Dear author,

I get that you have lived with your characters through over a dozen books or so. You journey with them each day as they traverse your mind and go about their adventures. I understand you see every gesture they make, every nuance in their voice and appearance and you hear the inflections in their voices as they speak. You no doubt have huge spreadsheets filled with every little thing you have written about your character in order to build their reality.
They are your creations, and you have lovingly shared them with the world at large in novels of up to 800 pages long.
But here is where we differ.
I am a reader.
This means that sometimes my interpretation may differ vastly from yours.
It’s not that I am wrong, it’s just that we are different.
So when you shared who you imagined you would like to play one of your main characters in the screen adaptation of your books, it threw me.
He looked nothing like the image I had built in my mind and naively I shared that on your Facebook post.
And then a short time later I received a notification that you had replied to my comment. That’s kind of exciting in my little world seeing as you are a well-known author and all that. So I raced to my computer to find what you had said because my iPad doesn’t set out the comments in the same way (something I find extremely annoying as it makes it difficult to follow conversations).
And then I found this:

Untitled-1Your response kind of upset me actually.
You see, although you live with your characters day in and day out, I don’t. Some days I actually have a life. And it’s been quite a life over the past 10 years since I read your first book. I don’t know in which of your books you mentioned that he was blonde, but you obviously did. SomehowΒ  I must have forgotten that and built an image in my mind of a man with darker hair.
I resent that you have inferred that I haven’t read your books. I wouldn’t be following your FB page if I hadn’t. In actual fact, I admire the crafting of your characters and the way that you are able to tell a story so much that I have read every single book you have ever written. Your writing has the ability to draw me in, and as I journey through countryside and over seas with your characters I forget about what is happening in my life at that particular point in time.
Your books allow me to escape for a short while from the pressing issues of my life at any given moment.

However, I need to confess something.
I am not a monogamous reader. I know that you write to share and enrich my life and I appreciate that so much. But I have strayed. I also gain enrichment from other authors. I know that this might hurt you to read but I am sorry.
Although I read over 20 books last year (yours included), I often read up to 50Β  books in a year. So 50 books over a 10 year period means that I have lived within the pages of over 500 books (not counting magazines, blogs and short stories).
Somewhere along the line, I forgot that your character was blonde and in my mind’s eye he has aged (he should be in his 40’s by now by my reckoning) and his hair colour has darkened.
I have based this assumption upon my own experiences of looking in the mirror each day and noting that the blonde hair that I was blessed with as a child has changed as I age. Life has a habit of doing that you know; changing you from what you were originally.

Perhaps this is why I don’t always like screen adaptations of books. In my mind, the characters are as I see them, and not as someone else imagines them to look.
The depth that I infuse them with (courtesy of your words of course) is often not matched by the director or casting agent in their quest to turn words into a feast for the eyes.

And so my dear, I am disappointed that you think so little of your readers. I will continue to follow your FB page (as I follow the pages of other authors) to learn more about your upcoming work (which you do so well). I will continue to applaud your talent however I will reserve my judgement as to your personal character.
I continue to see social media as a great way to interact with readers and I admire that you reply to each person who posts to your wall but you have let me down with your belief that every person sees your characters in the same way that you do.

My dear, we are unique individuals and we all see things according to the experiences in our lives.
I wish you luck and I wish you joy.
I also wish you the ability to understand that not all see with the same eyes that you do.

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58 thoughts on “Dear author,

  1. Very rude, the eye rolling comment- wow- would love to know the author so I can make sure to steer clear. Your response was excellent- and much more polite than I would have been! So disappointing to find that someone is so much less than what you expected

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The only (actual) response that I made to the author is the one in the screenshot. My blog post is my rant to off-load it from my chest. πŸ™‚
      Regardless of how I now view this person, I will always respect and admire their writing.

