Author interview conducted in September 2003
(via e-mail) by Aaron Hughes
Tamara Thorne photo (left)
Tamara Thorne (TT): He's really hot, if you know what I mean . . . He has great horns and a fine tail and really knows how to stoke the fires down below!
FR: Can't imagine where you ever got your reputation for irreverence!  Has it ever gotten you into hot water with holier-than-thou groups?
TT: I was born irreverent.  My mother said she couldn't even convince me Santa Claus existed.
I've gotten in less hot water than I'd expect.  Once, years ago, I signed out in the boondocks of southern California and some religiously-inclined biddies asked me how I could write such evil books.  I said the devil made me do it.  They left.  Actually, horror is about as morality-based as it gets.  I enjoy writing about the baser moralities!  (Plus I don't believe in good and evil, just energy used positively or negatively.  I only bring out the dreaded "E" word when I'm camping it up in a book.)
More Tamara Thorne book reviews by Aaron Hughes:
TT: Since The Sorority is high camp (high-kicking camp, to be precise), the "evil" word is appropriate.  Personally, I never dealt with nasty cheerleaders or sorority girls -- just made fun of them.  Passed around rude alternate cheers to use at pep rallies.  (I'm a closet anarchist of the Milquetoast School.  I tried to use my vast unpowers as newspaper editor to ban "baccalaureate" too, because it defied separation of church and state.)
My interest in such societies is fueled by a fascination with the rituals and secrecy involved in the groups, the psychology used to manipulate individuals into a mass of Kappa Beta Borgs.  That stems from my love of conspiracies, most directly from the Yale secret society, Skull and Bones.  You've got your Bushes and other elite coming out of this little society, and with that you get New World Order and a quick jump to the delicious delights of Robert Anton Wilson.
Oh, and a jones for the movie Animal House probably influenced things just a tad.
Cheerleaders and sorority girls like Eve, heroine of the first part of the trilogy, fascinate me.  She isn't a backbiting bitch, she's sincere, she really cares about team spirit and all that bouncy-bounce stuff.  It took a long time for me to really dig into her head.  It was eye-opening when I finally understood her.
FR: I hope you've recovered from being inside Eve's head.
TT: I'll never get over Macho Grande . . . Er, I hope so too.  Getting into Merilynn's head was much easier.
|Sorority trilogy covers
Tamara Thorne: A big dose of Arthurian lore.  It was an excuse to dig back into childhood loves.  I drew heavily on the epic poem, "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," and every version of Arthuriana I could find, from the classical to the Pythonesque.  What triggered it?  A horrible accident with Armor-All as a child . . . No.  Actually, other than the vision of football players as knights of the round table, which I didn't use because I couldn't get into the football aspects, what triggered it was the forest and lake.
My mother lived in a town as a child that was rebuilt on higher ground so the original could be flooded out for a reservoir.  On their honeymoon, my parents went back and swam over the old town.  My mother got very spooked by the sight of treetops, and the watery vision of the church steeple drove her from the reservoir.  I dragged that story out of her over and over, fascinated, and I've always wanted to use it.
That brings us to fata morgana, a water-mirage of buildings on water, quite rare.  That's Italian for Morgan Le Fay, Arthur's sorceress half-sister.  And then we have the forest surrounding the lake.  The Green Knight of Arthurian lore is a Green Man form and, oh, lordy, do I love those Green Men.  That's what Bad Things is about too.  The forces of nature, elementals, all that great folklore.  Mmm-mmmm (said in Homer Simpson tones) Green Men.
Finally, the lake-ghost everyone's searching for, Holly Gayle, well, she had to be a victim of a sorority-style incident, right?
FR: I did get the impression football wasn't really your game.  (Colleges play on Saturday, not Friday, f'rinstance.)
TT: Oh, but this is fiction!  At Greenbriar University, they play on Friday.  (Mark Twain said: Get the facts first, then distort them as much as you please.  I distorted . . . Okay, actually, it's just a great excuse -- I didn't know that.) I bought Football for Dummies, but I lost it.  My old friend and frequent expert on all sorts of things, Bill Gagliani, helped me put all the various Arthurian knights into the correct football player positions -- the names are mainly plays on knights' names -- but most of it got lost since I couldn't phone him at three in the morning with goofy questions.  A pity -- so many jock itch jokes lost for want of an understanding of a ball game.
