29.9.05

Just had a couple of queries from my publisher. Not things I usually think that much about. And, hard to answer without sounding self-important or portentous. Not sure if I've avoided those pitfalls but anyway, here's what I said:

When you write - do you have a reader in mind or do you write what gives you pleasure in the genre you would like to read? And if you were to attempt to define the reader of 'Luca Antara' who would he/she be?

I think I write for an ideal reader who is at once myself and a cohort of shadowy others whose tastes coincide with mine. It’s certainly a pleasure to write, especially when you feel something previously inchoate come into words, whether that be at the level of a sentence or of an entire book. But a part of that pleasure lies in the anticipation that it will be experienced by others. You write what you want to read with the faith that there are others of similar mind who will also want to read it.

Who are these others? I don’t aim for any specific type of person though I know not everyone is going to want to read what I write. My books have a quest structure, they are about finding things out but with the proviso that the questions being asked might not have answers. That narrows things down because there are people who can’t stand mysteries, just as there are others who seem to prefer them. My readers are probably mostly the second kind.

In other words I don’t necessarily want to make things simple for a reader, though nor do I want complexity for its own sake. I like the sense of language and/or thought extending into areas it might not have been before. Also picking up odd words, maybe from foreign languages, for their sounds and for their suggestiveness. Perhaps what I’m trying for is a sense of places beyond the everyday where writing and reading can take you.

These places can be at the same time out in the world and within the mind. There has been a confessional strain in my earlier books, less so in Luca Antara. This aspect was not so much about trying to tell all as it was trying to get to areas of the mind that are not often visited. Blake’s mental traveller is a constant reference: For the eye altering, alters all. My readers then would be people who enjoy mental travelling even when some psychological discomfort might occur – just like real travellers.

This perhaps suggests a literary readership of a certain age but I’m not sure if that’s so. I remember an enthusiastic conversation with a travelling salesman who sold socks about a book of mine he’d read. I’ve encountered kids in their teens or early twenties who’ve read and enjoyed my books. Also people much older than I am. A common factor seems to be a willingness to go somewhere you haven’t been before. But isn’t that true of all readers?

4 comments:

~River~ said...

Very interesting because I generally never think of readers either.

I suppose, there would be a huge gap between the ideal reader and the actual person who ends up buying a book and expects it to 'deliver'. That last question...I don't know. Sometimes, I think, readers/consumers want the 'product' they buy to give them price-equivalent returns.

Sounds rather pessimistic, doesn't it?

This is just abstract theorising because I haven't 'published' anything before.

PS: Whenever I visit your blog, I wonder who all those visitors from my site are. ~%-S

~River~ said...

EEEK! Apologies. I just got a little repetitiously emphatic here.

Martin Edmond said...

~river~ ... all those people are you! The site meter counts your visits and records a cumulative total ... on the other matter, don't think any of my books has yet attained the giddy heights of product-dom. Which isn't to say that those few who buy, also read and enjoy ... but I think that's the impulse.

~River~ said...

Thanks for deleting the repeated comments.

Me? I invariably visit your blog from the link that I have in my favourites, not from the one in my blog. These must be other people!

I think I will keep my ideas about the ideal reader in cold storage until I decide to publish someday.