News from the writing bunker

Both Scott and me are writing up storms, or, you know, novels. Our bunker is excellently designed, being gorgeous, with great views, comfy writing spots, and NO internet access. It’s brilliant: we get so bored we can’t help but write.

I am now five stories away from the bunker in the secret place of wifi access. I have snuck out while Scott’s not looking to have a peek at the wider world and to see what’s happening here on me blog. Thanks much for all the fascinating comments on previous post. The discussion has left me feeling much more relaxed about the writers I refuse to read. I am zen.

I wonder how zen Stephenie Meyer is feeling? I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a negative reaction to the final book in a series before. I’ve seen Scott cop some flack because of the way he ended the Uglies and Midnighters series but wow the response to Breaking Dawn is, um, intense.

The whole thing makes me grateful that I’m not nearly as popular as Meyer (or Scott for that matter). What would it be like to have your fans turn on you? I mean the Amazon reviews are dripping with anger. I’ll be honest: I feel awful for Meyer. Negative reviews are hard to weather at the best of times. Plus everyone I know who’s met her has said what a lovely person she is.1

I feel like saying to her fans: Relax, it’s just a book! But that would be hypocrisy of the worst kind because I felt the same way about the third book in His Dark Materials. You betrayed me, Mr Pullman! How could you? I WILL NEVER READ YOU AGAIN! Which was a lie, but I was ANGRY.

The Twilight phenomenon has been fascinating. There are thousands reading for pleasure now who weren’t before Meyer’s books came along. It’s a wondrous thing. Other than Harry Potter these are the bestselling children’s/YA books we’ve seen in a long time. I’m wondering if this last book has ended the phenomenon. It seems unlikely. I’m also wondering if we’re going to see another such hugely successful YA series. Or if Potter & Twilight are it for the next decade or so.

And now I must return to the bunker. But before I go I’ll note that there have been some particularly nasty spam attacks. Sorry if your comment winds up in moderation as a result. I promise to free it ASAP. And sorry too for all those unanswered emails. When the book is done I will catch up. Promise.

  1. Not that this would be fun for her if she wasn’t lovely . . . []


  1. Sarah Rees Brennan on #

    I was at a vampire prom yesterday night watching all the people yelling and shrieking and clapping and they had badges and streamers! And I found it all extremely thrilling, and it made me happy to see people all excited about books.

    And then there were those amazon reviews. Yeesh. I feel terrible for Stephenie Meyer too.

    I mostly hope all those excited fans do not feel put off books.

  2. Lizabelle on #

    The reaction to Breaking Dawn has been insane – but then the reaction to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was also fairly evenly split (I loved it, although I could see flaws – flaws I was happy to ignore). I’m peripherally involved in HP fandom, and the amount of bitching that STILL goes on re Rowling not understanding/respecting her characters (*rolls eyes*) and only being in it for the money is simply exhausting.

    Sadly, I think if you get books that inspire entire online communities of people to get increasingly emotionally involved in the books and with the characters, a fair proportion of these people will not want to deal with it if it turns out that the author’s vision does not conform to their own.

    Philip Pullman’s broken my heart on several occasions (bastard!). I’ll carry on reading, because I love his characters – and because his books have heart.

  3. Sherwood on #

    I don’t think people will stop reading, but they might not trust the authors who they feel betrayed them.

  4. Diana Peterfreund on #

    I am always bummed when a series I like goes down the tubes. In most cases, I recommend the ones I like and tell people to skip the later books. Happily, I am able to still love the books I’d loved before. — to not let the bad later books ruin the whole series for me.

    So I try not to feel bad when people say that they don’t like where I’ve taken my series. Luckily, most people are liking where I’m taking it.

  5. Lauren on #

    The more people connect with a series the more specific their expectations. George Lucas suffered immensely from this with his three Star Wars prequels. I think they were excoriated so intensely because his fan base had such a personal stake in seeing the story play out in fulfillment of their own narrative desires. My guess is that kids seeing those prequels for the first time probably thought they were great. Likewise, Meyer’s fan base undoubtedly brings to the table epic amounts of narrative expectation drenched in sexual excitement–a recipe for disappointment if there ever was one.

