21 January 2011

When authors change it up

I just finished a book yesterday by an author I normally like very much.  I've read all of her books except one.  And that book I started, but it went back to the library after two chapters because she had amusement park clowns coming to life and talking to people.  And when one has a clown phobia, this is NOT what one wants to be reading about.  Particularly when one does the bulk of her reading in bed just as she's falling asleep.

This author is known for writing fun, flirty, humorous romance novels.  But the one I finished yesterday was very different.  I had an idea it was a bit different from the cover art, but I didn't know HOW different.  This was very dark, and it involved a lot of paranormal stuff.

When I talked to my sister last night for her birthday (we talked on the phone for five hours and 49 minutes!), she told me that the book was meant to be a modernised The Turn of the Screw.  My sister Laura also likes this author and reads her blog, so she was up on what this novel was supposed to be, whereas I was totally surprised by it.  Laura hadn't read The Turn of the Screw before, so she read it before reading this book (which she hasn't read yet, so we couldn't discuss the book in detail).

I think had someone handed me the book and said, "Read this; I think you'll like it," I may have liked it more.  But since it was a book by an author I enjoy and who has written several books that generally fit neatly into one category, I've come to expect certain things from her.  And when she changed up that formula by a LOT, it really didn't meet the expectations I had.

It got my sister and I to talking about other authors who change things up.  We understand that authors get into a certain groove and then feel the need to stretch creatively, but it's a little unsettling for their fans sometimes.  For instance, with Laura Lippman, I ADORE her Tess Monaghan series.  While I also like her stand-alone books, I miss Tess when Lippman isn't tending to her.

A particularly egregious offence was Sue Grafton, who lost me at "S" and "T" when she started playing around with non-linear storytelling and multiple narratives, respectively.  Why do the same type of writing style in a series for 18 books and then suddenly switch styles, beginning with the 19th book?  (And, for God's sake, if you're going to switch, make it to a style that doesn't bug the ever-loving crap out of me!)  If you really feel the need to do something different, perhaps write a stand-alone book that has nothing to do with a beloved series that has clearly served you well, where readers have come to expect something in particular.

So, what about you?  Does it bother you when authors change things up?  Or are you more forgiving of writers then I am? 

1 comment:

  1. It bothers me when authors change things up sometimes, mostly when they do it BADLY. Why deviate from a formula that works to go to something that makes you sound like a rookie? Also, I really prefer that authors remain relatively consistent within a series. If they decide to write another series that's a different genre or uses a different style or POV than they usually use, that's cool, but I don't like it when they get all experimental with something I've grown comfortable with.