A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


It's hard to imagine that it was only a year ago that You Have Killed Me debuted at San Diego Comic Con, an important component of what was easily my best time at the show. That said, I'm not at all sad reading about people packing and preparing to leave for this year's convention, which starts tomorrow. Pffft, you can have it.

And don't forget: Spell Checkers shirts at the show. They sadly neglected to mention them by name in the Oni Press convention schedule. Nico's signing times are listed, though, so get him to sign your book!

Anyway, it's weird that the book is suddenly getting reviewed again. This time, we get a write-up from R.C. Harvey at the Comics Journal (and who I also used to read in CBG as a teen). Harvey is a pretty tough critic who specializes in classic cartooning, so it's not bad, considering:

"This might be counted as a signal flaw in the tale if Rich was regaling us with a simple mystery, but he isn’t. Instead, he’s producing an imitation Raymond Chandler story. The detective is sent on numerous errands, and, like the Continental Op, he picks up scraps of information as he goes, and he’s menaced along the way by some the ungodly, so there’s enough threat of violence to keep us in suspense and engaged. Mostly, we become acquainted with a thoroughly unsavory amoral society, a Chandleresque milieu. And since acquainting us with this lot of failed humanity is the chief purpose of the story, we must conclude that Rich succeeds."

Full review here.

I've noticed a few things about how people respond to the book. I think there are lessons to be learned in how people respond to any of my books, actually. For instance, I'm fascinated by how there was a pretty significant shift down the gender lines in reading 12 Reasons Why I Love Her. Women tended to sympathize with Evan's anger and forgive his bad behavior, whereas men seemed to get really pissed at him. All I can conclude is the ladies are used to men's bullshit, while guys can't handle seeing dudes screw it up with the hot chick (to phrase it in the colloquial).

One funny thing in having written a crime story that has a bit of a "whodunit?" mystery is that folks who got immersed in the experience are excited to tell me they didn't see the end coming, while people who figured out who the killer was early on can't wait to tell me how much smarter they were than me. I have to admit, I didn't try very hard to hide things, because it's something I'm still learning how to do and I wasn't concerned with forcing the story to rely on a big "Ah-ha!" I just hoped people would go along either way.

Another is how often people get the details wrong, especially critics. I understand the latter, because I know that in rushing to review, you often only have one time to examine the material and then the text is due (I get e-mails all the time from readers pointing out detail errors in my movie reviews). I've heard various character traits misrepresented--one writer thought Mercer was from a poor background, for instance--and also various story elements misconstrued--yesterday's reviewer thinking the book was East Coast based. Harvey isn't the first person to wonder why Mercer wasn't dead after reading the title line in the prologue, and it's one question that still surprises me. I never expected anyone would think he really does die. Sorry, I don't consider that a spoiler. It was just meant to be one of those "Dun-dun-dun" openings.

The other thing Harvey misses pertains somewhat to the excerpted quote. I think the fate of Julie is explained in the end. I would go deeper in my explanation on that here, but then I'd really be giving out spoilers. But it's there in the conversation with the killer, and then in the conversation with Tynan, the cop. No, I don't lay it out piece by piece in one go. That would just get me nailed to the wall for being overly expository!

Anyway, just ruminating. I am not grousing at all. Like I said, I find how people interact with the material fascinating and informative. I'm pleased that they are interacting with it at all and willing to ponder the book once the covers are closed. Plus, if someone, anyone, is confused by something, it does give me something to consider in the future when working on the next script. How ambiguous is too ambiguous? I actually hope to build something with Mercer. We'll get to know him more with each book, know more about where he comes from just as we watch him change. Through here lies darkness...

Current Soundtrack: Gwen Stefani, "The Sweet Escape (Konvict Remix - featuring Akon)/Wind It Up/Yummy (Ft. Pharrell) (NRC Step Out Mix);" Gwen & Eve, "Let Me Blow Ya Mind;" N*E*R*D, "Hot and Fun (Yeasayer Remix) & (Boys Noize Main)," both feat. Nelly Furtado; Metric, "Gimme Sympathy/Help I'm Alive (Dayrotter Session)" (download)

1 comment:

odessasteps said...

I could see people maybe getting confused with the book, given how many people know the superficial tropes of the detective genre but not necessarily the nuanced ones (which you had in the book).

And like you, I say, Glad to not be in San Diego. One day last year was good enough for me and that was too much.