I just returned home from a trip to New York and Chicago. While in New York, I attended the Book Expo America. The expo was held at the Javits Center on the Hudson River, which is a huge venue! The event was crawling with publishers, agents, authors, fans and others in the book business.
The names of the big publishers hung from the ceiling to indicate where they were located in the room. There were book signings (with long line-ups for the well-known authors) and book give-aways galore. I left the event with more books than I wanted to carry.
It was exciting to be among so many people in the book industry. Writing is such a solitary endeavour. It was refreshing — and inspiring — to be around others who care about stories and books as much as I do.
I am a big fan of the “Game of Thrones” series, and I recently read an interview with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin in Rolling Stone magazine. He said something both interesting and disturbing. He talks about the fact that some of the things he read as a child — “parties on Gatsby’s lawn” or “the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock” are more real to him than things he actually lived.
He goes on to say: “If we are the sum of our experiences, as I believe we are, then books are a more important part of my life than my actual life. That’s what I try to do with my own fiction: Fill the stories with imaginary people who will become more real to my readers than the people in their lives.”
I completely understand an author’s motivation for creating vivid and memorable characters. Of course, an author would love to have this sort of lasting impression on readers. However, as a reader, I wonder, “Do I want my fictional escapes to be more vivid and real to me than my actual experiences and the people in my life? And if my fictional escapes are more vivid and lasting, what kind of real-life experiences and relationships am I lacking?
Of course, the influence of fiction on our lives doesn’t end with books. We are a culture immersed in numerous forms of entertainment and escape — television, movies, commercials, Youtube videos, etc. Many children spend more time in front of a screen than they do playing outside. So, what will be their childhood memories?
I’m reminded of the lyrics in a Goo Goo Dolls song: “Reruns all become our history.”
I’m reading a book right now by Carla Neggers. It’s called Secrets of the Lost Summer. I’m almost half-way through the novel, and, well, nothing has really happened. And yet, I’m hooked! This is a book that falls squarely in the “romance” genre, and yet the two main characters have shared only one quick kiss so far.
I find the same thing with Nicholas Sparks books – the stories build ever so slowly… and yet I’m a huge Nicholas Sparks fan.
I think as long as the characters are believable and interesting, the writing is easy to read, and there is a continual building toward something significant, we as readers can be quite patient.
I’ll admit – I read the entire Hunger Games series in a matter of a few weeks, and I thoroughly enjoyed the books from a pure entertainment standpoint. They’re well-written and fast-paced with great characters.
At the end of the last book in the series, however, I was left with a sickening feeling – someone deliberately put this out into the world for kids? The violence, gore and horrifying scenarios in the book disturbed me – and I’m a full-grown adult. I can’t imagine what they do for teens, pre-teens and – heaven forbid – even younger children. A violent, gory video game in book form (and now in movie form) – that’s what the Hunger Games series is.
As an author myself, I feel some responsibility (well, actually, I feel a lot of responsibility) for what I “birth” and put out into the world. Do other authors not feel the same way? Especially when they’re targeting young people?
If you’re not convinced of the gratuitous horror and violence and deeply disturbing scenes in this series, just read the last book and note what happens to the main character’s sister and other children. Yikes. I’m still bothered by what I read.