What Stace had to say on Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
Jumping off the cliff

…So that’s what I’m doing today.

Today is the official release day for UNHOLY GHOSTS in the US, and I guess it’s being released in the UK/Ireland/Australia/New Zealand as well? Yes, it seems that way. And I’m frankly terrified. Excited and elated and terrified.

We had a couple of new reviews come in, and they’re good ones. Not just, or not necessarily, because they’re positive, although they largely are, but because they’re thoughtful. Because they read the book and really considered it, and really put that consideration into the reviews, and really?

It’s not my place as an author to ask reviewers or readers for shit. It’s not my place to tell them how they should think or feel about my work, or how they should express those feelings. But I won’t deny that it pleases me immensely and makes me feel good when they do put that consideration and thought into their reviews. It’s gratifying, and I appreciate it, and if I could ask for something, that would be what I would ask for.

So first we have Michele Lee’s Book Love:

Unholy Ghosts is a thrilling ride, textured and vivid, a powerhouse of fantasy. Brimming with characters that aren’t quite heroes but aren’t quite bad guys either, it shows the hard core, broke down parts of the world other stories skip over, the dark side of reality that comes not from magic, but from the poor, desperate and disillusioned trying to make it through a hard life.

Seriously? I got a little teary when I saw this one. It was so close to how I think of the books; Michele understood so clearly what I was trying to do and express. It’s absolutely amazing to feel understood like that, and like you’ve truly connected with someone through your work.

Another reviewer who I think truly understood what I was trying to do, even if her understanding came more about the larger concept than the characters themselves, is KMont at Lurve ala Mode. She featured the book in her “Books With Balls” segment (which, how fucking cool is that?!) and rated it 5 balls, out of a possible 5. That’s ballsy, y’all, which is (to me at least) a huge compliment:

Why is this book ballsy?

1. Quite frankly, its because the heroine is a unrepentant drug addict. Because of this aspect, and how it’s portrayed, the author takes a big risk and really puts herself out there. I think this alone, whether or not one likes how it all plays out, is pretty darn cool.


Unholy Ghosts is to be commended for the risks it takes, while at the same time deserving of being held in check for them. I honestly think some will be turned off while others will eagerly embrace a book that does take risks like this. As for me, I honestly struggled with how to rate it. On one hand, I’m glad to have read it and experienced a truly unique urban fantasy.

I strongly recommend you read the entire review. While I don’t necessarily agree with some of KMont’s opinions/conclusions (like that Chess’s only motivation for defeating the bad guy was her own self-interest, and not to protect the rest of humanity and the Church) and while there is one small factual error (Chess’s pills–Cepts–are opiates, not speed) that’s nitpicking on my part, frankly. What matters to me is that KMont understood what I was trying to do–create something unique, create a world of moral ambiguity and in doing so explore just where our boundaries are and whether our concepts of good and bad are fluid, and explore just what the limits of the genre truly are–and seemed to really connect with that attempt, although there were things about the book that didn’t thrill her and she does make an excellent point about the climax of the novel.

Last is Shuzluva’s review at Dear Author. Shuzluva is not a fan of horror or horrific elements and felt much more strongly about Chess’s addiction; it was a major problem for her before picking up the book, and she was unable to really get past that in the reading. However, she did say this:

The pacing of the book is excellent, and definitely gave me some of those “put-the-book-down-before-my-heart-explodes” moments. The characters are vivid and even the secondary characters get fabulous treatment. I can’t say enough about the wonderful worldbuilding. Triumph City and The Church of the Real Truth are tangible and downright scary, gritty and dark.

(The discussion in comments is quite interesting, as well.)

So what is my point, and what am I thinking of today?

I’m thinking of how, as every reviewer above touched upon whether they elaborated on it or not, it is apparently pretty obvious to readers with intelligence that this is a deeply personal book, and that it is a challenging one, and that is amazing to me. Would I rather they’d all said, as others have, “This is challenging in some ways and also fucking kicks ass” instead of just two of them? Of course. Am I nervous as hell that people will see all of this and think the book is too deep or something and skip it in favor of something they think will be more fun? Of course.

