Monday, April 19, 2021

Pssst...Remember Me!

 Q: Do you have a particular, typical, or ideal reader in mind as you write?

-from Susan

That’s an interesting question and I haven’t got a clear answer. Definitely not an ideal reader, some made up person who loves my stories and writes to beg me for more. The ideal ideal reader buys multiple copies of my books to give to her friends, invites me to talk to her book club, and reviews my book on Amazon and Goodreads. But I don’t know exactly why she loves my book, so I can’t conjure her up while I’m bent over the laptop pounding away.

I’m not sure what a ‘typical’ reader might be. Are readers of my kind of crime fiction typically enjoying a respite from the real world, or determined to read a book a day, or read only fiction written by women, or read everything from historical sagas to the backs of cereal boxes? We know they are literate, have decent vocabularies, and buy or borrow books, pretty basic for a start. I do think some readers wind up liking or not liking my mysteries because my stories start slower than do many others. Oh, there’s a body soon enough, but the pace is – deliberately – slow enough that the characters can breathe and show their personalities. Not sure if that’s the typical reader these days, though.

But, a particular reader? Yes, I sometimes do have an individual in mind. It might be someone who was the inspiration for a character. It might be a fellow writer whose work I like and who, I hope, will read my book and let me know it was a treat. It might be a close friend or family member whose personal approval I want – not that I’d change what I write to get it, but that I simply want that person to say, “Hey I loved this. Well done, you.” 

If my editor is on my mind, I try not to freak out because what if the editor (or agent) doesn’t like the manuscript? That’s serious, so I guess I have that person in mind if she’s given me a bit of feedback what suggests a shift from what I really want to do. It’s a bit of a quandary, and I can’t let myself get pulled to far off the path I’ve taken. However, as we all know, agents and editors can often make the book better (not just more marketable) so I try to stay open when I hear the critique and see how I can respond to it in my writing without losing my way. 

Frankly, it’s enough to keep the characters, the plot, the setting, and the style in mind as I write, so these shadowy people I might want to please have to stay in their corners most of the time.




Catriona McPherson said...

Your final point is a really good one, Susan! It made me laugh. I think I'm with you, in thinking about my inspiration as a reader, even if they're no longer around or otherwise unlikely ever to see the finished book. And I didn't know that about my own mind until you just told me.

Susan C Shea said...

Thanks, Catriona. You are sometimes writing three different books with entirely different characters and plots in a single year and I don't know how you manage.