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I recently fell out of love with my one of my (formerly) favorite writers.

It’s not me; it’s her.

Yes, her books have certainly slipped in quality. Under what I suspect is a ton of pressure from her publisher, she released one of the books she wrote before she was published…a book that should have stayed in a box under her bed.

But I probably would have given her another chance, except…I really don’t like her anymore.

It’s a tough new world out there for writers. In the past, no one knew what writers looked like and they didn’t care. We only knew them through their books. Now with social media, we can see every pound gained and lost and hear their every opinion on every subject. And, at least in the case of this avid reader and former fan, that works to their detriment sometimes.

When I first discovered this author, I was impressed. She wrote funny, intelligent novels about young women who weren’t obsessed with getting pregnant and starting a family. She wrote about the everywoman–women who are a few pounds shy of the accepted ‘norm’; women who are neurotic and have issues but who are likable just the same. I loved her books. I re-read the first two until they were dogeared.

And then her personality started getting in the way.

None of her novels have approached the tone and quality of her first two. But I would have forgiven that if I didn’t have to read about her complaining all the time. It seemed like every time I turned around, there she was, complaining about something. She complained about her books being dismissed as “chick lit”–which I get. It’s a demeaning term, and her books are actually very well-written women’s fiction (or they used to be). But when you’re an international best-selling author with movie deals and books published in dozens of different languages all over the world, does it really matter what people call your genre? Your readers know the truth, and that’s who you should care about. It’s like elementary school–not everyone is going to like you, no matter what your name is.

Then she was on a soapbox about the lack of attention and publicity the New York Times gives to female authors. Again, a noble cause on the surface. But she went too far until it seemed like whining. When someone is continually on the best-seller list and making a fortune doing what she loves, it’s hard to take their complaints about not getting enough publicity from the Times seriously.

It got so every single status update she posted was a complaint about someone or something who was not making her happy. I unfriended her on Facebook but figured I would still read her books.

Then I picked up the last novel of hers I will ever read. The author recently had an experience in the Hollywood television world–she’d written a show, sold it, and got to see it through to production. It lasted one season before it was cancelled. She was very vocal (of course) about the star of her show, an actress she’d specifically cast because of her weight–the actress was a curvy girl and the author was, as always, interested in telling the story of everywoman. Well, her actress lost a ton of weight after the pilot was shot, and the author went overtime on social media and every news forum that would have her, chastising this poor actress for no longer being a size twelve or whatever she had been.

I could understand the author’s disappointment, but her diatribe about the actress’s weight seemed mean and over-the-top and just plain unprofessional. I was shocked that she would be so openly critical of another woman, especially the actress who starred in her show.

And then came the book. The book is a thinly-veiled (I’d say transparent, screw the veil–there is no veil) account of her experience in Hollywood. The production company is “ABS” instead of “ABC”, the show lasts a single season, and of course the leading lady loses weight after the pilot is shot.

The cruelty the author uses in describing women in this industry–especially the woman who lost weight–is appalling. Everyone is an idiot skeleton with silicone breasts and no brains. For a woman who has not been shy about sticking up for the rights of the overweight, she has no compunctions about being downright nasty when it comes to those who are slender. The only female characters in this book who have any redeemable qualities are either disfigured, older, or not attractive. Anyone pleasant to look at who isn’t a senior citizen is either evil or a vapid idiot.

The entire novel was page after page of vitriol about her experience in Hollywood. I’m sure it was therapeutic for her to write, but it was brutal to read. Forget the numerous typos and the descriptions of every single item of clothing worn by everyone in the book (no, I’m unfortunately not exaggerating) and her hitting you over the head with her religion and her self-righteousness–it was just plain cruel. I cringed as I read, hoping her former leading lady would never read this book. She’d heard enough of the author’s opinions about her weight. She didn’t need an entire novel about it.

This showed me, more than ever, that as writers and human beings, we have to be careful about what we’re putting out into the world. People are listening. People are watching. And it does matter what we say outside of our books.

Have you ever dropped an author because you don’t like him or her? Do you care about the person who writes the books you read?

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2 Comments

  1. Lisa

    I didn’t before…but I’m rethinking that now…

    To be honest, I don’t really keep tabs on a lot of my favourite authors aside from what new books are forthcoming…I think I would be devastated if I heard something like that about though. It would make me question things.

    It’s kind of like the whole petition to keep Chris Brown from performing here because of his abusive behaviour outside of his music…Do you ignore that because you like his music, or do you consider the “entire package”?

    Reply
  2. Story Teller

    Thanks for your comment, Lisa. To be honest, I don’t normally keep tabs on authors, either…but when I really like an author, I might seek them out on Facebook and become a member of their fan page or “friend” them. That’s how I found out about all this stuff. The author in question was thrilled whenever one of her diatribes was covered in the media, so she’d post and publicize all the articles herself.

    When we buy books or CDs or go to concerts and readings, we are supporting an artist. If I don’t know anything about the artist except that I love his or her work, it’s easy for me to support them blindly. But once I know more, it’s up to me to use that information to make a more informed decision.

    Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies is one of my favorite singers, and will always be. When he fell from grace and left the group, I felt sorry for him. He’d made a mistake and some errors in judgment, but I still believed he deserved a second chance. He wasn’t hurting anyone but himself. He didn’t slam the other members of the group all over town or whine “why me?” constantly over social media. He kept his grace and his dignity, and when I saw him selling his hockey memorabilia on Ebay, my heart ached for him.

    I’m not a fan of Chris Brown, but if I was, his abuse of Rhianna definitely would have turned me against him. I can’t support him after what he did to her. I don’t think we can ban him from ever performing again, but I would never support him, either.

    Reply

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