Sour Grapes?

Posted March 21, 2011 by Holly in Discussions | 33 Comments

Here’s the scenario:

Last year an author released a book that was labeled as contemporary romance. It was part of a long running series and this character’s book was much anticipated. Only…it wasn’t a contemporary. The author decided to make it a time-travel/futuristic/sci-fi blend. Readers were pretty upset about it – rightly so, IMO. The author’s response was 1) I have to do what my muse tells me to and 2) it’s really my publisher’s fault for labeling this wrong. She took a lot of heat for both her response and for the book itself. Eventually the dust settled and most people – myself included – forgot all about it.

Now the author has a new book coming out. The heroine is an author. And it just so happens her last book garnered a lot of controversy for an unexpected plot twist. The heroine’s reaction to the controversy was exactly what our author’s reaction was. It was pretty much right down the line the same. The author didn’t deviate even a little between her heroine’s situation and her real life one.

I have to be honest, the whole thing highly offended me. It felt like the author just had to get the last word in, and since she couldn’t do it in real life she did it for pretend, in her book. Now, I know it’s possible that it’s all just a big fat coincidence, but it feels like sour grapes. Why write a book with an author character who writes the same genre as you and dealt with the same bad reviews for the same plot twist, if it’s not sour grapes?

What say you? Should the author have brought it to her book? Coincidence or Sour Grapes?


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33 responses to “Sour Grapes?

  1. I am less surprised that the author wrote it, and more surprised that the publisher actually published it. Wow. Whatever happened to letting sleeping dogs lie?

  2. Is it sour grape? Probably. But I know what it’s like to want to say something but know that you can’t.
    It’s apparent that the situation bother her and perhaps she felt that she didn’t or wasn’t able to say how she really felt and this was her way of finally being able to let go of it.

  3. Thing is, this author traditionally doesn’t really care about reader reaction, or saying things that might piss off readers. I mean, she sells a sh*tton of books, so I honestly think she doesn’t care.

    This happens to be an author who I had to defriend on FB because she posts political posts frequently, which I do not agree with. That being said, I’ve also met her a few times and she’s a really lovely person.

    Not that that is really here, nor there.

    My point is, I’m not surprised, because I’ve always felt like this particular author doesn’t give a crap about pissing off readers. She sells books anyway.

  4. Wow… you people post as if you think that writing (which is an art form) should be geared to what the reader wants to read, instead of the readers finding writers that they enjoy. I don’t remember a pair of golden arches or a Have It Your Way offer on her books.

    As a matter or record, I was one of the ones disappointed in this particular book, and felt slighted as a fan of the series. But as an artist, I know that you create what your muse or heart tells you. You hope your fans (or in this case readers) enjoy it more times than not. But never in a million years would I have considered taking it to the extremes that some readers do and have.

    I think by including it in the story is was more of a way to get readers to understand where she was coming from and why there was a deviation from the story, not sour grapes as has been purported here.

  5. Hmmm. Having read the book that I am pretty sure you are talking about, I have to say a couple of things:
    1) I WAS disappointed in the book. Not because of the time travel thing, but because I kind of think the hero got a “get out of the hospital free” card and didn’t have to face dealing with his injury. He just kind of jumped out of bed and got to be a whole man again without much soul searching. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me at the time.

    2) I’ve read almost everything else this author has written, and most of it has touched me, I’ve loved it, and I will continue to read and re-read what she writes.

    3)There are a lot of great writers out there, and some of them will have social and political opinions that are vastly different than mine. They are allowed! Some authors will be social and amazingly friendly, some of them may be shy, retiring, stuck up or mean. If someone offends me, I can just stop reading what they write. I can express my opinion, But I think I can be nice about it.

    4) But that’s just what I think.

  6. Banana

    Sour grapes? I read both books and I didn’t take it the way you are saying.

    Not care about her readers? Yea right. If she didn’t she would not always respond to them on her facebook pages. I have friend several other writers and have had comments ignored. Perhaps because they are to busy. It’s refreshing to be able to comment no matter what it is and get a response. To say she doesn’t care about her readers..leaves me feeling like the only one who is sour grapes is you!
    1 last thing. If she sells a ****load of books, which she does, and didn’t care why would she continue to do charity books and help charities year after year after year?
    The new book is awesome and I’d bet a years salary that the majority of her fans will think so.

  7. **Alexis**

    I disagree..yes the authors sci-fi/time travel book threw me a little but it was still an awesome book! and i agree with everything the author said…she just writes what her muse gives her…its the same for lots of writers and painters and others that give us such great stuff. I love that the author was willing to use her own situation as inspiration for one of her books! I might be a tad biased because i LOVE ALL OF THE AUTHOR’S books!

