By Richard Jay Parker
This week I had an email via the STOP ME site. I've had some great feedback via the contact page but, by the same token, I'm quite prepared to engage with people who have negative comments. I've exchanged a small amount of emails with readers who wanted to call my morals into question in the past and, I'm happy to say, I'm still in touch with them having argued my corner. A victory for reasonable debate.
The person who got in touch with me this week had a number of issues mostly about the website itself. I won't go too much into specifics because the email was based on their personal values and I respect their privacy. It was the site itself that had offended them although I'm not entirely clear about which specific pages. I don't think it was the font though.
There was also more than an intimation that my work is a product of wish fulfilment in terms of the violent acts depicted. I've never considered the violence in STOP ME to be gratuitous but everyone has different thresholds. In terms of them being extensions of my own fantasies - before citing a writer like Bret Easton Ellis I pointed out that a respected author like Agatha Christie wrote consistently about murder but probably never hankered after doing it for real. Then again maybe the Devonshire police should dig up the garden of Greenway. They could close all sorts of files. This is, of course, a joke.
Having read the manuscript for my second book, my agent asked me if I'd ever stalked anyone. He quickly added 'or been stalked yourself.' I took it as a huge compliment because what he'd read was obviously convincing. I suppose following people on Twitter might constitute stalking but seeing as that's the whole idea of the thing I don't really consider myself ready for the old 'sofa in the back of the panel truck trick' just yet (see SILENCE OF THE LAMBS).
A lot of readers can identify when a writer is using their own imagination or amplifying their own experiences for effect but I suppose the skill is to make the process of belief suspension effortless through execution. This works well in the thriller genre because much of what constitutes the story is believable. The backdrop is familiar so when a thriller writer introduces their hooks the reader is already comfortably immersed.
Many of the mainstream book charts contain dark and violent thrillers that are enjoyed safely from the comfort of armchairs around the world but they're not for everyone. To some they're scary in exactly the wrong way. Personally, I've got a chin-high threshold and consider STOP ME to be pretty restrained. Maybe this does make me scary. I don't consider myself to be a scary person although one Curzon Group member has already accused me of this. But I know where I end and the keyboard begins and it's all part of the theatre around a book. Can't do any harm...can I?
More STOP ME info at: http://www.richardjayparker.com/