Because it is a fun book, guys, at least I think so, and a lot of reviewers have thought so. Yes, I wanted to play with the boundaries of the genre. Yes I wanted to challenge myself and the reader. Yes I wanted to ask some questions and make people think.

But what I mostly wanted to do is what I always want to do, which is entertain the hell out of you people. I wanted to show you a good time. It’s what I always want to do.

I also didn’t want to preach to you. I’m frankly surprised at how many people either would expect the first book in a series to have a full and complete character arc away from addiction; what the hell is fun about that story, again? Does that seem like an exciting urban fantasy plot to you, especially for a first book?

And while I expected some people to be turned off, I didn’t expect the Puritanical vitriol* I’ve gotten from a small minority who seem to think addiction, or writing about addiction, is a moral crime on a par with baby murdering, and that to even buy a book with an addict character is akin to standing in the corner and cheering while that baby is murdered. I guess fiction is not after all a place to explore different lives and situations; buying a novel is a political and moral act, and buying a book about an addict is a moral wrong. Ohh-kay. Perhaps it would be better if we just shot our addicts? Especially the functional ones? Maybe from there we’ll move to people who take antidepressants; after all, that’s a daily pill to make you feel better, and if you stop taking it you’ll go through very uncomfortable withdrawals, and it does have (IMO) more dangerous side affects than most opiates…

I guess also that addicts are not people like you and me who got caught up in something too big for them, but are in fact the human equivalent of slime found at the bottom of a pond. Apparently it’s okay for a heroine in an urban fantasy to kill people, to beat them, to make stupid decisions that lead to the deaths of others–sometimes even her own children–but for her to pop a few pills every day…now THAT is wrong and evil.

Anyway, while those who are obviously our superiors in every way and have never made a mistake sniffle and judge, let’s you and me keep talking.

Fiction isn’t about being safe, at least good fiction isn’t. Not as far as I’m concerned. It’s about telling the truth. It’s about showing other people the world as you see it. It’s about exposing yourself.

You know the saying “Writing is easy. You just sit down at the typewriter and open a vein?”

I always thought that was about how hard it can be to get the words to come, and how long it can take.

I was wrong. It’s about how much we expose of ourselves when we write. It’s about how fiction–truly good fiction that touches people, not that I’m claiming to be Little Miss Excellent or anything like that, I just know how proud I am of these books and the response they’re getting–can’t be accomplished if you’re afraid, if you’re hiding yourself or aspects of yourself or especially your characters from your readers. You cannot lie to them and still have a truly worthwhile book. You just can’t. It simply isn’t possible. You can’t be afraid. You can’t refuse to share things with them. You can’t hold back.

Sure, people may not like it, and they may not like you. You may put your heart on a plate and hand it to a reader and have them turn up their nose and walk away, or spit at it. It happens. That’s life, and that’s writing, and that’s the way it goes.

Remember last month, when I went to Eight of Swords tattoos to get a new tattoo? Here it is:

(I took the picture myself, and it’s on my right bicep running upward, so it’s a little crooked in the photo, sorry.)

And that’s my vow to myself, and my promise to myself, and the words I try to live by.

So what am I feeling today, when my book is released? I’m nervous, and excited, and proud. And I want you to buy it, and love it, and be entertained by it. And I want you to close it feeling like you’ve experienced something unique and you haven’t wasted your money and you’ve just read an awesome story. I don’t need you to analyze it or be all intellectual about it, I just want you to enjoy it. I want you to be excited for the next book on July 6th. And I really, really hope you are.

And that’s it, really. But I also want you to know how very much I appreciate every one of you, those who comment and those who don’t. I hope I don’t let you down.

Tomorrow we’ll be back to having fun, okay? :)

* It has come to my attention that the comments in this paragraph have been misconstrued to mean that I believe anyone who has a problem with a drug addict heroine, or who expresses discomfort in the idea, or doesn’t like it, is being evil and Puritanical and whatever. I sincerely apologize to anyone who might have thought this was the case. I thought my comments in the past, and my other comments in this post, would make it clear that I do not think or feel that way at all. In fact, because of my comments in the past it honestly never even occurred to me that anyone would take my post that way.

