Several years ago, I had the privilege of being the invited author to a book club to speak about my novel, Never Waste Tears. Last week that same book club asked me to discuss its sequel, my latest novel, Never Waste Dreams. Both times allowed me the opportunity to hear how readers perceive the words I write.
When I get involved in developing my characters, they become real people in my mind. But, of course, I have my favorites: Mathew, the abandoned child, or Carl, the man who found him. Maybe it was Hannah, the woman who thought of Mathew as God’s blessing. However, when I asked the club members who their favorite character was, I was surprised when one said she liked Anna the best. Even though Anna didn’t have her own voice in the story, I found it rewarding to hear a reader’s insight into Anna’s personality. It led to further discussion on the traits of some of the minor characters in the book, too. That involved strengths and weaknesses, including the topic of forgiveness.
That was an eye-opener for me. I’d written a story where a whole lot of forgiveness was needed for a variety of reasons. Many in the room shared the emotions they felt for the individuals in the book. While most agreed that forgiveness helps the forgiver the most, it’s not an easy thing to do.
Because life doesn’t always give us a reason for where it takes us, I often leave my readers the opportunity to come to their own conclusion about the outcome of a situation. Besides, our personal life experiences can lead us to a variety of findings. For instance, did the princess lead the man she loved to another fair maiden or his death in the story of The Lady or the Tiger? I remember that short story because the author, Frank Stockton, never revealed the outcome of the choice made.
Thank you, Andover Book Club for having me as your guest. You help me become a better writer.