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.

10/21/2013 04:44:50 am

I want you to know that I absolutely adored Lord of Opium, it had magic, I fell in love with the characters and their development and all of Matt's changes. My friend and I read the ARC aloud to one another and we had an absolute emotional rollercoaster all throughout, it was wonderful, I really don't care what people say about it, you will always have a fan in me, Nancy. I love you! And I am also crossing my fingers for that movie, that would make my life!

11/20/2013 01:52:08 am

At first I too wanted a movie but I now realize that a movie is the wrong path to go. Anytime a movie is made for a book they ruin its story. When they made a movie for the first Cirque Du Freak book I was ecstatic and then they cast well known actors to play my mind-made parts. It was unacceptable. As much as I would love a movie for this book I know it will never match to the one in my head and that just depresses me.

10/21/2013 10:24:16 am

Is there going to be a sequel to the Lord of Opium??
Please let there be one....

10/22/2013 06:19:34 am

Dear Holly, Lord of Opium's release made my year. The House of the Scorpion books are some of the best I've ever read.

10/22/2013 06:21:31 am

*Nancy. What was I thinking?!

10/22/2013 12:58:50 pm

Hi Nancy, I just finished the House of the Scorpion and absolutely loved it. I cannot wait to start reading the sequel, and I would love it if you could take a look at the review I posted on my blog here: Thanks so much!

10/23/2013 03:05:13 am

When are you going to make another Sea of Trolls book? Please, please do. They're my favorite books.

10/27/2013 01:50:43 pm

Hello Nancy,
I have been reading the House of the Scorpion, and so far it is a masterpiece. It is truly a work of art.
It upsets me to see that the rantings of ridiculous critics seem to be getting to you-- don't let them even force a hostile tone from you, some of them aren't even worth that.
With regards, and best of luck!

10/28/2013 08:54:26 pm

I loves this book, I really did. To me character development and world building is much more important than nonstop action.

I fell in love with Mirasol, Cienfuegos, and even appreciated Dr. Rivas's role. Lord of Opium was just a perfect as the first but for different reasons.

Admittedly, I was going through withdrawals about fifty pages out from finishing. I didn't want t leave Matt's world, no matter how dystopic. (Is that a word?) Any book that does that to me is me, at least.

10/29/2013 08:26:34 am

I read The House of the Scorpion book last year and it was one of my favorite books. When I discovered the sequel I was thrilled. Do not listen to the critics this is on of the best books I have ever read. I hope you will write a third book. I think it would be a good way to sum up the whole series.

11/1/2013 01:03:00 pm

I loved The House of Scorpion and The Opium Lord, and am thrilled with your blog entry. Thank you for standing up for your voice as a writer. You write the books and we read them-we can respond, but this age of technology has given a false sense of control/power to everyone...we are mere observers of the story you have created, and if we don't like it we can write our own! :)

Thank you for writing a story with such sensitively developed characters. I sympathize with so many of have really shown how good intentions can be twisted and dreams can become perverse versions of good things. So many great aspects the this series!

11/4/2013 03:39:30 am

Okay. First of all, I forgot that it came out in September. I just had it on my mind last week, and checked. I bought it for my Kindle. I didn't want to read any reviews, so when I happened upon this entry I closed it. And began reading...

I have started with National Novel Writing Month, so I didn't finish it as quickly as I would have liked. While I was reading it, I admit that I did not anticipate how if would all work out. I noted that there was more overt violence, and thought that was the issue, definitely not any sexual nuances. I would not even try to analyze your choices - it is your world.

I have read The House of the Scorpion many MANY times - over 70 at last count. I know, excessive, but I taught it in my English class for 7th and 8th grade for several years. It is by far the densest book I have ever taught. The language is so simple that a sixth grader could read it, but the concepts are so large that one could almost teach it for a year. I LOVE my bulletin board - full of pictures and vocabulary. I have made a Loteria deck with my students, and have written many blog entries about the book.

I am not currently teaching Reading, but know that I will use this when I can. I have given several copies of HOTS away to anyone I think will be interested. I have some students who hated reading that thought that this was the best book they had ever read. I am curious to see what the movie will look like.

Okay, I'm rambling. I would love to know if you lay out a plot first, or are you one of those authors that lets fly and sometimes doesn't "know" what your characters will do until you write. I am so glad that I found your books. Thank you!

