How does my writing affect readers?
This question is lifted from author Sahar Sabati's informative Ask an Author series, which ran from 2015-2016 and included responses and reflections from English-speaking authors from around the globe. Since I'm often asked these questions by readers, I have republished my answers here with Sahar's kind permission.
I’ve been lucky enough to have received lots of positive feedback from readers, but for many writers it’s the initial reviews that stick in your mind. Not long after my first book, Battle of the Birds, was released, I received an email from the parent of an eight-and-a-half year old who we’ll call B. B’s dad said while B was only eight, his reading age was 12-13 years, so the family had found it difficult to locate books which extended and engaged him, while not being too mature in theme. B’s dad had written down B’s reaction to Battle of the Birds:
B: “It was awesome. When you read it you’re, like, what happens next? It really does make you think about how it would feel for you if it happened to you. For me it would feel very, very awesome. It’s super-entertaining. Unputdownable.”
Dad: “Is it like any other books you’ve read?”
B: “No. It’s different.”
Dad: “Would you like to read another book like that?”
B: “Love to.”
Out of the mouths’ of babes: there’s nothing like validation from a child-reader to inspire a writer to keep writing. Happily, other readers liked the story too, because the book went on to make Dominion Post’s Top 10 Books for Children of 2011, as well as New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel.