Saturday 11 August 2018

Questions, questions!

Goodreads allows readers to question authors.

I have answered 303 of them so far!

Here are the top 8 ranked by popularity.

Mark Lawrence I'm not sure 'anti-hero' is the right word for Jorg:

Jorg's character was inspired by Alex from Anthony Burgess' 1962 classic, A Clockwork Orange, who does those things. So that's one answer.

The other answer is 'why not'. It's not necessary (for most people) to like a characters in order that they be interested in what happens to them. Additionally is it interesting that we can like a character even when we don't like what that character does.
Mark Lawrence I pronounce it like it's spelled. Like Bjorn Borg, or The Borg, but with a J. J, for jug, org as in the .org domain.

It was originally Jorge (like George) but Americans pronounce that as Hoor-Hey, so I lost the 'e'.

In the US audio book they say Jorg as I would (because they asked me).
In the UK audio book they say Yorg (they didn't ask me).
Mark Lawrence Author asked to write story, for free! FOR FREE!
Mark Lawrence Accent. There are 15 fecks in the book and 8 fucks. In a book where a bishop gets nails hammered into his head there's no need to censor swearing.
Mark Lawrence Hmmm. Some time in a juvenile detention centre followed by a bloody rise through the ranks of organised crime that enables him to buy his way into politics. Then through the judicious application of kneecapping and fake news ... the presidency.
Mark Lawrence People sometimes imagine stories as arbitrary things that can do whatever they want.

Those of us who have written ... at least successfully, producing stories that others feel compelled to follow ... know otherwise.

When a person who carves wood speaks about their craft they often talk about the animal that is waiting in a particular piece of timber, not created by them, but waiting to be discovered by the chisel and the knife. They are constrained by the grain of the wood, the knots, the dimensions, and by the way the surfaces they start to follow travel through the medium.

All this to say that the end of any book is where the story leads the author. Stories develop a momentum of their own, characters will do one thing and not another. When you wake from a dream you may not like the ending of it. But try to tell yourself a different one ... and it will never quite stick.

From time to time a reader will take the time to variously rage, tell, or inform me of their distress with the way the Broken Empire ends. Quite often they will contact me again days, months, or even years later and say that they finally realized no other ending would do. Those emails are quite nice to get.
Mark Lawrence I wasn't worried, no.

Jorg was inspired by Alex from the 1962 classic A Clockwork Orange who is similarly youthful and prone to violence.

In the Broken Empire his age serves various important ends.
The themes in the trilogy include those revolving around
(i) the nature vs nurture issue,
(ii) the ambiguities in responsibility and purpose that arise from the protagonist's age, and
(iii) the disparity between what Jorg tells the reader about his motives and responsibility and what the reader actually deduces
(iv) the changes wrought in us through experience as opposed to those wrought by simply growing.

I rely on my readers having the imagination to cope with the idea that along with ghosts, dream-witches, and magical mutants, there might be some (or at least one) people who at 14 (as Jorg is for 90% of the first book) might act in many regards as older than their age.

A few readers appear to think protagonists are plucked at random from the population and are overwhelmingly likely to be 'average'. This strikes me as odd. If I write a book about a lottery winner, Olympic champion, or mind-reader will readers cry out that it's hardly believable that this random guy has won the lottery / is better at running fast than 99.999999999% of other young men his age / can read minds...

The books weren't written for a young audience.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Looking at the Goodreads Choice Awards.

(updated November 2020)

The Goodreads Choice Awards interest me for a variety of reasons, not least that 11 of my novels have made it to the semi-finals of the competition.

Goodreads currently boasts around 90 million members, and around 25% of all my readers rate my books there. In fact for a swath of recent traditionally published fantasy there seems to be a strong correlation between number of sales and number of Goodreads ratings.

Many awards are accused of being a popularity contest, though generally they are just a popularity contest among a small clique of fans. The Goodreads Choice Awards, with 5.0 million votes cast last year, really are a popularity contest. How well a book has sold has a very strong bearing on how well they will rank.

With this in mind I looked at all the results since the awards started in 2010 and plotted the breakdown between male and female authors.

(click for detail)

Now extended to the 15 nominees for 2018-20.

The results indicate that in the very popular genres of Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy and Paranormal Fantasy female authors have dominated in these awards (and by extension, in sales), averaging 85% & 87% of the top 15 respectively.

In the first 4 years of the awards female authors averaged 45% of the top 15 in the Fantasy category. In the 6 years after the joining of the Fantasy and Paranormal Fantasy categories female authors averaged 69% of the top 15 in the combined category.

Only in the Science Fiction category does there seem to be a consistent majority of male authors, with an average of 33% female authors in the top 15.

Science Fiction does still seem to be a bit of a boy's club and it's unclear from the data whether that is changing.

If there were sufficient numbers of books involved we could look into "Fantasy" and break it down into various sub genres, and I'm sure would find some where one gender was having the majority of success and others where the situation reversed.

It is interesting to note that even after the combination of Fantasy with Paranormal Fantasy there are still more votes (interest/sales) in the YA SFF category (and fewer in the Science Fiction category), except for years when JK Rowling has her hat in the Fantasy ring (and she has a huge YA following).

It is of course dangerous to draw too many conclusions from such analysis, so I merely present the data. And clearly it is scant comfort to know your gender are doing great in one area of writing if the books you write fall into an area where you feel you're swimming against the tide.

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Prince of Thorns is seven years old!

Prince of Thorns is 7 years in print!

Check out the 6th5th4th3rd2nd, and 1st birthday round-ups. 

I now have 9 books on the shelves!

Being a numbers guy as well as a words guy I like to keep track of things and record them for when I'm a doddery old guy looking back at my 'glory' days.

This year my books (or one of them at least) got translated into a 24th language (Georgian!)

On Goodreads Prince of Thorns has passed 70,000 ratings!

And Prince of Thorns continues to attract ratings on Amazon
UK Amazon                                   US Amazon

Plus the blog has broken two million views and has very nearly reached 2,500,000!
And I continue to conquer Twitter ... one tiny bit at a time.