I think that's something all authors want. Sure, we get fan mail. Heaven knows, I adore fan mail and it honestly brightens my day, encouraging me when deadlines are howling, my brain has frozen and my muse has taken a hike. "I love your books, they're so much fun to read" are words that soothe my writerly soul.
But they don't tell me why you--the reader--feel that way.
There are times, many times, where I desperately wish I could interview my readers.
Why did that particular character tug at your heartstrings? I'd ask. Was it his appearance, his gestures, his expressions...what was the turning point where you really felt him to be the hero you wanted? And what was it about the heroine that made you cheer for her, root for her? Was it because she was somewhat similar to yourself, or because she was different?
The thing is, most of us--at least, the authors I know and reguarly drink with a cons and such--really have no idea of what we're doing right. We can study books on conflict and characterization. We play with the concept of rising action. But they're just that: concepts and theories. Each time we sit down to write a book, the situation is new. We've either never met the characters before or they've grown since the previous book. We throw them into situations and then pound our brains for exactly the right words in which to bring you, reader, into that same situation. With as much intensity and passion as we can.
And we hope, no, we PRAY you like it.
Because we really don't know. We're really not sure. As I was explaining to a trio of my delightful beta-readers this weekend, authors probably read each chapter over easily ten times as they progress through the book: we read it for continuity, we read it to make sure we're on track, we read it when we've made changes to it, we read it because we've been away from the computer for a day or three and can't remember where we left off. By the time a book is finished first draft (FIRST draft), it's not unusual for an author to have read the entire book twenty times. Fifty times. By the time the book is through second draft, one hundred times of reading those damned words is not at all unlikely.
You become numb to what you've written. You can no longer discern if the funny parts are funny, the scary parts, scary. You KNOW what's going to happen on the next page so you're no longer able to gauge the flow of tension.
You can damned near quote the damned book by heart.
Then the book comes out and you get a glowing fan mail: "I loved the book!"
And in your heart of hearts, you want to yell: "But WHY?"
And in your heart of heart of hearts, you fear that since you have no idea of what you did right to make the reader love the book, you'll never be able to duplicate it and do it again.
Honest, we really feel that.
So I think the next time a reporter or blogger asks me for an interview, I'm going to strike a deal. Sure, you can interview me. But then I get to interview you.
Happy reading! And don't forget SHADES OF DARK hits the shelves July 29th at a bookstore near you--IN the romance section!
SHADES OF DARK, the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost, coming July 2008 from RITA award-winning author, Linnea Sinclair, and Bantam Books: http://www.linneasinclair.com/
I love you beyond all measure, Chasidah. Sully’s voice in my mind was a husky whisper. The tightness in my chest began to abate. But I am concerned when I no longer know who or what I’m asking you to love in return.