A few months ago I was talking to my mom on the phone and she informed me she and my dad read my book Desolate. As she told me how much they liked it, I grimaced as I pictured all the F-Bombs and their cousins peppered throughout the dialog of the story. Most of my characters are prison inmates. Although I don't know any personally, I took the liberty of assuming most of them use expletives on a regular basis. It's a stereotype I suppose, and if any of you convicts out there would like to convince me otherwise, feel free to drop me an email. I'll send you a thank you cake that may or may not contain a file.
I'm pushing forty years old and I'm still not comfortable swearing in front of my parents. I wish my sixteen year old son would feel the same way, but I yell at him on a daily basis for his language. But that's another blog post.
As I've gotten older over the years I've tried to keep foul language coming out of my mouth to a minimum because it's in poor taste and a bad example for my kids. That being said, I'm not offended by other people swearing. I'm not too happy when they are swearing at me in anger, but if somebody wants to have a profanity filled conversation with me, I don't care. I'm a grown up and they are just words. Big whoop.
Recently, one of my author friends got a bad review on Amazon because the reader was offended by the language in his book. I read that book and didn't remember any cursing in it. I checked and there were a few here and there. PG-13 stuff. That got me thinking about the language in Desolate. By my count, there are seventeen instances of the F word and I wrote forty-one variations of the S word. Not to mention a bunch of other curse words, plenty of gore and violence, and even an attempted rape. Not wanting a bad review based solely on language, I added this warning on the book's Amazon page:
"This book is intended to be read by adults and may be unsuitable for children under 17. Contains indecent language and descriptions of graphic violence."
I felt much better after adding that since it should scare away easily offended readers looking for a light hearted rom-com. Not to mention actual kids. Unlike the marketing geniuses behind The Hunger Games who think kids slaughtering each other is clean YA fun, my books are not kid friendly.
Check out this reader review I found today for Outlaw Platoon by Sean Parnell. This book is the real life story of Sean's experience as a platoon commander in Afghanistan for sixteen months:
"Our newspaper had an article about this book never dreaming when I bought the book how disgusting and foul the language was. I wouldn't want my teenage grandkids to read it. I will not read it and I'm sorry I spent the money."
Seriously? Soldiers in combat swear? Who would have thought?
Where do you stand on bad language in books? Personally, I don't care. I'm more offended by Andrew Zimmern eating a baby pig on TV or some shirtless guy with a D cup on the Biggest Loser.
Just words. Big Whoop.