Do It For Spite

What do you do when the love runs out, and the music no longer plays, and the angel choir doesn’t greet your efforts?

If you can’t do it for love, do it for spite.

I realized I wasn’t alone in this, when I got Cedar Sanderson’s request to promo this book


She sent this intro:

 The story behind this anthology is the Games Workshop attack on the use of Space Marines, MCA Hogarth’s stand for her story Spots the Space Marine, and then the SFWA crowd’s candyass sidestepping of including her stories in the anthologies they ran to ‘celebrate’ her win of batting down the GW overstep. Ian found out about all of those things and this is his thumb in a lot of eyes… 

Spite. It gets stuff done. 

This came while I’m working on Dyce books, and I had just explained to someone it surprised me when I re-read the books to get back into the series. Because these mysteries are RIDICULOUSLY engaging. And the reader was like “Why were you surprised?”

And I said “Well, you see, I did it for spite.”

It was the early 2000s and my then publisher, Prime Crime, had just cocked up the Musketeers’ mysteries series and cancelled it with one book remaining.

Cocked up? Well, the cover to #3 is the same at a glance as the cover to #1. Which means anyone seeing it on the shelf, spine out, would think it was “Oh, I already have that.”

So sales tanked, and the geniuses in the house decided the way to fix it was to go with a completely different name and cover. Which didn’t include the word Musketeer. When I re-released the series indie, people were shocked that it had more than 3 books.

But as we know, it’s always the writers fault. So I needed to change name, and series, and sub-genre. I was told I had to get a new pen name. Not Sarah Hoyt. They wanted a “white bread” pen name. (For the first time, this made me aware that Sarah Hoyt is SOMEHOW ethnic.) And they shot down Sarah Rye. (To be fair, not WHITE bread.) I got a feeling what they wanted was an unmemorable name. So, out of spite I came up with Elise Hyatt. You see, I have a lousy memory for names, so I know how to hack those. Hyatt is a hotel name, so that makes it memorable, inherently.

They told me it had to be a craft mystery. Which was a bit of a puzzler, because who the heck has time for crafts, while raising two boys, rebuilding two Victorians from the inside, and writing four to six books a year. And I’d read a couple of craft mysteries. They’re about the community. You know, craft shows, craft groups. I never was a joiner…

So, I channeled spite and went “Furniture refinishing is a craft.” And then I ran with it.

I was tired, I was ill, I had nothing to pull from. So I set it in Goldport, the joke being there’s secret shifters all around and Dyce doesn’t know it. And I did it for SPITE. And I made it fun for spite. And it sold two more books.

But I didn’t know it was good. Not while writing it. It was spite talking.

(image and lettering by the enormously talented Caitlin Walsh.)

So, this is the next book, if I can stop spinning my wheels, it will come out this month.

I’ve been a little lost on it, because now it’s not spite, since I’ve gone indie, and Prime Crime and its follies don’t matter to me.

I was a little lost till this morning, when I found out that the Writers’ Guild of America has called a strike.

You see, years ago, when Dan was unemployed, and I was a writing dervish, trying to keep us afloat, I was told that if I joined the Writers’ Guild of America I could get health insurance. I called them. They said this was true. So I joined. I paid my (I think) $50 and became a member. Because younger son has a heart malformation and being without insurance is HAZARDOUS.

And then I found out the only health insurance they had was for NYC and they were discontinuing that.

I ran out my year of membership, but I wasn’t amused. The only thing I got out of it was identifying as a ‘union member” while giving a political pollster a piece of my mind.

So I don’t like the WGA. And they’re calling for a strike.

I just found my motivation to write the next two Dyce books.

I’m doing it for spite.

When love fails and dedication falters, spite will see you through.

Think of everyone who wishes you failing or dead, then cock a snook. Be healthy and successful. Do it for spite.

32 thoughts on “Do It For Spite

  1. Spite, frustration, and keeping the voices in my head from demanding that I do something or pay attention to them and ignore the real world are my writing muses.

    At the very least, it keeps me busy.

