Thursday, November 17, 2011

More on Audience

Yesterday's questions yielded several more opinions on audience:

Stacy DeKeyser wrote her forthcoming midgrade fantasy, The Brixen Witch, with herself as the audience:
I tried to write something I would like to read, and my favorite genre is midgrade. Also, I honestly can't gauge the reading taste of anyone else. (Though I've tried, and my editors and agent usually tell me I'm wrong. For example, I allowed myself to think of my potential audience as "boys" when rats--a lot of rats--entered the story during the first draft. Later, my editor told me that my primary audience would be girls. So what do I know?)
The book has a fair number of long sentences and big words, because that's what I like to write, and read. And because I hated it when some critiquers told me to simplify if I wanted to sell it, and I wanted to prove them wrong. (Lots of what I accomplish in writing is out of spite, I have come to realize.)
Kimberley Griffiths Little started writing Circle of Secrets on deadline:
I had...to turn a new book in to my editor within a 6-8 week period. A book I had barely begun to think about, let alone write. I had just launched The Healing Spell and hadn't received any of those first, wonderful fan letters from kids around the country who were begging for another book like it, so I was writing this story just for me, which is how every story begins. Although this time my editor was hoping for a beautiful, poignant family story with a vulnerable, troubled girl like The Healing Spell contained. The pressure was on in spades! But when I say I was writing this book for myself, I am literally talking about the stories I love to read - stories I loved to read when I was 9-13 years old and stories I still love to read and never stopped reading even when I became an official grown-up.

Since I love weaving my character's relationships together in various emotional ways, as well as concocting a plot with some suspense and twists - I'm still thinking about that child reader in me, but I also start thinking about the readers out there who want an exciting story with surprises....Of course, this usually doesn't occur until the first draft is completed. Before that I'm too worried about actually getting the story down...in some sort of coherent and chronological sense. During my second and third drafts I'm honing the depth of the characters and making sure all the little connections and surprises in the plot works, and fixing holes and inconsistencies, etc. During revisions and the production work with my editor, I start really dreaming about the kids out there who (I hope!) are going to connect with the book. Now that Circle of Secrets  has launched, it's happening: letters are coming in from adult readers who tell me the story describes their own feelings and situation when they were kids as well as kid readers who love the small, secret connections within the story. Once the book is out in the world, hearing that kind of marvelous feedback makes me feel like the readers and I are connected in a very special, magical way.
Bonus: Book trailer, Circle of Secrets:


Barbara Brooks Wallace talks about how readers' tastes can change, recalling two of her books, Claudia and Peppermints in the Parlor. More about Peppermints in this video interview with Bobbie:
...a lady in our church informed me that her daughter "hated" Claudia. I simply told her that everybody doesn't like everything, and one had to understand and accept that, and one shouldn't be angered by hearing an opinion, even though negative. A year later, that same woman, with girl in tow, pushed her toward me after church. "I just loved Claudia!" said the child. Well, a year older and better able to understand what Claudia was going through then. This happens often. But I never gave a thought to who might or might not like the story when I wrote it.

And, of course, there's Peppermints in the Parlor. Even grown-ups have read and told me that they enjoyed, even loved, the story. As usual, I never gave a thought to who might read it or like it when I was writing it. I simply sailed around the moon when Jim Trelease and others referred to it as "Dickensian"! Charles Dickens...my hero! I wonder if he might have liked it?
Ah, yes, the conversation of books. Perhaps that's the real reason we write, because we need to talk back to books we have loved or loathed, resented or revered.

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading all of these behind-the-scenes peeks at the author's writing processes. And thanks for letting me be a part of it, Uma!

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