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Creator Backlash / Literature

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  • Gelett Burgess's exasperation over the popularity of his fluff 1895 poem "The Purple Cow". So much so he eventually wrote... you guessed it... a retaliatory poem.
    Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow"—
    I'm Sorry, now, I wrote it;
    But I can tell you Anyhow
    I'll Kill you if you Quote it!
  • This trope is part of the reason Arthur Conan Doyle was led to kill off Sherlock Holmes, who overshadowed all of his other writings. To quote a letter that Doyle sent a friend after "The Final Problem":
    Holmes is dead and damned! I have had such an overdose of him that I feel towards him as I do towards paté de foie gras, of which I once ate too much, so that the name of it gives me a sickly feeling to this day.
    • As you may be aware, Doyle eventually went on writing Holmes stories. He suffered a staggering amount of fan backlash (even his mother was outraged), and when Punch eventually offered him a staggering sum to return to writing the character, he relented.
  • Agatha Christie came to hate the famed fictional detective she created, Hercule Poirot. To quote The Other Wiki: "By 1930, Agatha Christie found Poirot 'insufferable' and by 1960, she felt that he was a 'detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep'. Yet the public loved him, and Christie refused to kill him off, claiming that it was her duty to produce what the public liked, and what the public liked was Poirot." She would eventually tweak Poirot through one of her other characters, Ariadne Oliver, who was a mystery-writer turned detective. (Yes, Ariadne's an Author Avatar; yes, she exists; no, we don't blame you for not knowing that.) Unlike Doyle, Christie never got over it; just before she died, she released Curtain, a novel she had written years ago, in which Poirot was killed off.
    • She may have killed off Poirot in Curtain in part because she found him intolerable, but another reason was to prevent another author from taking over the Poirot series if she died during World War II. She began the book during the Blitz, when nobody in London knew if they'd survive.
    • But the 2014 release of The Monogram Murders by a ghostwriter proved that even Author Existence Failure couldn't bring an end to Poirot works.
  • Some tales in The Bible, such as Noah's Ark, can be interpreted as God having a backlash against humans, especially because of the Humans Are Bastards trope.
  • Michael Crichton intended for his 1990 novel Jurassic Park to be a standalone work. However, he was more than happy with it being adapted into a film, selling the book's film rights before it was published and helping to write the film's screenplay. Once the film was a massive financial success, its creators began pressuring Crichton to write a sequel, despite the fact that he had never franchised any of his work. He reluctantly agreed, publishing The Lost World in 1995, which retcons a lot of plot points from Jurassic Park. Its film adaptation and second sequel Jurassic Park III were created with no involvement with Crichton whatsoever.
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  • Alan Garner had strong critical disdain of his first two fantasy novels, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960) and The Moon of Gomrath (1963). He considered them jejeune and childish next to his more evolved later work. However, fans loved them and kept badgering for a sequel to tie up the loose ends. He forced himself to write the sequel Boneland(2013) - some fifty years after the two original books. Deliberately, the style is as unlike the first two books as possible.
  • A. A. Milne and his Winnie-the-Pooh book series:
    • He grew to loathe it, as it typecast him forever as a "writer of children's books" and he could never go back to writing adult fiction. He even tried to kill off Pooh at the end of the 2nd book. (It didn't work.) E. H. Shepard, Pooh's illustrator, also suffered from this, as it overshadowed his work in political cartoons.
    • Similarly, Milne's son Christopher Robin grew to hate the works as well, for he was bullied constantly for being immortalized in them. At one point, Christopher accused his father of exploiting him in the stories. Ironically, he later owned a bookstore, where it's inevitable that someone was going to ask that question.
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  • Lillian Moller Gilbreth didn't like Cheaper by the Dozen or Belles on Their Toes, which her children wrote, because they made her and her husband's life's work look silly.
  • Peter Llewelyn Davies is forever known as the basis for J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Davies hated being associated with "that terrible masterpiece" and it is believed that's what drove him to alcoholism and suicide.
  • Stephenie Meyer claims that she is "so over" Twilight, saying that it is "not a happy place to be" for her. In particular, she's tired of it constantly overshadowing her more recent works. When asked if she'd ever return to the series, Meyer replied "Not completely. What I would probably do is three paragraphs on my blog saying which of the characters died."
