When Authors Upset Readers


I don’t rant often. At least not in public. But people who know me know that I have two big beefs with two big name authors.

Mr. Stephen King: Good ole SK and I go way back. Hell, he was a large part of the inspiration for me taking pen to paper to begin with. I cut my horror teeth on books like “IT” (which incidentally is still one of my favorite books of all time). For one reason or another though, it took me years to pick up The Gunslinger, which is the first book in his Dark Tower series. I think it was because it felt too fantasy/western-ish for me. (What- no vampires? No possessed cars? No kid with telekinesis? Next…)

What happened next surprised the crap out of me. The intertwining story of Roland, Jake, Eddie, and Odetta drew me and captivated me. I couldn’t stop. There are seven tomes in the series (some rather massive), but I plowed forward reading day and night. I read pretty fast, but it still took me almost two weeks to reach the pinnacle of the story in the last book. Then it was over, and I wanted to scream and throw things at the wall.

Not because it was over, but because of the way that King wrote the ending. I HATED it. I couldn’t believe that was how he chose to close out the epic plot. I felt sick. My mind was full of these characters, and what had been done to them. I was heartbroken for days.

And even though this happened in 2009, I’m still ticked off about it.

Mr. George R.R. Martin: I started reading Game of Thrones before it debuted on HBO- which I think mainstreamed the series. It took me a little while to get used to George’s writing style (particularly due to the continual violence against the female characters), but I was intrigued by the Stark family and growing tentacles of plot that followed each of the main characters.

Then (*spoiler alert*) he went and killed off poor Ned Stark at the end of the first book. I remember putting my iPad down thinking “WTF JUST HAPPENED?”.  Dumb me, I continued reading the next book.

You know the old saying “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me?” Well, I let old George fool me more times than I cared to count as each of my favorite characters (and I had to keep promoting new ones to that VIP status) fell to George’s killer pen. Finally, at the end of book 4, I said enough was enough. I won’t read anymore of the books because there isn’t really anyone left that I truly give a crap about.

Even Jimmy Fallon gets it.

You’re not fooling me again, George.

I’m a lot smarter about all of this stuff these days. With the internet, you can find out what’s going to happen throughout a series ahead of time, and then you can decide if you want to invest the time and energy to take the chance on it or not. (I’m looking at you, Charlaine Harris and Veronica Roth.)

So why the rant?

As frustrated, annoyed, angered, ticked off, hurt, sad, and bitter I am about these two series, I can’t deny one simple truth. I’m all of those things because the author was able to tell a story that sucked me in and got me emotionally invested. I connected with the characters in that magical way that makes them feel almost as real to me as the people around me. In the moments I spent with them, there’s no where else I’d rather have been.

That is a magical thing. And one that you don’t expect the author to abuse.

Right or wrong the author is the one that gets to make the decision on where the story goes and what the characters do. They invite us into their head and their worlds. They are sharing their creations with us, even though I feel quite possessive of them myself  (as if the story was written just for me). The only thing I have control over is whether I will continue to give them my attention or not (which is actually a pretty powerful thing when I think about this from my author perch).

Me and SK will continue to be buds. He’s proven himself with his other books that continue to entertain and delight me. Me and George are likely on the outs for good, but I’m not really sad at all about it.

Do you have a favorite author who did you wrong? Tell me about it in the comments!

Happy Reading…