Frigging fiction for F’s sake (Warning**Rant)

I’m ticked off.

 

Fiction is fiction right? So why must people take it and pick it apart acting like every author has some kind of secret vendetta of political, religious or other damned agenda when they write a book. A situation has arisen with my very good friend Carmen Stefanescu, author of Shadows of the Past.

 

Apparently a few people have become offended and accused her of trying to force a religious message through her work. First of all, this is a beautiful book. Well written, thoughtful and one of my favourites of the year. There is a discussion thread going on about this topic over at good reads right now, which you can find here. Even if you have not read the book, you can still comment with your opinion on fiction books. Here is the link:

 

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1382193-what-do-you-think-entertainment-or-controversy

 

So yeah. I’m pissed. Authors work very hard over their books. Writing them, editing them, pouring their hearts and souls into them. What do you guys all think? Is it fair to accuse an author of something like this when the book they wrote was fiction? Dear heaven, if this is the case then the author of Fifty Shades must really be something.

 

Carmen I love you dearly and support you always.

 

F*ck it.

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82 thoughts on “Frigging fiction for F’s sake (Warning**Rant)

  1. Back in high school English class, when we had to interpret fiction, I used to wonder if we really had any clue as to what the writer’s true intention was. We probably didn’t.

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  2. Fiction is fiction, but people will see things that they want to see. It’s frustrating and annoying, but it’s that whole free will thing. I believe there are books out there with hidden meanings and they get a lot of press because of the controversy. So, people will look at other books for hidden meanings, especially in regards to religion. I saw someone in the comments mention Da Vinci Code, which came to my mind when you mentioned the topic. It was all about secret meanings and created a wave of ‘what does the author really mean?’ among certain reading groups.

    Also, this could have always been around, but the internet makes it more visible. I’m sure the classics were examined as controversial in some way. The bright side here is that people are talking about and thinking about the book. A silver lining on a rather stuuuuupid cloud?

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  3. I think this happens a lot. You can’t write a story where someone is hiding a gift/power* without someone assuming it’s actually about homosexuality, and you can’t write a story about spiritual redemption without someone saying you’re forcing religion on them, even if nothing you’ve said has anything to do with an existing religion. If you give a character darker skin than others, you’re automatically trying to send a message or “pandering to liberals” rather than just having some interesting and beautiful variety in your world. Any war fought in a fictional universe will always be brought down to our level and compared with our issues.

    The beauty of fiction is that we all take something different away from any well-composed story, just as we all find our own meanings in a beautiful piece of music. It does get frustrating, though, when people project their own ideas onto a story and then have the gall to actually bitch about it in public. That’s your issue, honey, not the author’s.

    Grrr. Sorry your friend is going through this. 😦

    *I have one in some of my stories that people are born with, but that they’re all taught is a choice. Can’t WAIT to see how that’s interpreted. 😉

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    • Thank you for the supportive comment. I write whatever comes to mind and am actually somewhat surprised that I do not get more crap from people about it. I tend to have overweight characters that are of mixed racial backgrounds.

      What makes me sad is that people will judge the entire book by one or two lines. I suppose it will always be this way though. Thank you for being you!

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  4. Grrrr – if I’m reading fiction that may not agree with my political/religious/moral beliefs and I’m offended, I just don’t finish reading it. And if the author *is* promoting something, isn’t that their right? I don’t have to buy the book or read it. For crying out loud, people just need to accept that not everything has a hidden meaning or agenda. Whatever happened to a diverse, civil, respectful of differences society???? If I don’t like something, there is absolutely no reason for me to be mean or nasty – I think sometimes we would all be better off keeping our opinions to ourselves if we can’t be nice. Grandma always told me “if you can’t say something nice, just don’t say anything at all.” Grandma was so smart

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    • Thank you thank you thank you. That is exactly my thinking. That the author did not write this book to personally offend anyone and people just need to remember that they have the freedom of choice to set it down and walk away. I love it!

