Archive for 'look how philosophical and stuff i am'



What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
Meh

I had a really good idea for a title for this post, which is fairly inane in general, but I decided it’s too long to be an effective blog-post title. So I’m using it as a subhead:

Serial Killers Leave Me Cold

(Get it? Cold, because dead.)

Please do not interpret that as me thinking serial killers are funny. They’re not funny, at all. There are very few things less funny, actually, than a serial killer, even if said serial killer wears hilarious costumes and recites lines from Caddyshack while he kills you. Unless the serial killer is the Joker, in which case he might occasionally achieve a sort of amusing insouciance or crack a good one-liner. Freddy Krueger also often elicited a smile or two in the later films, when they decided having him be genuinely terrifying (as he was in the first movie) was getting boring and so turned him into some kind of badly-scarred pedophile Shecky Greene.

(And speaking of pedophiles–boy, this post is just all kinds of light-hearted, isn’t it?–there are new and more horrifying allegations about Jimmy Savile, the BBC celebrity that the British government allowed to molest and abuse hundreds of children for decades while they covered it all up and pretended there was something charming and heartwarming about a man who was literally one of the creepiest and most disgusting creatures who ever walked the planet. Seriously, look at this sicko [I’m only linking to a Google Image search result, because I don’t want pictures of that piece of shit on my blog; also, remember all my links open a new window]–but beware, the mere sight of him could cause you to both vomit and question the sanity of a large number of people. I mean, if a person ever existed who looked more like a twisted pedophile than Jimmy Savile, I don’t know who it was. Jimmy Savile looks like what would happen if Cruella DeVille got triple-teamed by the Child-Killer from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, an evil leprechaun, and Golem, and then the resulting excrescence vomited up all of the evil in its soul, and that vomit took a shit on everything good and happy and fun and loving in the world, and that shit was a cackling, hideous, tackily dressed Jimmy Savile. Seriously, Leatherface would be terrified to look at Jimmy Savile. Buffalo Bill would think Jimmy Savile was just too gross to hang out with. And every day it seems more and more is revealed about Jimmy and his hideous, disgusting cronies and how they loved to wander through children’s wards in hospitals randomly abusing patients and–God, it’s just too hideous to even discuss further.)

And it’s too hideous to discuss further because some crimes just are hideous.

I like true crime shows. I know it’s very fashionable to refer to them as “murder porn,” and there is definitely that aspect to some of them, but at the risk of sounding like some kind of murder porn snob, those aren’t the ones that interest me very much. In fact, I find them kind of offensive (more on that in a second, as it leads into my main point about serial killers). I like watching true crime shows–and reading true crime books, which I’ve done since I was a kid and saw Diane Downs and Ann Rule on Oprah (and by the way SMALL SACRIFICES is still an amazing and chilling book)–because the investigation fascinate me, the clues and the alibis and interviews and tactics and how it all comes together. I do enjoy it when the villain is especially dastardly and overconfident, because it’s fun to see a bad guy’s plots fail, but the crime itself isn’t generally the reason I read true crime. I read it for the plot, I guess you could say, not the gore.

Which may be why, as much as I will happily spend the day watching “48 Hours” (I looove 48 Hours, Dateline, and when they do special episodes of 20/20) or “True Crime with Aphrodite Jones” or “On the Case with Paula Zahn,” and even occasionally a “Nightmare Next Door” or “Snapped” or “Unusual Suspects,” I tend to shy away from the more lurid shows, which kind of seem more like a “Hyuk, look at how a bunch of trashy people got kilt!” or “Daaamn, girl, your murder is sexay!” than an actual serious “Look at how we catch criminals and how hard we work to keep the darkness at bay.” Perhaps that thought says more about me than anyone or anything else, but that doesn’t change the fact that for me the line can be rather thin between fascinatingly twisty and offensively lurid. And for me, the line is almost always crossed when it comes to shows about serial killers.