  6. Shausto on #

    As one of Stephenie Meyers fans who…didn’t quite like the book as much as the others to say the least, It’s not like Breaking Dawn was a bad book. Actually it was pretty good, but the hype building up to it I think was too much. People, like me, had these HUUUGE expectations, and when they weren’t met, well…Let’s just say Twilight fans are not afraid to make their opinions heard.

    And also the book just came out and everyone is still rather PO’ed about what happened in the book. Including me. It is taking everything in me not to start screaming and ranting on about the book. Or, uh, typing in all caps. whatever. I’m sure in a week all the negativity will die down once everyone reades BD a few hundred more times and realizes that telling everyone they know that it’s a bad book, is not going to change anything.

    On another note, fandoms like HP and Twilight are usually pretty hard to come by. It takes a lot to get this many people this emotionally connected to a book and it’s characters. So I don’t really think another fandom like these two are going to be created again anytime soon. Then again, the people in these fandoms are going to be reading more books, and chances are they like the same books and will read the same books and will react with the same enthusiasm they did with HP and Twilight. So while a fandom of the same energy is unlikely, these guys are hard core. It could happen.

  7. Hillary! on #

    I haven’t quite finished the book yet, and I can’t believe I’m actually on the internet right now, but I went to a release party here…and people are strange. Some of the girls…no…that’s not the proper pronoun…people were acting as if their very lives hinged on what would happen in this book, and FRED FORBID Bella dump Edward for Jacob, a real character, because everyone would rather have an idealistic character, not someone you could possibly meet and actually love. I like that kids are reading, but they need to differentiate fiction from life, advice I should follow (I cried so much when Zane died I gave myself a rash. Little dots all over my face. It was worse with Harry Potter.)
    As for not liking where the author takes the story, from what I understand, they tell the story the way the brain monkeys tell it to them.

  8. Victoria on #

    I didn’t even know their were bad reviews to Breaking Dawn. I read it on the night I got it and I adored it! While some parts made me skeptical, I still loved the book, and have heard nothing bad about it. However, I don’t read amazon reviews, because most of the time I think they’re crap and would like to make my own decisions about a book. But if there are bad things there, I now feel the need to go write my own review.

  9. Haddy-la on #

    i didn’t like twilight i read the first half of it but had to stop because i was getting sick and tired of the girl complaining constantly. i do get mad somtimes when a book ends sadly like in The Hungry City Cronicals by Philip Reeve the end of the last book was so amazing and poetic and sad i wantted to cry (but im not in to crying so i didnt) really those books are fantastic.

  10. rebecca on #

    i’m like victoria, i didn’t know there were bad reviews. i have been staying far far away from all of it. i’ll read the book when i can. i mean, i do want to know what happens. i’m kinda intrigued by the idea that the book’s gotten such bad reviews. maybe it means stephenie meyer did something drastically different from the other three. which definitely gets me interested. i like different. 😀 stephenie meyer is really nice, like nearly all authors i’ve had the privilege of meeting. i don’t like it when people get particularly rabid about books, acting like the author offended them personally or something. they don’t deserve it. i mean, it’s one thing to be disappointed (like you and Pullman–and me, and possibly the rest of the world 😉 ), and it’s another to go completely on the offensive. oooh, i am getting dangerously ranty. i think i’ll go do some laundry now….

  11. McKenzie on #

    The way I see it, this was Stephanie Meyer’s story. She wrote it the way she wanted to. The lady’s got guts.

    I hope she keeps her zen and continues on writing.

    I believe that there are other epic YA novels on their way. Now that HP and Twilight have attracted so many teen readers, authors are more compelled to write for younger audiences knowing that their books are more likely to be read now than ever before. That is, if the reaction to Breaking Dawn doesn’t scare them off…

  12. feign on #

    Now that Breaking Dawn is out, I’m wondering what will be the next big YA series.

  13. Deven on #

    I think it’s mostly because the series is so popular. I became very critical of the later Harry Potter books, even though I loved the first few, for the reason that I simply didn’t find them as cracked up to be as everyone else did. And whenever I responded with “Yeah, it was okay,” to any of my friends who really liked the books, I was immediately forced to recount all of the reasons why I didn’t find it as awesome as they did. Of course, I could never come up with anything on the spot, so they thought I was just being pretentious. I would then go home and moodily battologize why I disliked the book, and I’d discover more things I disliked about the book as I did so. By the end I’d have changed from thinking that the book was passable to hating the damn thing.

