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Oh! One Star of Bethlehem

As an author, you willingly, if sometimes unwittingly open yourself up to critique, criticism and praise.

Most authors don't write to become multi-millionaires, that would be naïve in this day and age. In fact, almost all authors write to entertain; if one reader should enjoy their work, then actually, that is enough.

This was a huge week for my work and for my publishers, the truly inspiring Hobeck Books run by Rebecca Collins and Adrian Hobart. In the same week, in fact the same day that we launched the new Jack Cade novel 'The Angel of Whitehall' to some genuinely brilliant reviews, I (because this can only be an 'I' moment) received a truly awful one for the first book in the Seventh Wave crime trilogy - Seventh.

Seventh was my first novel and to date had only received glowing reviews and feedback for its true to life style, its characters, the places and the developing story that leads the reader through the journey of two women and their destiny. Then 'one star' appeared on the horizon - as indeed one will over the coming days - and like that star it is possible that it might influence and impact - or not.

Reading the review upset me at first, for writing is a very lonely journey at times - and that someone feels so ardent in their criticism hits home. It becomes very personal, we are after all only human, and one has to question why we are often so cruel. But a truly great author once told me "Lewis, there really is no such thing as bad publicity!"

So, I dusted myself off and decided to follow Alan Bennett's retort - 'You don't have to like everything.'

And of course he is absolutely correct. Books, authors, illustrators, actors, producers, film makers and indeed people are all subjective beasts. Mr. Bennett was right.

Fortunately, I don't have to rely on publishing and novels to put food on the table this Christmas. But if I did, that review could have prevented Tiny Tim from having so much as a sniff of the turkey. Imagine carrying that burden?

The following day I received some feedback on the The Angel of Whitehall that hinted that I had a certain Graham Greene layer to my writing: "That prologue had me in the Man in Havana feeling straight away, it was just really good and still worked with the rest of the modern-day story."

To say I was delighted, speechless in fact is an understatement. All worries about the one-star review evaporated instantly, as the words of the reviewer washed out of the mouth of the lagoon and into the open sea, dispersed, for good.

And on the horizon there was now a far brighter star.

Whatever your beliefs - I wish you a safe time with your families - stay well please, this last year has taken far too many loved ones from me already. I genuinely care.

Thank you for supporting me and my work - I hope I have managed to entertain you in some small way. And if I haven't, write to me and let me know why - I guarantee you'll get an answer.

Merry Christmas,


Lewis Hastings



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