  8. Kathleen H.

    Haven’t you ever read the shirt that says ‘careful, or you’ll end up in my novel’? Well, you ended up in her novel, you can tell all you’re friends that you made the novel.

    @Wendy – You have Bat-Girl as your picture and you’re worried about other people’s politics showing up in their work. Batwoman and Bat-Girl were created because of concerns in the 1950’s that Batman and Robin had an ‘inappropriate’ sexual relationship. Having that picture up can be taken as a political statement. Too funny.

  9. The series was straight up contemporary romance. What was the author thinking of writing a sci-fi time travel and what was her editor thinking when allowing it be written?

    The author should have expected the backlash and rightly so, and don’t give the excuse because your muse of your character are in charge. That’s a poor excuse and a lame one at that.

  10. Amekia S.

    Wow. While I respect others’ opinions, I have a different take on things regarding authors or anyone who shares their art with others. While I, as the buying public enjoy their work, it is THEIR work and I choose to enjoy or not enjoy it. What I find is that many authors lose a bit of something when they begin writing to please everyone. I prefer to let them do what drew me to their work in the first place. If you don’t enjoy the work don’t buy that specific work. I was a bit thrown by the My Man Michael book and didn’t enjoy it as much as the others and was disappointed in the misdirection. However, I love so many others that I realize that EVERYONE, includiing our favorite authors can miss the mark a time or two. As for the sour grapes. We are fooling ourselves if we believe that an authors life doesn’t get woven into their stories more often than even they realize. Again, I don’t always agree with every stance but at least they have one and are willing to stand behind it. We all take life’s lessons and grow from them. Why isn’t she allowed to express herself about the incident in her stories? In the end, it is a book. Don’t take life so seriously.

  11. I’ll have to let you know after I read the book. I never read the time travel. After the whole series was contemporary then throwing a futuristic gem in? Yeah, not buying it. So maybe the whole sour grapes thing won’t bother me.

    I usually love this author. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to read that particular character’s story, but I’m looking forward to reading the new book. Sometime.

  12. Tammy H.

    Coincidence or sour grapes? How about neither? The author has a contract. She made a plot choice. Her publisher made a business decision to publish the book. (shrug) Is there another outcome or solution you’d find more acceptable here?

    Should the author stop writing so you’re not offended? And why does it bother you so much?

  13. Anonymous

    Wendy wrote: “It’s not sour grapes so much for me as…..overly precious. I tend to get annoyed when too much of an author’s “Real Life” bleeds into their novels.”

    I think this is very apt. Reminds me of authors who have characters reading one of their other books, which has always irked me. — willaful

  14. Has

    I agree about the sour grapes – I think sometimes things should just be let go instead of dragging it up in this way. This reminds me of another author who used a blogger’s name as a seedy villain who was killed off in her next book after a bad review.

    Responding to things like that especially in books can last way longer and not the way the author intends than a brief brouhaha about a review or reaction about a book.

  15. Anonymous

    Umm, it’s not sour grapes, it’s called writing from experience, like most good authors do a some point in their life!

    Although the time travel book apearing in the middle of a contemporary series was unexpected, I enjoyed the book just as much as the regular books in the series. It was a nice change of pace.

  16. Wendy

    It’s not sour grapes so much for me as…..overly precious. I tend to get annoyed when too much of an author’s “Real Life” bleeds into their novels. Like if I know an author supports a political cause, and then said cause ends up getting “pushed” in their new book? I’m annoyed. I’m even annoyed if it’s a cause I personally believe in!

    Or like that time a Kinley MacGregor ended up providing a cover quote for a Sherrilyn Kenyon novel (or was it vice versa?).

    I know authors probably can’t help but put a little bit of themselves into their work – but there’s a very fine line with that. When it starts to feel like an “agenda” is when they tend to lose me…..

  17. WTF is this? I mean, since when is it okay to demand that a writer write only one thing? I mean, I understand if you are reading a series that’s contemp and expect that out of a sequel a sf/future rom will throw you and not everyone will like that. But um, “What was the author thinking of writing a sci-fi time travel and what was her editor thinking when allowing it be written?” Excuse me?? I thought editors go for good books period. And writers try to write good books period. Who the hell is an editor or a reader to tell an author what they can an cannot write? What they will and will not buy is one thing, but “allowing it to be written”??

    I don’t see what the big deal is since most editors and reader read more than one kind of book. And yeah they might like different subgenres inside a genre, but we’re not talking someone trying to pass off a horror book as a romance, it’s one kind of a romance when she writes other kinds of romance? Stacia Kane, Ann Aguirre, Anya Bast, Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher and nora freaking Roberts all write more than one genre/subgenre, where are the people telling la Nora she shouldn’t be allowed to write the In Death books because readers only want her Bride books?

