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The first novel I read by someone I knew was J.J.Lair’s Dream Dancing. Jim was (and still is) a friend from the Monmouth Creative Writing Group.
To be honest, if I hadn’t known him, I doubt I'd have ever heard of his book, much less bought it, but he’s my friend, and after all, that's what are friends are for, right?    No doubt you’ve done the same. 


The weird thing was, reading it turned to be much harder than I thought. Not because of the writing, which was fine, but because I was so worried I might not like it.  What if I hated the story, or the characters?  How could I look him in the eye the next time we saw each other?  I’d read enough bad books by authors I’d never met to know that, just because a novel’s in print doesn’t mean it’s any good. 


Unless you’ve been in this situation yourself, it’s hard to describe. The nearest equivalent I can think of, is when someone you know is in a band, and insists on standing right next to you while they play their demo tape (which has happened to me on more than one occasion).


Of course, I needn’t have worried. I liked Dream Dancing, and gladly recommend it. Since then I’ve read a other books by people I know, usually written by friends in the GSHW, or guest speakers at their events. The funny thing is, no matter how many times I do this, I still get that nagging doubt as I turn to that first page.  What if it’s no good?  What do I say if they ask me how I liked it? 


How about you?  What was the first novel you read, when the face inside the cover belonged to someone you knew? 

Did you feel like I did?  Is it a different book when you know the author?  or is it just me?  


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( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 19th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
I believe it was "Four and Twenty Blackbirds" by Cherie Priest. It turned out easy for me. I adored the book and the following two books. I liked "Dreadful Skin" as well. I think the only book that hasn't really sucked me in so far is "Fanthom" and eventually I'll go back to that one.
May. 20th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
But were you worried you wouldn't like it? :)
May. 20th, 2009 04:53 am (UTC)
Actually, I didn't have that worry until the second book in the series. Weird, huh?
May. 20th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC)
As far as how to handle a situation where you read a friends book, it's one I've never had to handle yet.

But even if you didn't like the book, the fact that they found someone who was willing to publish it is a tremendous accomplishment. I think you could tell them your honest feeling and also praise their having gotten something published.

Now, if they used a vanity publisher and the book is no good...

Have fun breaking it to them.
May. 20th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
Luckily, I've enjoyed each one ... so far ;)
May. 20th, 2009 02:55 am (UTC)
a friend of mine doesn't read work by other authors in this country, because ustralia is such a small writing community, in general, and the spec fic community smaller still, that way when they get published she can say well done, and congratulate them on their success, and never worry about this issue.

Mind you, in saying that, she no longer has much time to read at all. I was a fan of her work before I got to know her, and I still get the same reaction from those early books as I did before I got to know her. This was a great relief to me, because I re-read my favourites quite regularly *g*

I've read work by friends and needed to be non-commital about it, other times I've been brutally honest, but only if they requested that. But in general, if you really don't like work by a person you like very much, you just have to say "oh, the writing's good, but its not really my cup of tea." Most writers are realistic enough to know that writing is subjective to each reader.
May. 20th, 2009 10:29 am (UTC)
I agree. It's definitely my problem, not the writer's. I just don't understand why I get so nervous about it, and after I go through all the worry, I don't know why I then go ahead and buy a book a different friend wrote :)
May. 20th, 2009 10:32 am (UTC)
masochistical tendancies? *g*
May. 20th, 2009 10:51 am (UTC)
No, I always walk like this ;)
May. 20th, 2009 10:58 am (UTC)
Must make it hard to buy shoes then. *g*
May. 20th, 2009 11:01 am (UTC)
lol :)
May. 20th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
I find that if I know the person, I'm much more likely to enjoy their work, or at least to be able to overlook faults. I've actually been in this situation many more times with bands (I'm a relatively newbie writer but have been a musician for a long time, and know about a zillion people who are in bands). I can usually find something positive to say about anybody's art--even if it doesn't really float my boat--without lying, exaggerating, or being insincere. And if it really floats my boat, well of course I'll rave about it :)
May. 20th, 2009 04:16 am (UTC)
what instrument do you play? (rythym guitaris here)
May. 20th, 2009 11:05 am (UTC)
I played in a rock band, Gentleman Jones, for about sixteen years (I was singer and keyboard player), but I gave it up when I moved to the US. Do you guys have as much trouble finding a bass guitarist as we did?
May. 20th, 2009 11:08 am (UTC)
we certainly did. I kept advising my kids to learn bass guitar as they were growing up, told them they'd always find work if they could play a bass, but do you think they listened to me?
May. 20th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, finding a real good bass player is hard, seems like everybody wants to play guitar.
May. 20th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
worse, having spent far too many years teaching teenagers - they all want to be the lead guitarist.

Still, in what other job could you get to say the words "No, you really don't improve Country Roads by putting an Ace Freely style distortion lead break into it. Concentrate on learning to change chords first."
May. 20th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
May. 20th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
May. 20th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
seriously cool. What breed of kit do you prefer?
May. 20th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
Yamaha beech custom absolute, right now.
May. 20th, 2009 10:51 am (UTC)
lol, it's when the best thing you can say is that you liked the cover that they know you didn't like it :)
May. 20th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
Heheh, yeah I've had to resort to that on a few occasions :)
May. 20th, 2009 07:30 am (UTC)
I don't think I've read a book by a face-to-face friend, and most books I've read by online friends have been in critique-mode, when comments good and bad are invited.

As an aside, I have have spoilt books by reading them in the author's voice. For example, when I read a book by David Attenborough it takes ages because I read it with his slow and slightly breathless delivery. "Get out of my head, David!"
May. 20th, 2009 10:55 am (UTC)
Hehe, I had the same problem when I read Lord of the Rings after the first movie came out. It didn't seem any different until Gandalf says 'A wizard is never late...' and there was Sir Ian McKellen, talking in my head :)
May. 20th, 2009 07:36 am (UTC)
Not because of the writing, which was fine, but because I was so worried I might not like it.

Happens to me all the time. It's always a relief when I like the book... The funny thing is, I know a lot of people feel that way about me too. I do my best to make them feel comfortable. I thank them for reading the book, but never ask what they thought in case they don't want to tell me. I'm not sure what else I can do...
May. 20th, 2009 10:58 am (UTC)
It's a problem I hope to have my own self one day. I don't think I'd mind if someone didn't like a book I'd written. As you say, I guess all you can do is thank them for reading it. After all, it's not as if we provide feedback to authors we don't know (unless you're a reviewer).
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



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