Fantastic Reviews (FR): I had a lot of fun reading The Sorority, and I got the sense that you had fun writing it.  Do you make a conscious effort to maintain a sense of fun in your books, or does it just come naturally?
Tamara Thorne (TT): Conscious effort kills it for me.  I just set about amusing myself, same as I did as a kid.  I don't think about a book going into print or what anyone else might think of it.  I know my basic story, but then I let the characters take over and merely report their antics.  Characters that don't keep me amused are put in cement and thrown in the lake.  The humor comes from the characters for the most part, not from me -- if that makes sense.  All that comes from me in the humor vein are some horrendous puns and plays on words.  And a few political jabs that are rarely noticed.  (Hint: There's a big one in The Sorority: Samantha, when Brittany recalls a familiar called Shalkinaw.) Writing is hard work, no doubt about that, but it's also the purest pleasure I know.  We won't talk about the impurest ones . . .
FR: As long as we're on the subject of impure pleasures, can you teach me the group orgasm spell Malory uses in The Sorority?
TT: Sex is all in the brain, they say, so if you have a voluptuous half-human sorceress whispering sweet porn to a bunch of college students, ka-pow!  Shoot.  If I could answer that, I'd patent it.  I think it's possible.  I know from experience and from other people's stories that orgasm sometimes requires nothing but the brain, especially during sleep.  Every time I see that Sci-Fi Channel ad with the supine woman embracing the dream lover made of mist, I think that my incubus has been fooling around behind my back.  You just can't trust a sex elemental.  Ectojism everywhere.
FR: Uh oh.  My spell-checker is going into convulsions over the word "ectojism."
TT: I love that word, made it up for Haunted, don't think I found a way to use it.  Now I just smear it around whenever I can.
FR: The three Sorority books fit tightly together to form a single narrative.  Did they start out life as a single long novel, or did you always intend to write a trilogy or serialization?
TT: My editor suggested a trilogy, my choice of form.  I decided I wanted to do it as a serial novel -- one big novel that stands together.  I'm not much for series -- I get bored easily and the idea of being tied down to writing stories with the same characters and same jobs and so forth doesn't work for me.  I have, however, built an entire alternate world laced throughout real towns, primarily in central coastal and southern inland California, and I love to bring a character from another book back for a cameo now and then, and I've set up at least one book for a sequel, but generally, I crave new, new, new!
Fantastic Reviews (FR): That's something I wanted to ask about, the overlaps in your books.  For example, Malory, the villain in The Sorority, mentions being on friendly terms with the, ahem, unorthodox nuns from your book Moonfall.  Do you envision your books as all part of the same paranormal version of California?  Are there particular characters we should expect to see bump into each other in future books?
Tamara Thorne (TT): I do.  Most of the towns are set at map coordinates where there are national parks, no roads, desert, open fields.  I like to sow them in among the real ones.  Some are entirely fictional, others have real roots.  Caledonia, mentioned in Sorority, is the site of The Forgotten.  Caledonia is another word for Scotland.  On a real map, you'll find Cambria, another word for Wales, somewhere south of the San Simeon/Hearst Castle area of central California.  Cambria and Caledonia have a lot in common, though I imported the oceanside cliffs from Pismo, which is farther south (close to Haunted's and Candle Bay's towns).  Santo Verde, Bad Things' locale, is similar to Redlands, California.  And Madelyn, in the upcoming Thunder Road, is just five miles east of the real Old Calico Ghost Town, on the way to Las Vegas.
David Masters, hero of Haunted, is a ghost-hunting writer who has already shown up in The Forgotten to give advice to that book's protagonist.  He's brought his family along to interact with the primary characters in the book I'm working on now.  And he just might help me write a non-fiction book on ghosts and hauntings.  He's a lot like a certain devil-man who goes ghost hunting with me, so I can even give him a body!
|Bad Things cover|
|The Forgotten cover|
FR: Speaking of ghost hunting writers, I understand you did a stint as an investigator of haunted houses.  Haunted is a haunted house novel, and several of your other books, including The Sorority, have ghosts in them.  Did many of your story ideas arise out of your experiences as an investigator?  Did anything really creepy ever happen to you?
TT: It wasn't a stint, I've never stopped doing it.  I did garner a certain legitimacy early on because I took up writing about local haunts for local newspapers.  That's probably the stint you're referring to.
