.  There, I found Anita, Richard and Jean Claude going at it hammer and tongs in one of the least sexy threesomes I have ever read.  In the last book I’d read, Anita was still refusing to go all the way with Richard, now she was some kind of double adapter.

    FWIW, I like sex plenty fine.  I read erotica and sometimes even straight porn, but this sex was … just not sexy.  It had a grubby sniggering schoolboy porn feel about it.  So I would never read LKH for the sex.  And once I found out where she was taking her characters, I decided not to read the rest of the books, either, kind of preserving my original enjoyment in aspic. 

    So I guess I’m not one of her ‘negative fans’ because I stopped buying the books when I realized I didn’t like where she took them.  Just as she herself suggests we do.  I do, however, consider myself a LKH fan, as I enjoy the blog so much.  I don’t care how long she writes the series for, but I hope she keeps it up with the blog.

    (I hope this post doesn’t come through twice – there was some glith with the password).

    eggs.

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