Google is a fine tool. I use it frequently, and it provides helpful answers to questions such as "What was the name of the actor who played H.R. Pufnstuf?" (Roberto Gamonet, pictured out of costume at right) and "What was the #1 song of 1968, the year I was born?" ("Hey Jude"). Just today I used it to find out whether or not there was a DVD release of the short-lived television show Glory Days. (There is, but sadly not in the U.S.)
But googling your own name is just asking for trouble. All sorts of things can come up that you just don't want to see. Regrettable pictures. Your ex's blog. Outstanding warrants.
Which is exactly why I shouldn't have googled Jane Bites Back. But I did. I never said I was smart.
Truthfully, I google the book from time to time to see if anyone is talking about it. And they are. Mostly it's in a good way, but every so often I run into someone who's determined to hate the book before it's even out. These are my favorite comments. It's always fun when someone forms an opinion about you and your work without actually having read any of it.
Today my googling brought me to the following comment on a Jane Austen blog. It was credited, as many such comments are, to Anonymous. I present it here exactly as it appeared.
HOW DARE YOU ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR SENSE TO WRITE THIS NOVEL MR MT FORD. FIRST WE GET ZOMIES IN PRIDE AND PRJUDICE AND SEA MONSTERS IN S&S MAY BE YOU SHOULD WRITE NOVELS FOR BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER IF YOU LIKE TO WRITE ABOUT THEM. WHAT HAS POOR MISS JANE AUSTEN DONE FOR YOU TO TURN HER IN TO A VAMPIRE NOTHING. BY NOW YOU WOULD HAD GUESS I WILL NOT BE GOING OUT TO BUY THIS BOOK OR ANY LIKE IT. YOUR EVER A VERY DISPLEASED MISS JANE AUSTEN FANI'm tempted to say that judging by the tone and content of this post it's unlikely Anonymous has read very many books at all. Or is six. But that wouldn't be fair. I don't know Anonymous any more than Anonymous knows me. Unless, of course, it's just one of my friends being horrid, which is entirely possible given the crowd I run with.
Here's the thing--this is not the only post like this. There aren't a lot of them out there, fewer than half a dozen, but they all resonate with the same indignant tone. How dare I write about Jane Austen as a vampire?
Here's a thought: Unless you are Jane Austen, maybe you shouldn't be huffing and puffing about what she would or would not approve of. Because I have news. She's not your friend. No matter how much you love her books, you're not going to be calling her up and saying, "Can you believe what Michael Thomas Ford did to you in that awful book? How dare he?"
Besides, I already showed the book to her and she thinks it's most agreeable.
My point is this: If you read it and you hate it, fine. But if you haven't read it, sit in the corner and let the grown ups talk.
And while we're at it, what's wrong with being a vampire, Anonymous? You just don't like anything, do you? Well, I know people like you, and I'll tell you something--they all come to bad ends. Mark my words. If I were you I'd watch out for falling anvils, and bear traps, and poisoned lozenges.
In nicer news, my googling also revealed that Jane Bites Back is now on sale at Walmart. This is thrilling indeed as, no matter what you think of them, those stores move books. Obviously you can't walk in and get a copy--the book isn't out until December 29--but you can preorder it on their website if you're so inclined.
You can preorder it lots of other places as well, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Indiebound, and your local independent bookstore. But I love, love, love that I'm going to be on sale at Walmart as well. For one thing, my relatives may actually see it. Oh yeah, Teri and Nancy, I went there.
You know, some really big musical acts--Garth Brooks, Journey, AC/DC, KISS--have started selling their new music only at Walmart. I know this because in October I had to drive forty-five minutes to the nearest Walmart to get the latest KISS album, Sonic Boom. It was sort of annoying, but it also made it kind of an event. In this age of being able to download things with the click of a mouse, having to actually go somewhere to get a new album or a new book feels very old school. You know, like when we used to camp outside the Ticketmaster outlet all night to get good seats for Ozzy or Heart.
You probably don't remember those days, do you? Well, you missed out. It was a lot of fun.
Anyway, it wouldn't surprise me if in the not-so-distant future some authors made a deal with Walmart to publish their books and be the sole distributor. Then we'll see ads for Stephen King's The Thing in the Hamper: Only at Walmart! Buy two and get Michael Thomas Ford's latest for only $1.99!
Anonymous would love that.