At Maine Crime Writers today, my fellow authors and myself decided to use our group post to introduce our various protagonists to readers unfamiliar with our books. Here's some of what I wrote about Warden Mike Bowditch:
Mike Bowditch is no hero when we meet him [in The Poacher's Son]: He is impetuous, self-destructive, incapable of intimacy, and tormented by memories of his bullying and emotionally distant father. But he is physically courageous, highly intelligent, observant of the world around him (especially the natural world), and he has a good heart. Most importantly, Mike understands how screwed-up he is, and the thing he wants most out of life is to be a better man. I get letters from readers who are frustrated by the many mistakes Mike makes (one Amazon reviewer memorably expounded on the multitudinous ways in which he considered my rookie warden to be a loser). But I also get emails from readers who tell me how real Mike feels as a character because of his flaws.
Amazon reviews are actually fascinating windows into the various ways that people read your books. Of course, it's always satisfying when people tell you how much they love your novels. But the bad reviews, frankly, are more intriguing in their idiosyncracies. It's kind of the Anna Karenina principle at work: "Good reviews are all alike; each negative review is negative in its own way."
But that's a subject for another post....