I’m currently reading The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. It’s a quirky Christian novel that’s definitely not like anything I’ve read lately. And it’s got me thinking about audiences and in what ways readers identify with characters. Two of the main characters are Griselda and her sister Agnes. Griselda has become the old maid caretaker for Agnes who weighs somewhere around 600 pounds and never leaves home. She just stays home and prays–with decided results. I feel like I have very little in common with either character and yet I do identify with each of them in some ways.
I recognize my tendency to think I have to do things myself if I want them done right (my idea of right, anyway) in Griselda. In Agnes I see my tendency to just give in if things seem too difficult (not to mention a weakness for M&Ms).
In writing the proposal for my novel I had to come up with a “Readership” section. Basically, I needed to pinpoint who would be interested in my book. You’d think the broader the better, but actually specific is better. The more you can narrow down your audience, the more clearly you can market to them. I initially thought my readers would be women alot like my main character–single, childless and in their 30s. But as I read about Agnes Sparrow, I’m realizing that readership isn’t necessarily that obvious. What about women of all ages who identify with Ella’s attachment to and fear of losing an aging grandparent? What about women in mid-life who wish their adult children would hurry up and produce grandchildren, already? What about women who have had a miscarriage like Ella’s friend Ruth? I’m realizing that my audience may be people who identify with the core messages of the book more than those who identify with a particular demographic.
Q4U- What engages you in books? Characters like you? Or ideas that resonate with you?