Laurell K. Hamilton’s Negative Readers

My only New Year’s resolution? To become reinvolved in this site and my favorite romance genre Listserv, RRA-L. But where to begin? Luckily, Laurell K. Hamilton did me a favor. She posted on her blog a trying-so-hard-to-be-rational-but-coming-across-crazy-delusional message to the fans who’ve hated on her books on some message board.

There are books that don’t make you think that hard. Books that don’t push you past that comfortable envelope of the mundane. [...] Put my books away with other things that frighten and confuse or just piss you off.

Mmm hmm. It’s not that her books have become crap; instead, there’s something wrong with the readers. There’s much more goodness where this came from. (via Whatever)

I’m in the camp that stopped reading her Anita Blake books several years ago, when it was clear OBSIDIAN BUTTERFLY was as good as it was getting. I know many still love the series. Feeling let down by Hamilton, however, I am just a tad—maybe more—gleeful at witnessing her self-defeating outburst. That is, even though I no longer read the books, I cannot resist the opportunity LKH has given me to state once again how maddeningly, ridiculously bad the Anita Blake books have become. And now LKH has provided material to mock not just the books but herself. Oh, dear.

Watching bitter, hurt, thin-skinned authors lashing out is trainwreck-fascinating. I’ve never seen a positive result for an author for indulging in her emotions in this way. But maybe browsing through blog search engine results will turn up a lode of reader sympathy for LKH?

Where do you fall? I’m curious about current reader levels of passion for or against the Anita Blake series among this site’s readership (presuming this blog still has any after such long hiatus.)

Here’s a link to our most recent LKH book review, of DANSE MACABRE. You can find links to older reviews in the review index.

73 thoughts on “Laurell K. Hamilton’s Negative Readers”

  1. I love the series, the characters evolve and change from book to book. I think many people hate that Anita changed so dramatically. Well, we all change, honestly, if all the books had the same callous, angry, uptight Anita, I’d never have continued. I do believe LKH has a really crappy editor.

    I’ve read some of those hostile boards, and all I can think is that many of those individuals who hate a person they don’t know….as well as a FICTIONAL character are in serious need of either counseling, or a real life. Why are they reading…and obsessing about something they purport to hate? Quit buying the flipping books and stop looking at her blogs!

    Maybe since I came into the series late and read it from end to end, I was able to see the character and story development. For example…people hate how Richard developed. Well, he was a problem right from the start, and the more wild and weird he gets, the more I love him! Love how Nathanial grew from a sexual cipher to a self-actualizing individual. Edward as a family man? Scary! Olaf? eeep. He redefines who the monsters are.

    I think she’s pretty much finished with the ardeur, (thank goodness) and ready to move on to other arcs.

    If you don’t like the author or series, what’s the point in maligning them? Just move on.

  2. I do think that Laurel K Hamilton’s “Negative Reader” rant was a bit unprofessional.
    As an up-and-coming (but still struggling) writer myself, I don’t understand how she could lash out at criticism the way she has. I’m personally pleased when someone can tell me what is wrong with my writing because I feel that criticism can help us grow as writers. Having said that, if I disagree with what someone says about my work and/or they don’t know what they’re talking about, I reserve the right to tell them to piss off and mind their own business. Normally, though, other people’s advice bears some consideration.

    I don’t get why people who don’t even read the series continue to whine about it. I know it must have felt like a betrayal to see the series move in a different direction but things change. People change. I wonder if the people who went from devoted fans to book bashers would ditch a beloved friend because they made a decision you didn’t agree with. Would you learn to live without them and move on? Or would you turn into a creepy stalker and egg their house? Hmm, what’s the normal response here?

    Does anyone remember why the series started?
    Laurel K Hamilton wanted a series where a strong female character wouldn’t be trapped by archaic stereotypes. She wanted a female character who didn’t have to wait around to be rescued. A character who could swear, get angry, kill people and not have an emotional breakdown afterwards. She also wanted a character who wasn’t bound by the patriarchal viewpoint of what a woman “should” be but who was content to be who she was. With this in mind, isn’t the sexual role reversal of a woman who can sleep around without guilt still in tune with her original creative purpose? As far as I’m concerned this is just another stage in her emotional development. Once the ardeur is under control, Hamilton might return to the more criminal mystery elements of her earlier work. She might not, it’s her choice. I’m happy to go along for the ride and see how things work out.