Haunted is an homage to the haunted house genre, primarily to houses Hill and Hell by Jackson and Matheson.  It's filled with beloved haunted house clichés of all sorts.  Some of the material, especially early on before things really get super-unnatural, is based on some of my experiences.  The description of the air pressure sensation as something unseen rushes you is from my experience with a poltergeist fest -- and if you watch Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (probably the original too, but I'm not sure), you'll experience that effect with his sound and camera work as the unseen force careens through the woods at high speed.  Haunted doesn't draw on experiences as plot strings, but you'll find tiny details about physical sensations I've experienced.
Creepy experiences?  Well, I've become blasé about cold spots, witnessed quite a bit of minor poltergeist activity, one major polt attack, seen two apparitions that I'm aware of and can't discount since I wasn't the only one, smelled a couple hauntings, and heard lots of aural ones.  Once, we saw a full kitchen trashcan rise an inch or so off the floor then drop after a couple seconds.  We only lived briefly in that house.  It had constant minor polt activity but it never frightened me, so I assumed it was some sort of gravitational glitch.  I'm still inclined to think that way because there was no emotion to sense.
However, we moved to another rented house and that one was uncomfortable for no apparent reason.  We stayed six months then moved.  The morning of the move, Damien left to pick up a truck.  A moment later, I heard the front door slam and heavy footsteps inside the house, hard, angry.  Scary.  I called out just in case it was my mate, but there was no answer, as I expected.  He's not given to angry stomping.
I assumed it was a human intruder.  I was in the master bedroom way down at the end of a long hall and the windows were too high to jump from.  The stomping continued.  I yelled that I had a gun (it was a broomstick) then ventured out, checking the open doors to the other rooms.  The house had gone silent.  The foyer was at the mouth of the long hall and the rest of the house was on the other side -- a lot of it was out of my line of sight.  I stood there in the mouth a moment, listening, intent on getting out the front door.  As I was about to bolt, the footsteps started up again -- right in front of me.  Invisible.  They walked right past me or through me and continued up the hall.  At some point a door slammed, but it was only a sound -- the doors were all open.  Damien found me on the front porch and thought I was pulling his leg.  We checked the place over, then set to the work at hand.  I rationalized away the footsteps as water pipes or something -- I knew it had happened, but it was so ridiculous that denial wasn't impossible.
That afternoon we took a break in one of the bedrooms, lazing back, drinking warm Cokes.  Suddenly, Damien squawked and his leg jerked up.  He said something grabbed it and yanked.  I thought he was pulling my leg at that point, but he was quite serious.  Something had pulled his leg.  We finished quickly, spooked, and got out by sunset.  He returned the next day to make sure we hadn't left anything behind and to give the landlord the key.  While he was in the master bedroom, Damien heard the front door slam and heavy footsteps in the house.  He assumed it was the landlord and started down the hall.  The stomping sounds passed him and continued up the hall, complete with aural door-slam.  He left the key in the mailbox and skedaddled.
That sensation in that house is the only one I've experienced that I'd call blood-curdling.  The haunt was loaded with emotion that was so black that "evil" almost fits it.  In reality, it was probably an imprint of fury and insanity.  We later found out that a man with a brain tumor had gone violent there, abused his family, and they'd left him.  I would guess that our moving out is what set off this haunting.  Research showed that it's a pretty common phenomenon.
I've felt other haunts that include emotions that feel sad or dark, but nothing like this.  Insanity is scary stuff.
Fantastic Reviews (FR): Wow, that's plenty creepy for me.  On a related but lighter note, another rumor has been floated that you once rigged some séances.  What drew you to charlatanry?
Tamara Thorne (TT): Oh, that's grand!  I did -- as a pre-teen and teenager, for my Halloween parties!  I rigged a heavy oak dining table with hammers and other tappy instruments, drawing on things I'd learned from my childhood idol, Houdini.  And it's been helpful since, when I'm looking to see what various charlatans are up to.  I do think there are legitimate psychics out there, but the sleazy ones give the whole field a bad name.  Lawyers suffer the same problem.
FR: Your next book due out is Thunder Road, originally published under the Chris Curry byline.  This involves UFOs, a serial killer, and the Apocalypse.  Sounds pretty weird.
