When I started watching digital movies, I used an app called Vudu that enabled me to scan older, widely circulated DVDs I owned and upgrade to digital for a tiny fee. Beneath each movie is a link to a list of professional reviews from top movie critics and newspapers. And I’ve been amazed at how stupid some of those reviews really are. I guess reviewers are just trying to get attention by writing this stuff because I have to admit it is fun to read.
Often the reviewers use their review only to show off a contorted vocabulary. And they say the oddest things. Make the strangest comparisons: I.e. saying a flashy blockbuster epic reminds them of an old sweater. Now I am an expert on old sweaters. I have owned many of them. Almost every sweater I own is old. And they don’t remind me of any flashy blockbuster. They remind me of 80’s BBC period drama recorded on a fuzzy VHS.
But I’ve also noticed over time I find those critics delightful. So I examined critic reviews for Star Wars (including the movies I don’t own) just for the fun of it, as this is a franchise which every kind of angry, bizarre person has reviewed freely for years. And I found a treasure trove of people arguing hysterically over literally everything. If I hadn't already seen these movies I'd have no idea what they were like! But the reviewers were a little mini-movie in themselves.
My point is, like all writers I’ve worried about reviews. Negative ones especially. But maybe I should just go “who cares?” Nobody thinks negative reviewers are God. In fact, they are viewed as an entertainment in themselves. And while no writer loves being upstaged by reviewers getting attention for themselves by berating (or just being silly!) about their work, if I step back I see it does make the books more interesting. At least, if they're anything like movies. One day maybe people will read feedback on my books with that kind of sense of adventure--not to take the reviews seriously, but just to enjoy how much they add to the show.
Maybe, one day, I will too.
And there will be more updates.
When dealing with anything set in modern times—today for instance—you have to start taking computers and phones and medical equipment and transportation and all that sort of thing into account. It’s going to impact the character’s lives in a personal way, and in a way it wouldn’t if you were writing, say, historical or fantasy.
This is even more true for a futuristic world.
As I worked on Palladia, what was foremost in my mind was creating a sense of realness, of normal daily life, to this very advanced kind of society. It’s several hundred years in the future, so you’ve got lots of devices these young people and their families have around them that we don’t have to deal with or think about at all. I want Palladia to feel like a real place you could live. That instead of being an expansion of all kinds of technology for the future, from our point of view, this is just ordinary life for these kids. They have to make schedules, fill out paperwork—wouldn’t it be fun if a societal collapse could get rid of that by bringing on a simpler time? But I doubt it will happen.
And in the midst of all this abundance of what is slick and gadgety and high-powered, they’re jumping off of little starships to go into an old church and practice plays based on moldy classics. They have this symbiotic relationship with the past too. They aren’t self-conscious about what surrounds them and that’s important to me to show about the characters because they wouldn’t be. Self-consciousness shows our minds poking into the story and going, “oh wow, look at their weird world!” But they wouldn’t feel that way. It’s daily life in a fantastic world, so it feels daily as if you were living there yourself.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
I write peaceful stories with happy endings. When I started writing, I wanted to write the kind of books I like to read. I wanted them to be upbeat and friendly books that make you feel like you're being whisked off on an adventure with friends. And there's also a purposefulness in that because many stories already written miss out on a great deal of what people experience every day.
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