Please help me give a warm welcome to author Amy Atwell. Her FIRST published book is so new it still has the shine on it. (Okay, that one doesn't always work, but you know what I mean. )
Do You Have a Taste for Books? Wine? Heroes?
Over the table at Thanksgiving dinner, the conversation turned, as it often does among my family, to books. My brother’s girlfriend said she’d read one of the Stieg Larsson books. I asked what she thought but her answer surprised me.
“Oh, I didn’t really start reading books until a few years ago. I’m not experienced enough to offer an opinion.”
After I succeeded in not coughing up green bean casserole on the tablecloth, I started to argue that she must have some sort of opinion. Then I caught myself. You see, I used to work in the wine industry. (Okay, I stocked wine on shelves in a grocery store—but, I also lived near Napa for four years and even designed wine cellars, so that counts for something, right?) I’ve had lots of conversations with wine buyers who aren’t necessarily wine drinkers. They want a “good” wine.
“What’s good?” they would always ask.
“If you like the way it tastes, that’s good,” was my standard reply. Sure, I could launch into explanations about tannins and aging, oak versus stainless steel, temperature and oxygen. But wines, to me, boil down to a matter of taste.
So do books.
Personal taste, or opinion, is purely subjective. It’s yours. No one gets to take that from you. Let those who claim to know more tell you you’re wrong. Let them tell you you’re a clod. Let them sneer at your choice. But don’t let them tell you what you like. You know what you like. Drink your wine. Read your book. Enjoy both.
Starts to walk away, washing hands, done with the conversation.
What? Oh, right. HEROES. Left them totally out of the mix, didn’t I? They were really the point of the whole blog.
Returns and pulls up a chair. Uh oh, you may be here awhile.
Okay, so remember when I was trying not to cough up the green bean casserole on Thanksgiving Day? The thought rolling around in my head was that if I’d asked her a similar question about my brother and she’d given me a similar answer, I’d be worried:
“So, what do you think of my brother?”
“Oh, I’ve only been dating him a few years. I’m not experienced enough to offer an opinion.”
You see, to me, books and men are the same. As women, we may not be able to fully articulate our tastes, but come on, we know what we like.
Who’s the new kid on the block? Ryan Reynolds? Eh… shrugs
The danger zone here is allowing others to define what we want in a man. I’ve seen too many marriages fail because what looked good on paper didn’t “taste” quite right. Me? I’m one of the lucky ones. I formed an immediate opinion when I first saw him: that’s the man I’m destined to spend my life with. And 29 years after meeting him, we’re still together.
A woman not having an opinion about a man often means she’s avoiding admitting that she doesn’t like him. Or worse, that she recognizes that she likes him far more than she should, and she can’t explain why.
This is the dilemma presented to my heroine, Iris, in Lying Eyes. (Oh, come now, you knew I’d get to the book at some point, right? Stick with me; this will be brief.) She’s listened to society. She thinks she needs a stability her life has always lacked. And so she’s agreed to marry someone who, well let’s just say he doesn’t make her heart or tongue stutter. It’s a solid foundation for a practical future.
Until she meets a jewel thief who involves her in a world of danger and intrigue. Here’s a man who, from the first touch, makes her heart fly, her tongue get tied, and her brain seize up. Because it’s not smart to get involved with a man like this. But instinctively, she knows what she wants. And she wants him.
I think for many generations, women have been hampered by a certain amount of what I call “gender expectation.” Women are supposed to be soft. They reach for consensus. They tend to go along with the norm. Opinions can be dangerous to have because not everyone might agree with us. The wrong wine and we look uncultured. Caught reading romance and we may be labeled bimbos.
Personal taste, or opinion, is purely subjective. It’s yours. No one gets to take that from you. Let those who claim to know more tell you you’re wrong. Let them tell you you’re a clod. Let them sneer at your choice. But don’t let them tell you what you like. Do not allow them to rob you of your most personal freedom. You know what you like. Drink your wine. Read your book. Enjoy both.
Confession time: Is there something that you REALLY LIKE that you’ve never publicly admitted because you’re afraid others would tell you you’re “wrong?” A book you enjoyed? An inexpensive but tasty wine? A hero figure others might not find as sexy? A favorite food others might think is gross? Music you never admit to listening to? Here’s your chance, express it to the world.
—Amy (who listened to Barry Manilow, Wilson Phillips AND Air Supply while writing this. Yes, I really did.)
Amy Atwell worked in professional theater for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance. Her debut romantic suspense, Lying Eyes, is now available from Carina Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. When not writing, Amy runs the WritingGIAM online community for goal-oriented writers. An Ohio native, Amy has lived all across the country and now resides on a barrier island in Florida with her husband and two Russian Blues. Visit her online at her www.amyatwell.com, What’s The Story? and Magical Musings blogs, Facebook, Twitter and/or GoodReads.