I don’t read reviews of my books because authors aren’t supposed to respond to reviews, ever. Gads, this is hard! Reading them, I’m dying to email the reviewer, saying, “Yes! You got it! You’re brilliant!” or something coolly courteous like, “I think if you check page 117 you’ll see that your comment is egregiously in error.”
But prior to launching a promo (going on now – Child of Silence is 99 cents on Kindle through August 1) I thought it might be a good idea to look at those reviews for some idea about reader reactions to Bo and her rather unusual life. One review really captured my attention.
It was one of those “bad” 3-star reviews over which authors tear their hair because anything below 4 stars drags the overall ratings down, but it was a “good” review. It was intelligent, thoughtful and articulate, exactly the sort of review I’d love were it not for the star issue on which my livelihood depends. (I loathe the star system, but it seems intractable, a permanent blight.) In it, the reviewer expressed concern that in Child of Silence readers might fail to “…recognize the difference between influences of mental illness and belief founded on faith.”
So now I’m dying to take this clearly intelligent and thoughtful person to lunch so I can say, “Um, there is no difference!” Humans (we don’t know about animals) are wired, some much and some almost not at all, for awareness of the other, the mystical. In some bipolar humans during manic episodes, such awareness can become extreme, but it’s the same awareness.
Bipolar Bo Bradley at times bases her interpretations of events on ancient Celtic images learned from an Irish grandmother. Bipolar Martin Luther documentably suffered brutal depressions and almost certainly nailed those Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg on October 31 (Hallowe’en, gotta love that manicky symbolism!), in a full-blown manic episode that would result in Protestantism. Fictional Bo accesses energy from mysticism and saves kids. Non-fictional Martin used his extreme experience to reform a major religion and inspire the founding of the Lutheran Church, without which we wouldn’t have the music of Bach.
There’s a continuum of experience, reviewer, but no matter what interpretative labels get attached (“mental illness” or “faith”), it’s all interesting, possibly inspiring and ultimately personal. No lines need be drawn.
And I don’t dare read any more reviews!