No matter how old we get we all remember what it was like to be a child. Most of my memories start around the time I was about 8 years old and have that golden glow because I trusted everyone and everything.
At about 10 years old, I started reading just about as much as I was breathing. I remember going to the library once a week with my Dad and coming home with too many books to carry. When we got to the entrance, he would go his way and I would go mine and we’d meet up about an hour later.
Those days of sitting in the library, immersed in books, pulling them off the shelves to see the cover or read the inside jacket fostered a love affair with books that turned me into an author because I guess I wanted to get in on the fun.
Best of all I loved books in a series. The Narnia books were my favorite and then Ramona and The Great Brain. I loved short stories and stories about people like me written by Judy Bloom. These books weren’t just stories to me, they were part of my coming of age, my loss of innocence and my ability to judge whether something was meaningful to me and why.
This part of me is still inside and all those memories, tied to books, and reading have made me pretty selective about what I read now. Becoming an author and researching stories has made me even more critical of good writing, on stage, in movies, in books or on the radio.
Bad writing for me is like a rash. You just want it to go away because you feel like the characters have been cheated of something good to say. They’ve been forced to say things that are beneath them. A good writer knows what her characters feel, and a good writer doesn’t rush to fill the void on the page.
So who is my ideal reader? I think she’s someone like me, someone who remembers that child inside who found everything wondrous. She likes meeting new people and going to places she’s never visited. She is in love with reading and sees it as a safe place to escape to when she’s hiding from the world. My ideal reader likes character that are plucky, that aren’t afraid to be unpopular, that are finding their way. My ideal reader says what she thinks and wants to go back to a simpler time when the adult were in charge and that was ok.
So my ideal reader is really any age, from any country, someone who might be in elementary school or maybe secondary school or college. She might be your sister, or your cousin or your niece. Really, my ideal reader is you!