A published author acquaintance recently suggested that COMMON ENEMY isn’t ‘publishable.’ He liked the plot and the writing, but he thought that the names of my main characters – Raam Commoner, Kayman Karl and Viktor Viken – were ‘too cute and distracting.’ He also pointed out that presenting my protagonist as a ‘sex machine’ was too ‘cliched.’
I know that as an aspiring author I’m supposed to have a thick skin – I’ve been told that ever since I first began to write fiction – but I was sore pressed to rebut: COMMON ENEMY may not be publishable, but it appears to be eminently readable – as demonstrated by a huge increase in downloads in the last two months and a January sales curve that is going asymptotic. (I know that’s hyperbole but I couldn’t resist exaggeration with a mathematical component.)
Anyway, I got over it once I understood the common denominator between content and critique: The deeper the content, the shallower the critique. Admittedly, COMMON ENEMY has about as much depth as my hero’s sense of commitment – it’s a romantic thriller, for Pete’s sake – but it’s deep enough to dampen a dislike for alliteration (which, I happen to enjoy) and to drown a characterization of Raam as a sex machine. (He only gets laid four times in the whole story and three of those are with his wife.)
OK. So maybe it’s sour grapes. But what do you think? Are my names too distracting, and is the notion of a thirty-something womanizer too much of a cliche?
Read COMMON ENEMY and send me your opinion at email@example.com.