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Let’s all sneer at fiction writers….


It’s time to get up on my hind legs and have a loud bleat about something that is beginning to get my goat. That ‘something’ seems to have become the new ‘must do’. What is it? The sneering and display of often pathetic pseudo-intellectual superiority that is constantly directed at Ricardian fiction. Snide remarks and exclusivity abound, and it was one such recent remark that has my goat venting its spleen.

Novelists are now sneered at as the new low life, and the sneering is done by folk who haven’t the wit or perseverance to write a book themselves. How easy it is take pot shots, employing a special school-playground spitefulness with which to punish presumptuous authors who lift Richard from history and write stories around him. Fiction about anything else can do as it damned well pleases. Time and again Ricardian authors are criticised and mocked, especially by people who also regard themselves as Ricardians. Why? Well, writing about Richard makes a novelist an immediate target. There isn’t an Eleventh Commandment in the Bible, but we all know it exists. Thou shalt not mess with Richard. No one should write imagined scenes with him because such scenes DID NOT HAPPEN. Well, that’s the point. It’s fiction!  And he was not St Richard of Middleham. (Before fingers start jabbing and anonymous keyboards start rattling, I am not suggesting he was a fallen angel either!)

Some authors—a precious few—appear to be sacrosanct. How so? After all, their work is fiction too. With fictional characters to help the ‘real’ characters along, and conversations that are clearly reported by flies on walls. Ah, but that’s different. These authors write literary classics, or so someone has decided. And maybe these books are classics, but to praise only them implies that all other authors write tripe. Sorry, but fiction is fiction is fiction. The fact that it has been written in a haze of basking glory makes no difference. Lengthy homage or rattling yarn, it remains fiction, no matter what the genre within that sphere. And there are an awful lot of really good authors to entertain us all with their work. I am privileged to know a number of them, both new acquaintances and those made over the many years of my career. They are all dedicated, and all write from the heart. They do not deserve to have war declared on them by these invisible Hitlers.

Unfortunately, many so-called Ricardians have developed a mob mentality. Just witness some of the poisonous reviews at Amazon, and monstrous posts at Facebook. Trolls abound. When they are aiming at books, they spit vitriol about titles they have mostly not even read, and organise themselves into lynch mobs, following the book and the author, and being sure to make comments about comments, and so on. How dumb. Talk about the herd instinct. Baaaaaa! Fiction writers all do one thing, they tell stories. That is the whole point of it. But apparently they do it so well, the sheep out there in the wide world believe every word . . . or at least, are convinced other sheep will. No sheep shall be allowed to think and decide for itself is the Twelfth Commandment.

Ricardian trolls aren’t solely concerned with authors, they like to attack individuals of all sorts, for the hell of it, it seems. These trolls are particularly despicable…as well as faceless, nameless and conscienceless! Cowards by any other name, with wide yellow streaks down their spineless backs..

There’s a parallel universe out there, people! Why can’t these miserable excuses for human beings get a life of their own? And why do they do this at all? Because the author has created something of which they, the trolls and rabid, self-appointed posses, disapprove. The meaning of the word ‘fiction’ seems to have escaped them. They have become too thick-skinned and know-all to make the distinction between what is fact and what is imagined. It doesn’t even matter when an author makes it plain that the book’s plot is fictional. There is a mass abandonment of medications, it seems. Oh, and they think their opinions are more vital than anyone else’s. Never forget that. I wonder if some of them think they have a hotline to Richard? ‘Fraid so, folks. And they don’t even realise he’s never taken their calls.

Historians don’t escape either. They too are accused of . . . wait for it, writing fiction! Well, there’s a surprise. Even historians with a hitherto unblemished Ricardian record are now being sniped at for ‘invention’. But historians have a right to express an opinion, it’s what they do. They weigh up the evidence and decide what they think. Short of going back to Richard’s time and filming everything, thinking is all they can do. Their Holy Grail is to unearth actual proof of something. A long-lost document, a sculpture, a death mask, anything. How often does that happen? Once in a blue moon. And yes, OK, there are some historians who are in Cuckooland, but I’m not here to name names, only to generalise.

In my opinion, anyone who has the talent, dedication and love of a subject to sit down and write a book about it, deserves to be praised. They should not have the ignorant school bullies ganging up to harass and insult them. So, sucks to those bullies. And hooray for everyone who writes a book about Richard, fiction or non-fiction.

And hooray to anyone who stands up to trolls of all descriptions! May they triumph, and the scumbags go down the pan, to be lost in the sewers from whence they slithered.

Rant over.

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11 thoughts on “Let’s all sneer at fiction writers….

