The greatest reward I can receive as a writer is the knowledge that something I wrote affected someone who read it. Earlier today, a HUNTER reader e-mailed the following:
I'd like to make a request: Please don't make it so dark next time.
I know just how foolish it is to "make a request" about your writing -- I'm not your muse, your boss, your editor or your conscience. I understand that the darkness is actually the reason for the actions of the characters in Hunter (i.e. it isn't gratuitous), and that without it, it would have been a completely different story. I understand that the degree of darkness in Hunter is nothing compared to some of the other mainstream fantasy/sci-fi fiction that's out there in bookstores.
I just don't like it. It makes me feel very sad when I read dark stories like that, and it makes me want to curl up and recover from it.
There's enough real evil in the real world; please don't add more fictional evil to it.
HUNTER is just 2700 words, but it affected this reader so much, he/she/it wrote me this e-mail, and I've been walking on air all day because of it. HUNTER is set in a dark and desperate world, where good and evil is really a matter of perspective, and if readers left that world feeling really good, I either didn't hit the target I was aiming for, or I'm going to keep my distance from that reader if it's at all possible.
Every day, I struggle with the Voice of Self Doubt. When I get a note like this -- that isn't condescending, demanding or unkind, but is sincere and thoughtful -- I hold onto it, because it's worth +5 to my attacks (and grants 5d20 damage) against The Voice.
Mystery Reader who sent this: Thank you for reading, and thank you for writing. When I visit a world that isn't as dark as Goa, I hope you'll come along for the ride.