11/20/2013 01:48:12 am

Let me just say I have read The House of the Scorpion 34 times as of 11/1/13. Great book. I catch something new every time I read it. Your books have not make a huge difference in my life, nor have they done anything massive for me and I apologize for that. I just want you to know that I thoroughly enjoy all that you have written. Thank you for what you have brought to this world so far miss Nancy.

11/20/2013 03:05:00 am

Will you write another book in the Trolls Trilogy? Just wondering since you said you might after the House of the Scorpion sequel.

Alex A
12/15/2013 12:06:32 pm

I enjoyed The Lord of Opium even more than I did The House of the Scorpion. The story felt stronger, more alive and more surprising. I loved the way you expanded upon the world you built in the first book. If anyone wants a copy of The House of the Scorpion, they should just go reread it. The Lord of Opium is great, and I can't wait to see what you write next!

12/16/2013 08:04:51 am

I was surprised by the bad reviews on goodreads too. In contrast, I bought The Lord of Opium new as soon as it came out, one of only about six books a year I give that kind of treatment to, and I was far from disappointed! In fact, I was thrilled to see Paul Stamets (or a semblance thereof) with a cameo appearance.

I'm sure this is water over the dam by now, but please ignore any bad reviews on Goodreads! I think that anything that pushes the envelope inevitably garners bad reviews (and is better for it).

However, the real purpose of my comment is to take a very long shot and ask you whether you'd be interested in reviewing my new young adult book, Watermelon Summer. My husband and I homestead in Appalachia and my parents were back-to-the-landers in the 70s, so my book combines both of those experiences. Feel free to drop me an email at if you're interested, but I know you're probably awash in books already!

I'm waiting with baited breath for your next book!

1/2/2014 09:43:48 pm

The House of the Scorpion was one of my favorite books growing up and I was so excited to find out that you had written a sequel! I agree with some of the other posters in that I also liked the Lord of Opium, but for different reasons. I love that your writing is still unpredictable and that you trust and respect kids enough to talk about complicated moral issues (i.e. is it okay to sacrifice a few for the 'greater good'? What about cloning, drugs, etc.?). Sometimes I wondered how Matt was able to do frivolous things such as throwing a birthday party while the whole country was in lockdown and I did think there were a couple of loose ends (in particular, I didn't feel as though Matt's hearing of El Patron in his head was ever resolved, but I read the book quickly because I was caught up in it and may have accidentally skipped a few paragraphs).
I'm graduating in May and will be a teacher hopefully next year. I was thinking about how I want to make sure to have lots of good books for kids to read if they finish their classwork early and was reflecting on how most of the books that I grew up reading focus on white, middle-class, suburban boys and girls. I love that your books challenge that and they will definitely have a home in my classroom! (I also really liked The Ear, the Eye and the Arm and A Girl Named Disaster.) I hope that you continue to write!

1/3/2014 01:41:10 am

Nancy, I am very intrigued by your Trolls trilogy, i was wondering if i could ask you a few questions about the setting and events

1/29/2014 04:35:45 am

I've thought often to pen you a letter, but was not sure how that could even be possible. This post of yours is probably the best place for me to share my thoughts on your writing and to say what I want most to say and that is Thank You! I'm a homeschooling mom of three. My middle son (11) and I are studying Vikings. The Sea of Trolls trilogy is happily included in our materials. I've already read the trilogy myself and I'm loving his reaction to the books. I appreciate your research and the sharing of what you learned with the reader. Can't wait to let him hear the Smoo Cave! We just finished Sea of Trolls and are starting Land of the Silver Apples today. I love your treatment of the sometimes messy and less than perfect mash of religion and opposing viewpoints in this series. I think that all of your books provide thought provoking material for discussions and I'm so glad I found them. My oldest (17) and I read House of the Scorpion together years ago and were thrilled to hear you were writing a sequel. We just finished up the book and loved it. I loved the new characters, as did my daughter. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your gift of writing and storytelling with us. That task of writing is a daunting amount of work, a massive undertaking and I don't think "critics" have enough sense or humanity to understand that. What I most wanted to share with you though, was a joke/comment my son made while we were reading Sea of Trolls. In the scene where Thorgil is wondering aloud, excitedly exclaiming really, if it would be possible to go to Valhalla by falling off an ice bridge my son giggled and said, "Fall-halla, more like!" Can't say enough how much he's enjoying the book. He wouldn't put it down to finish other work!

Much success and happiness to you in the future. Keep writing! We will keep reading!