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  5. Even if she were biased toward a particular religious philosophy or getting her beliefs out there or however you want to say it, I still don’t understand why people would be getting their knickers in a twist. Authors of fiction are not news reporters…they have no obligation to be unbiased or to remove their own values from their writing, in my opinion. (Unless, of course, the title of the book is This Is the Most Unbiased Book in the Universe or some such thing.)

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  6. I used to get thrown out of more English lessons than I care to remember for asking: “So, how’d you know what the author’s thinking? You know them or something?” It really back fired when, after one fraught English lesson on Dylan Thomas, I delivered my coup de grace to the new English teacher who replied: “Yes, I went to school with his daughter!”
    As an English teacher – I tell the kids: “You need to analyse it to pass the exam! As long as you can explain why you think what you do, there’s no wrong or right answer.”
    Me? I write – because I have a song to sing; not because I have answers. If any one thinks they know what I’m thinking… I’m glad someone does. If they could leave their findings on a post-it note… 🙂

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    • HA! I feel the same way. My characters go where they go with little assistance from me. They are very unreasonable at times. If I could look back six months later and remember what my intent was it would be a true miracle.

      I just wish people would relax. I guess I need to take my own advice there lol

      Thank you so much for the comment. Appreciate the support and the opinion.

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    • That reminds me that Alan Ginsberg’s father was my mother’s English teacher. Weird little factoid.

      “Explain *why* you think what you do…” As someone who wound up, almost unintentionally, majoring in literature, that is really the main point.

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  7. Fearful people are fearful of the possibility of hidden agendas and messages in EVERYTHING! Unless someone is worried about their faith being swayed, no one is going to read into a piece of fiction in such a way. People open up books at various stages of understanding and spiritual growth. If a book makes you question your faith or spirituality (or sexuality for that matter), maybe it’s YOU that’s questioning your those things and NOT the author. Folks do waaaayyy too much projecting. And then they start comment strings like this one on GoodReads for validation of their feelings. It’s cowardice. I have not read the book. Now I’m interested. Thanks! 🙂

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  8. I really like to make up stories. I think you have hit on a valid point. We call it fiction cause it isn’t real. So how do you push an agenda with a story that is not real? My book talks about conflict between various groups of people. I just can’t wait for someone to accuse me of pushing the agenda of any one of them. (maybe you’ll do a rant like this in support of the fact that if I had an agenda to push it would be made up)

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  9. People will read into a book whatever they want to. I never approach a fiction book that way. However, some will come at it already biased or thinking certain things written have a hidden meaning. The best is when they then try to get everyone else to “see” there point of view. People are suppose to interpret writing in different ways, and we are suppose to just blindly go by someone else’s accusations. I don’t think so.

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  10. I support and appreciate your love for a friend and fellow writer, and fiction or not , I believe our personalities and views will come through what we write, and pleasing all of the people all of the time just isn’t possible. That said, how someone expressed their ‘not being pleased’ can make a big difference…and respect is a must, whether we agree with someone or not.

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  11. Criticism endicts the critic as much as any questions about an author’s intentions endict the author, I’m thinking…I’m also thinking whether I spelled endictment right. I used a George W. speech on capital punishment, on why he’d signed off on 273 while gov. of Tejas…he said it was because it showed his value of human life. I got panned as everything from being a supporter of the death penalty (which I am not), and as being an idiot who had no idea what I was saying (they were a direct quote from W.). I’ll ignore, battle, or critique the critics before I start censoring myself or my writing. What a great idea for a post. And…I think we flew around Nevada…something about atmospheric turbulance…was that you?
    Later…

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    • I have wondered in the past if something I posted would upset others. Then I posted it anyway and sat back with a glass of wine and a cigarette and watched the support come in. People around here tend to be wonderful. I wish it would spread to the rest of the world.

      You were probably experiencing one of my rants lol.

