You Don’t Want to Read This Book by Lesley Conner (GUEST POST)

You Don’t Want to Read This Book
by Lesley Conner

You want to tell everyone when your first novel is published. Shove a shiny new copy in the hands of every person who happens to pass by you and declare, “I wrote this! This is my book!” It’s exciting and an incredibly big deal. For most writers I know – myself included – when you first start putting words to paper you have no idea whether or not it will ever see the light of publication. I would say for most new writers, when we begin our first novel, we’re certain that it will not be published. I mean, think of the odds. Do you know how many people out there have written, are currently writing, or have started to write a novel? Tons! So you finish your novel (that’s the first hurdle), then talk yourself into submitting it (second hurdle), AND a publisher accepts it… Yeah, that’s special and it’s normal to want to share it with everyone.

But before you get to that point, it’s also normal to hand a first or second draft off to a friend or family member and ask their opinion. You need cheerleaders to get you over that first hurdle, someone to tell you that you’re on the right path, to keep going, but that chapters 3 and 21 really need more work. (You don’t want cheerleaders who are going to tell you everything is great if it isn’t.)

This is exactly what I did with my novel The Weight of Chains; I sent it to a few friends who seemed interested in reading it. The Weight of Chains is an alternative history horror novel inspired by the crimes of a nobleman named Gilles de Rais. It is violent and graphic, and sort of clashes with the stay-at-home mom/Girl Scout leader part of my life. So when the topic of my novel inevitably comes up during play dates or dinners with my friends, I hear one phrase over and over. “Lesley’s novel is really good, but you don’t want to read it.” The friend who had read the book wears a shocked, kind of guarded look on their face, and I can almost hear the voice in their head whispering, “I let Lesley watch my kids. Is this really a good idea?” My other friend who hasn’t read the book yet replies, “It’s okay. I like horror. I want to read it.” And thus the cycle continues.

My husband keeps suggesting that I post a link to Gilles de Rais’s Wikipedia page on my Facebook account so that our family and friends will realize that I didn’t make up all of the horrible things I wrote in The Weight of Chains. That way, if someone says anything I can point to the link. Sort of a “It wasn’t me, he did it,” reaction.

My mom goes as far as telling family members not to read The Weight of Chains. “We’d really appreciate if you bought a copy, but don’t read Lesley’s book.” I’m not sure if she’s afraid that I’ll suddenly be banned from family functions or that my immediate family will be stricken from all family wills, but thanks, Mom.

Every time any of these happen, I smile sheepishly and nod my understanding. The Weight of Chains isn’t a book for everyone and that’s okay. But the more it happens, the more I begin to wonder if there is something wrong with my book, if there’s something wrong with me.

In my day job, I’m the managing editor of Apex Publications. One of my duties is to set up reviews and guest posts for our upcoming releases. As a result, I have good working relationships with several book bloggers/reviewers. Total score in the “It’s time to market my own novel” game. A few weeks before the release of The Weight of Chains, I started reaching out to reviewers who I’ve known for years, explaining that my debut novel was coming out and asking if they would be interested in a review copy. While writing these emails I found myself inserting lines like, “Not to discourage you, but I do want to warn you that my novel is…..” What?!? What was I doing? Now, not only were my friends and family warning people away from my book, but I was doing it. The whole point of being a writer and having your novel published is for people to buy it and read it and love it and share it with all their friends. That is not going to happen if I’m putting bright yellow CAUTION tape across every copy out there.

I’m proud of The Weight of Chains, so don’t read it. I’m excited to share it with readers and I hope that a lot of them love it, so don’t read it. It is violent and graphic and, yes, it deals with a topic that is still considered taboo by most writers, even in horror, so don’t read it.

I am certain that there will be people who hate my novel because of the topic and because of my refusal to soften what happened to Gilles de Rais’s victims, both in real life and in my book. I am certain, either through reviews or through social media, they will make sure I know they hated it. And that’s fine. People are allowed to not like it. As I said before, it isn’t for everyone. But what I’m really looking forward to is the people who love it. The person who shouts on Twitter, “ZOMG!! Just read The Weight of Chains by @LesleyConner. It’s amazing. Go read it NOW!” and gives me that first experience where someone isn’t saying “You don’t want to read this book,” but is instead saying, “Read this book!”


About the Author

Lesley Conner is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in Mountain Dead, Dark Tales of Terror, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, as well as other places. Her first novel The Weight of Chains was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel.

To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.


About the Book

The Weight of Chains
by Lesley Conner

Gilles de Rais has control over every aspect of his life: the servants he employs, the village he lords over, the carefully crafted visage he shows to the world. He dictates where his subjects live, what they eat, if they live or die. He has ultimate power and wields it with a flourish to conceal the dark desires that lurk behind his smile and the despair within his castle in Machecoul.

When a wizard tasked with raising a demon loses control of the beast, Gilles's tight grasp on his world begins to slip. His cook plans to flee, taking her son away from the dangers of the castle. His guard wants to claim Gilles’s lifestyle as his own. His wizard frantically searches for a way to survive both his lord and the demon he has called into the world. And the villagers – like Jeanetta and her family – move through life in Machecoul too consumed with the task of surviving day to day, and oblivious to the turmoil building within the castle that is threatening to break out and consume them all.

Debut author Lesley Conner brings medieval Europe to life with a tale of evil battling evil. With a ruthless master and a demon wreaking havoc, no one in Machecoul can get through life without bearing The Weight of Chains.


  1. You should link to his site. Besides, people who are searching for him will find your book. (And hopefully read it, of course!)
    Congratulations, Lesley.

  2. That is really cool, I've worked with Lesley before on Apex titles but didn't know until recently that she wrote a novel. Congrats, Lesley! Sounds absolutely up my alley. I like books that come with a caution sign /grin

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

  3. There is a section on books inspired by Gilles on his wikipedia page, ( Perhaps you could organise one of the wikinerds to have your novel added to the list? He's a pretty well known psychopath, and I'm sure lot's of people reading up on him would love to see him dramatised.

    - Sam


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