Though it’s nothing to be proud of, the “can’t look away from a train wreck” mentality is deeply engrained in most of us poor humans.  And, sadly, the Brockmann Dead of Night kerfuffle has devolved into one of the biggest I’ve ever witnessed in more than 10 years of hanging around the online romance community.

On the one hand, you’ve got readers – formerly loyal readers – who feel betrayed by the author and who continue to express their outrage. On the other, you’ve got an author who seems to be closing ranks in a way I have really never seen before.

My eyebrows shot way up into my hairline over two incidents this week: The first – and I’ve seen the message, but won’t quote it here – is a report I’ve heard that Brockmann has blocked from her fan message board those who have posted elsewhere (presumably AAR is one of the bad sites) criticizing the book. In a nutshell, she claims to be afraid that the “threats” will result in physical violence.

The second was a post made by the author herself at a Barnes and Noble Center Stage book club thread. Most of the posts were overwhelmingly positive and the author responded with much rah-rah-ing and many exclamation points. A few dared to ask the question du jour and, for the most part, they seemed to be shoved on the back burner, if not downright ignored.

The poster hopefloats, however, wasn’t so lucky. Quite honestly, I thought her question was respectful, intelligent, and worthy of answer. Brockmann’s response – well, read it and judge for yourself (you may have to scroll down the page a bit to find it) – came across to me as overwhelmingly smug.

Still, amidst all the condescension, she makes some undeniably excellent points. Many readers (me included) enjoyed the book. So, how does an author weigh the responses of one group of readers versus another? She’s the author. It’s her vision. And she should write the books she wants to.

I agree with all of that. With regards to her fears for her physical safety, I certainly don’t know if she’s received any threats. Stalking is serious business and I’ve heard scary reports from inside the romance community that can really open your eyes.

But then there is this:

“And I know that the people who disapprove of me and Dark of Night (and probably Jules Cassidy, too.  Let’s be honest about what this is about, at least for some of these disproportionately angry folks) are a small portion of the online romance reading population.  (Talk about limited!)”

In case you can’t read between the lines there, she is accusing some readers who didn’t like Dark of Night of homophobia. I’m almost disappointed that she didn’t refer to them as “card-carrying homophobes” which would have added an extra little whiff of drama, don’t you think?

I don’t have anything to say about this except that the author is out of line. W-a-a-a-a-a-y out of line.

I’ve thought for some time that Brockmann has isolated herself in her fan community to her detriment – I mean, how else can you reconcile a Navy SEAL using the word “prolly”? She’s writing to please readers, whether she even admits it to herself or not.  And the truth is that cutting yourself off from the Internet or any reviews is one thing.  Cutting yourself off from everything but the positive is entirely another.

Here’s where I net out: If an author wants to limit access to her fan message board, it’s her board, her money, and her choice. But when she puts herself out there on public forums – as she did at Barnes and Noble – then you have to take the good with the bad. The poster was respectful. Brockmann was not.

Whether or not this will ever come back to bite her in the ass is anybody’s guess.  Clearly, she doesn’t think so since she dismisses the online romance community as some sort of lunatic fringe. To paraphrase a line from Seinfeld, smugness is not an attractive quality.

– Sandy AAR