      Like

  2. You have hit upon one of the reasons that I so rarely enjoy movies based upon books that I have read, and it’s especially so when I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The characters on the screen — the way they look, talk, behave — are often so different from what I had envisioned in my mind’s eye that it’s disconcerting to me. I can’t really enjoy the movie when the characters I loved in print are so different from those I see on the silver screen.

    I am surprised, though, that a successful author would be so rude to someone who has read all of his books simply because you thought he had darker hair that the character’s creator thought he had. That’s ridiculous.

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    1. Well that last sentence didn’t come out exactly right. I meant that you thought the character had darker hair, not that the author. Further, it should have been “darker hair than the character,” not “that the character.” And I apparently also got the author’s gender wrong. Oh well.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I was quite surprised and disappointed Doob. I guess it was a lesson learned for me. When I hit the big time, I won’t forget that the little people who made me big are very important.
      Well that’s the long-term goal anyway πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh this was beautifully written Suz Jones… SO kind of you NOT to name the author… I bet there were moments you wanted to… but – you are not like them…
    HOW flippin harsh and ugly of someone to be like that… you know what floored me MORE.. was all the ‘jump on the bandwagon’ – the people ‘liking her comment’.
    I know it is hard NOT too jump on board and jump to nasty conclusions.. as you have proven people do SO easily… and yet – LOOK how wonderfully you have displayed how YOU have every right to LET RIP and TAKE THEM TO THE SLAUGHTER house… and you have (just the damn name missing – GEEEES -it’s killing me! LOL) but you spared embarrassing them…
    I so so SO respect you for that…
    I have given in to the temptation once or twice and GROUND someone up – it doesnt feel any better… never…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nope, not giving up her name because her books still deserve to be read. They are wonderful and I enjoy them very much.
      Funnily enough the Teen thinks that she may have been being sarcastic and I just didn’t get it. She then queried her genetic makeup. rofl

      Like

  4. I don’t follow any authors Suz, but I do have the same issue with movies made from books. For instance I enjoy Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series of books. Reacher’s character is over 6’5″ and a huge man. It plays a large part in his impact in situations on the book. When they made the movie, they cast Tom Cruise, a very short actor, in the character. I haven’t seen the movie and I won’t. When questioned, the author said: , “Reacher’s size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way.”[11]. Bull.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find it difficult to cope with anything Tom Cruise stars in these days Paul so I wouldn’t be watching it. However, I can understand your confusion when they cast someone who is nothing like the author portrayed them to be in the books.

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  5. You are far kinder than I could have managed to be given that incredibly rude, condescending remark. I cannot even fathom what would possess an author to respond in such a way. I could be #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list (sure I could!), and I would never behave so callously. My hat’s off to you for your kindness where it is not deserved. Way to rise above! Karen

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A quick slap on the legs might have been less painful Suz but not half as effective. I don’t think any author has the right to demand a character should be seen in a certain way and if you had read this one was blonde, so what. When it comes to the screen there re variations of blonde and you could easily have imagined a dirty blonde.
    I wouldn’t have the temerity to demand that only I could play me in a film of one of my books because I was the character, I write knowing people will form their own opinion of what I’m like
    ( please make it handsome). I don’t even expect everyone to see a persons character the same way either as we all base that on people we know who are similar.
    This person is lucky it’s you as many would have just deservedly have lost themselves a reader.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Courteously suppressing an eye roll”?! Wow, she is really something. You can’t do anything courteous with an eyeroll, and writing it is not suppressing it!

    You make a very good point. It’s important to keep describing people in sequels. I’m writing my first one now, so thanks for posting this, or I might have forgotten to reiterate the appearance of some of the characters.

    I know I’m a newbie, but I hope I never forget this: you have to tempt the reader with each line, so if the reader picks the book up at after tossing it aside to stop something burning on the stove, when she picks it up again, she’s hooked again.

    As for killing the fantasy, I know, that’s a tough one. I am going to put up on a website some pictures for the characters in the middle-grade fantasy John and I are writing, because I think it would be fun for kids to see and it will help us while we’re working on getting the book published. But there is that downside of clashing with reader expectations.

