My mother is reading What Boys Are Made Of. This is, of course, the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Readers, you might not have ever considered this, but writers, I know you have. Because what’s the only thing worse than having a stranger read your diary?
Oh god, what have I done.
For convenience’s sake, I’ve made a list of why exactly this is awful.
One: The swearing
My mother, when I was a child, did not swear. Not even a damn. No, she was all darns and goshes and shoots, with the occasional ARGH thrown in for good measure. When I began swearing in middle school with all the gusto a middle schooler swears with, I very carefully made sure to never do so around my mum.
My characters, on the other hand, swear like sailors who have been told that a lovely widow-woman who is searching for a homely salt-of-the-earth sort of husband is coming aboard, and she’d love a man who can splice a line and has a super fugly tattoo anchor and the only thing she requests is “No swearing,” and oh, did we mention she’s rich? And so these sailors have twenty-four hours to get a lifetime of swearing done before they settle down to be respectable gentlemen. That is how my characters swear.
And my mom is reading it.
Two: The characters
I like to say that my characters are neither good nor evil, they’re just people in difficult situations, trying to get by. For other readers of dark literature, this definition swings it just fine.
As my mum would say, “I don’t know why you want to write about awful people.”
Because they’re interesting, Mom, geez. Oh my god, I’m going to my room now.
Er, except that actually is the reason.
My characters, for lack of a better way to put this, are not the sort of people you’d want to bring home to your mother. Or maybe you do, I don’t know your family, but let’s agree that we don’t want to introduce them to my mother. Except, that’s exactly what I’ve done.
And she’s reading it.
Three: The setting
My mother likes to read cozy mysteries, the sort where the lady detective solves the crime with deductive reasoning while wearing two-inch heels and a pearl necklace. These tend to take place in quaint Eastern Seaboard villages or atmospheric English manor houses, and involve about the same amount of violence as a game of Clue.
My books are set in a post-second-civil-war southeast Ohio which is faced with increasing isolation and fragmentation due to having largely been on the losing side (Anti-DC). Specifically, the fictional town of Buchell, set right along the Ohio River, took heavy damage during the final years of the war due to its strategic location near several chemical and munitions factories. Though the war has been over for five years at the beginning of the book, the region is controlled by various cartel leaders whose organizations act as part mafia, part local police force. Travel is facilitated by military convoys, ala Sudan, as the wild grape vines and poison ivy retake the empty highways.
Now, let’s attempt to reconcile these two settings, cozy mystery and war-torn hills. What do we get? A total lack of compatibility?
And yet, my mother is reading it.
Why is this happening?
Because she declared, long ago, that she was reading it no matter how much I protested. Whether I begged her not to, hid my manuscripts, and pleaded that she’d hate it, she smiled and said she’d just buy it once it was in print and read it anyway. And at a certain point, I gave up.
Plus, she read The Foreigner’s Loneliness and loved it and I didn’t think that would happen, and seeing as I’m using that as my litmus test for who will enjoy my book, well, why not? I figured I may as well make her an early reader so that when she finishes book 1, I can hold up book 2, The Mercy of Men, smile winsomely, and say, “Wanna offer feedback?”
Pft, why else would I do this?
Speaking of this series, I’m having a giveaway over at Goodreads for two signed paperback copies of What Boys Are Made Of! Obviously you, my loving followers, are planning to buy a copy in the format of your choice when it comes out, but please share the giveaway on your Facebook page or Twitter feed so that others can have a chance to see it!
So, any of you let your parents read your books? On purpose? How about someone else you never quite wanted to do so, like a boss or a neighbor? Please feel free to share your stories, funny and tragic, below!
Thanks for reading.