I certainly do not see a negative review as “vitriol.” I guess I can see how some people–who are accustomed to authors freaking out and attacking over a less-than-glowing review–would feel that I might, and therefore would classify my comments that way. I wasn’t thinking of that when I wrote this post and I absolutely should have been, so I apologize genuinely to anyone who might have felt I was referring to them or their feelings. Quite frankly, in all of the stress and anxiety of a release day I simply wasn’t thinking the way I normally would.

You are entitled–as I have said before here and elsewhere numerous times–to dislike my characters or my books. You are entitled to be uncomfortable with the very idea. You’re entitled to express that feeling (although I would prefer that you not aim that expression at readers who want to read a book, and tell them they’re supporting drug abuse by purchasing a book. They don’t deserve that). As I said in my response to Shuzluva’s review yesterday, I’d be a moron if I didn’t expect that some people would have an issue with that.

None of those feelings are vitriolic. Nor is expressing them tantamount to vitriol.

What I mean when I say “vitriol” are the comments I’ve seen aimed at reader, implying they are morally bankrupt for wanting to read, for reading, or enjoying a certain book. What I mean when I say “vitriol” are the three emails I have received in the last week calling me names and telling me I am evil for encouraging drug use. These did not come from one person alone, although it is possible it was one person with more than one email address and IP.

Yes, I have reported them to their email service, and no, I don’t want to discuss it further, and no, I am not particularly frightened or freaked out (they weren’t threatening, just, well, vitriolic) so if you are someone who would normally be inclined to worry please don’t. I had this happen to me once before–long-time readers may remember the short period of time where comments on my old blog went screened–and this is simply something that happens to people online.

But I did get one this morning, and it made me angry, and that small section of my post was in response to that.

Obviously, I need to get used to, or realize, that I may start getting new visitors here who aren’t familiar with my previous comments on issues like these and the very strong stance I have always taken in support of readers and their right to their opinions about books and the expression of those opinions (and yes, I suppose decrying the “You’re evil” comments may be seen as telling them they can’t share an opinion, but there’s a difference between “this book sucks” and “hey, you, reader, you personally suck, so burn in hell.” Attack the books if you want. Please don’t attack the readers; they are people with feelings, and have just as much right to choose books they enjoy as you do).

That I did not think of that is wrong. That I may have unwittingly or inadvertently hurt someone who took the time to read and review my book is unforgivable, and believe me when I say I feel absolutely sick about it. I am so, so sorry.

Which is another point, too: my warning about the content of the Downside books re drug use. My warning was largely intended for readers of the Demons books, who may have been expecting the new series to be more of the same. The Demons books have sold very well, and I get in general a few emails about them each month.

My desire to make sure fans of that series knew the differences between the two series, and did not buy something they wouldn’t be happy or comfortable with simply because it had my name on it was just that. I was attempting to not violate the trust my current readers, who often visit here and mention the blog in their emails, have or had in me.

The two series are very different, that’s all. I wasn’t attempting to control anyone or tell readers what to do or think. I simply didn’t want them to pick up a book by an author whose work has to that point been light-hearted and amusing and discover that it was something else entirely, something which might upset them. I wanted them to know that in this instance my name may not mean what they think it means. That’s all. Again, I apologize if that was the wrong thing to do, but it felt like the right thing; it felt like taking care of my readers and making them aware of something they might not have realized. It felt like not misleading them by claiming the books are something they aren’t.

That was the spirit in which it was meant, anyway.

I guess I’ve just fucked up all around, and I don’t really know what I can say or do about that.

22 comments to “Jumping off the cliff”

  1. Jackie U
    · May 25th, 2010 at 9:40 am · Link

    Yeah, I had to rant about that yesterday on my teeny tiny blog. Made the same conclusion about the murdering heroes, too, lol. Oh well. The book is amazing, and people will see that, hypocrital asshats be damned.

