I published a new book the other day. Fist-pumps the air. The idea for this novel came to me seven years ago, title included. This was back when I wrote more fanfiction, so I still have the banner I created. January 27th, 2011. Path of Destruction. Since then, the idea of the rock-star romance has grown and developed in some dark corner of my mind. Names for characters popped up, scenes played out before my eyes, and boom, hey, let’s end the guy’s rock star career with a prison sentence, and hey, let’s research addiction and abuse for the heroine.
I lived and breathed that novel once I really started writing. I questioned myself at every turn, I dreamed about it and woke up with ideas and lines and various crap I just had to include in the book, I—as usual—stopped existing in real life, and I had notes everywhere that I swear some little gnome move around when I’m not looking.
Since I value realism and plausibility as much as I do, research is a big part of my work. It’s something I take pride in. For this particular novel, there was a lot to learn. Lincoln, my main guy, has spent the past ten years in prison, and can you imagine? He missed the internet explosion. He’s new to social media, and he can’t for the life of him understand why people text so fucking much. When he leaves prison, he thinks Walkman is still a thing. He’s overwhelmed and has a short fuse.
Rewind: my first thought, no matter how brief it was, was about reuniting him with the girl he lost when he was arrested. Then I thought, well…hold up, he’s been to prison, and ten years have passed. Let’s find out how he’s actually going to react. Freedom comes before the girl. The world has changed.
Step by step, I brought him out of that facility. Literally, step by step. He’ll register the familiar sounds of the locks and heavy doors, the comfort of the only clothes he’s worn for a decade, and when he’s given some pocket change, he notices the design of the money’s changed.
Research brings a story to life on another level, in my opinion. Whether I’m reading journals from inmates who have spent years and years locked up, or I’m asking my musician husband about Lincoln’s guitar playing, I try to cover everything I can think of. A book is a puzzle. Everything has to fit. Does the way he speak match his education and background, would Jesse and Abel accept Lincoln’s presence quickly or would there be issues, and when the hell can Lincoln and Adeline finally get together?
I’m rambling. I actually have a point to make, believe it or not.
When picking beta readers, the last thing I want is a group of ass-kissers. I want their honesty about everything, and I did get some criticism. Thank fuck. Because if they didn’t catch it, it would fall on the readers to get dissatisfied. So I went back and did some changes; my editor and I went back and forth for weeks, too. Then my proofer had her go, and again, some changes, very minor this time.
Last reading round, I was so fucking happy with Path of Destruction. The puzzle was complete, and I heard enough “This is your best book yet; I’ll never forget it” to make me soar.
Of course, me being me, I suck at promoting myself, so this is hardly a book that will hit any bestseller lists. But, no matter what, I’m very happy with my work. I continue to write what I want to read, and I actually read it yesterday. I recommend it. 😉
To my point. An author can never please everyone. There will probably be readers who completely trash Destruction on Amazon and Goodreads. It happens. Always. Now, it’s close to impossible to offend me, but I can still get my feelings hurt, so I tend to avoid reading reviews. The reviews are for readers, not for writers. My job is done. But yeah, there will be those who don’t like it, and here’s what won’t happen if/when I see someone tearing Path of Destruction to pieces: me venting about it online.
As a writer, I understand the sting. Goddammit, we put so much energy into these books. Someone calling them shit can hurt. Some readers get overly vicious, too. But I promise, turning it into a fight won’t change the reader’s mind. If anything, more will see an author throwing a tantrum because someone didn’t like their book. On social media, we never see every side of the story. We scroll down our feeds and see one side, one bitch fit. And I’ll never understand why.
Are you not happy with your book? If you are, then why let one reader ruin it for you? Did no one ever tell you to not feed the trolls? Or…did the review strike a chord; did the reader have a point? In which case, accept it and improve because your butthurt is showing.