Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I swear...

...well, at least Sam Shephard does occasionally in my novels, and this oddly enough is about the only thing I get complaints about in reader feedback and email. I think this is hilarious, because no one seems to have an issue with the fact some one has been brutally murdered, and that bad guys are running around the place and people are being assaulted and dreadful things are happening. Noooo. I get pulled up because every now-and-again, when extremely provoked, Sam Shephard will let fly with an f-word.

I had one lady come up to me before a talk and ask very earnestly why I had to use language like that. And I explained, very gently that Sam Shephard comes off a farm, and had spent a lot of time around the shearing shed and her brothers, and when someone is busy trying to kill her or at least do her serious bodily harm she is most unlikely to come out with an "oh bother." So I think the f-word is quite well justified.

But it does make me chuckle that a rare swear word is offensive, but killing people is OK.



Rachael King said...

I agree, that's hilarious! My new one doesn't have such graphic sex and violence in it, but it does have a few f words - I wonder which will get more complaints?

Anonymous said...

So True - having spent a fair bit of time in the States it's the same there - brutal violence is okay, but 'foul language' (or anything remotely sexual) is quickly frowned upon... interesting dichotomy...

DaveB said...

I remember when Paul was doing interviews for The Cleaner, he got asked why his book was so violent, or why there was so much graphic detail in it.

Firstly, I had to laugh because, a lot of the violence is left up to the readers mind and I know Paul does this on purpose. But the park scene is the park scene - too much detail? I don't think so.

Secondly, I don't like John Connolly books because he goes the first two books went into TOO much detail. And Wilbur Smith's Elephant Song was nearly disgusting - he didn't need to go into the detail that he did ... and I am stunned that it wasn't edited out.

About the swearing ... Vanda I think that's because you seem like such a nice person, butter wouldn't melt in your mouth etc - so people are surprised when they read the language. Also, they think YOU are Sam. Much the same way people think Paul is Joe.

Tania Roxborogh said...

Vanda, remember when I was invited to speak at the Christian Writer's guild in Auckland and got lamblasted by a number of people who were there asking how come I had swearing in my work (esp for children) and, as a Christian, I should be ashamed?

What a dreadful day that was and how mad it made me?

Hey, I swear but I have enough self control to NOT swear in the circumstances - I'd like to think my characters are the same (although, there are a couple of dodgey ones I wouldn't want to trust).

Here is how the censorship order goes from what my NYC agent has said (btw, did you notice how easily I slipped that in?)

Unacceptable: profanity esp against God.

Barely tolerable and only if it's hinted at: sex

No problem: racism, sexism, violence and other horrible things.

Said agent said the reading world believes that 99.9% of the population don't engage in the last and therefore it's a bit of fantasy.... Sigh.

And, I think DavidB is right that when people meet you, they associate you with SS (people - Vanda's not that short) and you're so lovely and loving. (And, she doesn't swear. I'm sure. Vanda? Have you ever sworn in front of me?) that they want Super Girl; Well, they love Sam but they want Super Girl.

I'd rather have Sam S backing me than Super Girl anytime. Or Vanda

DaveB said...

Based on your agent's notes Tania, none of my short stories will ever make it in the USA.


Vanda Symon said...

Doesn't it make it all seem quite farcical, especially if racism, sexism is ok but the occasional Bugger is bad, and Sam Shephard's relatively frequent exclamation of 'Christ' would be a major no no.

Just as well I like to subvert things then.