Cookie-cutter fiction

Today I read something that made my heart very sore. This is an article in which Ursula K. Le Guin talks about being asked to write books “more like Harry Potter” by her publisher.

I can’t think of anything worse.

Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed reading Harry Potter (I’ve only read a few of the books, not the whole series), I found them light, fun, popcorn-reading. Easy to pick up and breeze through in a couple of sittings.

I have only read one novel by Le Guin, Voices, a situation I am already working on rectifying, and was doing so before I read this news. I found her novel wonderfully deep, it raised important questions about knowledge and freedom whilst entertaining me thoroughly. This was a wonderful, wonderful novel and comparing it to Harry Potter would be like comparing Justin Beiber to J.S.Bach (in my humble opinion).

To think that an author like Le Guin has been asked to turn her symphonies into ‘Baby, baby, baby’ turns my stomach.

The attempt to homogenise her creativity, to stifle her voice and white-wash her talent is despicable, and it shows how out-of-touch that publisher is.

People are not reading fewer books (as the article states), people are reading MORE books. And the explosion of self-published ebooks has removed the traditional publisher from the picture. A relatively unknown author might struggle to sell anything if she went Indie, but I bet Le Guin could make a KILLING.

Encouraging her to change her voice not only runs the risk of alienating her, but it threatens the publisher’s potential for future signings with other authors. I would think twice about submitting my work to them now, that’s for sure.

I will leave you with Le Guin’s thoughts on the matter;

“…you have to think: Do you mind if they make a travesty out of your work? Is the money worth it to you? If it is, go for it. Take the money and run, as whoever it was said. If it’s not worth it to you, just run away. “


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