by Kathleen Ernst
Sometimes an email pops up from a reader I’ve never met, which is always a wonderful surprise. What I’ve come to treasure are the opportunities to have an actual conversation with people who have read one of my books.
I’ve visited several book clubs since Old World Murder came out last fall. I love to share some behind-the-scenes stories about how the book came to be, but I also try to leave lots of room for open discussion.
Sometimes people mention some little something that I would never have guessed would resonate in a particular way. Sometimes a reader asks a question that helps me think more about what to reveal within the pages of a mystery, and how to reveal it.
And sometimes it becomes clear that one or more readers interpreted a scene or event entirely differently than I’d intended. It’s fascinating to listen to the conversation as each group member explains what they believe happened. My thoughts may range from Really? to That’s exactly what I meant! Some comments are validating, a few may be surprising, all are interesting.
The most surprising comment I’ve heard about Old World Murder came from a person who thinks that Ethan, protagonist Chloe’s best friend, is angry with her at the end of their final conversation. Not my intention! And, from what I can tell, not what most readers took from the scene. I’ll take a careful look at their first conversation in the next book.
Have you ever read a book, and learned later that others interpreted a key conversation or action completely differently? Writers, have you ever been surprised by something a reader interprets in an unexpected way?
Review copies of The Heirloom Murders, Book 2 in the Chloe Ellefson series, are going out this week. I will be waiting to hear what reviewers, and especially readers, think of this one.