This is the first in what I’m going to call my ‘blogging series’. I’m aware that I run a blog, so technically every post is ‘blogging’. However, most of my posts tend to be less about me and my opinions and more about topics. They’re more magazine-y in style, because that’s the type of content I enjoy reading.
So, from time to time, I’ll write a true ‘blog post’ which I’ll use to discuss myself and issues that I want to talk about and share my opinion on. Hopefully you guys will read them and enjoy them just as much as my other content.
Today I want to talk about a certain fantasy author called Saladin Ahmed who broke onto the scene in 2012 with Throne of the Crescent Moon. It was a fantastic book and I even reviewed it for this blog. So late last year I decided to go looking for the sequel (assuming there was one). Much to my disappointment I found nothing on Amazon and nothing in my local bookshop either. I decided to check out Mr. Ahmed’s website in December last year and I finally found answers.
According to a blog post, Saladin Ahmed had been suffering from depression and the sequel to Throne, The Thousand and One, was now not due until 2016. 2016 – that’s like a whole year away! But rather than purchase a first-class ticket for travel on the hate-train, I decided to read the rest of Saladin’s blog post.
Depression had been the reason why he had not managed to write the sequel in time for publication. Depression had been the reason why he had not responded to fan mail. Depression had caused him to complete an entire draft of The Thousand and One and then DELETE it.
Now, contrary to what you may have guessed from this post’s title, I’m not going to waffle on about how we all need to understand the disease that is depression and, through tear-stained eyes, type LEAVE SALADIN ALONE! over and over again.
First, I don’t pretend to understand depression. I have close family members who have suffered from it, but I never have myself. I’m not always the most empathetic of people, but I get that depression is a sickness and not just someone deciding they’re going to be a miserable SOB because they feel like it. Depression also should not be viewed as a ‘lazy excuse’. The human brain is a complex thing and depression is another affliction that we don’t fully comprehend yet.
Second (and most importantly) I respect Saladin Ahmed. I like his writing. I like reading his blog. He’s a successful, published author. He’s fully capable of ignoring the trolls and haters and knowing who his true supporters are.
But here’s the point of this post. Saladin Ahmed, like all authors, has the right to decide what to submit to his publisher and when he’s ready for it to be read/scrutinised. Publishers set deadlines, of course they do, but if the story isn’t ready then it isn’t ready. Saladin’s publisher has been incredibly supportive from what I gather and has allowed a gap of four years between books whilst still keeping Mr. Ahmed in their stable. That shows faith in his writing, but it also demonstrates compassion and understanding.
If we enjoy an author’s writing, we should be there to support them through whatever problems they face. We, as readers, have no right to demand they ‘pull it together’ and get the book finished. The legend that is George R.R. Martin faces this kind of bitter sentiment from a vocal portion of his fanbase. Authors do have a certain duty to their readers, but they are the artists and we are the paying public. We are not the ones to tell the author to write faster or do this or do that. I’m sure the publishing houses have enough people on their staff to do that for us.
Another author who suffered depression between books is Scott Lynch of Locke Lamora fame. His whole life practically crashed down around him. The book he was working on was delayed, but he came through it and continued to release more books in the series to much acclaim.
Blogger, Catherine Winchester, posted in June 2012 about Saladin Ahmed’s issues with depression. She was… well, less understanding than most. While I understand the points she raises, I don’t agree with her stance on Saladin’s condition or his request for charitable patrons. While I likely wouldn’t ask my fans (if I had any) for donations to cover my living expenses during a difficult time, I firmly believe that if people want to give money to a cause, whether it’s their favourite author or the local dog’s home, they are fully entitled to do so.
If charities didn’t advertise, they wouldn’t get any donations. So if an author wants to ask his fan base for their help during a difficult period, he has to ask.
I also believe in free speech and that everyone is entitled to an opinion, so don’t go hating on Catherine, either. All points of view should be heard. It’s the only way we can form a well-rounded opinion on how we feel about a particular issue.
I encourage you to go out and read Throne of the Crescent Moon, if you haven’t already. It shows a really promising start to the series and has a great array of characters to get to know. And just look at Patrick Rothfuss or George R.R. Martin if you need examples of authors who have gained huge followings yet leave huge gaps between releases.
So, in closing…
LEAVE SALADIN ALONE! Right now… I mean it! You are lucky he even writes for you people!