Fan mail, for me?

Every now and then I get helpful little emails of advice through the website. And I'm not talking about the kind offers to help some African official embezzle millions of dollars (incidentally, news of my financial acumen seems to be spreading -- hot on the heels of Suleman's kind offer of a share in $19M, I got an email from lovely old Mr. Victor Achums, who wants me to handle £25,000,000 in unclaimed kickbacks for him. Woohoo!) or all that stuff designed to enhance one's sinful trouser parts, but from people who want to help me do better with my writing.

Like this nice message I got today:

please kill DI steel next book. sorry this book was a waste of time

See: polite (he said 'please') and to the point. The book was a waste of their time, but I can improve my chances of giving them pleasure if I kill off DI Steel.

Then there's the other people who email me with things like,

Could some of the characters we have come to know and hate (DI Steele for example) not be put down and picked up on an as-needs basis rather than being more of the same in every novel? Would that give a touch more authenticity and perhaps greater longevity to them??

See -- again with the practical advice!

Only Steel doesn't die in Book Number The Fourth*, that'll have to wait for Book Number The Fifth instead. Maybe something involving a cheese-grater and a jar of petroleum jelly. Hey, never let it be said I don't pander to the desires of my readership.

It's often quite strange, some of the things people come out with. And these are people who seem perfectly nice and normal on the outside. Like the person who came up to me at an event, told me DYING LIGHT depended too heavily on coincidence and wasn't as well written as the other two, then asked if I'd read his screen play and help him get an agent. With a slick build-up like that, how could I refuse? (but I did anyway)

I often wonder what goes through the heads of people who get in touch to say they like the books, but want them done differently. Are they genuinely trying to help? Is this a MISERY-style scenario where I'm going to end up chained to a bed** for not writing the book one very strange person wants to read? Are they twisted hamster molesters, enjoying a happy day's screwing with authors' minds?

Or are they just bored?

* Which has a new title as of last Friday. There's a cover being mocked up, even as we speak. But I'm not going to tell you what it's going to be called, because it might all have changed by the time I've finished typing this sentence. Or this one. Or maybe this one...
** Not in a kinky way, you perverts.

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