Bloody Cake News Editor’s Desk with Jane Johnson, Publishing Director at HarperCollins Publishers

Brilliant read about three of the best contemporary writers working today and the fantastic editor who’s helped them along.

bloody cake news

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When three weeks ago the idea came up to interview a series of editors and ask them about some of their authors and their work relationships, I wholeheartedly volunteered to write a short introduction about Jane Johnson for this article. Little did I realise how I had just made a decision to walk into one of life’s perfect traps, for the more I read about her, the more I was drawn into this tale we may call her life, though in all honesty, it could pass as a fascinating piece of fiction, a story to be told huddled around the fireplace on a long winter’s night.

In vain I tried consulting the fantasy literature with my dilemma, where everyone seemed to know how to summon the genie from the lamp, but no one was able to tell me how to fit it in in the first place. Since this is…

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First angry “fan” mail.

So, I do occasionally get fanmail. Not often, but sometimes. And I’m always overjoyed to be receiving it, and I always respond personally to it. It’s quite flattering, and I love chatting with people who’ve enjoyed my work.

Not this bloke, though.

I’ve edited it for spoilers and language for the more sensitive enough you, but it concerns my most recent story, A Dome of Chrome. Apparently, he didn’t like it. Observe.

“i was reading your story a dome of chrome, and i was liking it until i saw the part about the ******** that was ******. what the ****! how could you do something like that???? yeah i know the **********, but ******** like that is so wrong!!! maybe its because your still a teenager and you dont have kids (i hope you never ever reproduce) , but any normal person could never write something so ****ed up like that. in fact i have nightmares ever since i read it. i have three kids and i see how wrong it is. but your a sick **** who shouldnt be allowed to write such twisted shit. get help. better yet stop writing. i dont care what your excuse is but your a sick ****ed up teenager who obviously takes his frustrations on writing dark ****ed up stuff. i hope you never ever publish again and hopefully one day you see just how much of a messed up, sick **** you are”

Quite the poet, his degree of subtle accusations rarely extending over four-letter curse words.

Just to be clear, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest. In fact, now I’m on par with all the other writers (like Mark Lawrence) who’ve received mail like this. But I have to say, I’m not at all impressed with the language used, nor am interested in taking this person seriously, even for a moment, if they feel the need to resort to spewing such venom. It tells me that you’re an insecure tosser.

But either way, this person ripped everything straight out of context, turned it against me, and seems to think that I have some sort of responsibility to write fiction that’s bright, happy and cheerful. At the end of the day, it’s just fiction. I didn’t write it to be provocative; I wrote what I wanted to write. I wrote what I felt fit the story. Period.

Actually, I don’t even feel the need to defend myself, judging by the way they felt they needed to form their argument. Any chance of it being critical and constructive feedback sailed out the window on an anti-gravity board, shooting away at lightspeed. And I really don’t owe them anything by justifying what I wrote. There are a million ways to express yourself in a polite manner. Apparently they were off limits.

Either way, do I have permission to call myself famous now?

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