Here I am getting ready to sign copies of my second mystery novel, No Alibi with the lovely Suzi Weinert, author of Garage Sale Stalker, at Mysterious Galaxy this afternoon. We talked about murder, mischief and all sorts of other shenanigans, plus our writing experiences and our route to publishing. Instead of the audience questioning the authors, Suzi and I turned the tables a little and questioned the readers instead. It was great to listen to what readers actually want in a novel, how they feel about what we do as authors, and what moves them about our characters. When readers are vested in our books, the characters we create become as real for them as they do for us, so disposing of them in a story has consequences.
As pointed out by one reader, heartbreak happens in real life, therefore characters dying in a novel is expected; however, the way we do it impacts our readers more than we might realize. We were warned we run the risk of upsetting them if we are too merciless or kill off someone the readers love. If we make them mad enough, they might never return. If we take from them, we must give them something back.
Fascinating to listen to readers talk about the worlds we authors create. I learned quite a bit today and I’ll be listening even more closely to my readers. A big thank you to everyone who turned out to support us today, especially Josh Weiselberg and Suzi’s lovely family.