  • Stephen King:
    • In-universe example: Misery is about an author who hates his popular character (the Victorian Canon Sue who along with the author's own literal misery lends the book its Double-Meaning Title) and so decides to kill her off. He in fact hates the character so much that he penned a short story about Misery having sex with her love interest's dog and circulated it among his friends. Unfortunately he gets badly injured in a car crash and then gets rescued by an Ax-Crazy Battleaxe Nurse who isn't thrilled about Misery's fate and demands he invoke Saved by the Fans... Or else.
    • In Real Life, King has come to regret writing the novel Rage because someone decided to make life echo art with that book — or rather, make death echo art. Current copies of The Bachman Books no longer feature Rage. That said, the short story "Cain Rose Up", which deals with similar topics, is still in Skeleton Crew. For those wondering, both Rage and "Cain Rose Up" concern a student who kills people on school grounds. Rage has the main character/narrator "only" kill two teachers in the course of a long quasi-therapy session with his classmates, be treated sympathetically by all but one of said classmates (in the end the others turn on the Only Sane Man), and ultimately get non-fatally shot by the police; both he and the holdout are last seen in different mental institutions. "Cain Rose Up" features a sniper who is still killing indiscriminately at the end of the story.
    • In his book On Writing, King admitted to not being too fond of Insomnia and Rose Madder, since he actually plotted them out, and they became "stiff, trying too hard" novels. In fact, the only plotted novel of his that he likes is The Dead Zone.
    • He does not like Dreamcatcher, saying that he wrote it while he was high on OxyContin.
    • In the introduction to Pet Sematary, he admits not really liking the novel because he finds it too bleak, nihilistic and grim, expressing a hopeless view of the world that he doesn't really believe, and only agreed to publish it to get out of a contract. Ironically crosses over with Magnum Opus Dissonance, since this bleakness means that many readers consider it his most effective 'straight' horror novel.
  • Jack Kerouac found Visions of Cody to be a superior work to On the Road, and was disappointed at how much more people focused on the latter.
  • In the introduction to a rerelease of A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess called it "pornographic" and said the main reason for reading it would be for the "raping and ripping." He was particularly outspoken against the film adaptation, though he was not involved in its creation.
  • Richardson actually insulted his work Clarissa in the prologue of one of the volume published, saying the main character was dull and didn't understand how anybody enjoyed the work. He later picked apart the morals in Clarissa in another of his works.
  • Mark Twain came to think of Tom Sawyer as the exemplar of everything that's shallow and stunted in the American spirit. His disgust found its way into Huckleberry Finn, in which Tom comes off as more of a thoughtless Jerkass than a mischievous scamp. The frequently cash-strapped Twain did, however, work his most famous character into two more books afterwards.
  • Western author Louis L'Amour early in his career was hired to write a series of stories about the character 'Hopalong' Cassidy for a western pulp magazine. The stories were not about an original character and were extensively edited to tie in with a 'Hopalong' Cassidy TV show. L'Amour later in life denied ever writing them in the first place, even to his own family. They were only reprinted after his death.
  • Anne Rice, for a time, disclaimed her popular Vampire Chronicles series, as well as the connected Mayfair Witches series, due to converting to Christianity, but then she got over it after she denounced religion.
  • Another in-story example: Sharyn McCrumb's novel Bimbos of the Death Sun features an author who despises the series of cheesy Conan the Barbarian-style novels to which he's become metaphorically chained by success and merchandising, all the while wanting recognition for his use of Celtic mythology in the books.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Dr Asimov was troubled by the idea that "Nightfall (1941)" was widely considered his best work. This was partly because it was one of his earliest works (he wrote it when he was 21), so the notion that it was his best story suggested that he hadn't improved as an author in 50 years of writing. One of the most-remembered paragraphs from that story (it's toward the end) isn't his work, having been added by editor John W. Campbell.
    • Similarly, one of the reasons that it took 30 years for the fourth Foundation book to come out was that he was tired of the series. The main thing that got him to work on Foundation's Edge was the boatload of cash he was offered.
