Thursday, May 01, 2008

Elizabeth Muses about Writing, Reading, and Her New Book

OMG, it's the first of May and I have a new book out. Not just a new book, but a new series, The Legend of the Four Soldiers, which will be either a quadrilogy, a quartet, or a four-book series, depending on your personal preference. And for anyone who reads Romantic Times BOOKreviews (*ahem*!) this is what the cover of To Taste Temptation looks like:

Just remember BLUE and you won't go wrong.

So anyway on to the topic of this post, which is how after you've spent months--sometimes years--writing a book and talking to the characters you've thought up out of thin air, that book gets published and somebody who is not even related to you reads the darn thing. For an author this can be a little, well, problematic. This is because the reader has her own history, life experience, and values, and what she reads in the book may not be what the writer thought she put there.

For instance.

In To Taste Temptation, my hero, Samuel Hartley, is a self-made Colonial with blunt manners and a down-to-earth approach to life. At least that's how I thought I'd written him. But already I've heard from reviewers who have called him things like brute--and this was a good review, mind you.

This is the point where I have to remind myself that once the book is written, once it's revised and edited and bound and sent out into the wide world, it no longer belongs to me, the writer. The published book belongs to the reader. I can't look over her shoulder and whisper, "Now this is how I meant this character to be." Nor should I. Reading a book is a very intimate experience. When it comes right down to it, it's just the reader and the words. I'm no longer in the picture. And if that reader thinks that Sam is a brute, well then she's right.

It's her book, after all.

Elizabeth Hoyt


Shari Anton said...

Interesting post, Elizabeth! No matter what the writer meant to convey (and most readers will 'get it'), there's always someone who puts her particular spin to it. And you're right, it's the reader's book and her story. Well said!
Shari, who bought To Taste Temptation yesterday from the new releases rack at Barnes & Noble

Megan Crane said...

I'm intrigued that people think he's a brute. I adored him, and thought he was a perfectly sigh-worthy mixture of badass and wounded.

I can't wait for the rest of the series!

Elizabeth Hoyt said...

Okay, I STILL don't know how to do the avatar thing. I am so technologically lame!

Hope you like TEMPTATION, Shari!

Glad you found Sam sigh-worthy, Megan! ;-)

And I guess I should emphasize that the reviewer that called Sam a brute LIKED him. It's just that she saw some shades of him that I didn't. But I think her take on Sam is totally real--just different from my own.

Barbara Vey said...

I don't know the kind of men this reader has in her life, but I loved Sam. I'd save "brute" for the bad guy. But, once again, this is just my take on him.