I’m very pleased to be able to welcome Michelle Davidson Argyle to the blog today. Michelle is the author of The Breakaway and Pieces, a duo of books about the kidnapping of a teenager and the lasting effects of Stockholm Syndrome. My review of Pieces is below Michelle’s post here and linked inside of it is my review of The Breakaway; both books are unsettling, thought-provoking and worth checking out.
I’m always searching for something new to ask authors when I invite them to write something for me and Michelle made it incredibly difficult. Her website is gorgeous and full of information about her and her books, but I found a picture that did pique my interest. It showed Michelle signing one of her books and it made me wonder if she had any memorable reader interactions. The guest post she wrote for me is one that I think deserves to get passed around – I love her take on reviews and reviewers for the obvious reasons, and she’s earned herself a huge fan in me just for this terrific attitude.
One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had as a writer was my first book club visit back in 2010. I was invited to attend a book club a friend of mine runs. It was her turn to pick the book to read, and she picked my novella, Cinders (which is now published in my collection Bonded). My friend warned me that when everyone read the book, not everyone liked it. She asked me if I still wanted to come, and I said yes. I mean, how bad could it be? Well, it turns out it wasn’t necessarily “bad” as much as it was shocking. I mean, several of the women in the group hated the book. One went so far as to say she hated the cover (which showed a picture of my version of the Cinderella character) because she hated my rendition of Cinderella so much.
I think it was in that moment that I learned a very valuable lesson—every reader opens a book with certain expectations, and as the writer, I have absolutely no control over those expectations. It’s not even my business what they are! No reader is ever wrong. Their opinions are their opinions, period. I smiled at this reader and opened up a conversation about why she didn’t like the book. It was eye opening! It turns out she expected a different sort of story, one with a strong female character who doesn’t make many mistakes. My Cinderella character ripped her idealized version of Cinderella to bloody shreds, and because of that, she didn’t like the book. And I’m okay with that 100%. My books are not everyone’s cup of tea, that’s for sure!
In the end, I think the best part of being an author is discussing my books with readers, whether they like them or not. After, I write because aside from the entertainment factor, I love to make people see and think about certain expectations in a different light.
Thanks for hosting me today!
Michelle lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She loves the seasons, but late summer and early fall are her favorites. She adores chocolate, sushi, and lots of ethnic food, and loves to read and write books in whatever time she can grab between her sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter. She believes a simple life is the best life.