    Now I must go put My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult back in…I’m getting an urge to hear Daisy Chain 4 Satan… 😈

  2. Maria Lima
    · May 25th, 2010 at 9:41 am · Link

    Dude – I love the fact that you push boundaries. I’m so looking forward to buying this book and the sequels. Don’t worry about the puritanical responses – this reminds me very much of the people that howled at the horrificness of killing a cat/dog/pet in traditional mysteries. I mean, really? HELLO, FICTION? I adore flawed protagonists!! How can we truly examine the human condition if one’s lead character is always perfect and untouchable?

    Love the tat!! Truly encompasses what all we writers should live by…losing our fears of writing outside the box.

    Many hugs and happy release day!!!

  3. Synde
    · May 25th, 2010 at 9:43 am · Link

    Happy release day you!!
    When I read your words on addiction iget a little teary!
    You hit the nail on the head!!
    Enjoy this special day!!

  4. ZombieJoe
    · May 25th, 2010 at 9:47 am · Link

    I am just under 100 pages in and I am already looking forward to the next one coming out.

    I will save my full feelings on the characters for my review once I am done, but I do see what you are going for here. Dealing with a main character you are supposed to root for who has here drug addiction so ingrained into who she is can be a tough sell. For me I like the character because she is such a real character. That doesn’t mean I have to like her life choices. 😉

  5. parajunkee
    · May 25th, 2010 at 9:48 am · Link

    Happy release day, can’t wait to read. Have heard nothing but good things about your book.

    Was trying to push for it to get picked for our group review site. http://www.blogwithbite.com — There are a few more days left to vote. Here’s hoping.

  6. Tyhitia
    · May 25th, 2010 at 10:17 am · Link

    Congratulations! And I’m sure many people will enjoy your book. 😉 I cannot wait to read it. 😀

    Your character is real and not cookie-cutter. Keep up the good work. 😉

  7. Anon76
    · May 25th, 2010 at 11:14 am · Link

    Hey girlfriend.

    Happy release day!

    Huge congrats for touching a nerve and making people think. The first is easier than the latter. Touching a nerve can be as simple as the reader identifying with a smell, sight, sound or thought. Like having a perfect Christmas celebration after the black moment that almost rips everything apart.

    But the latter, that is precious. And it shows you’ve done it right in how the book is being reviewed. A “I want to love the heroine, but can’t. However, I don’t hate her either. Try as I might, I can’t root for her, and yet in a way I’m doing just that. And I don’t know why I’m somewhat rooting for a person whose life choices go against everything I believe in.”

    Congrats again.

  8. Angie
    · May 25th, 2010 at 12:08 pm · Link

    I’m frankly surprised at how many people either would expect the first book in a series to have a full and complete character arc away from addiction; what the hell is fun about that story, again? Does that seem like an exciting urban fantasy plot to you, especially for a first book?

    And while I expected some people to be turned off, I didn’t expect the Puritanical vitriol I’ve gotten from a small minority who seem to think addiction, or writing about addiction, is a moral crime on a par with baby murdering, and that to even buy a book with an addict character is akin to standing in the corner and cheering while that baby is murdered. I guess fiction is not after all a place to explore different lives and situations; buying a novel is a political and moral act, and buying a book about an addict is a moral wrong. Ohh-kay. Perhaps it would be better if we just shot our addicts? Especially the functional ones? Maybe from there we’ll move to people who take antidepressants; after all, that’s a daily pill to make you feel better, and if you stop taking it you’ll go through very uncomfortable withdrawals, and it does have (IMO) more dangerous side affects than most opiates… [etc.]

    I think part of the problem was the environment. Someone said something along the lines of “I don’t expect a heroine to be a drug addict.”

    It’s that genre romance hero/heroine thing again. From the POV of a romance fan, the main characters in a novel, even one so vaguely peripheral to the romance genre as an urban fantasy, can’t just be people, normal human beings with the full range of weaknesses and issues that human beings have. No, they have to be HEROES! and HEROINES!! and there’s a very narrow range of characteristics and behaviors which qualify. I’ve seen that complaint about other characters in other books, that a real Heroine wouldn’t do X, or that this guy’s behaviore wasn’t very Heroic.

