Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekend Wildcard - Why I Love Reader Response, But Why It Can’t Influence Me

We're delighted to welcome best-selling author Lori Foster to the Pink Heart Society today, as she talks about writing for readers.  

Nothing buoys an author’s spirit more than complimentary reader feedback. Long letters, short letters, snail mail or emailed, posted online or sent through Facebook messenger – I love hearing from readers. Sometimes it just makes me smile, and sometimes, when a reader tells me how a book has touched her heart or made a hardship easier, it makes me cry.

I’m not out to educate people, or to influence them politically, or shift their personal views. All I want to do is entertain, and when readers tell me I did that, it thrills me. 
But when readers offer input – asking if I’ll do something in particular, or saying I should have done something differently, or – on occasion – saying I got it completely wrong, I can never take that to heart. 
When I’m writing, I often lose sight of how the book will “feel” as a finished piece. I live each scene with the characters, so I do my utmost to convey what they’re thinking or experiencing in that particular moment. For me, the plot – both internal (romantic) and external (conflict) happens organically. For that reason, I can’t say what will happen until it does, or more accurately, until the characters tell me – or do it. 
Because of how I write, I can’t cater to requests. If the characters aren’t saying “do it,” I can’t do it. It just wouldn’t be there for me.
In the same way, even if some readers don’t like the outcome, I can’t regret how I did something because that’s how the character(s) wanted it done. They rule, not me. If I fought my natural process, I wouldn’t be a very happy writer. I’m a big believer that a happy writer equals an enjoyable book – for me and for you, the reader.
Also, I never skip my research. Sometimes it’s the most enjoyable part of the process! Then I’ll see a reader who loved the book and says that I nailed it – and another who says I obviously don’t know what I’m talking about. Different perspectives! They’re what make the world go around and I can’t obsess too much over that. It’s self-defeating. 
If I tried to change to please one reader, I’d clearly disappoint another. I don’t like leaving any reader unhappy, but I know it’s an unavoidable part of the gig and I accept it. Readers are all unique and different, with their own preferences and quirks and outlooks – just like, I hope, my characters. ::grin::
When readers ask whether I’ll continue a certain series, my answer is almost always: I never say never. Because I honestly don’t know. Whichever character is most unruly in my brain usually rallies my muse. It makes me sound nuts, but the people in my head really are in charge – at least when it comes to what I’ll write and when, and how I’ll write it.

So even though I can’t cater to readers, I’d still love to hear from you! I’m pretty accessible across many social media platforms. Readers rock my world – and I appreciate each and every one of you more than you can know. 
How for you interact with authors?  Join the debate in the comments!
Lori's latest book, Holding Strong is out now:
Heavyweight fighter Denver Lewis plays real nice, but he doesn’t share. That’s why he’s been avoiding top-notch flirt Cherry Peyton. But a man can only resist those lush curves for so long. Their encounter surpasses all his fantasies, bringing out protective urges that Cherry’s about to need more than she knows…

Denver’s combination of pure muscle and unexpected tenderness has been driving Cherry wild. Yet no sooner does she get what she’s been craving than old troubles show up on her doorstep. And this time, Cherry can’t hide behind a carefree façade. Because the man by her side is one who’ll fight like hell to keep her safe…if only she’ll trust him enough to let him… 
To find out more about Lori Foster and her books, check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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