Reader Comments

I just read some feedback from a customer regarding Crusade, and it really got me thinking. It centered around the decisions made by the main character, Loren Stone. I’ll try to provide context without giving anything away…
Loren lived in a universe of black and white decisions. It was right or wrong, good or evil.. His upbringing and life up to that point had led him to believe that if you stuck to the right path and played by the rules, everything would always work out.
Well, the story reaches a point where Loren has to decide if he’s willing to live with shades of gray. His wife’s life, in fact an entire planet, hangs in the balance. He is in a unique position to help, but he must make a difficult moral decision. The reader commented that what Loren did wasn’t what he’d hoped my character would do, and that it made him see the character differently enough that he didn’t think he’d feel the same about him again, and also that he didn’t finish my book as a result of his new feelings about the character.
My first thought was, “you should have finished the book!” Loren spends the rest of the novel with the weight of command and the responsibility of what he needs to do in order to save those people riding on his shoulders. He worries that if he gives in to taking the easy road, even if he succeeds in saving her, his wife won’t see the same person that she remembers. That thinking stays with him for the rest of the novel, and it will color his decisions as more books emerge.
My second thought was, “Whoa, this reader was interested enough in my characters that they were upset with something the character did!” While I really wish the reader enjoyed every facet of every story I’d written, I am heartened by the fact that they cared enough about the character to take issue with what I ‘did’ to him! 🙂
In any case, it makes me realize that I must continue to make these people as real as possible, and that, love or hate, sometimes I will generate a strong reaction.
I thought about that review a long time, and I wondered, would I make the same decision Loren made? If my family was at stake, how would that change me? Would I cross a line I’d normally never even realize existed? Let’s hope I never find out
However, Loren did, and he’ll deal with circumstances the best he can. He made a difficult decision and will carry on. He won’t use it as an excuse to go beat up his boss, sleep with the neighbor’s wife, experiment with drugs, or anything like that. I don’t want him to be the dark, anti-hero. He knows what is right and wrong, but that sometimes good people have to make difficult choices. He still wants to be the good guy, and will strive to uphold that standard as long as I write him.

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8 responses to “Reader Comments”

  1. DaPoet says :

    I can understand why Loren took the actions that he took by refusing to just stand by and watch his wife and home planet die while he did his duty like a good little soldier. I also liked the fact that you showed how the actions Loren took scared him emotionally yet didn’t completely silence his conscience; and am looking forward to reading more about his struggles to reconcile his actions with the person he was before the war. As well as how he handles the coming temptations to fall deeper as he fights to reclaim {redeem} his soul from the dark side.

  2. bill says :

    I haven’t read this one yet but I’m sure I will like it as much as the other books. The stories are very stimulating and I look forward to reading this one soon.

  3. Jeff says :

    I hadn’t thought of it in the light of your blog. You’re right, your writing did get me to care about Loren. Its amazing in that light, given how one can just read and let a book just be another way to pass the time escaping into another place for a while. Yet you succeeded where others did not, and I found myself caring about where Loren’s head was. I even cared about the guy he executed. I suppose if he wasn’t pounding on the airlock it might not have made that much a big impact, but all I could think was Loren chose the ‘office clerk’, because he was useless to intel and executed him to scare the others. In this way I could instantly associate with the situation. It could have easily been me, the one with useless to intel. Perhaps that’s why it struck so deep in addition to thinking of how Loren was so desperate that he would go where he wouldn’t have, indeed, looked down at the admiral in book one for sacrificing lives just to provoke an attack he believed was coming.

    Its still a fun series of books, and you’re an incredible writer. Loren had a powerful motivation and as you said in this blog, if it was up to me, and my wife was on the line,wouldn’t I cross that line? I too hope I never find out.

    Thanks for providing such characters that even a year later I am still thinking about your book and its characters, hence why I looked up your blog and this date to see if you did have any additional thoughts or insights to share. Which you did.

