Stereotypical? Could be.

I just read a review of Love’s Trials that rather upset me. I should know better by now than to read reviews, good or bad… but I plunged in and ended up regretting it. The reviewer accused me of writing stereotypes. Colin the rowdy Irish cop. Joshua the quiet Jewish psychologist. And I suppose they’re right. Those character types are stereotypical. I don’t – and wouldn’t – argue the point with anyone who chose to judge them as such.

I’m certainly not required to defend myself; but I’d like to say this (in my own defense). Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. There ARE a lot of Irish cops. Ethnic and cultural characteristics are far from non-existent. Is there an unspoken rule about never writing an Irish cop? Or a Jewish psychologist? I hope not because I plan to keep doing so.

I wrote these guys the way I wrote them because I WANTED to. I like Colin! I like Josh! I wanted to write an Irish cop because it’s a character type that appeals to me. I wanted to write a quiet Jewish man because it’s a character type that appeals to me. And the idea of writing these two character-types in a relationship appealed to me because I saw the potential for friction that created a ton of sparks as they strove to blend their two personality types into a cohesive, loving relationship.

I suppose out of fear of having my characters labeled stereotypical I could have written Colin as a quiet, Irish librarian and Joshua as a boisterous Jewish U.S. Marine. But I wrote the characters I liked! I wrote them the way I did because their story pleased me. Their relationship pleased me. Their way of dealing with their life, their love, and their various problems pleased me.

Yes. When Colin lay dying in a hospital room, Joshua prayed to God to spare Colin and take him instead. Stereotypical? Perhaps. But it is also exactly what Joshua would DO! Colin feeling emasculated because of the debilitating injuries he suffered in Love’s Trials may also be stereotypical, but it is exactly how guys like Colin react to such situations. I know this because I’ve talked to guys like Colin who went through exactly this situation and that’s how they reacted.

I’m sorry that this reviewer didn’t like Love’s Trials. I’m sorry they found the story weak and stereotypical. I’d like everyone to like my books and the characters which inhabit them. But that’s just not going to happen.

So, I guess for me it must go back to the same old thing I’ve had to remind myself of with every book I’ve ever written. I write this stuff for me. I hope others like and enjoy my books. But I don’t write for them. I write the characters I like in the situations that appeal to me. I write them the way they appear to me in my mind. I write them the way I see them. I write them the way I hear them.  And I always will. I write what I love. And if the odd reviewer finds my work stereotypical… I’ll just have to live with their disappointment. There are other writers and other books out there for them to enjoy.

Reviews like that one, so scathing and dismissive, are hurtful. I won’t deny it. But I also see them as grown-promoting and thought-provoking. So, I’ll thank the reviewer for sharing their thoughts and thank my readers for accepting my stereotypical characters and loving them – flaws and all – as much as I do.

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