Rather than be upset about a review of Book 5 that called into question decisions I make regarding plot lines and characterizations, I’m going to treat this as an opportunity to answer some questions that the reviewer had about my book. And, I’m going to clear up a few things along the way for any of you who were wondering, but were too polite to ask.
One question that arose was about a ‘major’ (honestly, not so major) plotline that wasn’t wrapped up by the end of the book. There was a reason for that. The story around that plotline is only beginning and it might not wrap up for several books. It was a choice, not an oversight.
There was a concern that enough angst hadn’t been applied to the death of the author character and that the story was all about Polly’s response and life. Well, yes – because my books are written from Polly’s perspective.
In the first book, I had a friend ask why I hadn’t described the gun the Sheriff carried or the pickup truck that Henry drove … in detail. The short answer is that Polly doesn’t have that information in her head. She doesn’t know a Glock from a Beretta and until the boys schooled her, she didn’t pay enough attention to pickup trucks to know a Ford from a Chevy. Writing from a single perspective isn’t an easy thing to do because you can’t explore what someone else is thinking unless Polly asks. Because she has a million things going on around her all the time, she doesn’t always ask each person what is going on up in their head. For the most part, I leave it to my readers to interpret those things on their own. I sketch the picture and readers fill in color and depth as they understand it. We won’t all see things the same way, but that’s the best part about reading a book, isn’t it?
Another matter that is often raised is that the mysteries aren’t deep enough or that the romance isn’t romantic enough or … (etc., etc.). Again, these are choices I make and at some level, choosing to like those choices or not is up to the reader. We all like to read different types of things and when books don’t necessarily appeal to us, it shouldn’t be a criticism of either the reader or the author, but just a fact of life.
However, I do want to address it. The mysteries in my books are not necessarily the central arc of the stories. They are there because they happen and what fun is it without something to move you along in the story? But the main point of my stories is about the relationships and interactions of people in a small town when things happen around them. They have fun together, they laugh, they enjoy each other and sometimes they escape reality when they come together.
The romance between Polly and Henry will receive criticism because I have chosen not to portray them sleeping together and being sexually active. I think that bringing two people together to have sex is a lazy way of developing a relationship – honestly … in both a novel and in real life. It establishes the relationship quickly and without watching them grow together first. Why hurry?
I’m saddened that just because they are in their thirties, it is expected that Henry and Polly should be sexually active after having known each other for just over a year. Polly came out of a terrible relationship and Henry is a good guy, She has only begun to understand how much she loves him and is completely unsure as to whether or not she is ready to give up her independence. These are big issues that any young woman should deal with before she jumps into bed with a man, no matter her age. Because once it happens, you can’t go back. I’m certain that some of us wish we’d had the courage to make better choices about this when we were young and it’s okay that Polly is making them. There are many young women who make that same choice every day and I’m proud of them.
There is nothing I love more than to find people connecting with my characters and the community in Bellingwood, but I often feel as if I should set out reminders that it is fiction and stories take their own path, much like real life does. Stories don’t fit everyone’s idea of what life should look like or act like, but these stories fit my idea of what Bellingwood is and what these people do. It is fiction, it is not real. These are stories, not life.
Fiction is defined as: written stories about people and events that are not real : literature that tells stories which are imagined by the writer : something that is not true (from Merriam-Webster). So, if a plot line or a character seems unimaginable to you, that’s perfectly fine with me … because this is fiction. At the core of it all, this is only a story.
Thanks for the questions and please feel free to ask them any time. If you pose them to me via email or message on Facebook, I’ll answer them – and if they seem to be things that I think everyone would like to know, I’ll answer them here!
I love my readers … you all are the best ever.
Oh … and because it’s cold and windy and winter, here’s a sleepy kitty cat picture to make everything better.