  • Stephen Crane believed that the best way of writing was to go experience something, then dash off your thoughts rapidly and without editing, while being careful not to go on too long. For reasons uncertain to biographers (a bet may have factored into it), he decided to write The Red Badge of Courage, based on nothing he'd ever seen, heavily edited, and by his own admission "too long." Naturally, "the damned Red Badge" made him famous, while not necessarily helping to dispel his conviction that Readers Were Morons.
  • Peter S. Beagle called A Fine and Private Place (his first novel, and fairly well received) his "state of grace" novel, where he must have been protected by whatever spirit watches over young and self-important authors.
    • Double example with The Last Unicorn, whose popularity has overshadowed a LOT of Beagle's work, and questions about a sequel have increasingly annoyed him. He's finally going to give in, though, so he can't hate it that much...
  • Shocked by the conditions in which Dust Bowl refugees lived, John Steinbeck wrote a satire, L'Affaire Lettuceberg. He decided, however, that it would be better not to publish it, because it was to "cause hatred through partial understanding" and he preferred "making people understand each other." Reconsidering the subject, he wrote The Grapes of Wrath, a much more direct and passionate work.
  • Akiyuki Nosaka can't even re-read Grave Of The Fireflies because he hates it so much. It seems to be related to Survivor Guilt, given that the ending of the story wasn't quite the same as the way his life turned out.
  • Upton Sinclair was severely upset that the only thing about The Jungle that stuck with America was the horrific conditions of the meat packing industry, as opposed to the socialist Author Tract that took up most of the book.
    "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."
  • Arthur C. Clarke came to dislike Rescue Party due to so many fans preferring something so early in his career.
  • Lucy Maud Montgomery was sick of her most famous work, Anne of Green Gables, by the time she wrote its sequel. The creation of Emily Starr was a direct result of her own disillusionment with her work - though she went on to put out eight books in the Anne series anyway (the last two books feature Anne as a supporting character, rather than the main character she'd been in previous instalments). In addition, the series was written out of order, which meant that the last book she wrote wasn't Rilla of Ingleside, which ends the series, but Anne of Ingleside. By then she was thoroughly tired of writing Anne.
  • Henry James grew to dislike Washington Square, mostly because of the comparisons it got to the works of Jane Austen.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien said that his fans "are involved in the stories in a way that I'm not" and he wasn't sure that treating them as a "kind of a vast game" was a good idea and referred to more obsessive The Lord of the Rings fans as "my deplorable cultus."
  • Douglas Adams suffered from terrible black moods, and in response to constant nagging from fans for a new The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book, he gave them a dose of his depression in literary form: Mostly Harmless. It's a depressing, nihilistic book in which Everybody Dies and the Earth is irrevocably destroyed in all universes. It made any more sequels impossible, and was a big middle finger to all his fans. Years later, Adams said he regretted ending the series on such a depressing note, and was in the early stages of writing a sixth book that would have fixed it all when he died.
    • When Mostly Harmless was adapted for radio as "The Quintessential Phase" the Downer Ending was revised into a more optimistic version, although it's not entirely clear how authentic this was to Adams's unfinished plans.
    • He also regretted elements of So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, which is happier, but perhaps less of an H2G2 book; in particular the bit where he snaps at the reader that if they want a Marvin bit they can skip to the end. He also commented that the book was backwards; Arthur as the seasoned galactic traveller amongst Muggles, and that part of him kept saying he couldn't just bring the Earth back like that. The last line of the book is "There was a point to this story but it has temporarily escaped the author's mind", and Adams once said that this was him "owning up".
  • Peter Benchley came to regret writing Jaws when he learned that drastic overfishing was driving many shark species to extinction, coming to believe he was at least partially responsible due to his book (and the eponymous film version) instilling a cross-cultural fear of sharks around the world. He spent the rest of his life trying to make up for it by becoming a vocal ocean conservation activist.