In a show about a serial killer the serial killer is the star, see; the victims are afterthoughts. Often the investigators are kind of afterthoughts, too. It’s all about the killer: his twisted psyche, his grisly crimes, his facade of normalcy (or not), his travels and burial grounds. And honestly, I don’t care. Most people do not become serial killers because they’re interesting guys to hang around with; they become serial killers because they’re just human shells wrapped around an empty, silent darkness, and honestly even that description makes them seem more interesting than I actually find them. (Especially Gary Ridgeway. For a while last year it seemed like every time I turned on the TV they were showing something about Gary Ridgeway or Gary Ridgeway’s wife or Gary Ridgeway’s truck or Gary Ridgeway’s ski pants or something, as though Gary Ridgeway was somehow the world’s most important person and his actions ought to be studied in as much depth as the Challenger explosion, when really Gary Ridgeway is dull as dirt. Tax forms are more interesting than Gary Ridgeway. Listening to a stranger tell you about their toenails is more interesting than Gary Ridgeway. I’m telling you, Gary Ridgeway = dull.)

But they’re all dull, really. Most serial killers–I’d venture so far as to say pretty much all of them, in fact–are not Hannibal Lecter, Dexter Morgan, or even Patrick Bateman. They’re not smooth and erudite or articulate about their emptiness, killing rude people or other serial killers and serving their bones to other rude people in complicated recipes more like art than food and playing complex, clever games with other killers or FBI behavioral analysts/professors. They tend to just clump around killing people–innocent people–and every time Discovery ID or the Investigation Channel or whatever does a big Serial Killer Week or some new serial killer specials, it makes me wonder if we’re learning how good our investigators are and memorializing the victims, or making further celebrities of some people who deserve no celebrity (that isn’t to say they deserve death or they do not deserve death or anything–I’m making zero statement on our justice system itself, okay?–but what I definitely think is that the reward for slaughtering innocent people should NOT be fame and groupies mailing you panties and cash, and that comes not from the justice system but from the media. Save the panties for Tom Jones and the cash for me, guys, and change the channel). This is true even if they already were celebrities, like Savile, and if the world has learned anything from Savile I hope it is that being a celebrity doesn’t make you a good person–or even one worthy of not being spat upon by leprous monkeys while having their balls shaved with a cheese-grater and then fed to them.

Shows about serial killers make me feel like a voyeur, really, and I don’t like that feeling.

Endnotes:

1. Sorry this is so late. I’ve been behind all week. I hate summer so much; I’m barely sleeping because the sun rises three hours after I go to bed, and while my sleepshades help with that they do nothing to shut up the fucking birds right outside our bedroom window.

2. Also, have I mentioned that it’s really hot here? And there’s no A/C? Yeah, it’s hot here. I can’t sleep when it’s hot. I hate the heat.

3. Work, work, working very hard!

4. I think that’s it, I’ll be back sooner than later, and I am still hoping/planning to show you all my First Book Ever.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
On sales, promo, pressure and lists

I’m in a release day frame of mind lately, what with DEMON POSSESSED being released last week. See, it’s not just that that book was released, it’s also that it means UNHOLY GHOSTS will be out soon. Well, soonish, lol; three months.

And like any other writer with a book coming out, I’m thinking about promo. See, I want you to buy the book(s). I want you to get all of your friends to buy the book(s). I want to sell thousands and thousands and thousands of copies. I want to hit the NYT list, or the USA Today list, or the Publisher’s Weekly list, or Bookscan or whatever. Lists make writers happy, you see. And they make publishers happy, and everybody’s happy. Happiness is good.

And of course, I would hope that you guys, my lovely readers, would want to help me sell books or hit lists or whatever. Because we have something of a symbiotic relationship, you know, you and me. I write books, and you buy them, and when you buy them you encourage me to write more of them, and it’s all very cheering and makes me feel warm and happy inside to think that I’ve given you something you enjoy (I honestly love giving presents; I’m one of those weird people at holidays who gets more excited about the things I’m giving than what I might get).

But here’s the thing. While I would hope that you would want to help, I don’t expect you to. I’m surprised and thrilled and grateful whenever you do, but I don’t expect it. At all. Ever. And I certainly wouldn’t presume to INSIST you do, or berate you for not doing so. Or imply that you’re stupid for not purchasing my books in the exact fashion that I would prefer you to do so.

Sadly, it seems sometimes as if I–okay, I and several of my close friends–are alone in that feeling, that instinctive cringing when we see readers being treated like nothing more than open wallets whose sole purpose is to drive said writer to greater glory.

