Friday, 22 February 2008

Surviving the blog tour

Well the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour on The Shadow and Night is coming to an end and I seem to have had a vast number of reviews. First things first; I would like to thank all of you who read the book, particularly those of you who seem to have found it, as we Brits would say, ‘not my cup of tea’. Had I time I would individually answer some of these reviews, particularly those that have raised helpful or challenging points. But you can’t do everything.

I will try to compile some of what I consider to be the more insightful reviews and post them on my blog. Yes, there were some negative ones but the general tone was surprisingly positive. One or two people – apparently sane too – praised my books with adjectives that went beyond those I would personally have used. I loved being a ‘fabulous Welsh author’; the word fabulous of course has a double meaning: ‘excellent’ and ‘mythical’. Anyway I need to go over all these reviews and think about them. I actually find reading reviews difficult: bad ones nag me and good ones make me feel vaguely guilty of pride. But I am very grateful to all who have been involved; it’s been a very helpful exercise.

Let me make a few comments. Some people consider the books have been misclassified and one or two clearly felt disappointed that the books didn’t fit in their definition of ‘fantasy’. Well, I have secular colleagues who plainly felt that the books are fantasy simply by dint of their invoking a God who acts. Perhaps we had better call them ‘genre-breaking’ or ‘speculative fiction’. (I have discussed this more at length on my monthly speculative faith blog). A few others felt that the tagline, ‘a fantasy in the tradition of C. S. Lewis and Tolkien’ was misleading because (surprise, surprise) I don’t write as well as they did. I am surprised anybody thought that such a phrase was a claim to quality.

One of two people frankly found the books rather hard going. Fair enough. Are there any books that everybody likes? Well, to this day I agonise over as to whether I should have speeded things up in Book 1. Yet, on balance, I think I made the right decision. Tall buildings need deep foundations and what I was doing in the first hundred pages was laying the foundation for the remaining 1,600. One theme which recurs on almost every page of the books is that of innocent men and women grappling with the novelty of evil. I do not see how this could have been remotely effective had I not, perhaps clumsily, tried to draw something of the world of innocence first.

One slightly curious point was that I expected two objections, but failed to get either. The first was that, unless I am mistaken, no one was terribly upset that I had deviated from standard North American imminent pre-millennialism. I also don’t recollect anyone getting terribly upset that I seemed to be happy with an old age of the universe. I suspect they made allowances for me being a Brit. and therefore de facto theologically suspect. Incidentally, a number of people were clearly struck by the accompanying letter I wrote, which talked about what I felt it meant to be a Welsh author. At some point, I really ought to post this on my website.

And now I better get back to my college work! With every blessing.