I was, for some reason, thinking about J.K. Rowling this morning, and wondering if she’s disappointed in the sales for her latest book, The Casual Vacancy. Sales for it have been decent, more than decent, really, but 120,000 copies in your first week when your last book sold 2.6 million copies its first week is quite the difference.
I haven’t read it; I probably never will. Its plotline and genre do not appeal to me, so even though I enjoyed the Harry Potter series rather a lot (as you can see by reading the re-read posts and various other Potter-related bits that have popped up here on the blog over the years) and think she’s an excellent author, exceptionally skilled, especially in foreshadowing and characterization, she’s lost me as a reader on this particular book.
This reminded me of a conversation we had on my writing forum a while ago, about whether or not you’d follow an author across genres. Like, say, your favorite fantasy author starts writing political intrigue set in rural England.
The answer seems to be…maybe, but it depends.
Most people pick what to read based off genre. They read mostly romance, or science fiction, or mystery. There’s elements of the genre that appeal to that person, and they stick to what they like. Reading is supposed to be fun, after all. Sure, occasionally people will pick something up that’s out of their comfort range for whatever reason, but that doesn’t tend to be the bulk of their reading.
If someone especially likes an author’s work, it seems like a reader will follow them to related genres, but if the author strays too far, the reader will normally stop following them after a while. In my own personal experience, the works of Jennifer Crusie have done this. I love Jenny; I think she’s witty and brilliant and I would like to grow up to be her. She writes primarily romance, with some romantic thrillers or paranormal romance thrown in. Lovely. But in early 2010, she and Bob Mayer (who had collaborated together before, and I really adore Agnes and the Hitman) put out a straight thriller, and as much as I love them, I wouldn’t follow them there. They’d gone too far.
Asimov wrote fantasy too, but no one really ever talks about it.
What do you think, Squiders? Would you follow your favorite author no matter where they went, or is there a point where you think you would stop? Have you stopped? What was the line that could not be crossed?