Thursday, March 21, 2013

Writers and readers

Fiction writers work up a plot, devise characters and then reel out their story. But how people absorb that story is a mystery until a reader shares his experience. This is great fun for writers. There is nothing more interesting than hearing readers' reactions. I've written many times about the value of these "reports from the field". A sensible critique can even make a writer alter his story. (Artichoke Annie's reaction to the tale made me change the beginning.) But the reports can also be intriguing.

At this point, quite a few people have read "Xmas Carol", so I've had the pleasure of hearing many readers' reactions. One that amused me was discovering which character was deemed the sexiest. You don't really think about such a thing when you're writing a book -- at least, I didn't. I was surprised when a gay male reader told me he was mightily turned on by Spider, a straight male character in the story. I replied, "How could you think that? Joe was the sexiest character!" (Joe is one of the two main, gay characters who are married to each other.) So there we were, arguing about which character was sexier. It was a strange thing -- and it did my heart good.

Another reader told me he cried at one point in the story. When I began to tell my sister about this, she cut me off before I was able to tell her what made the reader cry. Without waiting to hear what triggered his tears, she jumped in with her take. "Lenny?", she asked, referring to a sweet but pathetic character in the book. I was shocked to hear this. Lenny? But after mulling it over, I decided I could understand her reaction. But the reader I was speaking about cried over a different character and scene.

I find this so interesting. People crying over what happens to my characters. And finding them sexy. I love it.

Truly, nothing is more fun than hearing from people who've read your book. Nothing. Any readers want to chime in on this topic? Since we don't want to throw spoilers around, let's answer only this question: which character, if any, did you think was sexy in "Xmas Carol"?