    Ummm, right. :/

    Aside from the infantilization of the genre, which has annoyed me pretty much from the first time I wandered into a romance discussion online in eighty-whatever, it enforces an artificially narrow set of limitations on what writers are allowed to do with their characters, because no matter how you might envision them, they have to be HEROIC!! — all dressed up in shiny armor or a princess dress complete with tiara.

    Also consider that a romance series isn’t really allowed to have a multi-book character arc focused on the protag. Each book has to be a romance in and of itself, with the characters’ story essentially done by the end of that one book. If it’s a series, the next book is about her sister or his best friend or whatever, but the two protags from this book can never be more than supporting characters, with the most minor of development tweaks.

    Bottom line, your non-romance was reviewed by a romance reviewer who applied genre romance standards to it. Those standards don’t fit any other genre (and are a pretty tight and uncomfortable fit even within romance, if you’re a writer who wants to push certain boundaries a bit) so it’s disappointing but not really shocking that it came in for some weird criticisms.

    Oh, well. I saw some folks in comments saying that they were eager to read it despite the flailing over Chess’s drug addiction, so my guess is that as promo goes, it was a positive over all. :)


  9. Angela
    · May 25th, 2010 at 12:20 pm · Link

    I’m going to be completely honest here, and hope that doesn’t result in hard feelings. I have a slight issue with an unrepentant drug addict being a heorine of a story I choose to read. (Yes I know I can choose NOT to read it…)

    I have personal reasons for this, as well as connecting reasons. I need to be able to connect with the character I’m reading about. I don’t need to be able to be them, or be in their shoes, but I need to understand, need to be able to empathize and sympathize. And I, quite frankly, usually don’t understand drug addiction. It’s a nasty thing that hurts more than the addict realizes.

    This being said, I’m not better than anyone else. Nor do I feel my views are above any one elses. Additionally I don’t judge, nor do I feel I’ve never made a mistake.

    Also, I do not expect a 180 degree turn-about in the character. But I do expect something. Some growth, or realization. The beginning of something. Because I have no desire to read about a drug addict that simply doesn’t care about others, or herself.

    Now. I fully intend to read the book. For a couple of reasons. One: because I want to form my own opinions on it based on the actual characters and text. Two: I’m intrigued. And Three: because the world sounds just great – and honestly it wouldn’t be the first series I’ve read where I couldn’t stand something a character did (repeatedly even).

    In fact I think I’m going to go download it now and start on it next. I really am curious to see what I think.

    Again – I don’t mean any hard feelings, I just wanted to express the thoughts that came to me upon initially reading about this book. And also explain that not everyone that has second thoughts about this kind of character thinks to judge.

    By the way – love the tattoo. It’s a great motto to live by. 😉

    • Stace
      · May 25th, 2010 at 3:47 pm · Link

      Hi Angela,

      I’m going to respond to the other comments later but wanted to make sure I got to yours right away, because I want to make something absolutely clear to you and to anyone else who might see your comment.

      You are absolutely, positively, completely entitled to feel however you like, and to hold whatever opinion you hold, and to express that opinion anywhere and everywhere you want. I could no more blame you or have hard feelings toward you for feeling that way–and for telling me you feel that way–than I could at my younger daughter because she isn’t a particular fan of red meat.

      So I don’t even want to hear that again. You are welcome here anytime you like. You are welcome to respond to anything I say in whatever way you choose. (Well, okay, I wouldn’t like it if you just started calling me names, but somehow I doubt you would do that. :) ) You don’t have to like everything I do or say, or agree with it all, in order to visit here, comment here, and be valued for doing those two things here.

      Personally? I feel Chess is fairly easy to understand and relate to. A lot of reviewers have–reviewers who felt the same way you did.

