What Hurts the Most

DEA Spoiler-Gate

I want to talk a bit about the events between April 25th and the official U.S. release of Dead Ever After on May 7th. I'm speaking specifically of the DEA spoilers, our reactions to those spoilers, and the responses, both official and by other SVM fans.

You see, I'm angry. Sure, I've had strong feelings about the book itself, but I'm more angry at how some of the SVM fans have been treated. I'm angry at how the fans—who have been loyal to the series from the start, who love all of the characters, and who have defended Charlaine Harris from unfair criticism over the years—I am angry at how WE were treated when we had a valid and fair emotional reaction to the spoilers.

Let me be clear. We were not upset because Sam was the HEA. We were not upset because Eric was not the HEA. If you need proof, read my DEA Hopes and Dreams post, the entirety written pre-spoiler. While we had differing opinions and desires, every one of us hoped for Sookie a place where she was happy and satisfied, a place that was consistent with the character we had grown to know and love over the course of 12 books.

To find out why I'm peeved at how we were responded to, and to get the real story behind Spoiler-Gate 2013, click through the jump.


After I read the spoilers, I spent the next 2 weeks leading up to the release of DEA experiencing a wide range of emotions. Nervous anticipation (pre-spoiler). Then Shock. Despair. Denial. Anger. Disbelief. Anger again. Sure, I've got my feathers in a bunch because of the book itself for various reasons. But what really pisses me off, more than the book even, is how the fans of the series were treated and characterized. Not only did I feel insulted by how things played out in the book, I felt insulted by others for having a completely normal and PERSONAL emotional reaction.

We were called disloyal. Called out for being upset before reading the book. Called out for spreading vicious lies. Called out for attacking the author.

Listen, I am a spoiler prude of the highest order. But even I chose to look at this one. I'm glad I did because I think I might have had a heart attack if I had cracked that book open and read it without any warning. The spoilers were out, there was nothing Harris's camp could do about that. But I wish they had done some damage control other than deleting critiques and from-the-heart disappointed comments from their websites, and making general statements about respecting those who wish to remain spoiler-free. And then they retreated. To let the fans cannibalize each other. Thanks for that.

I hoped that after the book had been out for a few days we'd get some sort of statement. Closure would be nice, but so far all I've seen is Charlaine Harris' blog entry from May 8th stating "I've seen lots of ugliness, and even more kindness. I've seen lots of irrationality, and lots more sense. Some virulent hatred, and much more love." Well, I can say about half of that statement has been true for me these past two weeks. I hate feeling like I've been used for my wallet. (Thankfully, in the midst of Spoiler-Gate I attended the Romantic Times Convention and discovered 450 other authors who truly appreciate and listen to their readers. It was an uplifting experience that got me through a dark time.)


We might be sad that Sookie didn't end up with Eric, but our furor is over his and other character assassinations. And that the HEA just.doesn't.make.sense. within the context of the other 12 books. Bring me along for the ride and I'll go. Pull a bait and switch on me at the last minute, and I'll call the Better Business Bureau. Don't blame me for being a disloyal fan when I'm the one who feels betrayed.

I'll repeat it. We were not upset because Sam was the HEA or because Eric was not the HEA. We were upset with the OOC (out-of-character) behavior of Eric and Pam and Sookie. We were upset with the character assassination of Eric, which seemed to be Ms. Harris's way of making it clear that he was not suitable for Sookie after all, because (surprise!) he was such a vampire bastard. Yes, we are fond of Eric. We believed he could have been ruled out as an HEA without trying to make him a shithead in the process. We were upset because nothing in the book appeared to point toward a developing relationship with Sam. Sookie wants an HEA with Sam? Fine. Sell us on it. We were upset because somehow Eric turned into an epic bastard, but Bill, whom everyone (including Sookie) seems to have forgotten RAPED Sookie, turns into a valued chum. We were upset because Eric, who started his vampire life as a sexual slave, ended the series as a sexual slave, and this book treated that as no big deal. Not only that, he offered himself up at double the sentence for Sookie's welfare, and even THAT was used to make him look like a shit. I told you—the spoilers were detailed.

The bloggers and FB commenters who responded to our angry and hurt and confused reactions most definitely said the spoilers involved not-Eric as the HEA. Most of them stopped there. But either these people didn't know or conveniently left out all the other details contained in the spoilers. So, you see, it wasn't just a matter of wait until you read the book and see how it all comes together before you rush to judgment. The major events were pretty much laid out for us; it was pretty obvious already how it all came together.

So for everyone who thinks the dissenting opinions are just a bunch of Eric-lovers who are throwing a giant fit because Eric and Sookie didn't get to live happily ever after . . .

Consider me insulted. Apparently I am not allowed to have an opinion or an emotional reaction. Because when I do, it gets dismissed and boiled down to, "Oh, your book boyfriend didn't get the girl in the end. Cry me a river." What do you think I am? It's pretty simplistic and naive to think that this much outcry was caused because the boy didn't get the girl. Give me a break.