  3. Danse Macabre was the first Hamilton/ Anita Blake book I read and I really enjoyed it especially the sex. I have also read Incubus Dreams and Micah and really enjoyed them. I love Nathaniel, Micah and Jean-claude. I am now reading the series from the beginning, and up to book 5. Although I’m loving all the kick-ass action I do find the Anita in these books very prissy and moralistic, and I can’t wait for her to get down and do the deed with both her werewolf and Vampire, and I’m really looking forward to reading the books where she gets together with Micah and meets Nathaniel.

    So I am writing in defence of Hamilton’s later books because I have really enjoyed them, and find the sex a real turn on and surely the world of vampirism and were-creatures is all about blood, lust and animal behaviour, and as the series has progressed with Anita becoming more involved in these worlds she has had to change. I hope the series goes on a lot longer.

  4. I am a Laurell K Hamilton fan, therefore, I read Anita Blake and Merry gentry books, discuss the Anitaverse and the Merryverse, and check out websites devoted to what’s coming up next in the books and for/from the author.

    I would not do any of these things for a book or series I didn’t like. At the most I might post a review on a review site or Amazon.

    I personally think LKH was very clear in what she posted on her blog. Which, btw, I wouldn’t have bothered reading if I wasn’t interested in reading her work.

    She DID NOT say if you don’t like her work you suck, she very clearly said that if you don’t like her work you probably shouldn’t read it. Why torture yourself. When I read something I hate, it typically makes me mad or sad or queasy. Not feelings I enjoy having, I therefore don’t read things I know are going to cause these feelings.

    Those out there who have nothing better to do than curse LKH and call her names are idiots. But I’m not just to tell you that. I’m here to tell you that you’re ruining the sites that were created for me, the LKH fan, with your hate and your bile. I would never go to a We Hate Anita Blake website or blog. Why are you guys coming to LKH FAN sites? Is it too much to ask that you show some consideration to other human beings?

  5. I stopped reading after the third or fourth book. It’s sad to see an author go bad, but it happens. Eventually she’ll fall off the shelf or get back to her core writing skills that sold her books originally.

  6. I used to be part of a fan website for Anita Blake, and I know exactly what happened, since her editors used to post on the site. Obsidian Butterfly was the last book she wrote before she fired her editors. And you can see the results in her books since then. I tried to read the series after Butterfly, but they were just awful.

  7. I used to go the Anita Blake forums until I got sick of being abused by the “die hard” fans every time I had an opinion that was less than favorable about one of her books. I have read them all and I continue to buy them hoping that they will regain some of the magic from earlier in the Anita Blake series. I guess I am a gluten for punishment! I think this is a case of a writer who loved to write who has now gotten herself involved in “churning out” books to meet deadlines. I recently re-read the Anita Blake series and it truly seems like some of the later books are written by someone else. It makes me wonder how much of an active role her husband and assistant have in the writing????

  8. I have read two Anita Blake and all the Meredith Gentry but am very disappointed in the fact that LKH cross used character descriptions, repeated word for word lines and descriptions and even some names. I think LKH has a highly creative and intelligent mind, but I also think it is pure laziness not to go the extra mile and make every book unique and individual. Every book I have read is almost the exact same thing, with the same thoughts. I’ve gotten so sick of it that I have begun to stop reading and stew on the fact that an author can charge so much money for books that read like they have been cut and pasted. Some of the secondary plots never go anywhere, she contradicts her self. Like in the first Meredith Gentry, A Kiss of Shadows, it says on pg 375, third paragraph “I didn’t see Nicca’s dark purple hair.” Only to change the color of Nicca’s hair in the second book, A Caress of Twilight, on pg3 second paragraph, “Most of Nicca was shades of brown. His skin was the color of pale milk chocolate, and the hair that fell in a straight fall to his knees was a rich, dark true brown.”
    How can one possibly miss such an obvious mistake. More of such carelessness can be found through out other of her novels.
    Useless characters that end up just being sex toys when they are described in multiple books also make me rethink my love of this author. Characters like Keelin in A kiss of Shadows, that begin a second plot and an interesting plot are never mentioned again, nor is the conflict or the unanswered questions surrounding them pursued. I think someone was just trying to eat up some pages with out using all 110% of her creativity. In my over all opinion I think LKH should read some of her own books and mentally image it all before she goes and publishes them.

