MAGPIE TREE PRESS
SURELY IT CAN'T HAVE BEEN nearly two months since the release of Under Ten Thousand Stars, but time really does fly and now I need to start thinking about my next book. And by thinking I actually mean writing. But more on that in a minnie…
I’m already 10,000 words in, and I’ve thought a lot about what I want to do with the story, but mostly I’ve been in the garden digging a hole for the pond which, as procrastination goes, is a pretty productive way to spend it. I did have grand plans to get the first draft of The Song of Clouds to my editor by the end of the month – last month, that is – but with all the drop-offs to book stores, organising events, and everything in between, there hasn’t been much time left for writing. And I wasn’t in the right head space for it, either. Let alone a physical space where there are no distractions like neighbours with lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and whatever else that can be plugged in and turned up to bandsaw-volume. But the break had some unintended – and fortuitous – consequences... That is, reviews.
It has been amazing to read the feedback, how readers react to your characters, what they take from the story, who they like the most. And while not all of it is positive – it would be a little suspicious if it was – it has given me much food for thought. Mostly because I’d been struggling with one central issue – whether your characters need to be ‘likeable’ or not.
In short, no.
I’d struggled with character depiction in my last book, and even though they were my own creation I did wonder if they would be relatable enough for readers to first connect, and then go with them on a journey through a whole book. The character of Julia in Under Ten Thousand Stars was a case in point. She seemed to lurch from one mistake to another without a moment’s pause for reflection, self-awareness or guilt. My main issue was that she was so flawed there was always the possibility readers might just go, “Oh, you’re so annoying, I don’t care what happens to you.” What I discovered, however, in the reviews, comments, and messages, is that people like this. Yes, she’s annoying, frustratingly so, but also completely relatable. The more flawed someone is, the more the human they are – and that is what creates a connection.
So what to do with these revelations?
Well, I’ve started writing again. I haven’t progressed much from the 10K mark but it’s a start, and I’m really happy about that. I’ve been thinking about the bigger picture too. About how I’ve been doing this for 20 years and have never stop learning, not just about the writing process, but from my readers. I get so much back from people who take the time to share their thoughts about the feeling a certain scene gave them, how the book made them feel, how they connected a scenario, or a character, to their own lives. And that, as an author, is just about the best thing any of us could ask for.
MADE IN PIXEL TOGETHER