“I really enjoyed your book”
Occasionally I – like other authors – get thank-you notes from people who have read one of my novels. They sometimes write, “I really enjoyed your book.”
Occasionally I – also like other authors – happen to meet someone face-to-face who has read one of my novels. They sometimes say, “I really enjoyed your book.”
These words are nice, and certainly the people writing or speaking them intend to say something that the author wants to read or hear. But many of us who write novels don’t write our books mainly for the purpose of giving enjoyment. In my case, my main purpose in writing my novels – both for adults and for young adults – is to give my readers an exciting and inspirational experience that is different from most other books (or movies) they might encounter.
I had lunch not long ago with a man whom I first knew when he and I were in elementary school together, in Mrs. Blakemore’s fifth-grade class at Wiley School. Although we were together from then all the way through high school, and although we saw each other from time to time while attending neighboring universities, we had not seen each other for years prior to sharing that lunch. He had only recently become aware of the Rebecca Series and the Visioners Series, and, since we discussed some issues related to those books during lunch, I gave him a copy of By Many or By Few – the second book in the Rebecca Series – before we parted ways.
Two weeks later, I received a handwritten note from him. Here is what he wrote:
… enjoyed reading your book. It seemed to be similar to those Dan Brown or Robert Ludlum would write. But: no sex; no dirty words; the hero(ine) was a female; no guns were used by her and her team to win the battle; the winners received regular messages from on high and the bad guys were stupidly bad….
He wrote all that, by hand, on a 4 x 6-inch card that had his name printed at the top. I wrote back to say I’d never received an entire book review handwritten on a small card, but that I appreciated very much his taking the time to say more than just, “I enjoyed reading your book.”
As a reader yourself, you have doubtless given some thought to what aspects of stories appeal to you. Most of us who write stories tend to write the kind of thing we ourselves like to read. In my case, C. S. Lewis’s Ransom Series for adults served, and still serves, as the prototype for my stories, especially the third book in that series, That Hideous Strength. If you have read that book, then you know that it features a small band of Christian people who are drawn together by nearly incomprehensible threats to the faith. They are helped by messages – “from on high,” as my friend wrote – in their efforts to uncover the heart of the plot.
Once they have succeeded with that, they find it necessary to take action themselves against their enemies, because law enforcement has no evidence that investigators can reasonably use. Much of the evidence is from “on high.” Thus, my books become action-packed at that point as Rebecca or Joanna and their family members and friends seek to defeat their enemies.
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