  9. I was an avid Anita fan, but after Butterfly I was quite put out.
    You said it right, I was disappointed about the direction the books were going in.
    I don’t want to give up, but it seems like she gave up herself.

  10. I have noticed that in the Anita Blake novels, Anita is always described a petite or not weighing much. In my mind that makes her thin. Now this could just be me, but I think that by portraying a powerful, successful, sexy, and man-collecting main character, some of the younger female readers may gain the wrong message. What I mean by this is that young readers may make a connection of power, and the ability to attract men to the slimness of one’s figure.

    This also sends the message to some young readers that the only way they can be attractive to men is to be angry and pout all the time, or be slim, short and perfectly, abnormally, beautiful.

    In the Meredith Gentry novels however LKH does try to make Merry a bit more realistic in today’s society, but she is still thin and not to mention has large, and still perky breast. Merry in the novels complains of not being anorexic thin or uber tall, which leads me to think this once again can send negative messages to young readers.

    Sure being slim may add to the “sexiness” of the book, but would it really hurt to have a female protagonist with a some extra cushioning around the middle? I think it would add to the intimacy factor. That the man could love her for who she is not what she looks like. My thought is that by being so slim of characters, Anita, and Merry make it difficult to relate to when they have such “model perfect” bodies.

    My next point is that the men of the novels, always described as well built, thin, and handsome, set unrealistic standards for men and for women to look for. Young female readers will think that all men should look like that, while men will try to strive for non-realistic goals.

    While this is completely based off my own views toward the body types of the characters, it could have negative impacts on young readers. What these types of novels do is re-enforce what the media already shoves down our throats through magazines and commercials.

    Earlier in my last post I had mentioned the flaws of writing and now I do want to bring up one thing that bothers me in the Merry Gentry novels. I hope someone can explain this to me but the sidhe are almighty, beat someone to death with cars, strong, right? So when Merry who cannot take much damage has sex with the men and they, “thrust as hard and fast as he could” -from Swallowing Darkness pg 440, why doesn’t Merry’s pelvis or bones break under the force?

    Now moving on. I want to address the fact that in some of the novels the main character will get seriously injured with death is close at hand then with out any magical “sex” healing they are just fine and dandy. I will once again use the Swallow Darkness novel to get my point across. Merry is attacked by the night hag to a point that she needs to get to a hospital or die. After meeting Doyle however she is just fine and dandy enough to go up stairs, kill a night hag, take a shower, go home and change before the oh, so deadly wounds are even mentioned again. Then Doyle has to lick the wound closed. A power he doesn’t use in all the other novels.

    Now then I think I have rambled on plenty. ah, feels nice to let it all out. I hope someone can answer my question and my apologies for bringing up so much Meredith Gentry on an Anita Blake blog. Though many of the factors apply to both series.

  11. LKH’s book sales speak for themselves. Despite the huge ammount of negativity readers feel, so many still buy the books. I am among that guilty camp. I wince at some of her writing, dislike the amount of sex in the books, and hate some of her characterizations… but I am still an addict.

    You have to admire that LKH has created something so unique and compelling, that despite the books glaring flaws, people can stop reading them! I think the heart of the books is Anita herself. LKH is at least in part responsible for the glut of “kick ass” heroines we see today. Although beautiful, sexy, strong kick-ass, evil-fighting heroines are now a bit of a cliche, I still think Anita stands out from the crowd because of the realism LKH writes with. Anita uses real guns, had to go through the process of getting licences to carry, and trains regularly. And we also see the personal/psychological sacrifices she has to make to become so tough.

  12. I personally like LKH’s early books. Of course all of the books kept me on the edge, but there was just to much weird sex scenes for my taste. Yes I like sex as well but some of the stuff that she wrote was off the wall! Plus wheres the plot?!

  13. Why do readers get so pissed off I wonder? Maybe it’s because the book blurbs promise more than they deliver.

    Anyway, as you say, that sort of vitriol from a writer is totally self defeating, not just in the image it presents but also in thinking we’re perfect and our readers are therefore flawed. A writer should listen to her critics and consider what they say wisely – especially the buying public. We can’t afford to lose them.

  14. She has lost her touch with Anita Blake series. Before they weren’t predictable, now they are. I was very excited for her new release “Bullet” but it failed to impress me. I hope her other series Meredith Gentry, she keeps her touch but I doubt it. Which in terms seems rather sad, because I liked her style. Maybe the fame and fortune got to her?

