There’s never been a piece of art in creation which absolutely everyone likes, if there was some people wouldn’t like it for that reason.
So it doesn’t bother me too much if someone doesn’t like one of my books. You can’t please everyone and, crucially, you shouldn’t try to.
“Write to please just one person. If you open up a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”
In The Pick-Up Artist, one of the things people might choose to object to is the female characters who, to say the least, are not shrinking violets. There could well be complaints that they are not ‘ladylike’ in that they are loud, sweary, argumentative and, on occasion, brutal. This might horrify some.
So it’s not suitable reading material for maiden aunts and, if that’s likely to be you, then I’d suggest don’t read it – Jane Austen’s books are still in print if you prefer your comedy of manners to have a more 19th century feel.
Funnily enough I’d say the people who are likely to be dismayed by the women in The Pick-Up Artist are not necessarily women themselves – what is likely to define them isn’t gender, it’s social class. Because there is a class of people, certainly in the UK but no doubt elsewhere too, who are so insulated from the world the rest of us inhabit that they will never have come into contact with the people who populate my book.
The people of PUA land are what politicians love to call ‘ordinary people’. In the UK we’re having an election at the moment so the political talking heads are banging on about ‘ordinary people’ endlessly as if it was some sort of code we have all agreed on which effectively means ‘you, not us’.
We are ordinary people – we who work in shops and offices and factories. I suppose you could also say ‘working class’ but we are encouraged to believe that is an old-fashioned phrase and that we now live in a classless society.
So here’s the thing about ordinary people – as far as novels are concerned they are often invisible. For the most part, novels are written by the middle classes and are about them too. Working class women are particularly absent.
Now, I’m not on some kind of crusade here but I am drawn to the heat and the light. Where the most powerful voices are is where I want to be as a writer. So my ‘ordinary women’ in The Pick-Up Artist are how I really know them to be. They talk how I know they do in real life – jokes and warts and all. You can bet I didn’t just pluck them out of the ether, they are real alright, they speak the truth.
But I accept that it might not be everybody’s truth. So as I say, there’s always Jane Austen, and nothing wrong with that.