      And I did try–apparently not successfully as far as one or two reviewers are concerned–to make it clear at the end of the first book that there has been some character growth, and that Chess is at the beginning of a journey into a different world and even redemption. Some people have seen that. Some haven’t. That’s the way it goes.

      Express anything you like, Angela. I appreciate the point you’re making about the way addiction hurts other people; at the beginning of the book there is literally no one in Chess’s life for her to hurt, but as that changes she’ll have to face up to what the consequences are. And I appreciate that it’s hard to know how you’ll feel about ANY character flaw before experiencing it, and that you would have misgivings; that makes total sense.

      I sincerely hope that you do find something to identify with in Chess, and that you enjoy the book. But even if you don’t you’re welcome to say so. You’re welcome to say so here, even.

      You will NEVER not be welcome here.

      You will NEVER be told your feelings are wrong or that you should just shut up. You will NEVER be told your feelings or thoughts have no value to me or anyone else.


      • Angela
        · May 25th, 2010 at 6:14 pm · Link

        I appreciate your reply :) I did not feel unwelcome when I posted my comment, but did want you – and others – to know that I wasn’t trying to be rude, or mean, or an ass.

        I don’t usually make a point of going to an author board or blog to disagree about something – just something of respect for me. It’s their space. But I did want another view, which I hope I was able to give.

        I’m glad that you can understand (and I think you demonstrated this prior to your response to me as well) that not everyone is going to relate, connect and like the same things. I think this is part of the reason I was able to come here and say what I felt/thought.

        That being said, I started Unholy Ghosts tonight. I’ve got a long flight tomorrow, so I’ll have my own opinion on it soon. 😉

  10. Jill Sorenson
    · May 25th, 2010 at 1:22 pm · Link

    I didn’t have a positive experience with drugs, and I don’t know anyone else who has. I think it would be hard for me to read a book about someone wallowing in addiction. My reservations have nothing to do with morals. But I can’t say I wouldn’t like your book without trying it.

    I don’t think it’s fair to judge a heroine (or protagonist, in this case?) more harshly than a hero, or to consider drug use more reprehensible than baby-killing. Not changing/repenting is a common criticism of UF characters. If they’re strippers, assassins, etc., and they stay that way, romance readers complain. It’s partly an unfamiliarity with the genre, and partly a tendency of romance lovers to demand what they like: redemption, and forgiveness, and a hard-won HEA.

  11. jjdebenedictis
    · May 25th, 2010 at 1:51 pm · Link

    As much as anything, your passion for the book makes me want to read it. Best of luck, and I hope the book is a hit!

  12. Betsy Dornbusch
    · May 25th, 2010 at 3:48 pm · Link

    Like the tat. Luck with the release.

  13. Moonsanity (Brenda)
    · May 25th, 2010 at 4:14 pm · Link

    Happy Release Day! My copy is on it’s way from B & N, and I can’t imagine not loving it.

    When I read your interviews I was so impressed with your thought process and all you put in to the book. I can imagine how scary it is to have it out there, but it will be a good thing!

    I love your tattoo 😀

  14. synde
    · May 25th, 2010 at 5:23 pm · Link

    I just wanted to mention something re addiction, that I think most people don’t understand. People aren’t drug addicts because they want to feel good or even really feel..They do it to shut out the chatter of life..the pain, the noise whatever..
    I know you know this Stace, but I think it’s a common misconception..that drug addicts are pleasure seekers.. it is really much to the contrary…
    thanks for showing that in your books.. :smile:

  15. jessica
    · May 25th, 2010 at 7:43 pm · Link

    god i love that tat

  16. Marian Perera
    · May 25th, 2010 at 8:04 pm · Link

    Congratulations on the release, Stacia! I’ll be checking the local stores for it this week. And even if I wasn’t intrigued at the idea of a drug-using heroine, your responses here would make me want to read the book.

