Sunday, February 7, 2016

Let's Talk About the Word "Fuck"

This is from a Facebook discussion yesterday.
Warning/Public Service Announcement:
If you've read my books, this is nothing new, but if you haven't here you go -
I use "fuck" in my books.*
Sometimes a lot.
While my main character, Gabriella Giovanni, doesn't use it much, people around her do. She covers the crime beat.
Cops say fuck. Reporters say fuck even more than cops, maybe. Bad guys say fuck.
My books are crime fiction. They have the word fuck in them.
I try not to use the word thoughtlessly, but it is part of the world I write about.
One of the best compliments I get about my books is that they are "authentic." Cleaning up the language would mean sugar coating it, glossing over what the world I write about is really like.
This post is basically a way to say that if you are offended by seeing the word fuck in print, maybe my books aren't the right ones for you.
It's cool. We can still be friends.
I recently received a one-star review that called my book foul. "If you want to read four letter words of all types every few paragraphs then this is your book."
I felt a little bad, as if somehow I'd mislead that reader, but I hope that with my darker themed covers and blurbs that say things such as "disturbing" on the cover, that people won't mistakenly pick up my books and expect something different.
I'll never forget the time my great friend, Father Seamus Genovese, God bless his soul, called me from Oakland, California to tell me that a nun he knew was reading my book because I had based one of the characters on Seamus. When I hung up the phone, I quickly grabbed the book and flipped through the first pages. I think I had the word "fuck" twenty-two times in the first two pages. Oops.
So, again, my books have foul language in them and if that is extremely offensive, I have some very talented author friends with lovely books that might suit you more than mine.
It's okay.
Nobody likes every book out there. That's life. And it's cool. No, really.
Feel free to weigh in. Comment below on what you think about books with "fuck" or other swear words in them.
*PS I almost always avoid using swear words on this Facebook page out of respect for my super classy mother who also reads this page. And yes, she reads all my books.


seana graham said...

Funny thing. I was watching the Democratic caucuses in Iowa a few nights ago, and one of the reporters caught a live confrontation in which one of the participants used the word fuck. It was very odd to me that the reporter and the moderators all felt that it was necessary to apologize for this completely accidental reporting many times. This struck me as very strange, as it seemed odd that they felt they had to shield their audience from a word that they must hear sometimes in their daily life even if they don't use it. There was a note of disingenuousness about the whole thing. "Fuck" is now ubiquitous.

So go ahead and write your dialogue the way you hear it, detractors be damned.

Not so long ago, I couldn't have written that either.

Kristi said...

Yup! Thanks for weighing in!

Dana King said...

Bless you. I could not have expressed my feelings about foul language in general, and why I use it, any better. I'd ever consider placing a warning on the cover. Somehting along the lines of "If foul language offends you, stay the fuck away."

Elizabeth said...

A reprint of one of my stories, which contained the word "fuck," was published online. I explained it to my mother by saying it was the word the character would have used. She refused to even read the story ... she's in her 80s, from New England, and extremely prudish. Obviously she did some fucking herself back in the day, or my sisters and I never would have been born, and evidently that detail escaped her.

Kristi said...

Dana - thank you! Yes, I'll take an "R" rating on my cover if that helps.
Elizabeth - oh my - bummer. And LOL.