    I guess if you don’t have any other friends who’ve read the book, you’re okay. But then, there is still the internet… so the “either you love it or hate it” phenomenon occurs.

  14. David Gill on #

    Lucas was excoriated because he forgot what the story was.

  15. Rissa on #

    I’ve heard a lot of bad things about Breaking Dawn (and all of those bad things were from a creative writing website. People are VICIOUS.), and I’m trying not to listen to any more because it’s ruining my mood. I read the book in one go on the night I purchased it, and it’s honestly my favorite out of the entire series. I can see why people would be upset, though. A lot of the book was extremely unexpected, but I loved all of the twists and turns.

    I also agree with Lizabelle–I think some fans are just upset that the book didn’t end up EXACTLY like they wanted it to.

  16. carsonbeck on #

    i read breaking dawn. I dont think it was fantastic, nor was it it the best book in the series, but it isn’t the worst either. i wouldn’t be quite as mean as some other people have been. I just read the amazon reviews and omg i was shocked. When did these books become about teaching young girls a lesson and being an example? I really just thought it was reading, for fun. I mean it is fiction for a reason.

    No, it did not end the way i would have liked. but imagine the pressure Stephenie was under, all the hype and sales records she had to live up to. I don’t know if there was a way she could have done it and avoided these bad reviews. I just hope these bad reviews don’t move people away from reading her next book.

  17. Laini Taylor on #

    Ooh. . . a gorgeous writing bunker. I am so jealous! I dream about that. . . imagining it would magically make the writing just flow from me. Ha! I think a lack of internet access would be key in a writing bunker for me — for example, right this moment, I am supposed to be revising the climax of my book, so I can send it off (again) to my editor in the morning. Why am I here? WHY???

    (Also fascinated by the Breaking Dawn reviews — that has been another time-killing I have been indulging in today. Makes me want to read the book, but. . . I don’t know. kind of not.)

  18. Maree on #

    I think that people shouldn’t rush writers. That’s what makes the books bad! I mean, there was so much hype about HP7 and look at it … it was pretty hastily written. So peoples, stop putting authors under so much pressure if you really want a good book!
    Also, you shouldn’t decide for youself how the book is going to be before you read it. That’s probably why so many people hate sequels, because they didn’t read up to expectations.
    I can’t wait to read Breaking Dawn actually (despite all these comments I keep hearing!), but it’s not as if I was forcing her to write it quick …
    BTW, Justine, your books are awesome. Keep up the good work.

  19. Justine on #

    Maree: Mostly it’s editors who rush writers. Nasty mean deadline giving editors. They should really stop that. 🙂

    Of course, I don’t mean MY editor who is perfect in all ways.

  20. Cassie on #

    Editors are cruel!

    I kind of wanted to check out a vampire prom myself and see teenagers all dressed up and excited for a book — a book! Such an amazing thing. And Stephenie is extraordinarily nice. I kind of hope she doesn’t know about the negativity stuff.

  21. Eliza on #

    I loved breaking dawn. Loved it. And so did the four people with whom I rented a hotel room so that we could read all night long without bothering our family members.

    I don’t know what people were expecting. I mean, really.

    I feel bad for Steph, too!

  22. Mary Elizabeth S. on #

    I’ve been wondering for a long time–what will the next Harry Potter/Twilight be? I’m fairly certain there will be another one—lots of HP fans became Twilight fans, and all those people are going to need somewhere to go from here. But WHERE will they go? Will it be something that’s already out there, that’s been building in the background, like Twilight did as HP wound down? Or will it be something that’s just coming out now? Or something later on? How long will it take before a new Super-Fandom is born (or, at least, becomes apparent)?

    Oh, the thrill of it all!

    On a side note, I was one of the lucky ones at the Eclipse Prom, and let me tell you, there is NOTHING like watching 500 people in prom get-up drop to the floor of a gymnasium and start *reading*. It was awesome. (I’d give you a better description, but I, too, was on the floor. Couldn’t help it. First chapter and all that.)


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