As a writer, the biggest Scrooges in my life are not the people who don't like my books. I often don't like books that I read, which I feel is my right as a reader. We aren't all going to like every book that we read. So I get that not everyone is going to like my books. That is their right. No, the biggest Scrooges in my life? The people who don't like my books AND then feel that gives them the right to say things about my books AND me. When The Compound first came out in 2008, I was excited to see what readers had to say about it. It had gotten a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, which had also featured me in an article about debut authors. I signed up for Goodreads and reviews started to come in for The Compound. Here is one of the first:
"The premise is great: a Seattle tech buzillionaire builds a compound in anticipation of a terrorist attack, and then ushers his family into it one day ( one kids and a grandma are left behind) where they remain for years. Gradually, the kids become suspicious about what's really going on. The writing is just intolerable, though. My ARC says the author is a creative writing teacher, so I guess in this case it's true what they say about what "those who can't" do."
Wow. So it's not enough to bash my writing ( fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion) but to throw around what is the meanest cliche about the teaching profession? Many of my friends and relatives are teachers, as am I, obviously, and I despise that people even have the nerve to utter such an awful, derisive thing. I won't lie, this one left me in tears and made me spend the whole day questioning whether I should even be a teacher OR a writer.
I then went on to get some more reviews: Kirkus, School Library Journal, etc., that didn't bash my book. So I learned not to go looking for reviews. The ones that matter the most will come to me from my editor.
And I think I've had the last laugh. The Compound has been on about 17 state reading lists, and I get emails and Facebook messages every day from readers telling me it's the best book they've ever read. ( Again, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I tend to like those kind of opinions!) And I continue to get warm and wonderful feedback from my students at Gotham Writer's Workshop, who apparently seem to think I don't suck as a teacher. So, to my own personal Scrooge, I say ....