A substantial radio interview yesterday, with Drive 105.3 FM’s Eileen Walsh, got me thinking about audience again. It’s always fascinating to talk about my work –obviously. I think I know what it’s about, after all, I wrote it.
But every time I talk to a reader, I’m forced to think again.
A novel is not a lecture, thank goodness. Although I recall the odd one that headed that way and made me a tad annoyed: if I can hear the author ‘lecturing’ me, then someone has come out of character. Having spent years lecturing in a range of subjects I know that a lecture is all about the point: making it clear, accurate, supported by facts and worthy opinions.
As the author, of course I have a point to my work, and I hope I manage to make it somewhere appropriately in my stories but it’s not something to get hung up about.
Readers find the point. And as people resonate with different things for different reasons, that ‘point’ may be something you hadn’t realised you were saying –a subtle sub-point, if you like, or (scary) some subconscious stuff that leaked into your work.
I get diverse reactions to …but I love you. One reader focussed on the depiction of student life, and the engaging psychotherapy. Another considered the same-sex relationship a sideline, seeing the whole picture of relationships generally. Another took comfort and acknowledgement from the exploration of sexual identity. Yesterday’s interview became a discussion on erotica (the imminent film release of Fifty Shades colouring that a little).
When the novel was first published I wanted people to ‘hear’ the story exactly as I meant it. It took me some months, and much feedback to realise that once it’s out there, you cannot control how people read it. It’s not yours anymore.
The fun is when more people read it, and interpret it, and share it.
Then you have an audience – hopefully a wide one.
I’m telling myself this as I work through book two…don’t get hung up on the ‘point’, Sinéad, relax and enjoy writing it, the readers will do their thing.