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10:12 am: Wright’s Writing Corner: Unexpected Assumptions

 

 

When I was young and arrogant, I used to criticize authors for not handling “obvious” issues in their books—issues which, in retrospect, were usually me jumping to some conclusion that the author could never have been expected to foresee.

Well, this particular phenomena has come back to haunt me, as now similar things are happening to my readers.

One of the oddest experiences as a writer is watching the conclusions your book accidentally leads people to that you did not intend.

For instance, it never occurred to me, when I wrote the Prospero Books, that people reading Book Two would come to the conclusion that, since Miranda lost her connection to her Lady, and there is an angel and one of her brothers criticizes her for her attachment to the “pagan goddess Eurynome”, that the third book might be Christian apologetics, with the story chronicling Miranda’s conversion to Christianity.
For any of you who have not read the last book, I do not feel it is a spoiler to say: That doesn’t happen.

The question was never meant to be raised.

It never occurred to me that this issue would arise because I never thought of Miranda’s brother as representing the author’s point of view. Rather, the background universe agrees with Miranda, w ho did not see Eurynome as being in conflict with God. In the Prospero Books background, the Unicorn is a servant of the Alcreate, the same way angels are. There isn’t suppose to be a conflict between them.

Hopefully, readers who are nervous about this subject will be delighted with the way the story actually unfolds. Alas, there will be a few who wish that it would be a story of unfolding Christianity who may be disappointed. Or, maybe not, considering how it all comes out. I like to think that the idea that Eurynome and the Christian universe are not at odds with each other makes itself clear by the end.
Either way, I tried quite hard to make sure that it was not preachy, though I did try hard to make the Heavenly magic impressive and cool.

But that is not quite to the subject…which is that the author cannot control the assumptions that readers jump to.

The same thing happened last year, to my detriment, with a gentleman who read the first two books with an eye toward buying them for a publisher in France. Eventually, he commented that he did not care for books where the main character studiously ignored reality. Puzzled, I asked him what he meant—citing Miranda’s attitude toward her father, who had clearly ensorcelled her. Without resorting to spoilers, I will just say that the third book does not bear out his interpretation of the situation, thus his conclusions about Miranda and her behavior were incorrect.

Not much I can do about that…though if he ever reads the last book, maybe he will reconsider.

So…my humblest apologizes go out to all authors whom I maligned in my youth. I apologize for every believing a precept as ridiculous as that you could have been responsible for thinking ahead of time of all the outlandish theories I might concoct while reading your books.

 

 
Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon.

Comments

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From:juliet_winters
Date:July 6th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
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On the other hand, we were right about Snape.
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 6th, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC)
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LOL

Good books bring up a lot of ideas that readers can guess at. It's the ideas the author did not intend to bring up that I was musing about.

;-)
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From:juliet_winters
Date:July 6th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC)
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I remember when the author was asked about Snape's allegiances before the final books came out. She had a tough time of it but managed to ward off the questions.
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From:princejvstin
Date:July 6th, 2011 04:44 pm (UTC)
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For instance, it never occurred to me, when I wrote the Prospero Books, that people reading Book Two would come to the conclusion that, since Miranda lost her connection to her Lady, and there is an angel and one of her brothers criticizes her for her attachment to the “pagan goddess Eurynome”, that the third book might be Christian apologetics, with the story chronicling Miranda’s conversion to Christianity.
For any of you who have not read the last book, I do not feel it is a spoiler to say: That doesn’t happen.


I wondered briefly, while reading the second book, if that is where you were ultimately going. But as I mentioned in my review of the second book, I've trusted you not to be didactically preaching in your writing, and an unrealistic conversion of Miranda would definitely be that...

I'm still open and available to reading an ARC of the book and reviewing it, as per your email to me from some weeks back. :)


From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 6th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
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So now the question is, will Harry Dresden convert sometime in the next 11 books?
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 6th, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC)
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I've wondered about that, too.

He might...but if so, I bet it will be a natural and gentle thing, not an in-your-face religioius thing.
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 6th, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
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Gah! I know! I have your copy here with your address...but for two months I was broke. I should be able to send it today!
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From:hannahsarah
Date:July 6th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
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"ensorcelled"

This is my new favorite word. I need to find a way to use it in a sentence at least three times to day. :-D
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 6th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
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;-)


Yeah. It's a cool one.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 6th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
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I was hoping against a standard Conversion to Christianity story, as it would seem out of place in the context of the story. I do look forward to how you handle the situation. (I did wonder if it would turn out that Eurynome wasn't as Good as Miranda always thought, but then you'd have to do a lot of explaining because Her actions always seemed to be good.)

Anybody who jumps to conclusions after the second book of a series is just asking for disappointment.

Looking forward to Book 3!

-- SaraJ

P.S. I liked the Heavenly Magic.
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 6th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
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Thanks.

I hope you will not be disappointed if Eurynome turns out to be very good indeed. ;-)
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From:danialarin
Date:July 7th, 2011 02:13 am (UTC)
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SaraJ wrote:
Anybody who jumps to conclusions after the second book of a series is just asking for disappointment.


Unless their name is J.B. Fletcher.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 7th, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)

Book cover

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Jagi, I love that cover! Thank goodness the publisher has given you a wonder-inspiring cover for book 3!

Donna
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 7th, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC)

Re: Book cover

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Me, too!

There is even talk of getting a better cover for the paperback of Book Two...we'll see. ;-)
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From:cmzero
Date:July 7th, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
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Apropos of nothing, I was telling a friend about your work yesterday only to realize I wasn't sure how to pronounce "Jagi." Is that a hard or a soft "g"?
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 7th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
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Good question...you can't tell by looking.

It is J-short a like cat-j-long E. So, like Jacky with a j sound in the middle.

Basically, it's a g like in Magic.
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 7th, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, by the way!
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From:bojojoti
Date:July 7th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
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One of the wonders of literature is that once it leaves the author's mind, it gains a life of its own. Ray Bradbury vehemently denied that Fahrenheit 451 was about censorship, when the majority of his readers insisted it was. He insisted that his novel was about media pacifying and alienating the masses. There is that, too, but I have to assert that the underlying theme is censorship. If there hadn't been the systematic burning of books and stamping out of independent thought, there wouldn't have been much of a story to tell. We live in an age of media domination, but we still have freedom of expression, speech, and thought, so that people who don't wish to be pacified and numbed by popular culture may still exist.
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