Monday, April 20, 2009

Feelings of Adequacy

All right, so, a month ago I mentioned that I've kind of been dreading the reviews for my new novel, What We Remember. I generally don't worry about reviews, mostly because there's nothing you can do about them and all-too-frequently the reviewer thinks "review" means "find anything, no matter how small, to pick on." And it really is true that the only one who remembers a bad review is the author. Oh, and the author's enemies. Not that I have ever rejoiced in a foe's bad review. I wish everyone only brisk sales and unending feelings of well-being.

Anyway. I don't usually worry. But I'm currently in hyper neurotic mode because a bunch of projects are converging in an unpleasantly stress-making way, which I'm dealing with by worrying about everything but those projects. And by eating bags of Cheetos.

So today I got my first review for What We Remember, from the trade magazine Publishers Weekly. My editor called to read it to me. The conversation began with him saying, "PW reviewed the new book today. I think it's good."

I know, right?But you'll understand when you read it. Here you go:

What We Remember Michael Thomas Ford (Kensington)

Ford's adequate if overbusy latest begins with the body of sheriff Daniel McCloud, who went missing seven years ago, discovered buried in a box in the woods. As the investigation by the current sheriff, Nate Derry, progresses, the McClouds must come to terms with their father having been murdered, while McCloud's son, James, becomes the prime suspect, and a dark web of deception that chokes the Derry and McCloud families threatens to be unearthed. Leaning heavily on flashbacks, the story jumps between its perhaps too many points of view with relative ease. Ford handily navigates the suffocating intimacy of smalltown life, and his wide supporting cast has a few meaty characters. While the big reveal is set up very early on, the sprinkling of smaller mysteries and little tragedies will keep readers going. (June release.)

Adequate. Overbusy. Hard as it might be to believe, these are not really words that bring joy to an author's heart. I know you will find that shocking, so I will give you a moment to regain your composure.

All right, so that's not what one might call good. But the rest is okay. I can deal with things like with relative ease and handily navigates and will keep readers going. Particularly will keep readers going. At the end of the day, that's what's important.

And I fared waaaaaaaay better than a certain Super Mega Successful Author did. By all accounts this fellow is a lovely man, and every book he writes sells a trillion copies, so I suspect he doesn't much care what reviewers say. But if he did care he might not be too excited about comments such as underdeveloped motivation and a jokey narrative tone and will leave others scratching their heads, and especially not a lot of readers may have already checked out.

Okay, yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. His worse review makes me feel a little better about mine. I never said I was gracious. It's not like I'm going to phone him and read his review to him in a mocking tone. I'm a better person than that. Besides, I don't have his number.

So speaking of books, I've been doing a lot of newspaper interviews recently about my discovery of a new solar system. I mean because my friend Seth's book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has become a pop culture phenomenon and every time someone writes about him they want to write about my upcoming Jane Bites Back.

Mostly these interviews are fun, but occasionally there is a Moment. The most recent Moment went like this:

Reporter: "It must be exciting having your first book coming out. Are you excited?"

Me: Long pause, followed by lighthearted laugh. "I'm very excited. Just as excited as I was for the first fifty-four books I published over the past twenty years."

Reporter: "Oh. So, why do you think Jane Austen is so popular?"

Okay, I get it. I'm not Stephen King. But come on. You're writing about me. I have a website. I have a Wikipedia entry, for crying out loud. Would it be so hard to do a little Googling? It reminds me of another Moment from a long time ago:

Reporter: "I haven't actually read your book, so could you tell me why it's interesting?"

And people wonder why so many writers kill themselves.

Now I have to get back to work on the next book, which was due last week. I can't wait to hear what PW has to say about it.


1 comment:

Queer of Steel® said...

Sorry, Mike. I really couldn't bother to read your newest blog. Just email me with the encapsulated version. You're a peach. Thanks. *wink* What a bunch of fucksticks. Even on your worst day, you're still an amazing writer.