  • An In-Universe example: In Frank Stockton's short story "His Wife's Deceased Sister", the protagonist writes the eponymous novel, which is so wonderful that he instantly becomes famous. However, this work is a one-off, and it is so good that it sets an unrealistically high standard to which he is held, and every other novel he submits is rejected, with the editors being insulted, thinking he he is foisting his rejects upon them. Driven to financial ruin, he comes to regret ever writing his masterpiece, and must write under a pseudonym to make ends meet. Eventually, when he manages to write another masterpiece, he ends up destroying it, fearing that it will again ruin his career.
  • L. Frank Baum resented writing sequels to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and repeatedly tried to end the Oz series altogether. Several books end with firm declarations that he has told the reader everything there is to know about Oz, or that Oz has cut itself off from the rest of the world, and he can no longer give the reader new stories as a result. Yet Baum's other books never sold well, and for strictly financial reasons he was forced to repeatedly return to the tired franchise.
  • Dr. Seuss came to feel a deep regret for the racist anti-Japanese cartoons he drew during World War II, to the point he dedicated Horton Hears a Who! to a Japanese friend.
  • Subverted by Vladimir Nabokov, most famous for Lolita, who said in a interview with Playboy magazine that while "he'll never regret Lolita" he does feel it overshadowed all his other works, which he feels are more deserving.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe came to regret, and, for a time, disowned The Sorrows of Young Werther, partially because he regretted putting the personal issues it was based on in the public light, partially general embarrassment with the romantic movement, and partially annoyance with the obsessive fandom.
  • Ian Fleming was sufficiently unhappy with his novel The Spy Who Loved Me that he licensed the title only and required the film producers to write an entirely new story. Since the movie is generally regarded as one of the the best Bond movies in the series, or at least one of the best Bond movies of the Roger Moore era, this turned out to be not such a bad thing.
  • Andrzej Sapkowski has come to utterly despise The Witcher, due to both his disagreement with the direction CD Projeck RED has taken the series, and anger over the Witcher series being the only thing most people remember him for.
  • "Ode an die Freude" ("Ode to Joy", now best known in its choral setting as one movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony) has been popular ever since it was first written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785. But fifteen years after its publication he wrote a letter to his friend Körner saying he regarded the ode as a failure, calling it "detached from reality" and "of value maybe to us two, but not for the world, nor for the art of poetry".
  • "Eyeless Jack" The writer of Eyeless Jack, Azelf5000 said on one of his blogs that he agreed that it was poorly-written and said, "Since Jeff has been removed, this should be off too." But, let's give him some points as the he took the deletion very maturely, and knew it wasn't the greatest story ever. Unlike the writer of Sonic.exe, however....
  • Charlaine Harris wanted to end the The Southern Vampire Mysteries with Dead and Gone but was effectively forced by her publishers to continue the series due to the ongoing popularity of True Blood. This, combined with the fact many fans confused the series with her books, resulted in her getting increasingly fed up with it. Some people believe this is why the final books were so harsh and against the characters.
  • H. P. Lovecraft disliked much of his work, particularly Herbert West - Reanimator, which he did mainly to pay the bills. He wasn't much of a fan of The Horror at Red Hook either, and once described The Call of Cthulhu as "middling" and "full of cheap and cumbrous touches".
  • The Thorn Birds author Colleen McCullough disliked the character of Meggie, despite her having several of her own characteristics.
    "Can you imagine writing a novel and hating your heroine?"
  • The 1978 book How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend is a non-fiction book designed to help train dogs. It popularized the "alpha roll"—rolling a dog into its back in order to prove your dominance over it. The concept has long since been debunked as it was based on wolf dynamics involving unrelated captive wolves in an unnatural pack dynamic. The second edition of the book from 2002 notes this and discourages using it because it's dangerous and is used too often by people, when it was originally a last-resort technique.
  • Gabriel García Márquez talked about his displeasure that he got international fame for writing One Hundred Years of Solitude and his dislike for what many critics consider as the greatest novel in Latin American literature. His dislike for it stems for how it overshadowed the rest of his work, for how critics and intellectuals have praised it without understanding it properly, brought him unwanted amounts of fame, and lastly, he considers his other novels to be far superior to it.
  • William March considered his 1954 novel The Bad Seed to be thoroughly mediocre, though it is his most well-known and praised novel today.


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