2/4/2014 05:02:44 pm

I was hesitant to read The Lord of Opium because, all too often, authors fall into the trap of writing a sequel in an attempt to recapture the magic that was found in the first book. As I write this, I realize that was a ridiculous thing to think, as I love all the Trolls books.....but, I didn't think that through. Anyway, I loved Opium. I appreciated that you wrote about entirely new characters and explored a different side of Matt than we had previously seen. I think the critics of the book were disappointed that it was so different from the first book, which is ridiculous, because then what's the point? Thank you so much for working hard on the book and not rushing it out. On a side note, I thought God's Ashtray was an awesome title and wish they would have let you keep it.

2/23/2014 01:42:44 am

As a 5th grade teacher, I have used House of the Scorpion for years in our Sci Fi / Fantasy novel study. Kids adore the plot and it is great fun to watch them go through the text and change their opinions on the characters. I was ecstatic to see that the sequel came out this year and my students have taken it upon themselves to begin a Lord of Opium book club.

I'm shocked to hear of negative comments. The real critics - young adults - adore your work and I will continue to teach your texts for years to come.

4/7/2014 09:27:37 am

For school, I had to read your novel The House of the Scorpion and I finished it and the sequel before anyone else. Everyone thinks I'm an overachiever but honestly, I couldn't get enough. Your novels are absolutely stellar! I'm sorry to hear about your negative criticism.
I agree with Alex A, as the story just seemed really rich and alive. The plot and characters seemed to be a lot fuller, if you will. Matt was making his own decisions and he seemed a lot more mature. And the relationship between Mirasol and Matt was absolutely... Ouch. Feels. I completely supported Matt and Maria, but then there was Mirasol and it was extremely well-crafted. But I just wanted to say that the whole "I-am-called-Mirasol" thing was not cool. That hurt.
Hahaha anyways, congratulations on your success as an author, and I hope you continue to prosper in your career! And I know how grueling it is to finish a serious manuscript. You should get a round of applause for writing so much and not dying. An award maybe? Hahaha thanks for inspiring me!!

4/19/2014 10:36:52 am

Ms. Farmer, I have yet to read Lord of Opium, but I read House of the Scorpion in middle school and really enjoyed it. After rereading it yesterday, I do agree with you that perhaps compared to the recently popular books, the pace is slower and more thoughtful. I like nonstop action, but whatever, I can and do still love your writing style.

As a whole, the readers/reviewers on Goodreads tear apart books. They are vultures who enjoy reading books with closed minds, take pride in nitpicking every little detail, and write longwinded rants poorly disguised as discriminating reviews. It's a strange community whose judgment I wouldn't really care for.

6/15/2014 01:52:26 am

I loved both books. I love how Matt was haunted by El patron, and how he struggled with his situation. I loved how Matt had to grow and learn about how the world worked. It was well worth the years of wait. The only thing that really got me was when the doctor's kids turned out to be the bad guys. It came out of no where. They were just there and then they were the bad guys. I was expecting the doctor to be the main antagonist. I still loved the book. I admire your adamant writing style. I like that you will write what you want and not what people want to hear/read. I would love if you write another book developing the story more.
Thank you for writing.

9/26/2014 05:52:46 pm

I'm late to this blog post but I want to say it's hogwash. People look for things to hate more than ever these days, it seems. I adored Lord of Opium just as much as I did the House of the Scorpion. I've been reading your books since I was a fifth-grader, beginning with the Trolls books. Every last book I've read has been imbued with a kind of magic that I have rarely- if ever -found anywhere else.

Afri West
12/21/2014 03:31:46 pm

I loved the book. I had two criticisms though. The simplicity or ease with which Matt frees the eejits. Matt recognizes the ease with which the eejit problem was solved and upset that he couldn't save Mirasol with the push of a button as he did with the others. I really liked were you going with TonTon's approach to understanding the mechanism of the chips but it was meaningless towards the solutions.
The second criticism isn't so much a criticism as it is a request for a final edition to the Opium ...trilogy. Mostly to address the voice in Matt's head that very much seemed to be more than just the workings of a quirky mind. Also needing addressing, the genetic differences in the second clone that allow him to regrow that hand (a clone that could regrow organs..would be the perfect clone), the small genetic differences between Matt and the original, increasing similarities or differences, instability outside of the opium country now that Glass eye is dead.

