Peephole In My Skull

Interview, Reviews, and Awards

My friend Netta is a freelance editor who runs a website called wordwebbing, where she discusses writing, editing, and the the publishing industry in general. Netta was also one of the original test-readers of The Painted/Warded Man, before I even had an agent. Netta is great.

Recently, she sent me an interview for her site, asking for my thoughts on writng and the state of the industry.  We don’t always agree, but that makes for an all the more interesting interview, I think.  You can see my Wordwebbing interview here, and the review of The Warded Man that Netta wrote here.

There were also a couple the worst kinds of reviews this last week, the ones that I can’t read and walk away from, and end up responding to.  Both reviews center around the reviewer misunderstanding my intent regarding a certain event late in the story. MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!! Reading these interviews will, in my mind, totally fuck up your reading experience if you haven’t read the book already. This isn’t me trying to tell you not to read a negative review; one of the two reviews is actually quite positive, but they give away plot knowledge  that I don’t want a reader to have before the proper time in the story arc. If you’ve already read the book, you can see the reviews and my responses here: The Book Smugglers and Diary of a Text Addict.

At some future date, I will discuss the topic at length on my blog, but right now with it freshly released, I want people to be able to read the story as I intended it presented before they read my dissertations on it.

In other news, the shortlist for the David Gemmell Legend Award was released, and I’m not on it. Some SF blogs, like Speculative Horizons and A Dribble of Ink feel I was robbed, but I’m really not surprised I didn’t make it. The award is a straight internet poll, and all the authors that made the shortlist are far more established and popular than I am. My first book only came out in hardcover in September in the UK, and voting was almost over by the time it came out here in the US, and it was closed when the UK paperback hit. The other authors all have entire series (serieses?) published. There wasn’t any way I was going to win, and even the shortlist was a longshot.

I haven’t actually read any of the books on the shortlist, though most of them are on my “to read” pile. Brandon Sanderson is in my literary agency, so it’s nice to see him on the list, as well as my new pal Brent Weeks, who is on the NYTimes Bestseller list three weeks running so far. Andrzej Sapkowski is with my Polish publisher, Fabryka Slow. Poland has a huge and largely unrecognized fantasy market, so it’s nice to see a Polish author on the list. I don’t really know much about Joe Abercrombie and Juliet Mariller, but I’ve heard nothing but good things. I wish them all well for the next round of voting.

Posted on April 14, 2009 at 6:24 pm by PeatB
Filed under Craft, Interviews, Musings, Reviews, Writing
11 Comments »

11 responses to “Interview, Reviews, and Awards”

  1. Hey Peat, you’re not only an awesome writer but you’re gracious, too; I also feel you should have gone through, but you do have a point about the timing of the first-voting round. 🙁 I haven’t read any of the 5 chosen, not yet. And yeah, reviews shouldn’t spoil – what’s the use then?

    Posted by Dave, on April 14th, 2009 at 7:43 pm
  2. The thing is, with this voting awards it’s always going to be slightly skewed in favour of those who are better at networking and getting all their pals to vote. At least that’s my opinion anyway.

    Posted by Chantal, on April 14th, 2009 at 7:51 pm
  3. Whoops meant “with these voting awards”

    Posted by Chantal, on April 14th, 2009 at 7:52 pm
  4. Interesting that I didn’t have the reaction that those other women had. I do remember raising an eyebrow when arriving at the scene in question, but the motivations were believable to me. And I am VERY PICKY about motivations.

    I was far more interested in the weird thing that happened just afterward.

    (I hope I was oblique enough.)

    Posted by Tia Nevitt, on April 14th, 2009 at 8:22 pm
  5. Thanks, Peat.

    As for the reviews…

    I believe it is possible to give a helpful review without revealing spoilers, and it is in the best interest of the reader to not “give away the farm.” To me, that’s RUDE. Spoilers piss me off. However, I’m not surprised the scene in question has been singled out. It’s a hot topic. In my opinion (and we discussed this at length) you handled it very well, with a lot of thought and careful consideration. I speak from personal experience, unlike either reviewer. Consider the source (and gender) of one of them.

    Awards are nice, but I believe the timing was off. Not to worry — I’m thoroughly convinced there’s plenty more coming your way.

    You’re a class act, my friend. Period.

    Posted by netta, on April 14th, 2009 at 9:55 pm
  6. Chantal, you’re right, I think. If I had really mustered myself, I probably could have prodded and cajoled a large number of additional people (friends, family, facebook peeps) into voting, but I didn’t feel right about it. Apart from a couple of posts on my blog, I kind of just let things run their course.

    Netta, you’re a class act, too. I know the Book Smuggler was a woman, and I kind of assumed Text Addict was, too, though I guess there’s nothing on the site to say for sure.

