Two examples of defending your work from critics today.
First up, Mike Daisey:
Daisey played to small but appreciative crowds across the US, winning critical praise but stirring little trouble, not even with the target of his ire: Apple itself.
I understand what the Guardian reporter is trying to do rhetorically, as the story I have been telling has definitely broken through to the mainstream in the last month, but this description makes it sound as though previously we were doing club dates in obscure locations, like the Beatles playing in Hamburg.
Over the last year, Agony/Ecstasy has played sold-out runs at the Sydney Opera House, the Public Theater in the fall (where another run is happening now), and many more. It was seen by over 70,000 audience members over the last year, and the theaters average a respectable 500-600 seat size, with some, like the Byham Theatre in Pittsburgh, weighing in at 1,300 seats and selling out. If you followed American theater over the last year, you heard about the show.
I am the author of this book. I hasten to say that I respect anyone's right to dislike my work; that is not, and should not be, any of my business. But the previous review has, to say the least, nettled me, and I would like to defend my work from the charges of plagiarism which I think are being most unjustly levelled here.
I make no secret of the influence of Tolkien - of whom I too have been a longtime fan - in The Gift (readers who persist with The Riddle and The Crow will have a hard time finding such homages; I pays my dues in the first book). But I would like to point out some subtle differences between influence or allusion and outright plagiarism. Jessica points out some similarities between The Lord of the Rings and The Gift, all of which are deliberate - there is even a poem written in Tolkien's invented measure, ann-thennath, which in my book is credited to "the Bard Tulkan", which she fails to mention. But there are very significant differences in how I use the material, and these differences Jessica chooses to ignore entirely.
Both of those are selections of larger responses. Both of them succeed for me as responses to criticism because they focus on specific, factual areas of incorrectness. Although they are by no means "nice", they stick entirely to the matter on hand.
And in both cases, they involve the adding of new information to the discussion -- I did not know that Agony/Ecstacy has been in front of 70,000 people (I will take him at his word; I'm sure that doesn't count his This American Life audience), and Alison Croggon's response takes a quick look at the history of the elements we think of as "Tolkein" and "Lewis."
And here's a sample of the response Alison Croggon got:
I haven't read 'The Gift' (yet) but I have a lot of respect for the fact that you put your neck out in order to reply to people's criticisms. The book sounds great, I'm ordering it.