12/29/2014 08:49:58 pm

Dear Nancy,

I just finished reading your book, The Lord of Opium. It was absolutely fantastic! It makes me sad that I finished reading The House of the Scorpion, and now The Lord of Opium. I really wish that there is going to be a sequel to The Lord of Opium! Immediately after I finished reading the House of the Scorpion, I ordered the Lord of Opium online, because I loved it so much! My question is this, will there be a sequel to the Lord of Opium?? It would mean the WORLD to me if you could reply!

Thank you!

Amanda Nerbonne
1/17/2015 08:25:59 am

Dear Miss Nancy,
The house of the scorpion and the Lord of opium rank very high in my list of favorites, I enjoy them thoroughly and discover something new each time I re-read them. I love the fact that they show us the deepest aspects of human nature, letting us know that sometimes those who are considered to be un-human turns out to be the most humane in the entire book. You show us true character and emotion. Thank you so much for writing these books for us...I will cherish them for the rest of my life.

Fan of your books
2/7/2015 03:45:27 am

I must say you are the best writer on this type of subject. I can never put your books down. In fact I have read The House of the Scorpion and The Lord of Opium so many times I have lost count. I noticed how you explained the cloning process. It was very well written. I had to study how cells are created as well as DNA so when I read the beginning of The House of the Scorpion I completely understood it. Keep writing awesome books.

3/10/2015 01:23:36 pm

I just wanted you to know that I love your books even though it was hard to get them in my country. I adored lord of opium and all the story a pretty much fell in love with the characters, especially Mirasol. When Mirasol died I practically started to cry. I fell in love with the story I just wished it hadn't ended. Whoever says The Lord of opium was horrible we'll there wrong. You I have courage to write books for people to enjoy that's more than any of them can say. By the way I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the house of scorpion movie.
Thank you for the books

5/1/2015 07:16:11 am

Dear Nancy,
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write another book.!!!!!!!!! When I finished The House of the Scorpian, I said, " I'm so glad there is a series." BUT IT ISN'T ONE!!!!! I fell in love with this book at the moment i started reading it. I am addicted to it! Please let Matt live on!!!! (haven't read second book, please no spoilers....)

Steven Rogers
5/26/2015 09:19:06 pm

I loved this book and house of the scorpion. I believe you are an amazing author because I have not found I book series I can't stop reading since the Kane chronicles, Percy Jackson and the gods of Olympus, and of course the diary of a wimp kid series. Nonetheless
I do not agree with your idea not to have a trilogy. First of all 3 is an amazing number, however 7 is better and 13 is the best, and second of all you ended the lord of optimum basically the same way u ended the house of the scorpion with questions and unfinished projects. I want to see Maria and Matt, my new favorite couple, get married and have children and go on a little adventure wigh their children. I also want to know if the deals with the U.N. Succeeded and I want to see Matt complete the new and improved opium with Maria. I want to be able to finally see Matt's somewhat happy ending, I'd call it happy but with tam Lin gone it's somewhat cuz it's missing someone but his character was doomed to die of guilt so I'm not criticizing, and I realize I could just imagine my perfect ending but that does not compare to being able to sit down and read the authors final book in a great series and fall in love with the ending. Therefore I would like you to make at least one more book that concludes the series and maybe even goes up to Matt and Maria having children because the way u ended the lord of opium is a cliffhanger and if anything makes the series more questionable about how it would end than the first and I would also love to see Maria and Matt as a married couple and possibly Mother and Father, I mean there has to be at least one good married couple/mother and father in this series and again this is not critism and simply a wish from a fan to one his new favorite authors to conclude one of his favorite book series.

10/19/2015 04:52:19 pm


I want to thank you for taking things slowly in your books. Matt's world would not be nearly as believable or real if you had put in non stop action. I like action but having the hero (or heroine) end every chapter in a crisis gets old very fast. The House of the Scorpion was paced perfectly.

Sam Tyler
11/16/2015 03:31:48 pm

Hi Mrs Farmer, and i was just asking u for a 3rd book in house of the scorpion. I really love the series and want it to continue. I THOUGHT BOTH OF THE FIRST TWO BOOKS WERE AMAZING. PLEASE MAKE A 3RD HOUSE OF SCORPION BOOK.

