The nice thing about having your own blog is that you can do pretty much whatever you want to, including quoting friends out of context. In the comments section of last week's blog here, the brilliant writer A.S. King said, in part, "I am not my ideal reader."
Then later in the week, the South Dakota Book Festival posed a question on Twitter about which genres people favored most. My answer? Eclectic. When further asked if I meant individual books that mixed genres, I replied, no, I meant that I like a little bit of pretty much everything.
This all got me to thinking: Who is my ideal reader?
Certainly the January Magazine reviewer who likened The Thin Pink Line to the work of Jane Austen or the Boston Globe reviewer who likened Vertigo to Ruth Rendell or the reviewers who have variously compared The Sisters 8 series to Roald Dahl, Lemony Snicket and Edward Gorey are up there - no need for me to go all Alice Hoffman on those reviewers! And then there's the African American Dartmouth student who says that anytime she hears someone diss Chick-Lit, which is how my first five adult novels are generally classified, she wants to shove one of my books in the disser's hands - I like that girl, think she'll go far in life.
Still, I'd have to say that my ideal reader isn't the reader who likes my writing for any one thing I do. It's those readers who have eclectic tastes, same as me; those readers who are along for the ride no matter what direction I decide to go in next.
I can think of just two readers off the top of my head, outside of my mom, who will read anything so long as it has my name on the cover: a woman in North Carolina and another woman in California. Neither are relatives. Neither know me from before I became published. I've never met them in person, and couldn't even identify them in a police lineup! They're people I encountered online. Both started reading my books when the first, The Thin Pink Line, was published in 2003, and both have kept reading through all the changes since: from Chick-Lit to Victorian suspense to short stories and essays to YA to tween to The Sisters 8, which are targeted toward 6- to 10-year-olds.
So I guess that's what I need more of: not readers who are looking for a brand, looking to have the same experience over and over, but rather, readers who click with the crazy mind behind the work and are willing to take a chance on anything that crazy mind might come up with next.
SO HOW ABOUT YOU? WHO'S YOUR IDEAL READER?
Be well. Don't forget to write.