Sunday, February 20, 2011

But I Didn't Say That

by Leann Sweeney

I get plenty of emails from readers and most of them are very nice. I'd say 99%, in fact. Seems the world knows, for the most part, that if you can't say something nice ...

But this week I got a strange one. The person who wrote felt that they "had" to write and tell me that they were reading one of my books when were totally shocked and dismayed. It had to do with a piece of dialogue and then the emailer said, "Why did you have to say that?" She went on to explain that because "I" said that, she will never read another book I write.

And that got me to thinking. I am well aware that not everyone likes every book. We have books we love and books we hate and books we could care less about. But it was her phrasing that got to me. This person has confused me with a character in my book. That particular phrase is something I don't think I have ever used in real life conversation. (And I'm not going to repeat it here for fear of incurring more wrath!)

Yes, my characters are separate from me. They have different views than I do. Their flaws and strengths are not mine. Their language and phrasing belong to them, not to me. I replied to this person and said I was sorry they felt offended, but that this was the character's choice of words. I add that certainly just because I write about murder and a few of my characters commit murder that doesn't make me a murderer, either--which, by the way, would seem a lot worse than a snippet of dialogue. :-)

What do you think about this? Can you separate author from fictional characters who are sometimes not very nice?

All in all, it was an interesting email, one that I found more amusing than some mean reviews I've gotten!