Hannah has big breasts. You mention them a lot. What the hell’s up with that?
Here are the facts: there are nine breast mentions in The Flight of the Silvers, most of them centered around Hannah. In virtually each one, the context is either A) someone giving her unwanted attention or B) someone misjudging her based on appearance. None of my critics have called out any passages in which I fetishize or idealize Hannah’s breasts, because those passages don’t exist. Regardless, it seems the mere mention of her breasts sends a small number of individuals into a frothing rage.
My message to them: I’m sorry you had such a bad experience reading The Flight of the Silvers. You have all the freedom in the world to badmouth and boycott me. But as long you keep basing your criticism on exaggerations, fabrications, and uncharitable assumptions about my state of mind, there’s no force on Earth that’ll get me to take you seriously.
Now there are some who merely complained that the breast references were distracting. For that I’m truly sorry. The last thing I ever want to do is pull a reader out of my story. Hannah’s chest is such a trivial part of her overall character that I could just have just as easily done without those mentions.
So, yeah, if I could do it all over it again, I’d handle it differently.
How many breast references are there in The Song of the Orphans?
I don’t like the way you wrote your female characters in general, especially the sisters. When they’re not crying, they’re arguing. And when they’re not arguing, they’re obsessing over men.
There are literally hundreds of pages of counterevidence to that claim, but enough readers have complained about the issue that it’s worth talking about.
It should be obvious to anyone who read the book that the Silvers spend most of the story in a very bad headspace. They lost their world, their families, their sense of reality. They’re barely holding themselves together and they don’t always handle it well. Zack’s an emotional coward who hides behind his caustic wit. David is prickly and withdrawn, and occasionally borders on sociopathy. Theo steals away in the middle of the night with half his friends’ money so he can drink himself to death.
And Hannah and Amanda? Yeah, they fight a lot, as many siblings do in times of stress. And Hannah goes out of her way to start a “casual” fling with Theo, not because she needs a man, but because her whole world’s been turned upside-down and she needs something familiar to hold onto, something she has control over. Same goes for Mia. Her crush on David is almost a soothing distraction from all the shit that’s going on around her. And having once been an adolescent, I can assure you that even an apocalypse wouldn’t have cured me of my insecurities and body issues. That’s not a female thing. It’s a teenage thing.
Many readers saw what I was going for with these characters. Some did not. Some were very loud with their interpretations. Such is life on the Internet.
In any case, the Silvers are all in a much stronger state by the time The Song of the Orphans begins. They’re not new to the world anymore, or their struggles. You’ll see some pronounced and surprising evolutions with all of them, especially the sisters and Mia.
And for what it’s worth, Hannah and Amanda don’t have a single argument in The Song of the Orphans.
You often used reductive terms for the Silvers instead of their names—the actress, the cartoonist, the widow, the augur. It’s annoying as hell. Stop it.
I made an artistic choice and I stand by it. Some folks liked it. Others hated it. There’s no way to write a huge-ass novel without annoying someone about something.
For all you pet-name haters, good news! They were were strictly a Book One conceit. You won’t see them at all in The Song of the Orphans and The War of the Givens.
Yeah, but why did you make Amanda “the widow” instead of “the nurse”? You’re defining her whole being around her role as a wife, you mesolithic shitwhistle.
I originally had a plan for her personal story arc that made her widowhood much more relevant than it currently is. I also thought “widow” had a better rhythmic cadence than “nurse.”
I was in no way implying that Amanda’s martial status defines her. If that was the case, she would have mentioned her husband a hell of a lot more than she did.
The Silvers make a lot of dumb mistakes over the course of the book, like really dumb. It made me want to punch them.
I’m sorry you felt that way. I personally get annoyed by main characters who are flawless in every regard. Not only do they pull me out of the story, they bore the crap out of me because they have no room to grow.
My characters are all highly imperfect beings who spend most of the novel being in way over their heads. They’re going to make bad decisions, even boneheaded ones. That’s just the nature of our species.
But the Silvers all get stronger as the story progresses, and they’ll continue to grow over the course of the series. By Book Two, you’ll see them acting and reacting as battle-hardened veterans. By Book Three, they’ll be juggernauts.
You make weird word choices sometimes.
I have no idea what you’re yartling about.
Like “leer.” You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Yes, I’ve heard that from several people now. My goof. Rest assured I won’t ever be using that word again, even at gunpoint.
Those who purchase the paperback edition of The Flight of the Silvers or the 2nd edition e-book (the one released after 1/6/15) will own a de-leer-ified version of the novel and will mercifully not know what the hell that issue is about.
Yes but sometimes you have someone “reeling in bother” or “chucking their hands—”
All right, all right! I get it!
But how did it happen?
Because I’m human being who struggled to write a massive novel without starving. Like many human authors, I made some mistakes along the way.
And your editors?
Also human. You can thank them for the 12,561 gaffes you didn’t see.
Well, your book was long and it had slow parts.
Once again, I apologize to anyone who felt that way. Believe me, it would be easier on my finances if I wrote shorter books. But the Silvers series has a lot of characters with a lot of problems on an aggressively complicated world. A story like that needs to space to breathe, and I worked damn hard to make sure that every scene has purpose.
If you truly struggled to keep interest in The Flight of the Silvers, then it’s usually the sign of a bigger problem. More likely than not, I failed to make you interested in my main characters, which is regrettable. Not all books can be all things to all people. And Lord knows, there are things I could have done better.
Oh God. Lots of stuff. I would have had the Silvers get together sooner, instead of fumbling individually around Alt San Diego. I’d externalize the trauma of some of the more aloof characters, especially David. I would have had less squabbling between the Silvers and sisters. And I’d choose much better phrasing for, oh, half the book’s passages. There are some sentences that make me cringe in hindsight.
So basically you’re both combative and conciliatory in the face of criticism.
What can I say? I’m complex.
What if I have a gripe that isn’t covered on this page?
Send me an email. I’ll see what I can do.