One of the definite perks of being a published author is getting fan mail. It's always cool to open your email account (or the good-old-fashioned mailbox) and find a letter from someone you've never met or even heard of who gushes about what a wonderful writer you are and thanks you for telling such a wonderful story that entertained them and spoke to their heart. It's even cooler when they ask you when your next book is coming out, and also promise to buy everything on your backlist, just because they enjoyed INSERT BOOK TITLE HERE soooo much. It's one of the reasons I keep writing. (God knows I don't do it for the money!)
But of course, the flip side of that is, the hate mail. Yes, the hate mail. For every twenty or so fan letters I get, I get one completely scathing, rage-filled letter/email/Facebook IM/whatever that says I cannot write, that I should cease and desist thrusting my "garbage" upon the world, that calls me a sex-crazed evil lunatic bitch, or even accuses me of Satan-worshipping witchcraft (seriously, true story.) More often than not, hate mail is sent anonymously. (Gee, I wonder why?)
Hate mail comes with the territory of being published. There are a lot of wackjobs out there, after all, and many of them like to read. Plus there's a huge contingent of hate-mailers who are frustrated writers who can't get published, and they take their anger out on people who are published. (They also probably need to be on medication, but I digress.)
I fully realize that dealing with the occasional wackjob is one of the prices you pay for having your writing available to the general public. But this week, I've received the King Cobra of hate mail. Not only did I receive this scathing anonymous letter, but so did the Board of Directors of an organization I'm a member of, along with Amazon.com and several book review sites. I mean, everybody's entitled to their opinion and all, but I think that's just a little over the top. Especially considering the book that the writer hated so much is a lighthearted comic romance novel. It's not as if I authored some controversial investigative journalism expose or an explicit sex manual or something. I wrote a sappy, funny, light-reading romance novel, and not even an erotic one. Romance novels are about as non-controversial as you can get outside of cereal-box copy.
I guess every published author out there has a story like this. I have to admit, after the initial shock wore off, I find this situation absolutely hilarious. Not to mention sad. I guess some people just don't have enough to do with their time.
Of course, I now reserve the right to base a nutjob character in my next book on this little incident. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.