Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Readers Under the Microscope!

We know it's all about the story. But WHAT is IT about a story that entices us to pick up a new book, buy it and read it AND like it?

In this Blogpost series, I'd like to find out from Readers (and Writers alike), what draws them to a story and what are the elements keep them engaged? The reason it made them cry or why they didn't finish it or rip it into a thousand pieces  - or in the case of E-Books - send it to the Trash bin
My very first guest to Readers Under the Microscope is Sharon. 

WELCOME Sharon, thanks for taking the time to be here.

Thanks for inviting me MT, not that I know what I'm doing? I have to admit I've read the odd blog or two but I've never been asked to help do one.
Oh no problem Sharon, we'll be gentle with you ;)
First up, Have you always liked reading?
This might sound a bit strange, but No. I liked reading magazines, cookbooks or how to-do-it books, but I actually didn't get interested in *real* fiction stories until a few years back, after I had my first child. Maybe that was to do with leaving a full time job, and having a small amount of spare time on my hands while I rocked the pram at the local park.

I'm sure many people will find that interesting, because I feel most times, us writers, think everyone either liked or loathed to read from an early age. It's good to hear people are finding a love of books eventually, no matter the age.
Sharon, what genre do you like to read? Eg: paranormal - Vampire/ Zombies/ werewolves, Fantasy/ Science Fiction, Contemporary - set in today's world, Historical, Romance, Autobiographies, Non-Fiction, YA (Young Adult) etc.(to name only a few) LOL
Who knew there was so many genres to choose from. I have to say I'm not too fussy and I like a few of those topics you mentioned, although I don't go for the heavy blood and gore vampirey kind of books. I do enjoy romance novels, but not too evocative and with a touch of humour or suspense is okay as well. Historicals are fine, but not the ones where they are really entrenched in too much history. I don't like reading books that are epic or detailed. I prefer to keep my reads to a book that I know I can finish in a week or so, not five years from now.

I understand what you mean. A lot of people are like that. Hence why Novellas, (stories around 25,000 to 45,000 words), have become quite popular with busy people. What about E-books - have you crossed the line there? 

I have, and let me say, an e-book is a life saviour. When I have a sleeping child on one arm, it's so much easier to open my phone and pick up where I left off, no matter where I am. But I still browse the bookshops and local library for real books too. Sometimes I'll pick up a deal at the newsagency as well. Like 3 for $10.
So what are you reading now?
I'm half way through a book by an Australian Author Noelene Jenkinson called Barratt's Run. It's really quite good.
I also have that book, but it is titled as A Gentleman's Bride. Must be a new edition. Tell us what you liked/are liking about the story itself? 
Anne, the main character, has been forced to marry a brute of a man in her home town in Devon , England. She can't take his abuse any more and escapes on a ship to Australia, to begin a new life. She meets a man, who advertises for a bride that will live on a remote sheep farm and bear him sons. Anne decides to take a chance. I'm at the part where she leaves the Melbourne hotel one night to go look for him and finds him in a brothel with another woman. I'm wondering if she will continue or not.  

I remember that part, but no spoilers from me. ;)
What is your opinion of the main characters? Male & - or Female?
I like Anne, she has a quick wit and stands her ground. Although that's what got her into trouble with her horrible first husband. She is quite young and very pretty. James is everything I like in a hero, handsome, rich and strong. He is originally from England too. From a well to do family. Despite Anne being of a class below him, he is happy to give their relationship a chance.  

What qualities to YOU like in a character? Such as; do you as a reader, have any preconceived ideas on what you expect the characters in a book to be? Eg: rich, wealthy, well established, easy going, sassy, society favourite, or maybe bruised & battered (inside and out) or a struggler down & out on his/her luck. Perhaps one with gentle airs and graces?
Gee that's an interesting question MT. I'm not a writer so I don't know the dynamics of how a writer imagine their characters. But I know I like to think they(the characters) have to struggle to get something, not get it handed to them on a silver platter. Having said that, I've read a few Harlequin millionaire type novels and I like the opulence of those character's lives as well, so I guess it depends on what the story holds for the characters. I know I'm not keen on over powering women who belittle a good man right off the bat, just because they are hung up on power or whatever, even though they come to appreciate and even love him in the end. I have to consciously "like" the heroine from the start. But not all stories can be like that I guess!
I don't like cruel or abusive male/female characters, not even if they seem to have a purpose or excuse. 
I enjoy a read with a faithful animal in it, although I know people who don't. 

If at all - what will cause you to stop reading, not finish a book?
If I really can't get into a story I most probably wont try to read on. I think the first 2 chapters is enough for me to stop persevering. Maybe the writing is not fluid or the story a bit far fetched, or the characters do strange things that aren't relevant to the story. I don't know much about who corrects words for the writers but I have read a couple of books that had a few spelling or grammar mistakes in them. That's more annoying than anything else. 
I also notice that occasionally I'll pick up a book where the same monotonous story is being told, just with different characters. I suppose it is hard to think of new things to write about though. I like some of the new books by Australian authors, because they are thinking fresh topics.

All these points are interesting to know. A reader's POV can help a writer with their Manuscripts.
Thank you again for being with us Sharon.