Lovely Feedback, Beautiful Plumage

26 Apr

Goodness, if you want to attract traffic to your bjournal, talk about Game of Thrones. Seriously.

Some lovely, lovely feedback about Imogen Shroud lately, I’m just so grateful for it all. For all of it. I’m grateful for … oh, I give up. I’m a writer, you know!

My favourite bit from the latest review: “I did notice a little odd punctuation in the first chapter…” Maybe I’m just a huge self-deprecation fan (and also a bit weird) (“A bit?”), but from now on whenever I talk about Imogen Shroud I’m going to preface everything with, “Well, the punctuation is a little odd in the first chapter, but…”

Seriously though, a lovely, thoughtful review. That’s what matters to me, I’d rather get a one star review where the reviewer has taken the time to write why they disliked the book, than a five star review that’s just “Great book!”–although with that said, I’d also greatly appreciate that “Great book!” review. I certainly don’t want to sound like I wouldn’t, because I would, but to see that someone’s taken a little of their valuable time to write about something I’ve created, it’s just wonderful. Writing is a lonely sort of thing, even when you’ve got the support of a great community of indie authors, external validation is so important and so very appreciated. As a writer, self-doubt is my constant companion. Sometimes the little snot’s useful, but most of the time he just makes life difficult.

Actually, my favourite comment/compliment about Imogen Shroud so far was, “Are you sure you’re not a secret smoker?”. I’ve never had a cigarette in my life, so I worked hard to figure out what it’s like to be a smoker, and I’m glad that I managed to convey how difficult it is to be chained to that particular habit. When I decided to make Imogen a smoker (not much of a decision actually, at least not on my part, she just took out a pack during outlining and I went with it) I knew I couldn’t be half-arsed about it–if I was going to have a character smoke, then it absolutely had to feel true. Although I’ve never smoked and can’t say I’ve ever been addicted to anything (for example, as much as I joke about tea, I don’t actually need it), I’ve seen how very, very difficult it is to quit (more difficult, I imagine, than anything I’ve ever had to do) and how much the habit can dominate a person’s life. And so even during a zombie apocalypse, Imogen is constantly (even when I don’t state it explicitly) thinking about when and how and where she can have her next smoke. There are dozens of little notes all through the outline–“Imogen would quite like a cigarette” “Imogen would really like a cigarette now please” “IMOGEN NEEDS TO SMOKE NOW DAMN IT NOW”–which, of course, aren’t in the novel itself, but represented by Imogen’s mood getting worse and her getting snappier and twitchier. Another thing about smoking that came up again and again in my research was how when you actually had your cigarette (or fix, I researched general addiction as well) everything else kind of faded away and became unimportant, and so in part this became Imogen’s coping mechanism with everything that was going on, her little bastion of sanity and comfort in this terrifying new reality she finds herself in. And I know this marks me as pedantic and obsessive (ie as a writer), but I had a seperate text file just for ‘cigarettes left in the pack’, and marked them off whenever she had one. It would bug me if, in a novel, a character smoked twenty-two cigarettes from a pack of twenty. It matters! It might seem like such a small, insignificant thing, but it matters to me that I got it right.

(Cue realisation that Imogen smoked twenty-two cigarettes from a pack of twenty. I checked three times but even so…)

Oh, yes! Someone rated Miya Black I & II on Goodreads! I don’t know why but I found that rather exciting. Three stars for each, I think that’s great! I don’t understand people who consider a three star rating ‘bad’, to me that means “I liked it but it wasn’t amazing/had some flaws/didn’t have enough romance” (seriously I should’ve put more romance in those books, it’s the number one complaint about them) (later volumes have more in the way of romantic subplots, I promise, book four has a really dishy pirate captain Miya refuses to think of as ‘gorgeous’) (although it could be said that ALL of the Miya Black books are the story of the love between a girl and her home … no? Worth a try). In any case, I’m perfectly happy with that reaction, and gratified that the reader took the time to rate my books (also to read them both).

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Posted by on April 26, 2011 in Of Writing


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