Also, I've learned in these past two weeks that any dissent or negative emotional reaction to THE BOOK is seen as a personal attack on THE AUTHOR. I'm not sure who should be insulted on this one. Me, because you think I can't separate a work from its creator, or you, because you can't do so. The author can do what she wants. I ain't mad atcha. But it doesn't mean I have to like it, and it doesn't mean I have to accept it lying down.


ALSO. This business about scapegoating the "leaker" of the spoilers. I'd like to take this opportunity to clear up one piece of gross misinformation I've seen repeated over and over. It's been said that a reader in Germany obtained the book early and posted the ending online. Usually it's worded more colorfully than that.

First, show me a picture or it didn't happen. The DEA ending was never posted online. How do I know? The SVM fandom is fairly connected; the bloggers would have gotten a screencap, and I would have seen it. Trust. Second, this reader who allegedly posted the spoiler does. not. exist.

Imma tell you the true story of Spoiler-Gate 2013, so gather round, friends.

More than one independent bookseller in Germany (hey, that part of the story is true!) shipped the book early to several people who legit purchased the book, as has been their practice with other books in the past. People started reading, of course. And what happens in an age when traditional news outlets can't keep up with social media? Yep, spoilers started spreading like wildfire via Twitter, email, etc. It didn't take long for that shit to go global. Within hours, spoilers started showing up on Amazon U.S., and despite a valiant attempt by a user to contain the spoilers in one thread, the spoilers were all over all the Amazon DEA threads. Charlaine Harris was notified via her website that the ending had been leaked, and responded by posting on her Facebook page a notification that "a reader in Germany obtained a copy of DEAD EVER AFTER and decided to post the ending online." We've had no further response from Harris's camp regarding the early release of the book, nor have we had a correction to the misinformation about the origination of the leak. Instead, the fandom has been left to cannibalize and destroy itself. I guess we're not needed to buy any more SVM books, so why bother with damage control?


And finally, just my little attempt to make sense of it all.

Sam is not Sookie's HEA.

If you think he is, then you obviously have not been reading the books that Charlaine Harris has been writing. Sookie likes Sam, but she isn't that invested in him. She thinks maybe they will be together, but she's not giving a ringing endorsement of their future. Sookie's actual HEA is that she knows she cannot only survive whatever life throws at her, but thrive; well, she'd survive a break-up at least. You have to pay attention. The HEA is there, at the end, but if you blink you might miss it:
And if you were to ask me, I would confess that I thought Sam and I would be together, maybe by Christmas, maybe for always. I couldn't imagine a future without him. But I also knew that if he turned away from me at this moment, somehow I would survive that, and I would find a way to flourish like the yard that still bloomed and grew around my family home. (emphasis mine)
That's it. I'm out.

What say you about Spoiler-Gate 2013? Are you still dealing with the fallout? Ready to forget SVM ever existed? Pull up a comfy chair and tell us all about it below.


  1. "Immediately, Ms. Harris went running to the Wall Street Journal who helpfully propagated the notion that the author was the victim of hysterical, suicidal fans who are upset that the series had come to an end. When that false meme didn’t quite work out, the Guardian UK chimed in. Totally without evidence of any kind, and only on the word of the author, the Guardian goes on to claim that the author is receiving death threats and threats of suicide because her heroine Sookie Stackhouse didn’t end up with romantically paired with the most popular suitor."

    This is an excerpt from a post by The Ancient Pythoness (thanks TAP). Here is a link to the full post: http://ancientpythoness.tumblr.com/post/50444179690/charlaine-harris-gives-true-blood-fans-a-true-life

    This is exactly what upsets me. CH or her damage control people immediately went in search of media outlets they could use to deflect attention away from the actual issues people had with what they were upset about. The fans who were invested in the series for many years were portrayed as hysterical, violent, out-of-control nutjobs. This is such an unfair and undeserved way to deal with the people who had supported and defended her for so long. I'm flabbergasted.

  2. This is perfect Veronica. Absolutely perfect. I couldn't have said it better myself.

    That we are being treated like petulant children is unacceptable. If anyone would actually take the time to read and process what most fans are saying, maybe there would be some understanding. But, no. We are being treated like children who had their favorite toy taken away.

    1. Thanks, Anne. And you're absolutely right. I'm not saying anything new here. If anyone takes time to listen to what the fans are saying, they'll see I'm just repeating what has already been said. Unfortunately, a lot of those comments have been *ahem* deleted, unless they were on independent sites.

  3. Totally agree with your take on this silly fiasco.

    First, it is hard for me to feel sorry for CH because this book will wind up on the NYT best seller list regardless. True Blood has assured CH of that. Next, if one is willing to sell the rights to their "vision" for a movie or TV series, and not have a problem when their story is taken off into an entirely different direction than the books, then why get upset when fans of the book don't like what you write?

    CH's own comments make it clear (at least to me) that she has known for quite a while there would be a lot of backlash to this last book. Yet, she only seemed to think that backlash would be centered around the HEA, not anything else. Why, I don't know. She either doesn't see the problems (other than the HEA) so many readers have cited, or she does but was not willing to change anything. Only she can answer that question, but I seriously doubt she will explain much of anything. However, she recently has explained that Eric is not a sex slave. Evidently, Eric has been in the vampire culture so long that this turn of events is not only something he will be fine with, but he will probably profit from it. Sad. I am paraphrasing here, but I read she responded to the sex slave characterization on FB.

