As a general rule, I’m not out to hurt anyone with what I write (unless you’re a small-minded, bigoted, moron). So when I posted a story about newly minted British writer named Abigail Gibbs who, at the ripe old age of 18, received a six-figure advance for her first novel, The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire. I had no intent beyond poking a bit of fun when I posted the story to Facebook, when a snarky comment to the effect that it was wrong that someone so young be so successful so quickly.
At least I thought it was in good fun, but when the story got duplicated over to Twitter, I got an unexpected reply from the author herself. She was dismayed and insulted by the implication that her success had come too easily. I was surprised and then chagrined that she had taken such offense. I also gathered from her replies that she had gotten other less than friendly feedback and felt like I was just another hater piling on. For any inadvertent offense I may have given, I sincerely apologize.
Hopefully, that will entitle me to offer a little friendly advice:
- Don’t engage the haters, Abigail. They’re out there to drag you down and playing their game, letting them know they got to you, will just drain your energy from more rewarding pursuits.
- You’ll need a thicker skin to last in this business. Especially you. Early success breeds jealousy, and you will not be able to stop people from saying some pretty mean things. You can either ignore them or let them wear you out.
Abigail’s biggest beef was with the suggestion that her success came easily. She started writing the book when she was 14, and it took approximately two years, approximately 8 times longer it took me to write Human X. That’s working hard. And I’m not bragging about my speed, either. I did have the advantage of not attending high school at the same time. I still stayed up until 3am, too, which I could do because I was between jobs, and that’s why I finished in three months.
I would, however, caution Abigail to keep “easy” and “hard” in perspective. J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel while a single mother, living on benefits, writing when she could get her baby to sleep. Stephen King wrote Carrie in the closet of an unheated trailer, while working as teacher for poverty wages, after years of writing short stories for men’s magazines to earn grocery money. So Abigail worked hard on writing her novel, but she still scored a hole in one with her publishing deal. Again, it’s all about perspective.
I haven’t read Abigail’s novel yet, and to put cards on her table, I can’t promise I will. She says it’s inspired by the Twilight series and those are so not my cup of tea. My idea of a vampire story leans more toward King’s Salem’s Lot. On the other hand, Abigail says her main issue with the Twilight novels was that they weren’t ‘bloody or edgy’ enough, so this girl does seem to know what a vampire novel is supposed to be.
Regardless of my reading choices, Dinner with a Vampire is available for the Amazon Kindle for the princely sum of $1.99. If you’re at all interested in the genre, you ought to check it out.
Other than that… Congratulations, Abigail. Welcome to the club.