Monday, March 19, 2012

My thoughts on reviews

One of my books was given a negative review in the media recently. Kind of a, your baby's weird and somewhat deformed and shouldn't be allowed to play with other children, kind of review. I know and appreciate that authors should take it on the chin, turn the other cheek and say nothing about it all. I've had negative reviews before. I feel confident that if I keep writing there are more bad reviews in my future. I create something and send it into the world and people form opinions about it. It is an incredibly subjective business and it is an impossible job pleasing all of the people all of the time. You can't embrace the glowing reviews and refuse the bad. In fact bad reviews might be seen as a positive sign that people are taking notice of your work. The more people that read your work the more chance the group will cover a range of responses. You do not have to like what I have written. But I couldn't help feeling a little upset when I read this review. After all my books ARE my babies. And there was nothing I could do or say to explain or answer the questions or concerns raised. But this is the only way reviews can work. So yes, I still firmly believe the right thing to do is say nothing, but it is really hard for an author, or any creative person for that matter to stay silent. It is incredibly important that reviewers feel free to say what they believe about a book. And it would be horribly wrong for reviewers to feel obliged to say only good things. Reviews would be pointless if that were the case. Reviewers, on the whole, are skilled, thoughtful book-lovers.

In the interests of taking the bad with the good, the review can be seen here (it is at the bottom of the page). My book is about the transformative power and magic of maternal love. Its about enjoying life. It seems sad that this wouldn't be shared with children who seem the perfect audience. But it is a book for grown ups too. When my children were much younger I would make highly decorated cakes for their birthdays and other special occasions. A number of times it was suggested I should offer my work to cake shops but I always said I would never like to do it for commercial gain, for me it was an act of love. And that it was what Penny and Sam's mother does in Made with Love. Her baking is an act of love and this love transforms the gingerbread. And when the children eat the gingerbread they feel their mother's love and it transfers to the snowman they make. How can the gingerbread woman and the snowman not recognize eachother - they have both been made with love, just as Penny and Sam were. You can check out an earlier review of the same book from The NZ Herald's Canvas Magazine here (click on the picture to enlarge for reading).

I can't help my stories coming out the way they do, and ugly and/or deformed, I love them just as much. I know along the way, others have loved them too. I hope some readers will pick them up and fall in love just like we did. I take heart from the fact that when my book The Were-Nana first came out many adults thought it dark and mean. When it was nominated for the NZ Post Children's book awards, one commentator couldn't see who would like a story like this, feeling it was far too dark for the littlies and too young for the older primary children. I worried about the comments. And then The Were-Nana won children's choice. I get asked to read it everywhere I go, by all primary children, and sometimes by some a bit older too.

1 comment:

Old Kitty said...

Of course you're upset - your beautiful baby has been called names - that's not nice for mum! And like all good mums you come out fighting for your baby!

Best to just clench fists and blow raspberries at said reviewer and think evil thoughts about the review and then move on. Just remember, for every one negative there are triple the positives! Yay! Take care