Sunday, August 15, 2010

my dystopian week

Charlie raised a good point on the comments to yesterday's blog post, and I completely agree that teens read to connect as well as to escape. In fact, some people enjoy escapism by retreating to dystopian worlds. Kind of like taking a relaxing vacation trip to Antarctica, something I've never understood, but people do it.

There's no doubt that The Marbury Lens is something more than dystopian. Because Jack's world is not in the future, it's right here right now. When I was plotting out this book, I decided that if I was going to "go there," then I had to create the ultimate dystopian world -- one filled with the things that would be the worst imaginable, things I'd never want to see, feel, smell, or hear. I don't think there's any tasting in here -- except for a bag of Skittles (which I despise) and, I suppose, the bugs and monsters that eat you.

That's got to be one of the top-five worst things, don't you think? Being eaten alive by huge bugs and disease-mutated people who look like devils and want to make jewelry and trinkets out of human body parts. I think I manage to work in all my top five things I hope never happen to me (or maybe never happen again) in this book, especially the having-part-of-my-body-turned-into-a-pendant part.

That's probably why people like watching Shark Week, or, at least, that's what I gather from listening to my friends talk about it.

Sometimes, though, I find myself wondering if being eaten alive by giant bugs would maybe not be so bad after all.

Here's the deal. One of the things that's really been weighing me down, bumming my high, eating me up like giant bugs: I knew when I wrote The Marbury Lens that some people were going to HATE it. Not because I'm a bad writer. I'm not. Not because the characters are shallow, flawless, and two-dimensional. They're not. Not because it has vampires in it. WTF? There are no vampires in any of my books. I knew that some people were going to HATE my book because there are lots of ingredients in it (I won't go into details here -- I'm sure everyone will tell you about them once the book hits the shelves) that make people very uncomfortable.

Do I regret doing that? To be honest, part of me does. I take things overly personally. I think maybe all writers do to some extent.

I loaned a copy of The Marbury Lens to a good friend last week (I really have not been passing this book around to people I know), and I told him that, so far, people who've read the book either totally love it -- think it's one of the best books out for this year -- or they totally HATE it -- can't figure it out, wished it had a different ending, maybe included magical unicorns, and definitely wished the uncomfortable parts would get softer and fluffier, like those big afghans your dead grandma used to crochet. So far, in my math, it's about 90% feelin' the love to maybe 10% wanting to cuddle with grandma's comforter. And no gray areas. Nothing in between.

My friend tells me he loves books like that -- ones that totally drive a wedge between readers. Me... I'm not so crazy about the 10%.

So, with that, I'll leave you with some of my favorite disturbing comments from the teeming masses of humanity:

"What the? This is the weirdest book ever..."

"The beginning was disturbing in some ways and it didn't end like I thought it should."

"This was the first book I ever had to stop reading because I actually thought I was going to throw up. (I was in a very warm pizza place at the time, but it was definitely mostly the book). This book is gross and disturbing and I’m not even sure it made much sense. But like the Marbury lens, I also found the book too gripping to resist and kept going back for more."

[Side Note: Maybe you shouldn't have had that seventh slice... The Marbury Lens: Fighting America's obesity epidemic one page at a time! And, anyway, what the hell is a warm pizza place?]

And, finally, from a current New York Times Bestselling author who shall be nameless:

"I just picked up an advanced copy of THE MARBURY LENS at ALA and I’m really, really hoping to love it."

Um... try to avoid the pizza while you're reading it, Maggie.

Gah! I hate myself so much. As soon as I finish writing this book I'm 300 pages into at the moment, I'm never going to write again.

And then I'm going out for pizza.