  1. mairemartello on said:

    I generally agree with this “rant”! The Amazon mob should be monitored by Amazon. I’ve watched it in action and worry about any author having the guts to go to print. For whatever reason, Richard is now a small but strong niche market and many people flock to buy books about their hero. I see only positive things in this. If it leads people to read history books about him, so much the better. (People are also entitled to write books that paint him as black as pitch – but, alas, those novels don’t sell well.) My only problem, perhaps, is fiction writers who turn to “history” books without the historical chops to write accurate history. Then history and fiction either collide or morph and the reader is at an educational disadvantage.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. In a letter to a newspaper after his “The Picture of Dorian Gray” was attacked, Oscar Wilde wrote, “I write because it gives me the greatest possible artistic pleasure to write. If my work pleases the few I am gratified. As for the mob, I have no desire to be a popular novelist. It is far too easy.”

    I understand if a reader doesn’t like a detail in a book about Richard. I’ve been there myself, compliments of a publisher who promoted a book featuring Richard as about one thing, when the author had an entirely different agenda that was only revealed far into the book.

    What I don’t understand is a reader who doesn’t like a detail and then behaves as if her personal dogma regarding Richard has been violated because the author dared to create something the reader disagrees with, and then she runs hither and thither to squawk and snipe, “This is horrible! I don’t like this! I am offended, and you should be too. Don’t you dare like it, or I’ll shout you down. I will I will I will!”

    What happened to civilized discussion? What happened to scholarly debate? What happened to understanding what “fiction” means?

    What happened to having some manners and leaving the pot of tea for someone else to enjoy, instead of going off like a banshee and shrieking about how horrible so-and-so’s Black Current blend is?

    A sloppy historian is one thing. A fiction writer is another. The former writes for blood, the latter for fun and to entertain.

    When did wanting to read about Richard or talk about Richard or write a novel about Richard start being so blasted serious, anyway? How sad that we (or some of us) seem to be losing the fun of liking Richard and celebrating his life and times however we want, because of a handful of women are set on screeching and hissing whenever they encounter a tale of fiction (or anything ) they don’t approve of.

    I have soooo been here before in an early 90s television fandom that ripped itself apart when the actress playing the heroine decided she no longer wanted the job, got pregnant, was off’d by the writers, and the Purists didn’t like her replacement. “You write stories with HER in them and we’ll hurt you!” And they did.

    I visited that village again when the Lord of the Rings Purists didn’t like how new fans were treating Aragorn and Legolas, et. al., in the early 21st century. Teenaged writers were shredded by 30-somethings who were proud of the tears and carnage they created — especially if it meant the teenager fled writing forever.

    I absolutely refuse to be backed up against the wall by the same sort of people where Richard is concerned. No one “owns” Richard. No one knows 90% of what went on in his life, and no one knows 100% of what went on in his head. There is no Canon, and there are no Canon Police except those who self-appoint and then start screeching.

    The best revenge, I think, is multiple titles and a long bookshelf of ebooks on and for Richard. Keep playing, keep writing. Keep spending time with Richard, because heaven knows it’s all about him, and no one else. It always has been.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What a brilliant post – just what I had been thinking but hadn’t been able to put it so eloquently – thank you!


    • Sandra, your post is wonderful. What you said needed saying and perhaps bears repeating from time to time, especially since there must be countless authors in countless genres who are attacked by different bullies who are all the same in trying to demolish our will to create.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. halfwit36 on said:

    Generally agree, although I must say that, as a critic, I can’t help being critical, even extending to catching typos & poor grammar. I’ve seen a lot of the “she gave it to Alice and I” sort of thing. Is that good British grammar? I was taught to say “she gave it to Alice and me.” Or does nobody care any more?
    I recently read a book I quite enjoyed otherwise, which has Jasper Tudor writing to his nephew in 1497, when he died in 1495. Didn’t spoil my enjoyment, but took a few points off my rating. Please, people, get a good proofreader – me, for instance.
    But if a novel is consistent in its own world, I usually have no quarrel. Please, Ricardian (and other) novelists, keep writing, and give us reviewers something to review.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. viscountessw on said:

    I too hate bad grammar, halfwit36. “Me and her went to the shops.” I mean, if you take out the ‘and her’, would anyone say “Me went to the shops”? Ah, well, I’ll keep writing books for you to chew on!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gabby on said:

    I doubt these people are Ricardians


  7. blancsanglier on said:

    The trouble is – there are a lot of readers who actually believe the fiction is the truth! Especially when a fiction book is written about a real person, those who are not too familiar with his life don’t know it’s fiction!
    I love a good book about Richard travelling through time or about a young servant girl falling in love with him and being the mother of his children but this IS fiction obviously. It’s when an author professes to be an historian but then writes a book which relies on fictionalised accounts which does the damage. Have you ever read the comments from some who watched The White Queen TV series? Anne Neville was Enemy No. 1 when it was shown because she was portrayed as being responsible for the disappearance of the Princes.
    A fiction writer writing about a real person has the responsibility to make it plain in a preface or author’s notes that it is FICTION …… something that Shakespeare should have done.


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