But fiction has an added bonus for authors: reader reactions. Yes, a reader can enjoy and learn from non-fiction, but she is rarely elated. There is no true emotional attachment, no reader participation in the story. It's just the facts, m'am. The book may be beautifully written, may say things that have never been said before -- but it's not a fascinating tale of fiction written by a creative soul. It doesn't take you someplace no one has ever visited before. It's just a rundown of things said or done.
But there is something that comes very close to the joy of actually writing a novel. It's the experience of receiving notes from readers -- reports from the fictional landscape I've invented -- that tell of their experience when reading the book. I've gotten a lot of emails like this and I'm truly appreciative. Each note is from a person who enjoyed the book enough to take the time to tell me about her experience. That means so much.
One of the ways readers do this without contacting me directly is by writing a review at Amazon. Here's a new one that arrived on the site this week:
I strongly recommend reading Xmas Carol at anytime of the year. I read this book during the Xmas holidays and was so caught in the moment, in turning each page to find out what was happening next, that I took no notice of the festivities going on around me. The author has a great gift for language, for keeping the suspense and excitement going. It is an art, to keep the reader on tenterhooks, riveted, desperately wanting to know what will happen next. I was most impressed by the author's skillful drawing of the characters' personalities and their physical qualities. He understands that some things need not be said, whilst others, in being said at the right time, provide interesting plot twists and wrinkles. I really liked the descriptions of the inanimate, the evil villain's home with its stained glass windows, the horse farm, the homes of the main characters and the surrounding countryside in all seasons. Do read Xmas Carol. It is a special book of "magical sci-fi".
Thanks to everyone who shared their experience with me -- especially if they did so at Amazon, where other readers can check out what they said. It's the only way books get sold these days: people read reviews, like what they hear, and buy the book. If you haven't read Xmas Carol yet, join in the fun. Grab a copy -- and don't forget to provide a review when you're done.
And thanks to that reader for my new review!