    Normally I don’t like writers writing writer main characters (primarily because they always get something wrong and even valid conflict ends up sounding like whining), but come on people don’t you think this is going a little far?

    Katie, normally I find your additions to such conversations excellent, but if anyone ever said about you what you just said about this author (apparently I’m the only one who doesn’t know who it is) you’d flip.

  18. Some people can’t stand it when their idiocy is found out, and exposed to the world – and they do everything possible to justify their actions. Perhaps that is what this author is doing. Honestly, I think that its a bigger disappointment that her publisher, editor and/or manager are letting her do this, than the actual author doing this herself. Anyhow, as readers, I think we don’t need to worry about any one author, or any one book anyway 🙂

  19. Wendy

    @Kathleen: At this late stage in my online existence the avatar isn’t seen so much as a political statement as it is a severe case of wishful, more likely delusional, thinking.

  20. I read and reviewed that new book, and at the time I wasn’t fully aware of the earlier controversy.

    Even so, I HATED the fact so much of the plot revolved around the evil fans. You have to read the book in order to understand just how much the story revolves around writers getting bad reviews. I felt like the author had insulted me, and I hadn’t done anything wrong! When I wrote my review I mentioned this, and I know for a fact she read it.

    Just like Ilona Andrews said – authors should always remember, “Say nothing, say nothing.”

    It’s the only way to go.

  21. Is there another outcome or solution you’d find more acceptable here?

    Should the author stop writing so you’re not offended? And why does it bother you so much?

    Actually yes, there is another solution I’d find more acceptable – for the author to own her words. Instead of going on and on about how readers just don’t understand, and awful mean reviewers might actually kidnap an author over a book, she could say “hey, sorry you didn’t like it” and move on.

    Instead she defended her decision ad nauseum, by saying she has to follow her “muse” and her publisher is to blame because they labeled the book wrong. And if that isn’t enough, she then proceeds to continue to justify her book in another book.

    Should the author stop writing so I’m not offended? No. But she should stop insulting her readers. Although I forgot I’m not actually considered a “reader” of hers, because I’ve only read 10 or so of her books and didn’t love all of them.

  22. Lou

    Ah yes, I could almost hear the stampede of the author’s fangirls charging from the author’s facebook page to stoutly defend and attack anyone who dares to criticize.

    And I’m sure the author didn’t want anyone attacking people here, that’s why she posted for all to see on her facebook…

    Generally, I don’t know why any author would want to bring up an event in a book that is identical to what happened in real life, and knowing how much negativity it caused amongst readers. That’s just asking for more drama IMO.

  23. Banana

    Lou..she posts all her reviews good and bad so it’s not like she posted this just so her “fangirls” would defend her. Your being as condescending as the blogger says the writer is insulting to her fans.
    By the way, I respect everyones opinion to not like the book or the author. But to say that she doesn’t care about her fans is wrong. I read the book and I didn’t feel slighted as a fan.
    If she didn’t care about her fans she would not ever respond to them.But she does..daily. Like her or don’t its up to you but no need to belittle her character. Unless doing so makes you happy and if that’s the case..well that’s just sad.

  24. Lou

    @Banana No, what I’m doing is cutting through the bullshit.

    Author posts the link to her facebook page. Fan’s come over to insult the reviewer and attack other commentators.

    And you think the author didn’t know what her fans would do by posting that link. Please.

  25. Has

    @Banana
    I don’t think anyone is belittling the author, and I agree with Lou – Pointing out negative reviews on a personal page is asking for backlashes – I haven’t heard of this with other authors. And like the previous poster quoted Ilona Andrews. Don’t say nothing is best especially about negative reviews/articles.

    When you write about something that is close to the author’s personal reality than that is crossing a line, is it not? We have heard about other authors – I can think of a few who have blogged about their sex lives and personal issues and that has invited all kinds of trouble and attention.

    The author has a right to write about anything and everything she likes. But the reader has the right to take meaning from that book – be it positive or negative.
    Personally I think she’s making more of an issue about this negative reaction now and writing this fictional plot about a heroine facing a similar issue is too close to the matter and if she didn’t expect that this wouldn’t have drawn attention to her previous book then she is pretty naive about it.

  26. A thought provoking post. I admit I was a bit miffed at first since I expected a contemp. I did end up loving the book anyway. If the publishers were smart, they would mark books that are part of a series. I would read it no matter what genre. Actually if publishers were smart, they would realize how smart readers are & start treating us with a little respect. That means full disclosure and no making authors have 2 or 3 names depending on genre (unless the author wants to).

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