    As far as the spoiler thing, the way this whole thing was handled by CH and her publisher should be a lesson to others on what not to do. Spoilers are going to happen, especially in this age of the internet. I have run into spoilers in book reviews several times. I learned from that, and that is to stay away from books sites on the internet unless I don't mind a spoiler. In this case, I choose to read the spoiler and I still bought the book.

    No one can dictate the conduct of thousands or millions of readers. It is like herding cats. I did see a few posts on CH's FB page that were nasty and uncalled for, so I believe she had threats. People can be pretty crazy and being on the internet brings that crazy right into your face. However, those idiots are in the minority and should not be lumped into the readers who are only unhappy with the story telling and not making threats other than not buying her books. There is a difference and it should be made clear.

    1. I wish the text of the book, rather than an author interview, made it apparent that Eric was not bartered into slavery and that he was completely okay with his outcome.

      I wonder if the publishing industry is taking note of this episode at all, and will adapt. They were (are) slow to adapt to the e-book market. I think they are going to have to take it as a given that spoilers will get out, rather than the exception, and have a strategy planned out ahead of time. Recently, an independent publisher actually released a week early when an overseas bookstore began selling their copies ahead of the release date. They proactively turned it into a marketing push for themselves, rather than sit back and deal with the fallout.

  4. Veronica, do you remember my "pregnant woman" analogy? When I said that the woman would get her baby but so many things could go wrong during the delivery that I was very scared. After the spoilers and after I've read the book, it's like said pregnant woman, woke up one morning and discovered that she wasn't pregnant anymore. For some reason there was no swollen belly, no nothing. That's DEA.
    Great post <3!

  5. Bravo Veronica. Fantastic post. I was nodding my head below. You have illustrated the viewpoint perfectly for all of us who are completely dissatisfied with the ending. A crap book is a crap book. I remained faily spoiler free until the book came out and I really wish now I hadn't. No one I know has made a "threat" to CH and as we all do, we know a few people in the fandom. We have criticised the book, CH's writing and the OOC nature of the characters. Sure many of us aren't happy that Eric wasn't the end game, but like you I could live with Sam if it made sense over the course of the previous 12 books and as I stated in your early post, I just wanted CH to do justice to Sookie regardless of if she was with anyone. However I don't think that happened. Why are I given the book 1 star??? Because it deserves it.

    1. Lol Ange, it deserves NO stars! But unfortunately that isn't an option.

  6. Bravo! I completely agree! This experience has been very disappointing. I have always had such a love for this series and it will always have a special place in my heart. Though I have to say it's saddens me to see a writer do this to such great characters. It's like she's given up and so I must give up on any of her future writing.

    1. I agree Liv. It is exactly like that. You could feel that CH had stop caring what direction her characters took. I guess we just have to think about what could of been and pretend DEA never happened.

  7. I agree - mostly.

    See, this is the digital age. The age where hearsay is not sufficient. If CH received threats (death or suicide), PROVIDE SCREENCAPS. I don't believe a damn word of it otherwise. It is not hard to take a screencap, or even print-and-scan. But oddly, nobody anywhere has any such proof, leading me to think that this was utter fabrication designed to pull the focus away from a shitty book and onto the "crazy fans" who are off their rockers.

    Second, other people may not be pissed at CH directly. I am. Why? Two reasons. First, she set herself up as a social critic and then utterly failed to make any decent point. She set her vampires up as analogous to the LGBTQ community. In the end, the message of her books was that people who are in any way different need to hide their differences, and if they can't, they're too different for society and ought to be hidden away. Secondly, she decided it was appropriate to slap every rape survivor around the world smack in the face. How? She decided that not only would the character that always waited and/or asked permission would be sent off to be a sexual slave (and let's not even get into the debacle of "it's not rape because he'll orgasm and/or profit from it!" apologist bullshit), while the character who RAPED OUR PROTAGONIST is left to be the best friend living out his life happily. WHAT THE SHIT.

    Finally, I'm pissed because the fan base was utterly fleeced. I did the math. CH made MILLIONS of dollars, just off of initial book sales (not including TB, merchandising, paperback sales, short stories, compendiums, or anything else). She sold a wonderful product to people who came back for more. Then, she decided to sell everyone a book that was of such poor quality it reads like something my 4yo dreamed up. THEN, when called on it, she had the nerve to act as though everyone was insane, and how HORRIBLE it is to treat an author this way - this would never happen in other circumstances!!! (As if, were this any other consumer product we wouldn't be complaining about it)

    Add to it the whole "poor me" attitude she's put on through this whole thing, and the final book actually NEEDING A CODA TO BE FINISHED? Yeah. She's milking the cash cow for all she can, and I'm PISSED. I will gladly purchase quality merchandise, and happily pay a premium price for it. But promise me a diamond and sell me shit on a stick and I *WILL* be livid. Much like I am now.


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