Do I want to hit a list? Of course, although I would never presume to think I have a real shot at it. Do I think it would be great if readers everywhere held off on buying my books until the day of release? Well, sure, I guess so, but see the aforementioned “I would never presume to think I have a shot at a list anyway so what does it matter,” answer. (Yeah, I know, that wasn’t the full answer, but it’s what I meant.)

Are there things readers can do to help a favorite author hit a list? Yeah, but not as many as you think, really. Sure, waiting until release day–or the day before, since books release on Tuesdays and sales are counted for the entire week, so buying on Monday is okay–helps. That’s a good thing to do, if you’re interested, but really that’s about it. It’s certainly all I would ever think to ask.

See…I work for YOU. I mean, yes, I work for myself, but I DO the work for you. You are my audience. You are not my slaves. You do not exist in order to feed my ego or allow me to add a shiny “List” pin to my vest. It’s not for me to tell you where you’re allowed to buy my books or in what format. I’m just amazed and grateful that you buy them at all.

I’ll be perfectly honest here. There are times when it feels as if the world of readers and the world of writers are at war. Readers want certain things; they have a right to want those things as consumers. But writers/publishers want certain things as well, and we have a right to want those things as content creators and producers. And don’t even get me started on copyright violations/piracy, and some of the justifications for those. Again, to be honest? There are times when I see discussions of it, or come across my books on filesharing sites, and have the sick, deep feeling that I should just give the hell up. I can never “win”–by which I mean earn a decent living consistently, when I’m being stolen from.

And it’s not just the financial theft, it’s the feeling that someone has literally reached into my mind and taken something from me without permission. It feels like I got drunk and told a deep secret to someone I thought was a friend, and that so-called friend turned around and told the world, and they’re all laughing at me. Or like a when a guy you really like sleeps with you and then never calls you again, you know? It makes me feel worthless, and frustrated, and lonely and sad. Sure piracy bothers me because of the money, sure, but really?

Piracy just hurts. It hurts to think someone is using you for entertainment but doesn’t think you deserve any compensation for that. It hurts to think you’re seen as less than human; as some sort of machine which exists for the gratification of others but is not permitted any gratification of its own. It hurts to feel that someone thinks they’re entitled to the fruits of your labor–the expression of the truth as you see it and the worlds and people you created and love–without paying for them. It doesn’t feel like a royalty payment was stolen from you. It feels like a tiny part of your soul was stolen from you.

That shit hurts.

And I imagine it hurts readers, too, when they’re made to feel–from being yelled at, lectured, or treated like they’re stupid–that they exist solely to provide the writer with titles and accolades. That just buying and reading and enjoying and talking about a book isn’t enough, that they now must buy it at certain times, in certain places, in certain formats, at certain phases of the moon, or whatever. Just as writers are not simply typewriters churning out words, readers are not simply notches on that big bestseller belt. They are people.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. Just that I think it’s wrong.

Do I want to sell a lot of books? Hell, yes!

But I don’t want to just sell a lot of books. I want to entertain a lot of people. I want to give them something. That’s what this is about, not numbers or lists. It’s about books and writing and reading and the way when we read a book we love we feel connected to that book, and those characters, and that author. And when we discover another fan of those books we have a connection with that person, and books created that connection, and it wouldn’t exist without writers, readers, and publishers.

So do I want to hit a list? Of course. Have I thought of various promotional things to do, fun things, that may help facilitate that? Sure.

Do I want to hit a list at the expense of readers, by berating them or nagging them, by treating them like my minions or like they fucking owe me that goddamn list, so they better get off their fat asses and do what I say?

No.

That’s not worth it to me. I don’t want it that way. It wouldn’t mean anything that way.

I may never hit a list. But I will always be grateful that people have bought my books, and read them and loved them and took the time to tell me. Yes, this is a business, and I want to succeed in it and make money. But not at the expense of readers, and not at the expense of my own soul.

So that’s it. Just some things I’m thinking of, and will continue to think of as we get closer to the summer and the release of the Downside books (finished copyedits on CITY OF GHOSTS last week, and am quite pleased, btw).

So…thanks.

ETA: Moira Rogers, who writes awesome books, has also done a post on this topic, and I highly recommend you check it out too. My response to it? Ditto.