  2. They are STRIKING?!?!
    I belonged to USPWU in a previous life. They took my money and tried to get me fired for sweeping up my area ( only the once!) when I made a mess once. Broom wasn’t in my job description. My beloved mother laughed so hard she had to sit down on the floor at the idea of me sweeping something with out being forced. But the idea of the writers union striking is hilarious 😆

    1. For extra gigglesnorts, consider that the deposed, striking(ly) stupid spuds that call themselves “writers” are going to be replaced by…


      No, really.

      Some folks actually think that.

      I mean, really. You know that “AI” is definitely “A” and equally as definitely NOT “I.” It’s a language program. Predictive text, basically. You can do some easy stuff with it, but the hard bits? The actual creative bits? Nah, bro. Not feelin’ it.

      But if they want to replace the WGA with ChatGPT clones, sure. Go for it. I’ll just be over here, investing in popcorn futures.

      1. Apparently it’s already happening for late night TV.

        “That’s already happening, according to Amy Webb, founder and CEO of Future Today Institute, which does long-range scenario planning and consultation for Fortune 500 companies and Hollywood creatives. She notes, “I’ve had a couple of higher-level people ask, if a strike does happen, how quickly could they spin up an AI system to just write the scripts? And they’re serious.” “

      2. “Let’s ignore the book, replace any red-head with a black person, gender swap, and hey isn’t it funny to make these guys literally patterned after a male’s frank and nuggets, aren’t we clever? Wait, why are you running away?”

        They might be able to be replaced by ChatGPT….

    2. Ya know…

      It does occur to me that my ex-wife told my I could never be a writer and that I the reason I disagreed was because “You think you’re great.”

      I think I’ll go knock out another chapter.

  3. Heh. Since I don’t watch nutwork TV, or any of the scripted series, no biggie. But WGA is going out with the screenwriters? Hey! More book slots for indies! More people who usually buy trad-pub looking at indie! Wheeeeee! *does happy cat dance, goes to work on current project*

    1. Or do striking writers go, “that SF dreck ought to be easy, I’ll just use my massive talent to overwhelm the market?”
      We can watch and laugh.

  4. Waitwaitwait…so Hogarth made Games Workshop back down from the bizarre position they had copyrighted “Space Marine,” SFWA did an anthology celebrating this, and didn’t even try to include her story?

    Was there some kind of rights issue, or was it the usual in-crowd shenanigans?

    1. A bunch of different groups announced they were going to do Space Marine anthologies. Some of them fizzled. Some of them were obviously just a group of friends doing a project for themselves. Some of them, though, just didn’t think to reach out. Actually, none of them reached out to her. It may not have been an active snub by some of them but it works out the same.

      1. I do know that Micah was out of the SFWA and apparently unwilling to return the last I heard, but nothing else.

        1. SFWA absolutely savaged her. They invited her in to help integrate indies and then used her as a whipping post.

          1. Seriously? Ugh. I wish I could say I was surprised. All I remember is that she said she was out and never going back in a comment she made on someone else’s blog a few years ago. I didn’t know why.

  5. Poll question on why we write:

    (a) Did you do it for love?
    (b) Did you do it for money?
    (c) Did you do it for spite?
    (d) Did you think you had to, honey?
    (e) All of the above.

    1. What are you quoting? Because I think it’s a song, and I can’t get the haunting notes out of my head, but I can’t place them, either.

  6. …maybe I’ll tackle The Spite Book next. I blocked on that 14K in, but if I restart from scratch… surely it won’t take as long as the last story I salvaged and rewrote from scratch? Maybe?

      1. YEp! Do you even have a taser? Are you going to come down here and borrow one from a certain fox?

        Because I trust that if I start in on That Book, you will hold to the bonds of friendship and shoot me!
        …but I don’t know if that’ll be enough to shut my backbrain up.

        1. I have a source. *evil kitty grin* And yes, what ever are friends for, if not staging interventions to prevent plunges into literary purgatory?

  7. Nothing wrong with spite. We’ve gotten a lot of great art from spite.

  8. Spite is a great motivator.
    I still recall my first grade teacher getting frustrated at my dyslexic self and snapping “I don’t think you’re ever going to learn how to read!” (To her credit, I’ve never seen anyone happier to be proven wrong. I bear her no ill will.)
    I wish that had been the only time I’ve needed to use spite as a motivator.

Comments are closed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: