As an author I am constantly seeking frank feedback with which I am guided to create stories that are believable, intriguing and entertaining. Today I would share with you the most powerful thing that anyone has ever said about my work.
I found this post on The Mostly Harmless Book Club thread this morning, this is a very active Kindle discussion group in the UK, mostly in and around London that I periodically participate in. It was through this group that I sold my first book in the UK, to a fellow author named Peter.
I posted my response which is also below.
Thanks for your interest,
Paul D. Alexander
Paul? DARK STAR.That is one hellofabook mate, my wife is now muttering obscenities in her sleep. I'm two thirds and caught. I have to say, it is very well written Paul. Its an excursion for me, away from where I have been in terms of literature, as I have been beavering away on 'the promise' trilogy. The fact that it shocked my wife and made her feel too uncomfortable to continue for the moment I think is a testament to your honesty without frills style, in taking a theme as dark as this surely is, and riding it fearlessly through the whole gamut of human depravity while retaining that higher morality of trust and humanity. I have this ambition, to write without fear. Peter.
MY RESPONSE TO PETER
I truly appreciate your comments and your frank feedback about my work. If you will indulge me, I would like to tell you a story.
A few weeks ago my very straight-laced aunt, who is in her late 70's asked to read my book. I agreed, but I did not give her any warning about the language or the theme. She called me for my birthday on Sunday morning the 6th. After her tradition of singing happy birthday over the phone she said, "Paul David, I want to talk to you about your book." My mother always used my middle name when I was in trouble.
She continued by saying that she had taken the book with her on a trip intending to read it then. She read just a few pages, was put off by the language and stopped.
She then returned home and saw an article about my work on the front page of the newspaper. She was intrigued by the article and decided to give the book another go. With her next words I nearly dropped the phone, "I started last Thursday, finished on Friday and I loved your book."
The door was open so I took the opportunity to explain to her that the language and the events in the story have nothing to do with me and everything to do with my characters. If I had not written this story with a language and events that are true to life, then my story would not ring true, it would not seem real. It would be absurd to think that a prostitute, who has three personalities, is the daughter of a prostitute and murders people to make her points would say "gosh darn" when she was mad.
Peter, I am a deeply religious, very spiritual man. You will notice the careful intertwine of scriptures in my story which help build suspense. I believe that God has made us aware of hell because it is important for us to know the whole story. If we did not know that good and evil both exist, then good would not mean the same thing to us.
Dark Star was reviewed by a minister who I hold in high regard. Not only did he find the story exceptional he wrote a positive review and posted it on Kindle in the U.S.
I hope that with this book I have effectively lifted the covers and created a story that is powerful and true to life. If we are to see the world for what it truly is, we must know what and who it contains.
Of Mice and Men ends in a sort of mercy killing because given the circumstance Steinbeck saw no other way. I am, by no means, comparing myself to Steinbeck. I am merely saying that it is all out there. I think that if we are to be good writers then we must be willing to take risks and be true to ourselves, our readers and most of all, true to the words.
I hope that your wife finds the strength to finish, I would not want her to miss the twist at the end which left even my old Aunt saying "wow."