TT: Weirdly, it was a pet project.  It's way out of category horror, more thriller and contemporary science fiction, lots of riffing on ET myth and religion.  And it has not one, but two serial killers, roaming the pages.  One character, a preacher, really pulled one over on me.  When I saw what he was up to I commenced grinning stupidly because where he took the tale was so not-me, so distanced from what I think about religion in general and money-grubbing evangelists in particular, that I half thought the reverend would rip out of my body à la King's evil twin writer.  (Brittany, by the way, did a 180 too, on a smaller scale in The Sorority -- she started out as a snide statement on the singing talents of Britney Spears, but she gradually took on a life of her own until she started acting on her own and finally took over her destiny.  I love it when characters do that.)
I think Thunder Road is coming out next summer with a Simon Marsden cover, as Moonfall did in September.  Bless Simon Marsden, whose brilliant photography gives my book covers a sophistication that helps sell them to new readers who wouldn't touch something labeled "horror" otherwise.
FR: Don't tell me you're getting rid of the critter drooling on the cross cover for Moonfall?
TT: I'm afraid the gargoyle has flown away.  Most of my books are slowly being reprinted with Simon Marsden photos (or in the case of The Sorority, with Marsdenesque artwork -- The Sorority covers match my descriptions of the settings, for the most part).  As for Moonfall, I love the Marsden photograph and it looks much like the main building in the book, right down to the gargoyles.  I never loved the inverted cross on the book's old cover.  Despite its pastichey roots in Satan's School for Girls and the rest of the goofy devil movies of the 70s and 80s, Moonfall has a serious thread (well-hidden, I hope) about comparative religion.  The evil nuns aren't Catholic nuns.  I use a witch and a priest working together at the end.  Moonfall is a statement about different ways of viewing the same thing, as well as a reminder that practitioners of witchcraft are not Satanists -- the seeming immortality of that misconception infuriates me.  (By the way, I practice neither witchcraft nor Christianity, though I'm more inclined to hug trees than bow to anything.) Witches predate Christianity, so they don't worship the Christian god.  Satanists are simply rebellious Christians.  To be a Satanist, you must believe in the Christian god.  And that's what I never liked about the cross on the cover.
FR: What new books do you have in the works after Thunder Road?
TT: The novel I'm working on is so shrouded in secrecy that even I don't know what it's about and my editor, a gifted hypnotist, has made me forget the title until he utters the magic word to bring it back.  I do know that it's set in the southwest, based heavily on a real haunted location we spent a number of days and nights exploring, and that I had no intention of using the real anomalous aspects of the location when the project began.  But once I arrived, truth was even better than fiction, so I'm having a grand old time with this.  David Masters from Haunted shows up to lend his expertise and -- oh, the pain, it's like that thought controller they put on Spock in that old Star Trek episode!  I can't go on!
Other projects: I'm putting together material for a non-fiction book on hauntings.  It will recount my own adventures and some belonging to others that haven't previously been widely written up.  I've heard all I want about Whaley House, Winchester Mystery House, the Queen Mary, and the Myrtles Plantation.  I'm seeking fresh spooks.  My site has a "ghost post" link that's only half done, but it does introduce a bit of this.  Eventually, I'll be asking readers for their own stories, some of which might make it into the book.  Mostly though, the book is an excuse to do yet more ghost hunting, so expect me to hog the book.
Beyond those plans, I have at least three novels in embryo form and I'm thinking of collaborating on a screenplay with someone who knows what he's doing and was kind enough to ask me.  I also have a lot of poetry coming out soon in The Devil's Wine, an anthology edited by Tom Piccirilli, arriving maybe as early as October from Cemetery Dance.  (There's a revolving link on www.tamarathorne.com that will lead you to the Land of Details.) I've never written clean poetry before, but the chance to mingle with Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Peter Straub made me try.  Mostly, my stuff's on the goofy side -- serious just doesn't work for me.  When I was a kid, I'd sit in class dying of boredom, desperate to stay awake, and so I'd relive favorite pages of MAD Magazine in my head and develop the delightful problem of keeping my giggles over booger and fart jokes silent.  For some reason, trying to write serious poetry brings out the same reaction in me and "serious" becomes almost impossible to maintain.  There must be some suppressed poetry trauma in my childhood somewhere, hmm?
Fantastic Reviews (FR): So The Devil's Wine is the place to look for some of your poetry.  How about short fiction?  Your short story "Good Vibrations," which appeared in the anthology Dark Seductions, is hands down the best possessed dildo story I have read (and I will refrain from asking what sort of research went into it), but I couldn't find any other short fiction of yours.  Are there others, or will there be?
