There are two reasons people read: to escape, and to experience. The purpose of reading for me has always been to experience. I don’t care to experience the same thing over and over again, either. I don’t need to like the characters I read about. I have a deep desire to read about all types of personalities and experiences, even if they make me uncomfortable. In fact, it’s better if they make me uncomfortable. It challenges me mentally, forces me to open my mind to new things. I’m not self centered enough to believe my experience is the only one that’s valid. There is a lot of bumping and pulling out of feathers over this in the indie book world. And unfortunately, I see it more in indie than in trade. Over and over I read comments that say, “I hated this character and therefore I hated this book!” “I couldn’t find anything redeemable about this character…”
What I really want to ask you is: Do we have to? Maybe. If that’s your thing. But, perhaps reading is the experience of experiencing. The opening of your eyes to new things. People have a habit of telling me their life stories. Every gory detail too. And I can’t say I’ve always liked the people who share the nitty gritty details of their lives with me. While most are wonderful people, some of them are deplorable humans. However, I find their stories fascinating. Beautiful. Tragic. It happened to you, and I want to know about it. Most of the time, after hearing their stories, it is very apparent as to why I don’t like them. Life burned them, and changed them. And sometimes you have to change to survive. Congratulations on surviving, friend.
So, when I write stories this is what I do. I’m not trying to write characters that every women can relate to. And I am definitely not wanting my characters to be so normal, and so predictable that they make you as a reader feel comfortable. I respect you more than that. I want to give you something different each time. I want the sheltered woman to see through the eyes of a broken woman. I want the woman who always made the right decisions for her life to read about a woman who didn’t. Who the hell wants to read about someone who would do the exact same thing as you? If you do then I am definitely not the author for you. What I do want you to feel is compassion. Familiarity. I want to push you to think about your own choices. Why? Because as a society we don’t think enough. We have television, and movies and magazines to think for us. We like body types, and fashion, and faces that the media pushes at us. We hardly know ourselves. And sometimes a good book will allow you to know yourself a little bit better. Whether than means you’re relating to a villain, or you’re sympathizing with a fool. Know yourself! Push yourself! Read books that blow up the walls in your mind and leave wide open spaces. Or just read. Whatever.