You know, I was just thinking about and marveling at how writing can cross all boundaries. Maeve Binchy is one of my favorite authors and has been for a long time. “Circle of Friends” was one of the first books of hers that I read. I immediately connected with the anguish and joy of the young woman, who was a little chubby compared to her other friends, but turned out to be the type of woman that the handsome hero of the story couldn’t help but fall in love with. And when the movie aired with that dreamy young Chris O’Donnell giving visual to the imagination, I was hooked for good.
I immediately read every Maeve Binchy book I could get my hands on. So enamored of her stories and well-rounded characters was I, that it was quite awhile before I realized where she was from. One day, I finally slowed down long enough to wonder at the name of a city I didn’t recognize. I was shocked to find out the setting was in Ireland. Maeve Binchy is actually from Dalkey, Ireland.
Shouldn’t that have been obvious the first time I read one of her books you might ask? The only excuse I have is that I was so engrossed with the depth of her characters’ emotions and the thought-provoking story lines that I just didn’t notice.
As I read later Maeve Binchy books, I continued to be wrapped up in her characters. Her characters don’t live in a “character” world where they do whatever because they are characters. They are written as if they were real people with real emotions, real confusions, and some surprising consequences for their actions that the reader immediately recognizes as something that they themselves, or someone they know has experienced with the same outcome.
So it’s really interesting how a reader in her twenties (me at the time) could read and be thoroughly vested in the feelings of women in their forties and even fiftyish/sixtyish (“Evening Class”). How could a black woman (me, then and now…lol) be swept away into a world far away from America, where no one in the story “looks” like me?
The answer my friends is the writing. I agree with many of the experts who say that it is important to target your audience, and this is undoubtedly true. But I submit to you that a good story still and always will appeal to a hungry reader, regardless of their demographic.
What are your thoughts? Target your market first then tailor a story to that market? Write a good story and let it find its own market? Or some combination of both?