[BREAKING NEWS FROM BLOG PATROL!!] Recently bestselling authors Gena Showalter and Alyssa Day got together for a chat over margaritas and nachos about comparisons, reviews, and whether or not Plato was considered a hottie in his day. We at Blog Patrol had our secret tape-recorder hidden behind the chipotle dip, and here's the steamy, unedited transcript:
Alyssa [ordering another round of jumbo margaritas]: Gena, I just read a review of Atlantis Rising that basically accused me of rewriting your Nymph King (and doing a crap job of it).
Gena [chokes on a chip and pounds her chest]: Sorry. What? I'm sure I misheard. 'Cause one, your book rocks and two, you totally wrote that book before mine was even published. I mean, let's backtrack a bit. Our books came out within weeks of each other. Considering the year it takes to write, edit, print and ship them -- impossible!
Alyssa: Most writers have so many thousands of ideas in our heads, it's not like we're going to waste valuable time writing somebody ELSE's book!! Why do people always want to compare our books to other people's books, anyway? Why isn't there room for more than one Atlantis, when there are so many vampire series? So many serial killer books? So many . . . um, you're snarfing the cheese dip again.
Gena: You know I can't help myself. (cough) Low blood sugar. But, uh, back to ideas. . . I wish I could say I invented Atlantis. How cool would that be? But I've heard there's no such thing as a new idea, that all ideas are simply spin-offs of another. It's the unique spin the author puts on her story that's half the fun. Oh, goodie! The drinks are here.
Alyssa: Right. If they want to accuse us of something, how about stealing Plato's idea? He's the one who first spun the tale of the lost continent. I wonder if he got crap, too. "That Plato is just such a rip off of Socrates!!!"
Have you ever encountered this kind of stuff? How do you handle it?
Gena: You mean before or after I sob like a baby and suck my thumb? Oh my god, don't look now, A, but that guy is totally checking you out! I said don't look! Now, what was I saying? Oh, yeah. How I handle the comparisons, the rejections and the bad reviews. For a while, I'm sad to say I took everything as a personal attack. Now I just try and remind myself how hard I worked, the months I slaved at the computer, the nights I didn't sleep as I plotted, and that I love writing and can't see myself doing anything else -- then I go back and read the rockin reviews. How about you?
Alyssa: I think he was looking at you, sweetie! Yes, the personal feeling of it is the tough part. I know that since we're putting our books out there, we're opening ourselves up to this. And I'm 1000% behind everyone's right to an opinion. But I wonder if sometimes people don't realize that we're just like their sisters and friends and have feelings, too? I can totally live with "wow, I hated this book." Everybody has a right to their opinions! But when it gets personal, it's hurtful. I'm like you, though - I love this job more than anything in the world. And the lovely reader letters and reviews really make up for the tough ones. I have to admit I have the nicest and kindest readers on the planet, so I consider myself to be very very very lucky!!
Gena: You know, I think it's because our books are products. In a way, that has to make us seem like products. Like a big fat piece of fruit that either goes down smooth or is rotten. Okay, now I think the drinks are going to my head. But I have to say that like you, I do feel very lucky indeed!
Alyssa: I love it!! We're writing bananas and some people just don't like bananas! No matter what! So now when I get a bad review, I will just think: "Well, another person doesn't like bananas." And be happy with the readers I have who do! Like bananas! Or my books! Or, oh, dear. I stretched the heck out of that metaphor, didn't I? Maybe we should just order another round . . . Because this? Is the greatest job in the world, and we're lucky to be able to do it! Now maybe we should talk about adding a clause to our contracts where we get to sit in on the cover shoot with the hot cover models . . .
Gena: Don't hate me, but I'm totally stealing that idea! And I'm not even going to twist it to make it my own. Me. Hot cover models. Oh, yeah!
[BLOG PATROL'S tape recorder either ran out of tape or had cheese dip dumped on it at this point, so we can't share any more of the conversation. But, to sum up: Atlantis Rocks! Plato! Showalter! Day! Read them all!]