Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Untouched by Venom

I've been the victim of some fairly vicious snitfests, and I know how annoying it is to see my name and work tossed around by people with whom I've had absolutely no contact and/or who have never even bothered to talk to me or read one of my books. I've never concerned myself with responding, because naturally everyone is entitled to their opinion, even when it's baseless or generated solely by hearsay.

It's harder to watch it happen to other authors. After witnessing the juvenile behavior of some folks out there in the blogosphere this past week, I wanted to balance the scales for once. So I wrote to Janine Cross, the author of Touched by Venom, and asked her what she would like readers to know about her novel.

I was delighted to find this e-mail response from her today:

"Uninformed opinions can be so delightfully, outrageously ridiculous, can't they? Haven't got a clue who is saying what about my book, but I'm just chuffed that people are talking about it (though it would be much finer if they were buying it and reading it first... ah, the vagaries of human nature).

To keep it brief: many things inspired me to write the book, (books, actually, as it is a series) but one thing in particular inspires/drives me: how human beings, women and children being my main interest, can survive tragedy and persecution, torture and deprivation--not only survive but continue with life. These things are happening every day, and have happened in our little corner of the world in the not-so-distant past, too. Really, my books are the stories of these people.
I also explore, on the side as it were, the interesting boundaries we human animals draw around the passion-evoking subject of sex. We are a confusing, fascinating, contradictory, terrible and terribly wonderful species."

I don't know about you guys, but I'm definitely buying this book.


  1. I think I just might buy this one too. I noticed it in the bookstore recently, but had my hands full with other purchases.

  2. The people laughing at the book were reading it. Well, they were reading from a promotional excerpt of the novel provided by the publisher. Whatever you think of their reaction, it's unfair to say it was uninformed. They had the pages from the book in their hands.

  3. Anonymous8:38 AM

    Harry Connolly wrote: Whatever you think of their reaction, it's unfair to say it was uninformed. They had the pages from the book in their hands.

    I can't speak for Janine Cross, but I was not referring to anyone specifically; mine was a general comment about the snitfests instigated about me.

  4. Anonymous9:50 AM

    Refreshing to see this after all the bile being spewed about. I like what the author has to say, so I'll add it to my order list. Or are you planning another giveaway, PBW?

  5. Anonymous9:57 AM

    I don't know anything about a snitfest but I like what the author said about what interests her in her writing and what I read about the book. Off to buy it...

  6. Oh, lawd, I tried to resist, I really did, but I gave in and Googled and did some snooping.

    Sadly, I probably wouldn't touch the book with a ten-foot pole. But that's not because of the reviews. Instead, I happen to loath "sweet Mary Sue" victim stories, which this seems to be. Just does not work for me.

    The reaction in the SF/F community doesn't surprise me at all. I've noticed that some in the romance community seem to think that only RWA 'n company has strife. While I can't speak for SFWA, I do know that some segments of the SF/F genre can get quite nasty. Some of this (I think) stems from a desire to appeal to the literati (sound familiar romance writers?). If a story isn't utterly "original," isn't brimming with big ideas and meaning, it must be crap.

    According to my snooping, it seems folks have gone after the author and behaved like a high school clique. It's one thing to hate a book; another to act like an adolescent jackass.

    Sounds like the lady has class. Too bad her book doesn't appeal to me.

  7. Anonymous10:38 AM

    What blogs are you people reading? I wish I saw a snitfest once--would have provided some fun. Instead of "I wrote 1000 words today, and I also read book X by my Best Mate Author and you all should go buy it now" -- that's what most authors' blogs are like :-)

  8. So let me get this right, this was other authors taking the piss out of a fellow author publicly? At a conference even?

    All because she may or may not have had the words venom cock in her book?

    Admittedly, depending on the context, I too probably would have taken the piss, but I'd have at least tried to read the book first, and I'd like to think I wouldn't be as unkind as to point and laugh at her in public. Honest.

    That's just rude. Especially from fellow authors who should know better.

    Mind you, I've seen enough bitchiness within the online romance land to not be surprised by this.

    As least she seemed to take it well. There are authors out there who would have probably drowned themselves in a cocktail of Ritalin and Ambien, and taken to their bed for the next year after being the subject of such cruel mockery.

    Anyway, I still don't believe that there's such a thing as bad publicity. I'd never heard of her before this snitfest, now I'm more likely to buy her book out of curiosity.

