Welcome to the Second Annual Splash into Summer Blog Hop! I’m glad to be part of the tour. Check out my blog post below, and enter to win. I’m offering a choice of prizes: winner can choose from the following:
- a copy of Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive for e-reader
- a paperback version of the novel
- a Corgi Capers t-shirt (available S-XL)
More than once, readers looking at my book cover have asked whether the boy on the front cover is my son. He isn’t. But even my parents commented that the boy on the cover looks the way I would have looked as a kid—if I were born a boy. This was not intentional. The artist chose a picture based on a description of my character taken from my book.
But the metaphor is appropriate. Publishing a book is often likened to having a child. You can do many things while developing it—taking vitamins or doing research, getting proper exercise or editing for grammar. And you can practice everything within your power to raise it correctly—good discipline and enlisting beta readers, loving praise and a critical eye. But for any published author, the time will come when “the baby” is fully grown and ready to be released into the world. At that point, everything on your end is finished. Your “baby” is out on its own.
As an English teacher, I’ve had similar conversations with students. They sometimes ask me, during bouts of intense literary analysis, “What if the author didn’t realize he was putting so many symbols into his novel? Aren’t we going into too much depth? Can’t we just ask the author—and if he didn’t intentionally put in all those symbols, then we don’t have to write about them, right?”
And that’s when I tell the students: it doesn’t matter if an author intentionally intended anything. The point is, when a work is published, it is released into the world. It is open to interpretation and criticism as well as praise. And most of the time, the author is absent while the book is being read. Intentions or not, if a reader sees symbols in a work, then the symbols become relevant.
In my book, I’ve been surprised at what readers focus on in their comments. Though they enjoy the rest of the book, they seem to be highly interested in the character of Courtney—and her bad behavior. More interested than I thought they would be when I was writing.
Courtney, the seventh-grade older sister of the protagonist, was written to be a bit of a tease. In writing, though, she took on a life of her own and became somewhat of a bully to young Adam. Throughout most of the novel, she gets away with it, too. I was surprised when readers commented especially on how much they were rooting for Courtney to be caught and punished the whole time. They turned page after page, waiting for justice (I won’t spoil the end by telling you whether she’s ever caught). I’m not sure if I’m desensitized to bad behavior after years and years of teaching… or maybe I know more of Courtney’s redeeming qualities, which aren’t fully shown until the third book in the series. But the point is, Courtney’s behavior wasn’t as infuriating for me as it was for the readers.
So here I am, the author, saying: Courtney isn’t as bad as you think—just wait until the third book when we discover her good side. She’s just going through a rough patch in her life right now—try to see the world through her troubled perspective!
Does that mean the readers’ interpretations—that Courtney is essentially a villain—are invalid?
I would answer no. Once the book has been born into the world, it no longer belongs to the author. It belongs to all the readers, and their interpretation is just as valid as mine.
What do you think? Let me know–and happy summer, happy reading!
Leave a comment below for your first entry, and use the Rafflecopter to enter for more chances to win. The winner will receive his/her choice of a copy of Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive for e-reader OR a paperback version of the novel OR a Corgi Capers t-shirt (available S-XL)—winner’s choice! Contest is open to US shipping addresses only. Winner will be notified by email and asked for prize choice.