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  12. maybe I’m being naïve but I do think we push our own agendas in our writing, fiction or not, even if it is on a subconscious level… or at least it is that way for me although on not such a subconscious level…I am in fact very deliberate… I am often trying to work in bringing attention to issues such as poverty among other things I feel passionately about… yet on the other side of the coin I have a character who is completely fictional and yet it amazes me how many people have come to the conclusion that the character is an auto-biographical representation of myself…

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    • I do agree with that as well. It isn’t that i don’t think an author puts much of themselves and their opinions into their characters, it’s really more that I can’t stand it when someone then reads the book and whines about it–especially when it is fiction. If they don’t like it, why read it?

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  13. Sad isn’t it? Like any work of art, people are free to enjoy it or walk away from it. The artst/ writer has put themselves out there, worked hard, and shared their work. It is not for other people to pick apart, simply a piece of self-expression, creativity, and it is what it is. Don’t let the fearful, jealous close- minded fools get you down, I admire you for having the guts to complete a huge project like this and put yourself out there, cs ) best, beth

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  14. It’s probably not fair, although…When i worked for magazines as a journalist the topic of whether or not we could keep our biases out of our writing and the writing of assigned writers came up a lot. Of course, I know this is non-fiction, but I’m just not sure any author can keep his/her beliefs out of his/her writing…not the stuff we feel deeply about. But regardless, I’d like to throw in there that it’s great that your friend is getting so much attention. Word of mouth at work. I hope the controversy brings her tons of book sales.

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  15. Grrr… I never understood this. I was going to write something similar to Pamela but she beat me, lol. Anyway it seems so weird. It’s like people are seeing things that aren’t there because they want to see them. Are they are making things that are there a bigger deal. If I read something I don’t agree with, doesn’t actually make me like a book less, I just don’t agree with that aspect. Blah, so stupid.

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  16. I don’t understand why people can’t agree to disagree in our society. You don’t like a book? Fine with me. You disagree with some underlying meaning in a book, or see something that few people see? Great. Why does everything have to be so personal?

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  17. I think fiction is fiction, even if it is BASED on a true story or fact. Fiction is fiction…the author’s own creation. Controversy can sell books, so it may not be such a bad thing. In the first few readers by strangers of my book, they did not leave reviews (which I was glad of, I guess they didn’t have anything bad to say about that), but I got emails from a few women who thought that book was written in such a way as to promote the “Pro Life ” movement, OR leaned toward the “Pro Choice” movement. It wasn’t. I deliberately did not choose a side. But I got emails, and had to respond neutrally which I thought was the best approach. Neither side found an ally, maybe that is what they were looking for and I disappointed them. I played it safe. I also got comments about an, “anti-religious statement” that I made in my Afterword by quoting someone famous. All i could do was laugh about that, because no one could dispute the truth in that statement. There will always be controversy surround a good book. that’s part of what makes it a great book….that it can result in debate or discussion. You should hear how my book club tears apart both books and authors. She should smile, hold her head high and be happy they are talking!

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  18. The previous cliche was:
    “Joke ’em if they can’t take a F*&k”
    But, me thinks it should say,
    “Fiction ’em if they can’t understand F*&k”

    The world is full of people just waiting for the opportunity to be offended – – so hopefully Carmen can see that she unwittingly helped to fill the hours of those lonely souls that have nothing better to do than to surf the web, looking for beautiful and time-killing opportunities to be offended – Heck, I think we should give her a Public Service Award, because if it weren’t for these opportunities, these people would be standing on street corners waiting for passer-bys to offend them!

