This entry is in particular aimed at Jessica Fleming, who very kindly offered to help publicize my new book, The Lord of Opium.  Thank you very much.  I’m not sure anyone can do much after all the effort the publisher has put into advertising me.  Few authors get as much support as I did.

I was amazed at some of the angry reviews I got, mostly on Goodreads.  Where was this hostility coming from?  I thought about it a lot and decided to address the situation here.  I feel strongly about freedom of speech.  People are entitled to their opinions and I don’t want to censor them.  I do want to understand them.

Why were readers so upset?  First of all, I think tastes have changed since I wrote The House of the Scorpion.  Along with Twitter, Facebook and movies with nonstop action and special effects has come a desire for instant gratification.  Plot and character are not as important.  In fact, these slow the action down.  My books develop slowly and don’t contain nonstop action.  This is how I write and I am unable to change it.

Readers become fond of a novel and want the same experience repeated in a sequel.  I felt quite sorry for J. K. Rowling stuck with producing EIGHT Harry Potter books.  I admire Rowling and thank her for making the publishing world safe for long children’s books.  But EIGHT books on the same topic?  It would have killed me.  And readers were horrible to her when she dared to write for adults.  The same problem befell Jean Auel.  She had six novels to slog through and was clearly fed up half way through.  I think readers wanted a clone of The House of the Scorpion and got something else.  It had to be.  Matt was a helpless pawn in the first book and master of his own fate in the second.  Of course it couldn’t be a rerun.  One reader was outraged because I wrote a sequel at all.  She said I had been seduced into doing a trilogy for money and that it would all turn out badly.  Gentle reader, there will be no trilogy.  There is no law that says books have to come in threes.

One of the most astonishing criticisms was about Matt kissing Mirasol when she was asleep.  This was deemed sexual harassment of the worst sort.  If you examine the book you will see that I was using the symbol of Sleeping Beauty.  Mirasol is compared to a statue at the bottom of a lake that becomes visible for only a few short minutes.  It has nothing to do with sex.  In the first book Matt talks to Rosa, his sadistic caretaker, after she has been turned into an eejit.  He is trying to wake her up.  Mr. Ortega tries to wake up Eusebio with music and gives this idea to Matt.  The relationship between Matt and Mirasol is one of pity mixed with love.  And love is not the same as sex.

I write books for people to enjoy and think about.  If you don’t like my books don’t read them.  Problem solved.  For the rest of you (and thanks again to Jessica Fleming) let’s all hope for a movie of The House of the Scorpion to pep things up.