We spent some of the weekend in London and in Cambridge:
We had a family gathering in Cambridge. Yes, I can
attempt to do “fashion” now and then. 🙂
My younger nephew (now 16), who was at the gathering, is always full of questions about my books.
I try to answer the best I can. Replying to general questions such as “How’s the new book going?” is almost never (as any writer knows) straightforward. Often I’ve got more questions about “how it’s going” than anyone else… and I’m writing it!
The new Tomorrow The Grace manuscript – which will be my fifth book – is unsurprisingly on my mind a lot. Moreover as the fifth anniversary of the publication of my first book – Passports – approaches, I’ve been reflecting on various things I had thought back then vs. what has actually come about.
When I began writing that first book in 2012, I had thought it might interest mostly Americans. There is a group of Americans – I learned as a college lecturer – who love reading books about Europe, and especially about France. I had not expected to hit a much wider audience than maybe a few of them.
However, within a year or so I learned how wrong I had been. I have noticed over the years many of my readers are in fact not those Americans, but are in non-native-English-speaking continental Europe (besides Britain or Ireland), and elsewheres – the Middle East and India especially. It has been a welcome and pleasant surprise that has honestly caught me out.
Thanks to social media, I’ve seen my novels referred to in places around the world I’d never imagined anyone would be interested in such stories. I’ve encountered explanations here and there as to “why,” but I’ve never felt I’ve really ever fully understood why. Maybe those non-American readers have liked reading my American characters? Perhaps the Kindle – making it possible for anyone anywhere to read books they would not have been able easily to find before – has helped the especially curious outside of the U.S.? Who knows?
Only those readers know “why.” Regardless, I want my stories and my characters to be as accessible to everyone as possible. Yes, there are also some “layers” within my texts. However, overall I write aiming not to be a riddle or in an effort to confound a reader, but to be understandable – even perhaps to a reader who reads English as a “learned” and not as a native language:
“Oh, but surely there must be some symbolism in there? Planes are symbolic…”
“They can’t really be just on a plane to Europe?”
“That man being Amish? He must represent… uh, escape, or anti-religion, or the struggle against conformity, or that foreignness is all around…”
No, it means that once I had found myself on a flight from New York to Paris in the same row as an Amish man, and I felt I wanted to include that experience in the novel. 🙂
Why this post? I noticed yesterday that I happened not to have deleted this email from late July:
Those are current “top sellers” in Amazon’s “romance” genre. Seeing that email again yesterday as I went to clear out some old emails is what led to this post. Those just aren’t really the sort of books I feel I write…
…but I will never stop writing my own way. I don’t mind my books being known as “romances” even if they don’t fit onto a page like that one. After all, I always remind myself, Casablanca was a “romance” story as well. 😉
Have a good Monday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