Monday 29 July 2013

What the Broken Empire meant to me

Like a lot of people, specifically a lot of men, more specifically a lot of men of my generation, I never ever speak about my feelings and very rarely admit to having them. That's nothing to be proud of - it's just a particular brand of fucked up that gets handed out a lot. And in the tradition of making a virtue out of necessity I and many in the same boat, play up to it.

I'm asked a lot if it was difficult to write this or that scene, particularly the more dark and violent moments in Jorg's tale. Whilst I've answered honestly that the violence and general wickedness hasn't been particularly hard to write, I have perhaps been disingenuous in passing off other elements with similarly flip remarks.

The fact is that you can't (or at least I can't) put on paper a scene that has the potential to truly move a reader unless it moves you too. I guess there may be masters of emotional manipulation who can write in cold blood something that reduces the reader to tears. I'm not one of them. Being emotionally wedded to your writing isn't guaranteed to make others take those same emotions from it - a degree of writing skill is required in the mix too. But it is likely in general, and a certainty in my work, that a high degree of involvement is needed in order for there to be any chance that the impact will be felt on the reader's side of the page.

In short, though I will deny it to your face with my last breath, I've wiped away more that one tear whilst writing the parts that others have wiped tears away whilst reading. There. Take my man cards. Begone!

Seeing the first dozen or so reviews come in for Emperor of Thorns, and for trilogy as a whole, it's been clear that the books have had an impact on not a few of the readers. Some have just enjoyed the story. One spoke of never being truly connected to Jorg and seeing him as insane - though still giving the last book 4.5 out of 5*. It's good to know that the trilogy can be read as an exciting adventure story and that considerable enjoyment can be taken out of it even without ever really taking Jorg seriously as a human being or caring over much about the observations on his particular brand of the human condition. However, it's far more heartening to read the reviews where the reader has truly got what the books are really about and been on an emotional journey through them. For those people I sense that the tale told won't be one that is washed out by the next book or by the passage of a few months. You get the feeling reading some of these reviews that Jorg and his story will be part of their authors' internal landscape for a long time.

It's for those readers, who fully appreciated the honesty of the books, and responded to the depth of feeling I put into them, that I carry the honesty a step further and say that there were no smoke and mirrors at work here, that this writing meant a lot to me, that I laughed and cried too, and that it was a privilege to have had this chance to share those moments with them.


  1. In my humble opinion, tears make the man. You can retrieve your ticket.

  2. You're certainly not alone there - I shed my fair share of tears while reading and re-reading the series. When I finish Emperor of Thorns, I plan on reading the trilogy all over again. The books are brilliantly crafted and they've meant so much to me over the past six months. I've tried to articulate exactly what it is that makes them so important to me, but I suppose in the end it's a culmination of the 60+ pages I've written in my journal on the matter...
    So I guess I just wanted to let you know how much the Broken Empire trilogy means to me and hopefully always will.

  3. I find it strange that I'm consistently able to mask my emotions in real life, but often movies, books, and even commercials will sometimes get to me.

    Another time my emotions seem to run freely is when I'm writing, but I figure my reaction to a scene has to be strong for the reader to have even a slight reaction.

    I have to say my favorite reviews are the ones in which grown men admit to getting a bit teary eyed. These are the only reviews I ever respond to and always respond the same: Haha, made you cry.