Sunday, May 2, 2010

birds flying high, you know how I feel...

I'm gonna start off by saying that everyone should listen to Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" if they haven't. If you go and do it now, you can come back and read this and listen to it, the way I am now. It's an amazing song. (There's a reason Mae listens to a lot of Nina Simone in my books.)

So, the other day a woman reviewed My Blood Approves on Amazon, and she gave it three stars, but I love the review. I think its really honest and accurate and describes all the pitfalls and high points of my writing and the book itself (without giving away key plot points.) You can (and should) read the full review here: review.

The one point I'd like to discuss (although not necessarily disagree with) is this: 

"I don't think anyone could get through the first scene with Jack, let alone the second, let alone looking at the cover, let alone the title, without knowing Jack's big secret. I'm not sure it's to Alice's credit that she doesn't get it for half the book, but she makes a guess much earlier that would be in the old hot-cold game pretty warm. There were just too many clues. I think the reason it still worked is what wasn't revealed. There were still enough details and blanks to be filled in that, even with the various flaws, I kept hitting next page on my Kindle. I think that's the important thing - that I had issues with the story, almost quite fairly early on, but just had to see what happened next. Amanda kept pulling me back in and that's a mark of talent. "

(Full disclosure: I didn't need that whole quote to make my point. I just left the last few sentences along with it cause they're really nice and I like sharing nice things.)

It's the first few sentences that I need to expound on, and I'm wondering if I need to take some for of corrective action.
She's absolutely right, and I expected it to be that way. The big secret is - Jack's a vampire. I knew that by, at the very least, the end of the first chapter, people would know he was a vampire. And that's fine. 

The mystery isn't in Alice figuring out what exactly Jack is, but I wanted his "secret" to be laid out and digested as realistically as possible. If I met a guy, no matter how cute and charasmiatic and wonderful he was, and he told me he was a vampire without first providing evidence, I'd think  he was crazy. And even if he immediately provided evidence, I'd be creeped and think he would eat me.

I wanted them to build a relationship, build trust, fondness, because I wanted it to seem realistic as possible. (Yes, realism is something I strive for when writing about vampires. I understand the irony.)

But since we, the audience, are aware of this almost immediately, does it make Alice look like an idiot? Are we left like a horror movie audience, yelling at the screen, "No, don't go outside you idiot?"

I don't think Alice is an idiot and I certainly don't want you to think that. And more importantly, I don't want her ... "naivety" about vampires to slow the story down. I don't want a reader going, "Yeah, we get it. He's a bloodsucker. When the hell is she gonna figure it out?"

Here is my conundrum: How do I fix that problem? I don't plan on changing the story itself, at least not in a discernible way. There is a reason Jack waits so long to tell her (and the answer to that is waiting way off in book 5).

But perhaps its my marketing? The last sentence in the description is as follows: "But falling for two very different guys isn't even the worst of her problems. Jack's family holds a secret, one that threatens Alice with mortal danger..."

It implies that the "secret" is being a vampire, and it's deduced nearly on page one (if not the instant you pick you the book.) So, it throws off the expectation somewhat.

If I wrote the description differently, ending it with something like "But falling for two very different guys isn't even the worst of her problems. Jack and Peter are vampires, and Alice finds herself caught between love and her own blood." Or something? I just threw that together so its not perfect.

But do you see what I mean? So then, I'm at least saying that I, the author, know you know, and even if Alice doesn't figure it out, I know you're not an idiot. Would that reflect better both on the book and Alice?

Or would the first half of the book require a major overhaul? I'm not sure if I'm prepared to do that or not, but I'm looking for your opinions on this.