Yesterday TLH blogged about audience -- who is your hoped-for audience, how broad is your appeal, are your beliefs reflected in your work, would you change your story to get a bigger audience (or, to get published at all), etc. And Tabitha commented in response, saying that:
There is no line between my belief and my work. They both come from me and so I see them as one and the same. But that's just me. I don't take issue with others who see things differently. Does that mean all my characters would have to believe what I do? No God no. That would be far too boring. But if the book as a whole really contradicted my essential beliefs about life and love then... well I doubt I would have written it.This is exactly how I feel. And this is what enters my mind when I think about people reading my novel who have very different philosophies than I do. My book does not contradict my essential beliefs about life, about what is right and wrong, and about what is important in this world. So, what, specifically, does it say about me?
For example, no one thinks that Stephen King in any way advocates the kind of violence that occurs in his books, but his books definitely do reflect some of his underlying beliefs and "deep interests":
These deep interests include how difficult it is--perhaps impossible!--to close Pandora's technobox once it's open. Why, if there is a God, such terrible things happen. The thin line between reality and fantasy, and most of all, the terrible attraction violence sometimes has for fundamentally good people.(from On Writing)
So, we can read his work and glean some of his feelings about, say, small towns, family, and technology. Some of the writing is "just fiction" and some is really about the author. This, I believe, is as it should be. And, naturally, some people will write books that are more on the side of pure fiction, and some people will write works that are closer to their hearts.
So, what would you think if you read a novel by a friend or family member that clearly revealed a contrary world view? Maybe you already know what that person believes, and so it wouldn't be a shock at all, but I'll admit that I have a knee-jerk tendency to think that people see the world in a similar fashion as I do, and so I can be genuinely surprised that someone disagrees with me on an issue even when I know, objectively, that I hold a minority view. The brain's funny that way.
Would such a novel make you think differently about that person? Or would it just give you more to talk about? Yes, yes, "it depends" on the book, and the particular differing philosophies... but, what do you think? What is your expected and/or hoped-for audience (if you're not writing a book, tell us about your blog audience), and what do you think would be the reaction if someone outside that core audience stumbled upon your writing?
Don't forget to enter this month's fiction contest: make a new genre! Can you come up with something better than the Southern Gothic Medical Murder Mystery or Splatterpunk Chick Lit?