Every now and again, readers will interact with authors online and kerfuffles ensue. I know, it’s so rare, but it happens. No, really.
And sometimes in the course of these festive occasions, you’ll see commentary from a reader who is so incensed, so horrified by what an author has written that there is Epic Flounce and a vow to never read or buy that author’s books again!
(Pretend there was a really impressive echo feature on that last sentence, kthx.)
I usually blink at these flounces because it takes a LOT for me to reach a point where I am unable to see past my impression of an author to the point where my reaction interferes with my reading that author’s book. And yet many, many readers online have vowed publicly to never spend another penny on an author whose opinion, even an opinion expressed thoughtfully, is too distasteful to them – though who knows if their actual purchase history follows through on that threat.
As a result, I know many authors struggle with how much of themselves to reveal on their websites, with many individuals refraining from discussing politics or news or favorite books or even television shows for fear of alienating their readership. I know more than one author who hesitated to mention whom she was voting for in the last election, because many readers see the romance community online as a politics-free zone.
Then there are authors like Suzanne Brockmann who not only wear their pride-colors proudly but donate proceeds to fund raise on behalf of her chosen causes by donating the proceeds from a recent novel – a novel featuring a gay protagonist pair. Some readers may be turned off, but there’s no mistaking Brockmann’s position. Even recently, she’s been most clear about her position on the subject, and how she feels people may react to her writing, and a whole lot of people were shocked and turned off by Brockmann’s reaction, particularly in that she assigned homophobic motivation to those who were upset at the plot of her latest book.
As I said earlier, it takes a hell of a lot for me to reach that line of Never-Buy, where I can’t see past the conviction of the author to lose myself in that author’s writing. So let’s visit the other end of that spectrum. I’ll be honest: this author’s website tripped right over my Never-Buy line.
However, let me be clear: it’s not a question of the fact that I disagree mightily with her opinion. I do, most holy shit heartily. But I know many people who do not see the same way I do when it comes to gay rights and homosexuality. I care for some people who see the idea of gayness in a diametric opposition to my own position, and when we discuss do discuss it, they try (I hope!) understand my opinion, and I try to understand theirs, even though I disagree so very very much. It’s not like disagreeing with me lands you on my shit list for life.
What I find most objectionable here is the manner in which the opinion is expressed in this particular instance. Or, more succinctly, the flying leap into the pool of WTF that this author has chosen to employ on her professional website.
Naturally, my biblically based beliefs include “one man, one woman”
relationships. The bible states clearly that homosexuals will not enter the
kingdom of heaven. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is crystal clear about God’s
feelings about this. Contrary to the propaganda, I believe that
homosexuality is a choice, like stealing, like drinking, like drugs.
Addictive, sure, but a choice, one that can be overcome.
Making gay marriage legal won’t overcome their guilt, depression and
confusion. It won’t take away the pain they live with. So many children
are raped and grow up thinking they are gay as a result. Many come from
broken or dysfunctional homes. It’s the unadvertised truth of
homosexuality. Take a poll some time and see if it’s true….
I don’t share my personal beliefs with many as I’m a writer, and a romance one at that. This is what goes into my books, though. This is part of who I am.
Taking any extreme, whether you’re Brockmann or Dawn, yields some consequences, and the result depends on the reader.
But when the opinion is backed up by statements like “raped children are gay” and followed up with “take a poll…and see if it’s true,” the limit of my ability to see the narrative in spite of the author has been reached. Oh, how it has been reached.
It’s not even about royalties with me. Because Dawn says, “This is what goes into my books, though. This is part of who I am,” I don’t want to read her books, because I would be constantly wondering if any element of a book that rang oddly was a slight against homosexuality or if the subtext of any scene or thematic arc was a diatribe against gays.
The experience of reading this author’s website has tainted my ability to read beyond the author’s name to the story within the cover. I can agree or disagree with an author’s opinions and still read their books; I’ve done it before.
But when the manner in which the opinion is conveyed is so truly repulsive to me, I’m done. The line of Never-Buy has been crossed.
Where’s your line? What trips it? If you don’t want to be specific, that’s fine, but when dealing with efforts toward public branding of an author’s name online, where’s the line of Never-Buy for you as a reader?