Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Things That Make You Say, “Oh, Brother”

A few days ago, Brandilyn Collins announced that she has signed with B&H Publishing. The first sentence of the press release announced that and then we fine the statement, “Her first book with B&H is the story Collins says she was ‘made to write’—a tense novel based on Lyme Disease and the stunning medical battles over its treatment. Brandilyn herself fought the illness seven years ago and well knows the fallout across the nation of the ‘Lyme Wars.’”

First, let me say that I’m happy for Brandilyn getting this contract and I’m happy for B&H Publishing for signing another well known author. But as I sit here looking at that press release, realizing that press releases are always written with the most important information at the top, the only thing that comes to mind is “Oh, Brother, you really think people are going to read that?” And I’m a hair’s breath away from saying, “Good grief!”

I’m sure that many of Brandilyn’s fans will read it, no matter what it is about, but this book has the appearance of being agenda driven fiction, a topic that came up recently in the comments of Rachelle Gardner’s blog. Given Brandilyn’s reputation and experience with writing, we would expect that she will be able to handle the temptations of agenda driven fiction better than most of us, which would explain why B&H would be willing to take this risk, but let’s be clear, anytime we have a situation like this there is a risk that the author will take off on some tangent, harping on some issue, leaving readers scratching their heads.

The description Brandilyn gives at the end of her post makes it look a little better than the press release does, indicating that the protagonist is a man who has lost his wife to Lyme and is embittered because of what is going on in the medical community. But I can tell you right now that she’s going to have a hard time convincing me to pick up this book. Look, I realize that Lyme Disease is not a lot of fun to deal with and I feel sorry for people who are suffering from the disease and feel that their doctors aren’t providing the best treatment possible. But the “Lyme Wars” controversy is better hashed out in the medical journals, as a result of scientific studies, than it is to be hashed out in a novel written by a patient.

You know, it’s possible that my fears are unjustified, but there’s just something about the way the press release reads that indicates to me that in the halls of B&H Publishing they are already thinking of this book as The Lyme Disease Book. You simply don’t begin a press release talking about Lyme disease unless that was how the book was pitched. May 2011 is many months away, so the book may change significantly between now an then, but for now, all I can say is, “Oh, brother. There’s going to be a novel about Lyme Disease.”

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