Sherry Williams
1/19/2016 03:16:13 pm

Mrs. Farmer, to begin, let me tell you that you are one of my FAVORITE authors. I fell in love with "A Girl Named Disaster" and went from there. I have read all of your books. And loved them all. Especially "The House of The Scorpion" series. The second one is my favorite. I always wondered what Opium looked like and wished I could learn more and explore. You let me do just that! I fell in love with the characters, and how descriptive everything was! I got lost in Opium. Thats the purpose of a book, to get lost in someone else's world. I just wish that we could of took a look into what The Patron had going on in space. But I am loyally waiting for another book from you. Hopefully the sea of trolls :)

2/9/2016 08:22:38 pm

Dear Nancy, I read The house of the scorpion in eighth grade and instantly fell in love with it, reading it multiple times throughout the year, and strangely enough never grow old of it. I was always hoping a sequel cane out and last year when it did I was stoked, as you can imagine. I then was asked last year by my school librarian what books I might suggest for the school to buy and immediately recalled the Lord of opium. Literally, ten minutes ago I finished the amazing sequel. Mrs. Farmer, with all the gratification, zero desperation, but a lot of hope, I ask that you make a sequel. I do not care what other people may think or say, and in all honesty, you shouldn't strain yourself a trilogy for people. I just ask that you do consider a sequel, and throw out unjust opinion. Even so, thank you. Thank you so much for writing these books of which I enjoy very thoroughly reading. We appreciate it, we really do.

Philip Coe
2/11/2016 07:11:37 am

I think they are both great. People love to complain and will do so if they feel they have some control over the situation. In a modern society where people can manipulate and control so many devices, they get habituated to feel they can control other people also. Anyway, I was reading an article about the Mexican Cartels today and thought about your books. Here is the link:

Dorothy M. Carter
3/17/2016 12:18:36 pm

I loved The House of Opium. I loved the way you developed Matt as he matured. Of interest was the emerging feelings with which he wrestled as he began to understand the evil side of the man from whom he was cloned. If he had been exposed to Machiavelli's Morals of the Prince, perhaps he would have understood better. However, he is everyone who wrestles with who they perceive themselves to be, who they portray themselves to be, and who they are. As in all your other works, you show a rare insight into the psyche of each of your characters and set the action in interesting yet believable circumstances.

3/25/2016 01:50:05 am

I really ship the Mirasol and Matt couple, I am reading the sequel and finding myself wanting them to be together rather than Maria. These books were amazing! Thank you so much. I am reading them for a book club and they are my teacher's favorite book. Thanks so much!

5/31/2016 09:06:13 pm

Hello I am a in high school and was forced to read this book in 6th grade and I loved it. Once I picked it up I couldn't let it go. It soon became one of my favorite books and I am sad to hear it end kind of abruptly. I know picking up from that point would be almost impossible but it still makes me sad. It was the book that got me into reading and I couldn't thank you more. Even if you never see this I would still like you to know how much I appreciate the books and the impacts they left on me so thank you for writing this book and good luck in the future. I will keep tabs on your writing hope to see more in the future. And than you for helping me become the person I am today.

6/10/2016 11:53:59 am

Nancy. Thank you. So much. You don't know how much 'House of the Scorpion' and 'Lord of Opium' has changed my life. It's amazing and I love it, I would love to see a third book. It would be truly amazing. And as for the movies, I cannot wait for them. What would be amazing for the third book, if you make one, is if you made Matt marry with Maria. That's a shipping I'll never forget.

Aaron Lee Mealey
6/22/2016 06:59:09 am

Hi Nancy,

I would just like to say thank you for giving me the enjoyment of reading your House of the Scorpion books. I have never been a reader and never have been able to focus on any book for more than a few minutes before loosing interest due to my various learning disabilities. from the time I was nine when I first read the House of the Scorpion I was instantly hooked and couldn't put it down. I loved it so much that my teachers in school left me alone to read this countless times because its the only times they ever seemed to see my mind at ease so when I found out about the Lord of Opium I instantly had to buy it and read them both back to back and I loved every second of it. These books gave me a since of enjoyment that I have never seemed to get from anything else and I would love to read more If you ever decide to write a third one I will be the first in line to buy it. I lived a very troubled and rough life so these books were definitely a great escape and to this day these are still the only two books I have ever been able to read and never loose interest. As well its the only books that I can completely see in my head like a movie. Thank you very much for opening my imagination because nothing else ever has been able to.

1/22/2018 01:17:02 pm

I have no criticism towards your book, Lord of Opium, however I have a question. Say I was supposed to represent your book using a symbolic object, what would that be?


Leave a Reply.