Thursday, 25 June 2009

Ruminations and mumblings

OK, so a blog's not all about reviews, so I thought I'd better get a few more thoughts down to keep all you aspiring writers thinking (even if you're not an aspiring writer - maybe you're already a succesfullly published author or not an author at all - hopefully I'll have something interesting to say and for you to think about).

My debut novel has been out there for about six weeks now and has been read and hopefully enjoyed by many people. It has been very gratifying to find that on the whole the feedback I've had has been congratulatory and readers seem to have enjoyed Joe Hunter's first outing. It's a very strange situation to receive emails from readers from all corners of the globe thanking me for a great read. It's these little personal notes that make me glow with pride.

As with all debut authors (I know I'm painting everyone with the same brush here, but I'm guessing that I'm right) I have googled my name and book title and followed the mentions on the internet. When I've found a review I've posted the link here for your opportunity to read what others have said. 'Most' have been favourable - a few haven't.

When you are an author (or in any business for that matter) you have to expect the reality that not everyone is going to like what you've done. That's the way of the world: we all have our preferences.

What I've found odd is that what one reviewer finds as a strength in my book another will find it as a weakness. One reviewer said my book was full of nuance - another said there wasn't enough nuance to fill a thimble. One said the book is too violent, another said the violence wasn't realistic, another said the 'action was authentic'. Horses for courses, I suppose.

When all boils down to all, maybe the message here is that a debut author should learn to avoid googling every few minutes - I'm disciplining myself now. If you dwell on the bad points you don't appreciate the good. And don't forget, sometimes the bad can turn in your favour. As long as the bad comments are constructive, they can only help your future writing, right?

Sometimes the review can be cutting and even a personal attack: my attitude to these is to respect the reviewer's opinion, take it on the chin and then IGNORE them. I don't know why certain individuals choose to attack authors and try to rubbish their careers when they're just trying to get a good start. My personal thoughts on this are that anyone who has the grit, determination and sheer good fortune to have their book published should be congratulated, not pulled down. Even if I hated a books subject matter or style of writing I wouldn't 'rubbish' it. Obviously there will be others out there who will love it and it isn't for me to say what they enjoy. To accuse the people who enjoy the books as being misinformed - or worse still...on the publishers payroll - is ridiculous and smacks of jealousy. IGNORE IT, Matt, IGNORE IT!

I never set out to write 'literary books'. I didn't set out to write a Jack Reacher pastiche (though I do thoroughly admire Lee Child and his writing). And I never claimed that my books were better than those of Sandford, Connolly, Connelly, Crais or Child (all favourites of mine). Some reviewers have accused me of all the above. Weird, huh?

I set out to write a good ol' action series with a 'damaged' lead with the tools to get the job done in a violent world. Hopefully I've succeeded with my dream - and you the reader will enjoy Joe Hunter's journey in print as much as I do. If you don't, well fair enough. But please don't 'dog' anyone elses enjoyment. I SAID IGNORE IT!

OK, tirade over.

I'm often asked who my favourite writers are and who I'm influenced by. Here's a list of contemporary writers who I 'always' pick up:

Jeff Abbott, Robert Crais, Dean Koontz, Jack (J.A.) Kerley, Michael Marshall, John Connolly, Michael Connelly, James Patterson (and gang), Lee Child, Simon Kernick, David Morrell and Jeffrey Deaver.

Here's a list of authors who have influenced my writing:

Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Wiilard Price, George G. Gilman, Don Pendleton, Robert Ludlum, and Marvel Comics - and probably all of the above.

I've also been influenced by movies:

It's a Wonderful Life, Shogun Assassin, Aliens, Marathon Man, Narrow Margin, Lethal Weapon, and Die Hard to name a few. (Watch out for tributes to all these movies throughout my books).

My musical tastes are 'really' old fashioned:

50's Rock'n'Roll
Rythm and Blues

And, I have a keen interest in all martial arts systems, but primarily Ju-Jitsu.

All of these influences are the making of me as a writer.

An interesting little exercise for an aspiring writer would be to write down a similar list. See what you come up with, you may be surprised at how you've come to be the sum of who you are now and how that influences your writing.

'Nuff said (now where did that influence come from? - answers on a £50 note please)



Lee Hughes said...

You're right Matt. No point listening to the grumps that are disillusioned and with chips on their shoulders.

I did spot one mistake though...
John Connolly, Michael Connelly, James Patterson (and gang), Lee Child, Simon Kernick, David Morrell and Jeffrey Deaver. You seemed to have misspelled Hughes, somehow spelling it Child. . .

Look forward to Octobers release.

Col Bury said...

Here, here, Matt.
We have a couple of sayings in Manchester regarding the snipers of which you refer to, but they both contain swear words so let's play 'Give Us A Clue'...
One has two words - the first rhymes with book and ends in um! The second phrase relates to not letting a certain type of person getting you down. You get the gist.
Good piece, Matt. Appreciated.

Matt Hilton said...

I'm good, thanks chaps. Sorry about the mis-spelling Lee. Ya know I loves ya all!

Alan P said...

There's always going to be people who don't like your book, Matt, but I have to say that I've read some debut novels that haven't lived up to the hype. I'm not slagging those books off though, because the writer got published. I stand by what I said earlier; yours is a bloody good book. We all read to be entertained, and that's what you did; entertained us. So, as Col say, "book" 'em all!

Matt Hilton said...

I aim to entertain. Hope people didn't think I was whingeing, just bringing this 'reality' to aspiring writers. In short my message should have been: Expect criticsm but don't let it affect you.

Clare said...

You didn't come across as whingeing Matt - that was a really informed blog.
I've been quite gobsmacked reading some of your reviews. I can understand that your book is not to everyone's liking (each to their own) but to be criticised for not being something that you never claimed to be, must hurt. Those reviews say much more about the reviewer than they do about your book!
At the end of the day, the positives have far outweighed the negatives - be PROUD!

Matt Hilton said...

Thanks Clare. I AM very proud, and like I said in the blog, it's an amazing feeling when people send their best wishes and support, and I count these comments in that bracket.

Again want to point out, the purpose of the blog is to warn aspiring authors that they will get negative criticsim, so 'be prepared'. Dib Dib Dob!