  15. It doesn’t bother me that she started writing Sci-Fi Erotica so much that she had to do it with a series I once loved. She should have started a new series and kept Anita Blake on track or just ended it with a little dignity.

  16. It is not wise to write merely a novel you can live with. Write the book you have always wanted to read yourself, and you will be happier for it.

    Laurell K Hamilton writes what she wants to read.

    … and I love her for it.

  17. I definitly agree with a couple of reviewers ahead of me. I looked at LKH’s timeline and she’s just been relentlessly churning out books. This is her job but she definitly needs to maybe take a year’s sabbatical. I casually cruised through her blog a bit ago when I was reading the Negative Reader thing and it sounds like she’s having a REALLY hard time with this new one. I think it’s called Hit List. Not the point. Anyway I think that she definitly needs to take some time off. I’ve read all of them up to Skin Trade and after that I didn’t have the heart to read more. I’m all for sex. I even enjoy the kinkier sex scenes and more sex but not at expense of plot. It seems like the plot’s getting weaker and I can’t help but to think she’s tired. Her blog seems to correspond with my theory. Overall I feel a bit sorry for her.

  18. Wow…
    Just reading her blog makes me glad I’m not a fan anymore. In every single post she writes, she’s the hero, she’s the protagonist, she’s always right, blah blah blah… Even her books have begun showing these exact same characteristics, which anymore just make me sick. One minute, Anita will praise herself for not doing something that she’s deemed immature, then she’ll turn right around and do the very thing she just said she wouldn’t do anymore. (Example: Hit List–yelling at one cop while telling herself, “I’m glad I don’t do that anymore.”)
    Sadly, I admit I have read all of her books up to Hit List, but I stopped buying them long ago. I only read HL because it was a copy someone else had discarded. Perhaps that should’ve been a sign?
    The last thing I have to say is, Hamilton has no class or etiquette. To purposely tell her fans that they can’t ask her about certain topics in her books, and to also blatantly blast other authors who she perceives as competition just goes to show what a bottom-feeder she really is.
    My copy of HL and other books are going up for sale. Anyone who wants to read this smut can have it.

  19. Hi I am one of those people that do not read her books anymore.I agree I liked her books in the beginning. They had a real plot, a heroic female lead, and were gory. After the first few books they have become repetitive and there is too much sex in them. Seriously, all those sex scenes could have been filled with good plot scenes. After the first couple of books I beleive she was just trying to find stuff to shock us with after. I like the drawing style of the comics made for this series. The comics is how I first came to know the anita blake series. After I read the comics I had to read the books, but after a while that main character that drew me too the books disappointed me. She is controlled by the arduer (however you spell it) and it has made her less of a likeable character. The author tries to remedy that problem by having her gain powers every timef main character that she has sex. The worst part is the character has to do it or she dies. The sex is ruling the plot and even when there is a real plot going she thows in a sex scene. Its the same problem with the merry gentry series .The problem is the same except the main characters goal is to get pregnant, but still the sex scenes in those got annoying too. She kept throwing too much sex at the readers and less and less interesting plot. If she got ride of the arduer the books would be better.

  20. It’s kind of funny LKH thinks all the sex in the books these days is ‘edgy’ – it’s vanilla from what I remember, made more so by the fact that no one involved has any character any more, so it’s just ‘insert tab a into slot b’. The main problem with Anita Blake is that LKH should have started writing Merry Gentry a lot sooner, and channelled all the stuff in her private life into that, instead of making Anita a boring one dimensional mary sue. I would also add that I don’t think it’s sexually empowering that she needs a deus ex machina like the ardeur in order for Anita to have lots of sex. I’d have more respect for the supposed ‘empowerment’ of this if Anita was having sex because she wanted to and she enjoyed it- the ardeur seems like a cop out for the author to (ironically given the content of the ‘negative reader’ message to her fans) deal with her own repression and problems regarding women having sex because they enjoy it rather than because they are forced to by some narrative device.

  21. What I wanna know is when did anita gain the ever-elastic cooch power? Every night/day this female has sex. Half the time with well endowed men. Hello, Micah???!! The plot, lots of sex and character change can be concievable in the land of fiction. But where in the plot did this female get blessed with a cooch that is forever tight? Sorry, after Micah’s repeatedly mentioned freakish size, most of her other partners best bet would be to sneak in the back door. :-(

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