Yesterday I posted a self-deprecating / self-pitying image macro acknowledging that Bad Cow, which I’d enthusiastically considered the most important and mind-blowing piece of literature to grace my bibliography, didn’t really hit that mark.
I intended it as a direct comparison to Ed Wood, who blithely and happily went on making hysterically bad movies despite the critics and audiences (I speak of the Burton movie version of the man as portrayed by Johnny Depp, but by all accounts that was fairly faithful to the reality). And no, Aaron my man, you were not being personally attacked. You weren’t alone on this one.
So I have several rambling thoughts about this, and I’ll just put them down in no particular order.
First and foremost, the readers aren’t wrong. If I ever become the author who blames his readers for the fact that his books failed to meet their mark, I expect you all to slap me. I like to laugh about the bad “did not read” reviews of Eejit, but that’s different. Like I’ve said, they’re by definition not readers. Fuck ’em. If my book is so bad you stopped reading, then I guess I’m a terrible author and you shouldn’t waste your valuable time. I’m talking about the opinions of people who read the book.
Perhaps it’s best to start with Eejit, as first book of my first series. I also like to joke about my Marvel “phase” plan, but it’s quite concrete in my mind. Eejit began Phase One, and Human and Deadshepherd ended it. It’s no more a suggested reading order than Marvel’s phases are a suggested viewing order, but it probably helps to make sense of it all. I started by dropping the reader right into it, and I didn’t have much of a plan for the series, although the overall urverse had already existed for twenty years. I didn’t over-explain, and I threw some of my most challenging language in there. If you understood Eejit and got through it, the rest would get easier. And all the pieces of that particular puzzle would fall into place.
Phase Two began with a similar challenge. Bad Cow. Not so much difficult language this time, but a lot of new questions and a downright surreal setting, and oh yeah, it was long. And had some complex new rules for the urverse that I needed to get in there.
And it needed to tell a story. Three stories, actually.
Like I say, I was happy with it but I know it was a misfire, hence my little jokes. It was maybe a Phase Three book, and it still could have used more work if I’d published it there. But oh well. Phase Two gets easier from now on. The First Feast, I think, is back to more familiar ground but still includes the wider mythos. So yeah. It was hard work. I don’t think any of my future books will be as hard to read as Bad Cow. But that’s not my call to make.
Another issue is that Bad Cow, like Eejit, probably isn’t telling the story the readers think it is. And this time, that’s absolutely planned and intentional. I flailed a little with the early books of The Final Fall of Man, before realising where it fit. But I know exactly where Bad Cow fits – and chances are, readers aren’t going to like it (and yes, that visual you just got was intentionally planted too). But all I can do is tell the story. That’s why I have a day job.
I’m not dismissing the readers. I’m just saying that their expectations may not be met by the direction of this new Phase Two series. Phase Two is about Earth, and humans, and Oræl the Vengeful. It’s not about Cursèd’s Playground or the Pinians, except insofar as everything is about the Pinians. So yeah, just hang on and enjoy the ride. And if you don’t like the ride? Well, like Ed Wood says, my next one will be better.
I started out thinking The Final Fall of Man was my Lord of the Rings, and Oræl Rides to War (of which Bad Cow is book one) was my Silmarillion. But that’s not the case. Oh, I have a Silmarillion. I don’t know if it’ll ever make it as an actual story.
No, the fact is, The Final Fall of Man is my Hobbit. And Oræl Rides to War is my … Appendices.
Or maybe you prefer to think about the movies, in which case – fine, The Final Fall of Man is my Lord of the Rings. And Oræl Rides to War is my Hobbit. With Appendices and Last Tales thrown in to make it bigger and more complex, and make an awful lot of readers ask me “why did you do that?”
Yeah, that works for me. Also this blog is my Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while on the bus. Wow, so many underlines and italics, what a buttpain.