    Thank you, Dear Carmen, for making our streets safe and don’t let the hits get you down – You’re Our Hero!
    😀

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  19. Oh, and one more thought, courtesy a biography special on Dolly Parton –
    “(Billy Ray Cyrus being interviewed) I was really nervous about meeting her, I mean, it’s Dolly Parton! And when I was getting ready before the show, I saw that some of the tabloids had printed a story about her and I having an affair and I thought, “Oh, is she going to think I made this up? Will she be mad?”
    But when she came in and saw the papers, she just laughed and said, “Don’t worry – you know, that shit sells a lot of records.” “

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  20. My oh my – all such wonderful comments. I believe this issue started many moons ago – while stories were being ‘grunted’ by the campfire:) everyone tells a story in their own way and everyone reads and interprets it in their own way. Charles was right – free will.

    (also – there are too many sticks up too many derrieres:) we gots to lighten up!)

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  21. Although I haven’t read it, the book is fiction and should be treated as such. I read some of the comments on Goodreads and this book appears to have caused quite a stir. In all honesty, this will likely increase the sale of the book greatly. Comments whether for or against this story will peak peoples interest in seeing what it is all about. In that way, this sometimes fiery discussion is probably a good thing although I will admit that the negative comments can certainly be painful to the author. In any case, as you said fiction is fiction and those that attempt to assume they know what was in the author’s mind do so at their own peril. Why not just read it and enjoy it for what it is. If there is something in it that irritates your delicate sensibilities then just treat it as a small part of the story and move on.

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  22. This is the age of political correctness where no one is allowed to say or write anything that offends anyone else, even though no one is required to hear or read what is out there. I say… tell her to keep writing! If the easily offended read… it must be because they want to be offended. Hell, let’s help them out!

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  23. Okay. I haven’t read the book. I agree that any publicity is good publicity for book sales. The author would do well to ignore the negative and continue writing. Obviously, what this author writes is causing a stir. If you’ve crafted a strong story, and you’re confident that it’s well-written (edited), then let the negative go. There are reasons why successful (well-known) authors don’t read reviews. Did you know that water falls off a duck’s back? Be the duck. Quack!

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    • LOL. Excellent advice. I think had it not been her first book she might have just been able to ignore it, but first books do tend to come with the disadvantage of being the baby of the author:)

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  24. Let’s look on the bright side: FREE publicity!

    I hope she sells a bucketload of copies!

    But this issue reminds me that I wanted to post a book review of a certain book that I think is a masterpiece, but the subject matter of the book will definitely offend a particular group’s beliefs (I have a lot of author friends who are of this particular group, so I wasn’t sure if I should talk about it or not.)

    The book in question is a work of profound fiction by a fairly well-known author and has influenced me greatly.

    I still don’t know what to do…

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  25. Seems the world is full of arm-chair philosophers and critics…I think the problem lies in the medium itself, internet. People sit around typing whatever comes to mind without considering what they’re even saying or taking the responsability for what they write. They feel safe in their living-room or studies: no knows who they are or where they come from…faceless they shoot at any moving object. Sorry for your friend, and happy for her too that she’s got someone like you to defend her!

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  26. My deep gratitude, Ionia, for your permanent support! I also thank everyone who agrees with me that there must be freedom of expression. My Shadows of the Past is fiction. Just that. Not my intention to drive away from or to attract believers in any faith.
    Luckily I don’t live in the Middle Ages. They would take me to be burned at the stake, very likely.

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  27. Hmmmm. Really? I’m flummoxed. We are talking about imaginary people, places and times. Right? That is the basis of fiction. Imagination at it’s best. When I start a book and find anything offensive about it such as subject matter, writing style, or bad editing, I quit reading it. These readers had a choice, why didn’t they take it? Put down the book and walk away rather than stand like scraggly-looking censors in the village square pointing accusing fingers at the author they are burning at the stake. Really folks, get a grip. Fiction is written for entertainment, not for accusations. For heaven’s…oh excuse me… Pete’s sake!

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  28. Pingback: Shadows on the Edge of Night Pt. 1 (The Shadows of Night Saga) | Excursions Into Imagination

  29. Pingback: Shadows on the Edge of Night Pt. 4 (The Shadows of Night Saga) | Excursions Into Imagination

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