Reviews are a strange beast to deal with; whether it’s for music or writing. These books are written because I feel they need to be written. It’s a subject that is compelling, humbling, frightening, inspiring and fascinating in equal measures. Each one takes roughly a year, working on the manuscript or researching the intricate details of each story. Frequently these are histories that cover hundreds of U-boats, ships or other military units, and it’s a balance to get the humanity of the subject across while also placing it in to a strategic context of why they were where they were, doing what they did.
It can be a little disheartening when you pour as much as you can into a book and get it written off by somebody on Amazon who has taken a dislike to it. But, that’s the nature of any creative endeavour: sometimes it will click with people and sometimes not. Exactly like music. I was told once that you should read the good reviews and ignore the bad. I don’t actually agree with that, because, though some reviews are bad for what seems to be no cause other than that petulantly dismissive attitude that seems to have grown alongside the rise of social media, some can be bad and yet still constructive. That’s okay. Not everybody likes your work….as long as you yourself can stand by it, that’s all that really matters.
Then there are the other ones. It can also be pretty strange reading a glowing review. But, to be honest, it’s a nice kind of strange. I’ve been fortunate to have some superb reviews for my books and I truly appreciate them, as well as those offering constructive criticism, because there is ALWAYS more to learn and always scope for improvement. Anyway, I was updating the site today with a few review bits and pieces and got pointed to this one here from the Navy News that was written in 2009. I respect the Navy News – after all this is the official newspaper of the Royal Navy and they know their stuff! I’ve been pulled up (justifiably) for using incorrect terminology once or twice by them in what were actually very good reviews of past books. The fact that they take the time to review them at all is a fantastic thing for me, and I very much appreciate it.
So you can imagine how it made me feel when I found this review of ‘Black Flag’. I enjoyed writing that book, though it was at times difficult. I finished the manuscript on a tour bus in the middle of six weeks across Europe, the guys from Ibridoma, who were sharing the bus, letting me use the downstairs lounge in peace no matter what was going on at the time (thanks again guys). But, I’m really happy with how it turned out. It was, however, one that received some demolition from an Amazon reviewer, which did take the wind out of my sails a bit more than it should have, I suppose. But, that’s the way it goes.
However, I’m going to do some bragging with this Navy News review, and take the time to thank them publicly for the write-up, which I missed until now. This line in particular is hugely humbling, and I appreciate very much: “Their demise is recounted by Lawrence Paterson, arguably the foremost authority on U-boats in the English -speaking world…”
That is one heavy-duty compliment, and has absolutely made my day. Thank you Navy News. I’ll try to live up to it 🙂