I got two (count ‘em) two e-mails today from readers who objected to my use of bad language in my books. For perspective, I get about thirty to sixty e-mails a day from readers, all of which I try to answer, and in ten years of having my e-mail address on the books, I’ve gotten maybe seven or eight notes saying that the “bad words” in my books bothered people.
Okay, I understand that “foul language” bothers some people. In some contexts, it makes me uncomfortable as well, but for Christ’s sake, people, if you pick up a book with a naked girl on the cover, with a title that includes the phrase Sequined Love Nun, and portrays cannibalism, prostitution, murder, child abuse, hijacking, pyramid make-up sales, sex slavery, organ smuggling, and gangsters, should you really be all that surprised to find the F-word in the text? What, exactly, did you think you were getting into when you picked up the book with the naked girl on the cover? The untold story of Jesus?
Now, all that said, here’s a couple of nifty things about books: 1) You can close them at will. 2)You can skip words you find unpleasant. (I skip almost all italics, especially big-assed blocks of italics. And characters with Foreign names. I just go, “Oh, it’s the ‘C’ guy” a habit I picked up after trying to mentally pronounce some unpronounceable Celtic names in some Faerie and Unicorn book.) 3) Books will not chase you around the room and force you to hear their dirty, dirty language. 4)Books that you are reading cannot be changed, unless you, personally, go in and change them with a ball-point pen. They are in print. Often, they’ve been in print for many years, in many languages. There is nothing the author can do about the “bad words” at this point.
Are people under the impression that I will go back with a global search and replace command and make all the motherfuckers into fluffy bunnies? (Okay, actually, that might be pretty funny, but that’s not the point. I’m not going to do it.) I’m not going to have a religious awakening and suddenly be embarrassed by the language in my books. Know why? Jesus doesn’t care if you say motherfucker. He doesn’t care. I read the Gospels a bunch of times. No instructions on motherfucker. And Buddha would tell you that you just need to get over your fucking self and that you are a weak-assed little bitch if you let any word harsh your enlightenment. (The Buddah may not be buff, but he is no pussy. His kung-fu is strong.)
And if you don’t feel you can share the books with your kids, well good. Don’t do that. You are an adult, you can have cake for breakfast and tell everyone that George Bush sucks big, swinging donkey dicks without fear of punishment because you earned the right to do those things by being an adult. When your kid is an adult he can eat cake for breakfast, wash it down with bong-water, while watching turtle porn, and cursing whichever Bush is running the country then (in addition to starring in turtle porn), because he will have earned it. For now, he can’t read my books. That’s okay. He has an incentive to grow up besides an IPOD/PLAYSTATION that plugs into his neurons.
I’m just saying, people, have some sense. I’m not putting “bad language” in the books to shock or disturb, and I suspect that in 99% of the cases, it doesn’t shock or disturb anyone. But if you are shocked or disturbed by language you find offensive, for God’s sake, put the book down. Don’t write to me. Because even if I give you a polite and restrained response, what I’m thinking the whole time is, “Oh do fuck off, you wanker.”