Simon was GAY: to begin with.

Amazon.com has many features, strengths and weaknesses. One of those features (whether it is a strength or weakness I do not know) is that, as an author, you can get fairly quick feedback from complete strangers on your work. Mind you, these readers do not always evaluate the actual work; rather, they will take the opportunity under the guise of a “review” to comment on something else–maybe they don’t like the price of the Kindle version of your book (See J. K. Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy for this), maybe they don’t like the cover art; and maybe they don’t like you or something about your book that has little or nothing to do with the story.

Maybe I have arrived as a semi-famous author; I now have ratings at all five levels of Amazon.com’s rating system. A few reviewers think I didn’t provide enough clues–fine–I disagree, but that’s their opinion, and at least they read the book. One reviewer thought I was small-minded and quit reading after a few pages because I dared to call Ayn Rand’s philosophical ideas “small” (I stand by that).

A few reviewers don’t like the fact that my protagonist, bookstore owner Simon Alastair, is a gay man. One reviewer went so far as to put that in all caps as the title of his review (although I believe he did it somewhat tongue-in-cheek as a response to another reviewer who objected to Simon’s “flirting and flipping around attractive men.”) I didn’t do a word search, but I’m pretty sure I did not once give Simon an action involving “flipping.” Flirting I will concede, but so what? It’s the 21st century. If a reader can’t tell from the free amazon sample that my character is both gay and dismissive of Ayn Rand, I can’t help him if he chooses to buy the book. I hid nothing.

As this election year closes, we see a president finally supporting marriage equality, and that equality becoming a reality in more states (including Oregon’s neighbor to the north). Who knows what the Supreme Court will decide when it reviews Prop 8 and DOMA next year, but George Will perhaps said it best–the opposition to marriage equality is dying.

But I’m a novelist, and a writer who wants to entertain and, perhaps, educate his readers just a little–about Dickens, about the world we live in, and why Dickens is still relevant 200 years after his birth. The theme of The Christmas Carol Murders relates to this question–by what philosophy do you wish to live your life? One of abundance and sharing (the “Carol” philosophy, as Dickens called it) or one that calls itself Objectivism and celebrates “the virtue of selfishness”? Voters decided last month. As far as I’m concerned, Dickens won the election in the USA, just as he (small spoiler ahead) triumphs in The Christmas Carol Murders.

Simon’s and Zach’s adventures will continue throughout the Dickens Junction mystery series. They will have some rough waters ahead, but they will, I suspect, survive them, because they love one another and are trying to build a life together (even as the bodies pile up).

If you don’t want to read about two men seeking happiness together in the world, find something else to read. Try Madame Bovary. It’s a five-star laugh riot. And she’s straight.

3 thoughts on “Simon was GAY: to begin with.

  1. Hi Mr.Lord,

    I am the reviewer who left a “warning ” in the big bold letters about Simon being gay. I guess I should be happy that you realized that I “may have” done somewhat tongue in cheek in response to one star “reviewer” who was so upset that he was not warned about main character’s sexuality and made up things which were not even in your book. So just to clarify – not *somewhat* but a lot. I had issues with your book – Simon being gay was so very not one of them. “Reviews” like that get on my nerves and if I happen to read the book where such review is left I often enough respond to them.
    I sought out your blog hoping to find information about release of your next book. What I just read kind of spoiled my enthusiasm. You had every right to express your opinion of course – it is after all your virtual home, your blog and I am very grateful that you did not go argue with the reviewers on review pages, but seriously maybe read the review more carefully and I don’t know, note all the arguing on one star ” review” comments where I commented as well, because I feel like you just implied that I am guilty of homophobia.

    Sirius.

    • Sirius: thank you for your considered response. I really mean that.
      I did not consider your review homophobic in the least; I was grateful that you finished the book and judged it on the merits (as you saw them). I did not, however, realize that you were also the person who responded to “cheap skate.” I did not connect the dots or compare the names of reviewers and commenters. I was surprised that people actually commented on that review online; before this I was not aware of that aspect of amazon’s reviews (despite the hundreds that I’ve read and the few I’ve written over the years).
      Despite our differing views of Ayn Rand, I hope you’ll stick around for The Edwin Drood Murders, which will be published in late July 2013. I would be happy to send you a review copy. Send me a mailing address at my christopher.lord@dickensjunction.com address and I’ll gladly send you a copy. I see that you’re a Vine reader, which means you read widely and review often. I value such readers.

      • Thanks for clarification. :). Yes, Amazon allows comments which sometimes I like and sometimes I do not. I will buy your next book – you do not have to send me anything, I appreciate the offer though. I was interested enough in the first one.

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