"It was too dark"
Everyone I've talked to seemed to love THE GEOGRAPHY OF WATER (order today!). If they didn't, they wisely kept their own counsel. Because what author wants to hear, years later, what they could have done differently? Nobody, that's who! However, I just heard of someone who praised FIRE IN THE HEART but could not finish Geography because "it was so dark."
I felt kind of sad at first. I don't want to turn readers off. But then I thought: Yay! Because if it's dark, then that was what I was going for. I wanted to reflect the darkness of a southeast Alaska winter, where the sun is only a suggestion in the sky, on the days it dares to come out at all. Most often all you see is rain, falling without stopping, day after day, week after week. Some Novembers, the worst month of all, it rained non-stop all month. That is all thirty days. (Thirty-one?) So if Geography is dark, maybe that's a good thing!
The truth is, life in the Alexander Archipelago was far from easy, probably still is. There were suicides when I lived there, marriages broken up, depression. Now that can happen anywhere, I know, but it seemed to be exacerbated by the constant darkness. Therefore there were also the moments of joy when the sun did come out, along with a jolt of happiness. Now that I don't live there anymore, I can truly say: the sun is everything.
Too dark? Nope. Dark enough to tell the story.