Dorothy’s review of Paradise Girl > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Phill (new)

Phill Featherstone Hi Dorothy
Thank you for reading and reviewing my novel Paradise Girl. I have a policy of not responding to reviews, good or bad. However, I'd like to make an exception in your case. You gave my work a pretty damning two stars (which most people take as a recommendation to avoid a book) not because you found faults with my writing, but because you were exasperated by my heroine. I hope you’ll allow me to explain her.
As you rightly say, one of my central themes is the effect that being completely alone over a long period can have on an individual. I read a lot about this before writing the book. Much work has been done on how individuals respond to isolation, some by NASA for the space program and some by psychologists who have studied people in solitary confinement. They have found that most people talk to themselves, see hallucinations and hear voices. Kerryl does all those things. However, there are more extreme effects too. Men tend to become depressed and/or aggressive. I’ve tried to catch some of this in the behaviour of Lander. Women don’t share these symptoms. They react to isolation by harming themselves or by developing eating disorders.
Now I feel about self-harming the way you feel about eating disorders, and I just couldn’t bring myself to write about it. Also it’s something of which I have no experience at all, whereas I do have a good friend who has suffered from anorexia. So I decided that Kerryl would show her response to stress and isolation in this way. My friend says I’ve caught what it feels like to have anorexia pretty well, but my point is that it’s a mental illness. You can no more tell Kerryl to roll down the hill and get herself clothes a size or two bigger than you can tell somebody in a wheelchair to pull themselves together, get up and walk. She simply could not do it.
Thank you for reading this so far, if you have. I’m always grateful for the time and attention readers give to my work, and I particularly appreciate those who take the trouble to write a review. I thank you for yours. I’m certainly not asking you to change it (even if I thought you would). I simply wanted to get you to sympathise with Kerryl a bit more, which I hope you now do. My next book, The God Jar, will be out in a few months. I hope you’re motivated to read that, and that you like it better.

Good wishes
Phill Featherstone
(PS. Apologies for the difficulty you reported in reading the news articles on a kindle. I wasn’t aware of this, and have passed it on to my publishers.)


message 2: by Dorothy (new)

Dorothy Phill wrote: "Hi Dorothy
Thank you for reading and reviewing my novel Paradise Girl. I have a policy of not responding to reviews, good or bad. However, I'd like to make an exception in your case. You gave my wo..."


Thanks for your thoughtful response and explanation. I had a strong negative reaction to the portrayal of an eating disorder appearing in solitude because my experiences with eating disorders (my own and those of friends & family) have consistently sprung from comparing one's own body to others, and being pressured by family, culture, and the media. I didn't find it realistic that someone who had no signs of disordered eating before the plague would develop these issues without someone or something pressuring her to look a certain way. I suppose in a way the plague parasite is pressuring her, but I cannot change the way I felt about this particular manifestation of the effects of solitude. Gendered stereotypes and reported statistics aside, I think any human would feel depressed or aggressive under such a stressful situation, and I personally feel those would have been realistic for Kerryl. I wrote my review shortly after finishing the book so the "roll down to town" statement may have been slightly exaggerated/not the most compassionate for a character who suffered, but I stand by my initial lack of understanding for her situation.
Again, thank you for taking the time to write a thoughtful response to my review, but I would be dishonest if I rated a book well when I had no way of connecting to or understanding the main character's actions. My understanding of the NetGalley process is that the books are made available for honest reviews, and this is mine.


message 3: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Kordesh @Phill,
While Dorothy's review itself may not have stopped me from reading your book, your response to her definitely has. It's incredibly inappropriate for an author to respond to a reader review and try to explain why the reader is wrong and it's a serious breach of the author-reader contract. People are allowed to dislike your books and that is something you'll have to get used to if you want to be an author.
Readers need to feel they have the ability to be honest in their reviews and feelings about books without the pressure of authors directly engaging them in a defensive manner. I would encourage you, in the future, to stick the policy you mention at the beginning of your response wherein you do not engage with reader reviews on public platforms.
Sincerely,
An avid reader


message 4: by Dorothy (new)

Dorothy @Rebecca
While I thank you for taking 'my side' I do think the comments section on this site exists for a reason, and some dialogue between authors and readers is good. I've enjoyed interacting with authors who contacted me about their books (more often through messages than comments, but still, communication is rad.) But I agree that this particular conversation is a bit troubling. I got this book through Netgalley and one of the publishing assistants e-mailed me about a week ago reminding me to read and review, and that they looked forward to hearing my thoughts. Netgalley also encourages linking to reviews on external sites. I stand by my review and while I appreciate Phill explaining his motivations and research, would like to point out that many extremely popular books have thousands of one- and two-star reviews, and if we all liked the same books the world would be a terribly boring place.


message 5: by Phill (new)

Phill Featherstone Rebecca wrote: "@Phill,
While Dorothy's review itself may not have stopped me from reading your book, your response to her definitely has. It's incredibly inappropriate for an author to respond to a reader review ..."


I absolutely agree with what you say, Dorothy. Only an idiot would expect everybody to like all their work all the time, and yes, it would be very boring if they did.
I don't accept Rebecca's comment that engaging with a reader/reviewer is 'a serious breach of the author-reader contract'. One of the strengths of Goodreads is that it brings authors and readers together and enables the former to learn from the latter, which I do all the time.
I hope it was clear that I do not think your review was 'wrong' and I regret that Rebecca read this into my effort to explain why I made the authorial choices I did. I don't think there's any such thing as a 'wrong' review. Your opinion is your opinion, you are entitled to it and I welcome it. As you will know, it's very easy indeed to buy good reviews - authors are pestered frequently by businesses that want to sell them 5-star ratings. I put my work with NetGalley because honest reviews are the only ones worth having. You provided one, and while I can't be expected to be thrilled to see my work go in the trash, I appreciate and am grateful for the time and attention you gave to Paradise Girl, and for your thoughts. I'm sorry you've found our conversation a bit troubling and I hope we may correspond about something else sometime. I look forward to reading your other reviews.


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