Tamara Thorne (TT): Short stories intimidate the living dead out of me.  The only one in print is "Good Vibrations." I have three more and I'm saving them for when the house is in danger of repossession (no doubt because I didn't pay my exorcist).  I haven't tried writing a short in many moons.  Part of me remains convinced that they're much more difficult and time consuming than novels, and maybe that's true; I need room because the characters take over and I lose control.  They have protest marches and toss tear gas (and fouler things) at me when I try to confine them.
|Candle Bay cover|
I have some non-fiction here and there, I think.  The intro to the all-female antho, Les Femmes de la Brumme.  There are a couple of true ghost stories in Gerina Dunwich's book, A Witch's Guide to Ghosts and the Supernatural.  I can't think of anything else off-hand, though there are lots of interviews scattered around the net.  Some urls are listed on my site, hopefully all of them will be there eventually, and I usually manage to announce the newest publications in my occasional e-newsletter, Drawn Quarterly.  (The plan is four snazzy issues a year, and little Quickies to announce this and that in between.  I'm behind on the snazzy part.  I'll try to do one for Halloween.  The snazzy ones usually include some doggerel, usually dirty or juvenile, the way I like it.) The site will eventually have a page for them.  You can also find some, er, questionable non-fiction on the "Ask Tamara" link on my site.
FR: I love "Ask Tamara." When are you taking it into syndication?
TT: "Ask Tamara" is so much fun.  I have at least another 100 letters to add, and at least a third of them deserve adding.  I think I channel them -- they just pop out in sudden swell foops that last several hours.  I laid off because of 9/11 and I'm still kind of waiting for things to normalize since Dubya writes the best letters and he's been slightly deified for reasons beyond my comprehension.  (Ass-covering addendum: all deification is beyond my comprehension.)
If I had to turn out something like "Ask Tamara" on a regular basis, I couldn't do it.  I tried doing a humor column for a local paper years ago and it was the worst stress of my life.  Being funny on command is impossible.  "Funny" is as obnoxiously stubborn as my characters are.  It only comes out when it wants to.  But I'd love to get enough of the letters, the doggerel too, to put them all in print.
Here's one from my newsletter, to be spoken aloud with a southern accent:
Jerome, please don't visit our home
Your manner is rude
Your hygiene heinous
Y'all don't point at people with your penis!
© Tamara Thorne 2002
FR: In addition to Bad Things (originally titled Panic) and Thunder Road, you wrote two earlier books as by Chris Curry that are no longer in print, Winter Scream (a Bram Stoker Award nominee) and Trickster.  Trickster involved a ghostly serial killer under the streets of Seattle.  Please tell me you're a fellow fan of the old TV show Kolchak: The Night Stalker, which used a similar premise.
TT: That episode, Kolchak: The Night Strangler, was one of the two TV movies, and was penned by Richard Matheson, as I recall.  Yes, I'm a big fan, always have been, of the series.  The vision of the Seattle Underground stayed with me for years and years, so it had to become the setting for a novel so that I had an excuse to go research and wallow in the real thing.  My version of the underground is a bit closer to reality than Kolchak's towering and misty underground city.  The real underground (you can take tours, it's wonderful) spans much more of above-ground Seattle than the tour covers, and much is unexplored and forgotten now, so what I concocted is probably not far from reality.  The underground is, of course, alleged to be haunted, though I never noticed so much as a cold spot -- but it's so atmospheric that it doesn't need ghosts, though I hope the tales are true!  Trickster is no longer in print, but it may be found in secondhand stores and via dealers at sites like amazon.com and bn.com.  Ditto, Winter Scream.  There are no plans to re-release them.
The Night Strangler cover
Fantastic Reviews (FR): There's another book out there by Chris Curry called Writing for Soaps.  Are you taking credit for that one?
Tamara Thorne (TT): Nope, no soaps.  That's Christopher Curry -- I'm often asked about that.  I've watched some Dark Shadows in my day, but never any other soap.  I know there are ones with paranormal high jinks now, but I hate having to watch anything on a daily basis.  I even tape miniseries so I can watch them later, all at once.  I only give in for semi-soaps Buffy (hey, good writing!), The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Dead Like Me.  And usually Sex and the City.  That's probably the closest thing to a soap I ever watch.
FR: These are all the shows I would probably watch if I didn't have impressionable young children racing through the family room all the time.  All I get to watch is Whose Line Is It Anyway?, because the kids don't understand the double entendres.