    • Ryan says :

      Thanks for the feedback; I love hearing from people in regards to what they think of my novels. Naturally, I much prefer positive feedback 🙂 , but I’m always looking for ways to improve my work as well. I’m hard at work on the 4th Birthright novel and am continuing to try to find awkward situations to place our friends in! I really aspire to keep the story fun as well as interesting.
      Joss Whedon is an inspiration to me in that the story can be dead serious, somebody can make a joke about a guy having a girl’s name, but then it’s right back into the heat of the moment and it’s completely believable.
      Humor is all around us, and it’s one of the ways people cope with stress, so I try to make a major effort to keep the characters from being so dead serious all the time.
      Anyway, thanks again for going through the trouble of looking me up; hope to see you around!
      Ryan

      • Jeff says :

        Thanks for the update about a fourth book and replying to my comments. I’ll look forward to it and picking up with the cast of characters I admit I miss.

        As for me, feedback and future, what I think is if you had to have Loren go the route he did, it should have been quick. Giving his victim time to beg for his life, uselessly I might add, made Loren and the act of the execution as bad as the ones he was fighting. Its one thing to kill in a war, another in self defense, even the defense of a loved one, but to draw it out, it would be my hope no-one is worth making another life suffer like that, seeing death come and having time to contemplate it and it was not a quick death when it came. Spacing is not instant death after all

        You write an excellent cast of characters to care for, root for, but this was the time I found I couldn’t cheer or even hope for success.

        Just my opinion of how I saw the actual act. Its the way Loren did it, not what he did that bothered me the most. I hope this is positive feedback. I do look forward to the fourth book.

        Question, if you don’t mind. Why did you change the name of the ship from Perfect Moment to Pair of Aces? I surmise it was more pilot-y to do so, but it really was romantic to keep the name from book two than change it in book three.

        Thanks for the replies and the blog, its been wonderful reading.

      • Ryan says :

        I thought for a long time about what Loren should do and what he should consider before acting. It was one of those character-defining moments when I felt like he’d be willing to sacrifice a little bit of his humanity if it meant he could save his wife and home planet. It bothers him, and the issue will come back in book four.
        I’m glad you commented on it, because it tells me you thought enough of the character to take offense to what he did. Every once in a long while people are put into ugly situations, and I didn’t want to shy away from that encounter as it seemed logical that they’d have to deal with the prisoners.
        As far as the ship name, you hit it on the head. I’ve known a good number of military pilots in my day, and they all share certain personality traits. Their call signs and unit nicknames reflect a certain public image that is often carefully cultivated, or at least embraced. I felt that while there is definitely room for sentiment between those two, they were at heart both typical fighter pilots. In fact, Merritt probably spends more time worrying about Cory than she does! These two are leaders in every sense of the word, and I thought they’d be much more inclined to ride around in a ship declaring their dogfighting prowess than one telling everybody how they felt about each other.
        Hope that helps!

        Ryan

      • Jeff says :

        Thank you for the reply. I think its a major draw are the characters. That is not to say you hadn’t come up with a wonderfully fresh take on the invasion theme. The notion of the Primans, we were here first, somewhat justifies them. Like perhaps Native Americans taking back their lands after being driven to reservations. That’s where the moral high ground ends with the Primans though and therein lies more delightful twist. Add in the unique galactic situation and its a wonderful setting to get lost in on its own merit. Your characters though are the powerful hook that gives more life and interest to the setting and story. That’s why I could be so caught up with Loren and wanting him to hold onto his principles when he doesn’t have a good reason to do so.

        Your magic is you get us, or at least me, to care about your characters. Now that we’e talked I see Loren didn’t just shove some victim into the airlock, he shoved his principles and killed them along with the unfortunate.

        I do like how you followed that up with both Elco and Bak, the latter presuming or at least giving the impression that Loren was now on his end of the moral spectrum. It was a good comparison to where Loren found himself.

        I also apologize for being such a bother. I love your bright world and shouldn’t have objected to a bit of darkness thrown in. If you’re not free to share your vision, we won’t get to enjoy it as fully as we, well I, have.

        It does make sense about the name of the ship, I suppose the romantic in me wishes otherwise, but in character, its right for the two of them.

        Again thank you for these wonderful replies.

  4. Ryan says :

    No apologies needed; I’m very happy to hear from people who have read my novels, and no offense is taken to how you perceive the work, either. What’s the point of an artistic work if we aren’t all free to see it with our own eyes and minds?
    Thanks again!
    ps- your conversation gave me a few notes I need to work into the story!

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