    Of course, I don’t accept gender as a valid argument for or against someone’s opinion on the matter. I am a man, and frequently write scenes from the perspectives of female characters, just as female writers do for men. Some writers are better than others at that sort of thing, but I don’t think gender is an innate liability against putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, especially if you do your research for the tricky bits.

    It kind of bothers me that some readers see I am a man, and then assume out of hand that I either don’t know what I’m talking about with some lady-centric scenes, or that I’m just throwing things in for shock value. The scene in question was agonized over and rewritten a dozen times to try and get it just right. If anyone can’t handle it, I don’t recommend reading The Desert Spear.

    Posted by Peat, on April 14th, 2009 at 10:13 pm
  7. Anyone who doubts Peat’s ability to bend genders needs to see some of his old long-haired pictures.

    Posted by Myke, on April 14th, 2009 at 10:42 pm
  8. Ana here from The Book Smugglers. I was the one to write the review at our blog.

    Thank you Peter for bringing my review for discussion here. As you mentioned when stopped by at our blog, this is a very serious discussion.

    I would like to clarify that in my review, I took issue mostly with the aftermath of the scene in question and not with the scene itself, as I say in my review and repeatedly in the comments section. Even though, as a reader, these types of scenes are outside my comfort zone, I generally don’t take issue with them unless the ramifications are not handled well. I was surprised and mystified that there was little to no effect of the scene, physically or psychologically, after this event and it struck me as unbelievable and undeveloped.

    I would also like to clarify that my review contains ONE spoiler: that of the scene in question. As I am loathe to spoilers as well, I only included the scene because I felt it necessary to discuss the topic, and because I wanted to generate discussion (which it has!). My reviews are usually spoiler-free.

    Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to ask Netta what does she mean by “Consider the source (and gender) of one of them”?

    Just so there isn’t any confusion, I would like to clarify one last thing: at no point in my review or in the comments section did I say or imply that the author could not write female characters or female-centric scenes because he is a man. I would never say anything like that (in fact, some of my favorite female characters have been written by men! Over at our blog we’ve gone so far as to write an essay on this reverse-sexism and how we are firmly against such preposterous assumptions about authors based on gender). My issue, again, was with the lack of character development after the spoiler scene in question. That has nothing to do with the author being a man or a woman, or with myself as a woman (and yes, there are two book smugglers and we are both women), it is just my issue with the writing which transcends gender. I’m not sure if this addresses the “source” issue, but so far as gender is concerned please rest assured that this did not color my reading experience in any way.

    Thanks again, to Peter and to everyone else for continuing with this discussion. I look forward to reading book 2.

    Cheers,
    Ana

    Posted by Ana (The Book Smugglers), on April 15th, 2009 at 1:34 pm
  9. Hi Ana,

    The comment regarding “source and gender” was not directed at you. No offense was meant, and I apologize if it came across that way.

    My opinion about spoilers stands. I am entitled to that, as you are entitled to your own opinion. I also feel that any review that contains spoilers should provide a warning (whether it’s books, music, TV, movies, whatever) so those who don’t wish to read a review with spoilers included have the option to pass. That’s my personal preference, and we can agree to disagree.

    The scene in question is touchy for many people for many reasons. Based on my own personal experience, I found the scene and the aftermath both realistic and believable. I know for a fact Peat agonized, researched, and brought his own life’s experiences to the table and did not take it lightly. For me, he nailed it. I trust him as an author to clarify the far-reaching and long-standing effects of such an experience in the series.

    Again, my apologies if I come across a bit hypersensitive to the subject.

    Cheers.

    Posted by netta, on April 15th, 2009 at 4:44 pm
  10. Ana, I actually enjoyed your review quite a bit and thought it rather positive, though I do agree with Netta that when you are going to give away a major plot point that could potentially adversely affect the reading experience of someone, you should put up a flag beforehand. There were certainly things I didn’t agree with in your review, but that’s cool, too. The wonderful thing about reading is that a million people can read the exact same sentence and every single one have different reactions. It’s a phenomenon that fascinates me as a writer.

    I think the discussion you raised was a good one, and brought out some really interesting comments. I’m glad that happened, as sexual assault is a topic that is important for people to discuss, even though it is difficult and we would all rather pretend it didn’t exist.

    I never thought for a moment that you were negatively taking my gender into account in your review. That is an issue that has come up in other reviews, and I mentioned it in that context. I did however feel that you perhaps misunderstood my intent in some places, and felt it was worth clarifying.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Posted by Peat, on April 15th, 2009 at 10:14 pm
  11. Sorry I did not reply sooner – I was on holidays.

    Netta, thanks for clarifying about your comment. And I think we are all somewhat sensitive about the subject, otherwise the discussion wouldn’t even get going.

    Peter, once again, thanks for linking to the review and for the welcome. And yes, this discussion is definitely one worth having.

    Have a great week.
    Ana

    Posted by Ana, on April 20th, 2009 at 7:25 am

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