TT: Double entendres are the best.  What a hoot to grow up and see Disney stuff and old cartoons that you thought were kid-oriented, only to find out they're loaded with delicious doubles.  Spielberg's Animaniacs cartoons tickle my fancy in a big way, though I generally hate cartoons (except for Beavis & Butthead and South Park) because the noise makes me feel like going Jack Torrance the Jack Nicholson way.
I've never been much for censoring kids' viewing, just the really sick stuff.  But R-ratings generally don't give me pause, particularly when it comes to humor (Blazing Saddles, Kentucky Fried Movie, all the Airplane!-type movies are fine by me, as is a little gratuitous sex and violence in movies like Terminator).  Obscene to me is letting a kid watch that imported Milo and Otis movie about a kitten and puppy.  They killed nearly 20 ginger kittens in those stunts.  That makes me sick.  But I'd tell the child why the movie is forbidden, just like I'd tell one exactly what could happen if you talk to strangers.  That's how we handled our son's upbringing.  He's an animal-rescuing kid with a great sense of humor and no hang-ups about sex being naughty.  (Maybe that's a minus, come to think of it . . .)
FR: The sex-is-naughty mindset most folks have is probably a very good thing for your career, eh?
TT: I never thought about it that way, but that's very insightful.  Absolutely right.
FR: You said you were considering collaborating on a screenplay.  On one of your own books, or something else?  Can we expect to see some of your existing work translated to the screen?
TT: We'd create something original.  I'd trust this screenwriter to translate a book of mine, but I wouldn't want to get involved.  The books are too close to me, I'd lack impartiality.  Also, Hollywood is a bend-over town for writers.  With my books, I never have to bend over.  With a screenplay, if it sells, you can be pretty sure other people are going to repeatedly rape it until it behaves the way they want.  That's fine, I just don't want to be involved in that aspect, so we'd write something original together, and then my professional friend would take it from there.  I have my novels to give me true satisfaction.
As for books turning into movies, never expect it until it happens, but things keep threatening to happen.  There are lots of nibbles and negotiations for the books, but Hollywood is so iffy that it makes New York look like the Rock of Gibraltar.  When it happens, I'll be pleased.  If I like what they do to it, I'll be very pleased.
FR: Stephen King was just selected to receive the National Book Awards medal for distinguished contribution, prompting indignant cries from pseudointellectuals like Harold Bloom, who believe anyone who writes thrillers and horror novels is by definition a hack.  This kind of literary snobbery pisses me off.  Does it annoy you?
TT: Oh sure, if I let it, but the people who buy into it annoy me more.  My two cents is this: Read and watch and do things you love because you choose to, not because some effete snob tells you what to think and do and feel.  That's nonsense, giving them such power to manipulate your mind.  Everything's equal, and nothing's for everyone.  For example, romance is just as legit as horror.  Personally, it puts me to sleep.  I need thrills, ghosts, murder and really juicy moral dilemmas that span lots more than who-loves-whom.  I want to be entertained, and while romance is the ticket for some and literary books for others, I'll take big techy thrillers, anything by Nelson DeMille, cop thrillers and meaty historicals, not to mention a dollop of horror and science fiction, and the insane delights of Neil Gaiman or Christopher Moore.
I'll take Stephen King any day of the week.  He understands people, he's one of the few writers who can do a decent female viewpoint (they're extremely hard for me, I prefer to be in masculine minds!) and he's entertaining.  I get so sick of King-bashing.  I don't get it.  Jealousy?  I hear writers say he should move over for the rest of us, but that's nonsense.  He's made horror into something that transcends monsters and howling wolves.  He's humanized it.  He's true to himself and it shows and that's what matters.  I might pick up a book because friends or readers tell me about it, but I don't listen to the lit reviewers and their minions who only care about impressing other people with their snobbish prowess.  The pseudointellectuals are the same people who raved about the Emperor's new clothes.  They're dustbags in the wind.  If you happen to like a literary book, that's great -- I've liked some, we all have.  But to be a sheep, to conform, to wear shoes that hurt because they're the fashion or to laud the latest literary darling or arthouse flick because someone says you should -- that's preposterous.
But as for being actively annoyed, I'm not: I rarely read reviews unless my friends send them along.  I don't need negativity in my life.  My friend and mentor, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, taught me early in my career about donning Teflon armor -- the shit doesn't stick if you don't let it.
Fantastic Reviews (FR): Thank you very much for taking the time to respond!
Tamara Thorne (TT): Thanks for the interview!  Hey, no wedgies, you promised!