Writing About Readers
Not too long ago, I was rereading Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. I hadn't read it in quite some time, preferring Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, and Emma. But I had just finished rereading Katherine Reay's Austen Escape, and she mentions the gothic novel quite a bit, so I decided to refresh my memory. Let me just say, I giggled through the whole thing. I love Austen's ability to make fun of herself as well as everyone around her, including those she is writing about.
But I was struck quite a bit by some lines she wrote in Chapter five, as she's describing her heroine enjoying a gothic novel. She defends herself for writing about novels, finding it ridiculous that other authors who write novels never let their characters read such drivel. And then, she says this: "Alas! if the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it." In other words, let's make our characters readers.
Yes! And I say again, yes! I don't think it ever would have dawned on me that my characters might not be readers. After all, they come from my head, and I can't imagine a day without reading at least a page or two. So, in An Unexpected Legacy, Jessica owns a bookstore and reads romance novels. In Faith & Hope, coming out in April, Hope escapes from an argument with her sister by hiding out in the bookstore down the street and reading away the afternoon. I want my characters to be someone you can relate to, and you must relate to readers, because you are one!
What do you think? Have you ever read about a character who didn't read and wonder how they got in a book in the first place? Does it seem strange to you, or do you expect characters to mirror real life, and even include those who will never know there are characters in a book that are just like them? Any strong feelings one way or another?
2/21/2019 02:57:39 pm
I like diversity in my heroines. Georgette Heyer is second only to Jane Austen in my fan club, and she includes such a variety of female leads that it keeps me really interested. Some have no time for reading, because they are so busy LIVING. Others openly acknowledge that they have no turn for it (😆) and infinitely prefer parties! Then there are the romantics, and they are always readers. I like that.
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Authors I Love to Read (in no particular order)