    Besides, I loved Sherlock Holmes and he had this little cocaine habit…

  17. Ro
    · May 26th, 2010 at 4:50 am · Link

    Some people just don’t seem to grasp the whole concept of fiction… 😯 Do we need stickers on most of the books saying “It’s FICTION! Which means it’s NOT describing how things DO work or SHOULD work in the REAL life!?” :smile:
    Some brilliant UF writers sometimes face critique when they decide to write a book concerning a so called “problematic” topic and/or hero(ine), e.g. Karen Marie Moning was once accused of “glorifying” rape in the Fever novels (absurd!), and if memory serves right, Lilith Saintcrow has been informed by some reader that “she got the Devil/Lucifer/Hell all wrong” in her Dante Valentine series. (dunno about you, but I would be quite scared if she got him RIGHT :twisted:)
    As sorry I am about you being told off by some narrow minded reader(s), I have to add that at least you are in a truly superb company… :mrgreen:

  18. Ann Aguirre
    · May 26th, 2010 at 11:14 am · Link

    Well, I love this series. It is FABULOUS, and the best books are yet to come.

  19. jjdebenedictis
    · May 26th, 2010 at 7:50 pm · Link

    PS – I was walking by a bookstore today, so I bought your novel. Ka-ching! One more royalty in the bank! :smile:

  20. InkGypsy
    · June 3rd, 2010 at 5:05 pm · Link

    (Playing catch-up here, so sorry my comments are a little out-of-date..)

    I just read the first five chapters and UG is definitely on my ‘gotta get’ list! I want to applaud you, Stacia, for your courage in writing this book, and in your publishers for backing you on it.

    Been reading around the reviews etc and am finding interesting that people are reacting so strongly to the drug addiction. It’s not that I think this is ‘more normal than people think’ so get over it BUT most people have crutches they turn to (food, caffeine, shopping, porn, Facebook… etc), often many times a day, to cope and/or avoid issues. While Chess’ addiction is more extreme and the life/death stakes are higher than the average person, I don’t think she’s as different from the average reader as they’d like to believe. In fact, I think the obvious flaw – both in the addiction and in not being willing to deal with it – makes her very relate-able. You have no idea what the person sitting next to you on the bus is really coping with (heartbreak, crisis of faith, depression etc) even though you may see them day after day, looking completely normal and functioning like a healthy member of society. Heck, you may even admire them. And, of course, they don’t know your secrets either.

    Part of what I think UF has the potential to do really well is to take the ‘hidden’ issues average people have (including denying them) and play them out to extremes to explore those very issues (an obvious example is Buffy fighting monsters = coping with high school and growing up). UF is an adult genre with close ties to horror and those dark and very grim ‘olde worlde’ fairy tales so it’s no surprise issues of addiction, control, abuse and more appear. Vampires and all their blood issues are the same sort of thing under a different name. The difference here is calling a spade a spade I think. Makes it impossible to pretend the spade is something else. The classics have all the big issues and not just in the background. Often they’re part of the hero’s make-up, sometimes in squeamish detail, so I’m glad to see the genre expanding to deal with a range of issues and seeing stories with substance (beyond sexuality, although that was also a big deal when it was faced head on. Remember all the hoo-ha over Kushiel’s Chosen and the bondage issues or when Merry Gentry started exploring her sexual boundaries?)

    This is exactly the sort of story HBO would find interesting – probably to the tune of some Emmys – so I have to wonder if the medium/vehicle is related to the negative reactions, perhaps with UF having a strong Paranormal Romance readership in the ranks?

    I’m not saying I think it’s all a huge metaphor so deal with it you naysayers. Everyone should be allowed to have a reading preference. I’m just saying this story has the potential to work on many different levels at once. It’s why I was drawn to Fantasy in the first place as a kid and UF, almost by definition, allows stories to play out the dark side (I prefer my fairy tales dark and unpredictable, thank you, so UF fits me very well) with no guaranteed rainbows or HAEs – just like life.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love escapist fiction and I’ll happily read and buy and re-read UF-lite too, along with watch Jackie Chan movies just for the amazing action etc :smile: but if we can be entertained AND be encouraged to think at the same time – that’s awesome.

    Congrats Stacia. You’ve done something amazing in bringing Chess’ story to life. I can’t wait to read more.


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