I get that you have lived with your characters through over a dozen books or so. You journey with them each day as they traverse your mind and go about their adventures. I understand you see every gesture they make, every nuance in their voice and appearance and you hear the inflections in their voices as they speak. You no doubt have huge spreadsheets filled with every little thing you have written about your character in order to build their reality.
They are your creations, and you have lovingly shared them with the world at large in novels of up to 800 pages long.
But here is where we differ.
I am a reader.
This means that sometimes my interpretation may differ vastly from yours.
It’s not that I am wrong, it’s just that we are different.
So when you shared who you imagined you would like to play one of your main characters in the screen adaptation of your books, it threw me.
He looked nothing like the image I had built in my mind and naively I shared that on your Facebook post.
And then a short time later I received a notification that you had replied to my comment. That’s kind of exciting in my little world seeing as you are a well-known author and all that. So I raced to my computer to find what you had said because my iPad doesn’t set out the comments in the same way (something I find extremely annoying as it makes it difficult to follow conversations).
And then I found this:
Your response kind of upset me actually.
You see, although you live with your characters day in and day out, I don’t. Some days I actually have a life. And it’s been quite a life over the past 10 years since I read your first book. I don’t know in which of your books you mentioned that he was blonde, but you obviously did. Somehow I must have forgotten that and built an image in my mind of a man with darker hair.
I resent that you have inferred that I haven’t read your books. I wouldn’t be following your FB page if I hadn’t. In actual fact, I admire the crafting of your characters and the way that you are able to tell a story so much that I have read every single book you have ever written. Your writing has the ability to draw me in, and as I journey through countryside and over seas with your characters I forget about what is happening in my life at that particular point in time.
Your books allow me to escape for a short while from the pressing issues of my life at any given moment.
However, I need to confess something.
I am not a monogamous reader. I know that you write to share and enrich my life and I appreciate that so much. But I have strayed. I also gain enrichment from other authors. I know that this might hurt you to read but I am sorry.
Although I read over 20 books last year (yours included), I often read up to 50 books in a year. So 50 books over a 10 year period means that I have lived within the pages of over 500 books (not counting magazines, blogs and short stories).
Somewhere along the line, I forgot that your character was blonde and in my mind’s eye he has aged (he should be in his 40’s by now by my reckoning) and his hair colour has darkened.
I have based this assumption upon my own experiences of looking in the mirror each day and noting that the blonde hair that I was blessed with as a child has changed as I age. Life has a habit of doing that you know; changing you from what you were originally.
Perhaps this is why I don’t always like screen adaptations of books. In my mind, the characters are as I see them, and not as someone else imagines them to look.
The depth that I infuse them with (courtesy of your words of course) is often not matched by the director or casting agent in their quest to turn words into a feast for the eyes.
And so my dear, I am disappointed that you think so little of your readers. I will continue to follow your FB page (as I follow the pages of other authors) to learn more about your upcoming work (which you do so well). I will continue to applaud your talent however I will reserve my judgement as to your personal character.
I continue to see social media as a great way to interact with readers and I admire that you reply to each person who posts to your wall but you have let me down with your belief that every person sees your characters in the same way that you do.
My dear, we are unique individuals and we all see things according to the experiences in our lives.
I wish you luck and I wish you joy.
I also wish you the ability to understand that not all see with the same eyes that you do.