It is a writer’s dream to write a best-selling novel, or maybe even a best-selling novel with a blockbuster film adaptation. Who wouldn’t want the fruit of his or her artistic labors to reach and influence the lives of millions? The right book can alter the way its readers think. It can inspire them into action. Sometimes, though, that influence reaches farther and in different directions than the author anticipated. Sometimes, authors grow to hate these publications that make them famous.
Alan Moore is the mastermind behind multiple graphic novels that have been turned into box office gold—gold that he refuses to take. He worked with DC Comics to publish some of his most famous works, including V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and From Hell. Moore parted ways with DC Comics in the late 1980s for multiple reasons. He disagreed with rating and labeling the books for “Mature Readers.” He was also furious that he was being duped out of the rights to his work; the company said he would get the rights back when the books went out of print. The catch was they never actually planned to stop printing them.
When the DC Comics movies started coming out, Moore refused to be involved and has refused to accept any profit from the films. He won’t watch the film adaptations of his comics and graphic novels, including those published with non-DC companies like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Moore even asked for his name to be taken off the credits. While he stands by his stories in their original form, he despises their connection to Hollywood.
Alice in Wonderland has been a cultural phenomenon. It is one of the quintessential tales that nearly everyone in the Western world recognizes. It has been a hit from the time it was published in 1865 through present day. It’s hard to believe the mastermind who weaved the magical world of Wonderland could ever hate it.
It’s possible that if the book hadn’t been such a success, the author may have never grown to hate it. A recently unveiled letter by Charles Dodgson, the real person who took the pen name Lewis Carroll, reveals that he wishes he had never written the book at all. He despised the publicity. In 1891, he wrote to a friend, Mrs. Symonds. “All that sort of publicity . . . I hate all that so intensely that sometimes I almost wish I had never written any books at all,” he wrote.
Stephen King is one of the most prolific and successful authors in the world. His books have sold over 350 million copies. King fans know that Richard Bachman novels are just King novels under a pseudonym. Rage, published in 1977, was the first Bachman book to hit the shelves. King wrote the book when he was a high school student. The main character in the novel shoots up his school, holds a classroom hostage, kills another student and two teachers, and then tries to commit suicide by police fire. In the following two decades, the book was tied to four school shootings.
The students who carried out horrific crimes in school all had read or been inspired by the novel. In response, King demanded the book be taken out of print. Unlike William Powell, King had the power to take Rage out of publication. Because the book is out of print, used versions of Rage can cost anywhere from $700 to $2,000 online. King stands by his decision to remove the book from publication. He doesn’t want his writing to be a catalyst that pushes psychologically unstable kids over the edge.
Peter Benchley was the mastermind behind the popular 1974 novel Jaws, which was later turned into a Steven Spielberg blockbuster in 1975. Benchley loved the film but was upset by the number of people who were terrified of the water afterward. He also hated the uptick in hate toward sharks.
Due to the intensive research he did to write the book, Benchley became somewhat of a shark expert and oceanography.
Later in life, he became an avid shark conservationist and regretted portraying them as vicious, grudge-holding killers. Jaws was his first book, but not his last. Many of his future books also focused on various terrors under the sea. The last book he wrote was in 2005 and was called Shark Life. The book was nonfiction and meant to shed light on dangers in the sea and encourage conservation. He passed away the following year.
Winnie the Pooh is arguably one of the most beloved characters in children’s literature. The book’s author, A.A. Milne, initially wrote Winnie the Pooh as an homage to his son and his stuffed animals. He even named the boy in the book after his son, Christopher Robin.
The real Christopher Robin grew to hate his association with Winnie the Pooh, feeling consistently overshadowed by his father’s legacy. As a child he was constantly mocked because of the books. Even the drawn Christopher had a stark resemblance to the real-life Christopher. These were drawn by E.H. Shepard, who later regretted agreeing to illustrate Winnie the Pooh. He hated how much it overshadowed what he considered his true work as a political cartoonist. A.A. Milne himself ended up regretting writing the books, too, because he also felt they overshadowed his other work.
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