Tyler's in Australia!
I noticed a comment about "Here Be Monsters" on GoodReads.com the other day, and wanted to reply to the reader. She commented, as have a couple of other people, that the language and grammar of the book were at times distracting her as she read, and wondered if my editor had missed these issues or if I had ignored my editor (although she stated it much more politely than I've just done).
I sent her a message through GoodReads thanking her for reading the book, explaining that my editor and I had talked a great deal about the language and grammatical structure of the book, but that I had held fast in the use of the (admittedly sometimes annoying) tangled and forked thought process of the protagonist, Tyler Cunningham.
I went a step further, and apologized for any impact that this device had on her enjoyment of the book. I wrote the book for me, but if that was the end of the story, it would not have been published (and a copy never would have ended up in her hands in Sydney, Australia!)...I want readers of "Here Be Monsters" to enjoy what they read. It serves me nothing to have a book that remains true to my vision, but is so off-putting to readers that they choose not to finish it.
I heard back from her this morning, and she related that she is enjoying the book more, and noticing the particular device that had bothered her (in her case, the "/" backslash) less as she got further into the book. It made me ridiculously happy both to hear back from her (a reader in AUSTRALIA!) and to hear that she was enjoying the book.
I've been learning about Tyler and bookwriting and my readers and myself everyday during the process of writing, and editing and publishing and getting feedback.
The relationship between author and protagonist is very interesting to me. I know some things about Tyler that my readers do not...details that I wrote down when planning the book that never made it into the book. My readers know things about Tyler that I did not know...he has been diagnosed by many as being on the ASD, although some argue that his odd upbringing and the events of 9/11 have shaped him more than his biology. In writing and planning the short pieces that I'm working on this winter, I'm finding out more about Tyler from him, as he goes about his business and it comes out in the form of words on my laptop screen.
The relationship between readers of "Here Be Monsters" and me is interesting to me in ways that I couldn't have known about 2 months ago. I had a vision of the book, Tyler came out of my head in a slightly different way, and readers have a third, slightly different, view of the world that Tyler explores in HBM. Perception is reality, and the lens through which you read a book determines the reality of that book. I had always thought that I read a book, and that it was the same book that my wife or students or parents or friends read...but it's not. The book is different for each reader, in much the same way that the world is different for each person who explores it.
Most of all, though, I just think it's cool that someone in Australia is reading my book!