    As an adult reader, building the appearance of the characters in my own mind is half the fun.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing, Sue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that you understand the oxymoron of ‘courteously suppressing an eye roll’ and then writing about it. πŸ™‚
      I agree, half the fun of reading is infusing the characters with your own unique life experiences.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow Suzanne, 500 books in 10 years. Sure beats my 5 books in 35 years (whoops make that 6), read that book over Christmas. πŸ™‚
    The reason I can’t finish books, is I start a book, get busy, and when I go back to the book (even if it is only 2 weeks later), I have forgot everything, and the book is unfinished.
    I TOTALLY get it that you forgot “somewhere along the line, you forgot this character was supposedly blond”. With my memory, I would have forgot EVERYTHING in the book…..lol! πŸ™‚
    You were so gracious in your reply my friend.
    Blessings,
    ~Carl~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that when we are busy we have less time for books and I must admit that when I am sitting on the couch reading a book through the day, I feel a little guilty for not doing housework or something else (like study) that needs doing.
      Thanks for reading and commenting Carl. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Her response to you is absolutely inexcusable. I’m shocked that a successful author could say such a thing! You took a far higher ground than I’d have been tempted to take my dear. She doesn’t deserve the sales, no matter how good she is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could agree but I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was posting on social media with a glass of wine in her hand. I don’t know.
      Yes, what she said was out of line but I still think that her writing is quite enjoyable and well crafted.

      Like

    1. Hi Robyn! It’s lovely to hear from you.
      I have no idea why she didn’t just let my comment slide but she chose to pick that one (out of the hundreds) to comment on. *sigh*
      One of the vagaries of life I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I think that response would influence my enjoyment of her books. I might have been tempted to finish by saying ‘ I can assure you,despite my memory issues, i am unlikely to forget your response.’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Tric. I’m prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt however I won’t be posting on her threads any longer and I no longer read anything she posts that is not in relation to her upcoming work.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You’re too nice. I always take the passive aggressive approach to rudeness. Did the author describe the height of the character? My dreamy guy is always over 6’4″. I agree with Tric.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha. I couldn’t tell you if she described his height. I’m more about the moral fibre of a character rather than his physical characteristics. I can tell you the character’s occupation and how he treats other people though.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. From what I have seen of the television series (I’ve watched a few eps) it sticks fairly closely to the books however I know that many movies and television series (I’m thinking Lord of the Rings etc) embellish so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Suz, I just listened to a radio article (are they called articles on the radio?) – Anyway!
    I just heard an interviewer and author talking about just this thing. About how we do indeed put our imaginations to work and the movie, TV, play adaptation often disappoints.
    Her response was indeed uncalled for … unless she mentions the characters blond hair over and over, most would not remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it is a little scary how many are not using their imaginations as much any more. And no, as far as I’m aware the fact that he had blonde hair was not mentioned over and over.

      Like

  13. There was nothing courteous about the author’s response to you. I thought your response showed terrific self-control, and should have humbled the author.

    I don’t suppose it ever entered her mind to be flattered that you would follow her works closely enough to create and age a character patterned from her books in your mind. Why exactly does she write?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I couldn’t even believe this when I saw it. It’s incredible that someone who SHOULD be thanking a fan, instead became so arrogant and rude. Your response was very courteous and I applaud you for it. I don’t know if I would have answered so nicely. I hope I would.

    Your post is spot on. Books open up our imaginations. We can imagine whatever we want. Hopefully your next contact with an author will be with someone much more gracious.

    Happy New Year from Seattle. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year to you also.
      I must admit that I enjoy reading and little things (such as hair colour) really don’t stick in my mind unless it is a major issue with the character. It is more about ‘who’ they are rather than what they look like when I form images in my mind.

      Liked by 1 person

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