  9. Anonymous12:07 PM

    I follow authors on both sides of the fence here ... to say my take on this is that someone overheard a snippet and expanded upon it, making one author a "victim" and the others to blame for flaming another writer wrongfully.

    To me, it's childish, but it happens all the time. I understand these things get blown out of proportion all the time.

    It does not stop me from purchasing any of the writers' books who are involved.

    In fact, it looks to me like it's doing a good job of getting the word out about the book. I suspect it's helping sales, not hurting them.

  10. Anonymous12:18 PM

    Frankly, the term "venom cock" wouldn't keep me from reading a novel. It's an interesting way of breaking down a supposedly taboo boundary -- and of course, conjures a snake, visually, which is a fairly direct and unflinching metaphor -- that is also humorous.

    I suspect this book is going to sell well just based on word-of-mouth. People will be curious and if the story delivers, they'll love it.

  11. All in all, it may be working in the author's favor. This was her first book, and it's been getting crazy amounts of attention all over the blogosphere.

    You can't pay for that type of promotion.

    Thanks for passing along her take on this, PBW. It isn't the kind of book I'd likely pick up, but I'm glad to see she's taking all this attention with good grace. But then, those without thick skins rarely make it that far in publishing in the first place.

  12. as I said in some other blog, you people are sure it's not some big behind the stage plan? This brouhaha is going to get the $$$ rolling in--just consider the publicity. You know what they say, just get them talking about me, doesn't matter what they will say as soon as they keep talking :)

  13. Anonymous1:14 PM

    Daria wrote: You know what they say, just get them talking about me, doesn't matter what they will say as soon as they keep talking :)

    Good point, Daria, and I know this does happen. Considering who is involved and what's been said, though, I don't think this one was staged.

  14. The venom cock snitfest: a history (and linkfarm).

  15. But ... but Harriet Klausner gave it a five star review. How can people think the book is bad, then? *grin*

    I get an impression - and not for the first time - that the web tends to make people cliquish, much like any school yard. Someone says something negative about a book, and a number of people who else would not have spoken up, join in and say, yes, the book sucks venomous cocks, let's trash it, together we are strong. They get off on their own wittiness or what they think is witty. ;-) Sometimes the original review that might have been negative but not offensive, gets buried in the mess.

  16. thanks for the links -- and I think it's just that the web tends to strip off some of the social reservations. Having no face, no name -- well, some of us, at least, the ones without the links back to their sites -- but just a nickname... makes people open. Like mean and frank -- saying the darkish things they truly think, instead of what their social position / education / shyness make them say. The truth they cannot afford to display in the real life -- and yes, sometimes, more often than not, a big part of that truth is ugly. Because that's what most people's thoughts are like, on the inside. IMHO.

  17. Anonymous4:27 PM

    Gabriele wrote: But ... but Harriet Klausner gave it a five star review. How can people think the book is bad, then? *grin*

    Watch it, G., or you might get people started on Harriet. ;)

    I've gotten a slew of e-mails on this subject, and despite the pains I took in not naming anyone involved in this snitfest, a lot of them were pissed off. Also, it seems posting Janine Cross's thoughts about her own book was a horrible thing to do (? still not sure why.) I guess being supportive of a fellow author under fire is an completely alien concept.

    I have learned one thing: whenever you put the shoes out there, there are always going to be people who insist on cramming their feet in them whether they fit or not.

  18. What I don't get is all that I'll Never Again Buy a Book by X because he defends Vilified Author / I'll Never Again Buy a Book by Y because he attacks Vilified Author-stuff. Sometimes the net looks like a big kindergarten with a small adult corner that is PBW's and some others' blogs. ;-)

  19. Anonymous5:21 PM

    Gabriele wrote: What I don't get is all that I'll Never Again Buy a Book by X because he defends Vilified Author / I'll Never Again Buy a Book by Y because he attacks Vilified Author-stuff

    You obviously never went to high school in America. Lol.

  20. Lol, maybe I should watch one of those high school series in TV. But I'm afraid I'd end up bored to death after ten minutes.

    And German high schools aren't any better. I used to sit in a corner and read or write War and Peace fanfiction and thus escaped most of the mess.

  21. Anonymous1:34 AM

    I have read the book and found it well written and different in the way that Kushiel's Dart is different. Anyone who has read Jaqueline Carey's books will like this one. I agree that all the foofaraw about this book will likely help ms Cross's sales rather than hurt them.


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