I had a booksigning in Clearwater last week. It was interesting...I sat next to Tiva Wallon and this other crazy lady. Not crazy like me and Tiva are, but crazy in a wierd, we-should-probably-move-down-some way. She wrote like education children's books about dogs and groundhogs and Olympic torches. She also has this fascination with the horrors of China and their influence on American consumerism and products. She lectured and lectured and lectured about anything made in China. Her dog died from Chinese dog food, so all Chinese people are bad, bad, bad. We laughed SO hard at her sometimes. She hated it when my stuff would touch hers. When I sat down and pulled out my books, I thought she was going to pass out. She told me my cover was distasteful and an insult to literature, and my promo stuff was too offensive for to sit next to. Said I should move. I told her, no, I arranged to sit with Tiva from the very beginning, and she could move. I respect my elders, but...she was too abrasive and that sort of made those defensive shields of mine spring up.
Anyway, her favorite thing to do was the leap up and grab whatever Asian person came through the doors and lecture them on the evils of Chinese dog food. She did it to about seven people. DIdn't sell them any chinese dog food doggie-victim books, either.
Me and Tiva had a good time, cracking up and gabbing and making fun of random people. We did better than average on sales (we both know what that means LOL).
Which leads me to something else.
Kids are attracted to my book. The cover is like a magnet for the 13-15 set for some reason. I can't explain it. Up until now, my social responsibility alarm would go off when a kid wanted the book, and I'd tell them their mom/dad had to come look at it first. Then I realized, I'm NOT that kid's mama or daddy. If they want to let their kid wander around a packed B&N all alone, that's their problem. I'm not going to be their censor. Now, if the kid is obviously much younger than 13 or whatever, I won't let them buy the book. But if kid is willing to shell out $13.00 for a 200 page book, I'm going to let them. Let them get in trouble for buying it (if they have the sort of parent who cares--but honestly, if they were watchign what was happening in the first place, they wouldn't have let the kid pick up the book).
There is no erotic content in my books (except for one LOL) and the violence is akin to what you would see in a modern horror movie. I guess becuase it's described in words rather than pictures, it's slighlty different case, but over all...I'm not going to play censor. Mamas and Daddies, pay attention to your kids. I don't want dirty emails from you.
So I let teens by my book. Feels like a confession! I used to care about that stuff. Now...it's like...this kid isn't my responsibility. If a parent asks me if the book is decent--which happily, many do--I'll tell them, YOU decide. I'll show them the worse spots in the book and they can skim and figure it out themselves. Everybody has a different level of good and bad and even badder. Most parents buy the book and read it themselves. A few times, they put the book back and said, "Maybe in a couple years."
Which I agree with, and I'll tell them so. I wrote SWamp Baby for adults.
** Wierd fact about me. I never was allowed to watch rated R movies until I was 18 (and out of my parents' house). I never broke that rule either. So I never saw a real horror movie (i.e. not edited for content on TV) until I was 18, and that one was Blair Witch Project. I read horror though, from the time I was about 10 or 13 or so. I don't remember my exact age, but the book was Dean Koontz' The Funhouse and to this day, that is still one of my favorite books, and Koontz is my all time favorite author.