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response to criticism of NTL

October 14, 2011
Posted at 8:42 am
Updated: October 14, 2011 - 11:01 am

I've received a number of critical emails surrounding this story and, in some ways, it's nice to evoke such a reaction. The main thrust of the criticism seems aimed towards Peter's apparent passivity in the face of Vanessa's adultery. Perhaps his behaviour is atypical, but we cannot say for sure how we'd react in such circumstances.

A work colleague recently discovered his wife had a liaison with another man but was desperate to keep them together, and they still are. In these desperate times, the financial implications of separation sometimes outweigh what path we'd otherwise follow. From what I see, they are starting to do more things together and their marriage seems stronger.

People try to hang on to what they've got, even in the face of adversity, for a whole host of reasons - reluctance to face change, scared of the consequences of separation, the impact on children. If Peter spilt with Vanessa, they'd probably have to sell the house and this in itself may have been enough for him to hold out hope that her affair would founder.

Looking at divorce statistics however, it seems that people are much quicker to abandon a relationship than they perhaps once were, speaking as someone who's been married well in excess of 20 years.

In the light of comments received, I have just rewritten some of the subsequent chapters, in particular toning down an explicit scene at the end of chapter 7. If you still find it fairly unlikely, take a second to imagine what it was like beforehand.

If I have one failing as a writer, it's probably sometimes not knowing where to draw the boundaries of believability. There was an explicit orgy scene towards the end of Oceania that I agonised about for days. In the end, one or two people wrote to say they liked it whilst a couple of others were ambivalent and felt it distracted from the plot.

My two editors, wonderful guys that they are, do nothing to curb my extravagance. They diligently correct my spelling and grammar, point out plot inconsistencies, but otherwise leave the storytelling to me. This sometime leads to me getting a bit carried away with myself - Open day at NMU being a classic case of this, where my imagination ran riot and unconstrained. If there are any suitably qualified volunteers to provide constructive critique prior to publication, I may consider use of your services :)

My next three stories are SF based and will probably not suffer in this manner but my occasional foray into true-to-life may nibble at some people's preconceptions about what is, and what is not, feasible.

I'm doing my best and hope you all appreciate that.

There are three more chapters to come over today and the weekend, where the conflict with Vanessa will finally come to a head. Try not to get too worked up about the characters, because at the end of the day, it's only a story.

Best Wishes