Bauming it for My Readers

“Oh indeed!” exclaimed the King. Then he turned to his servants and said: “Please take General Crinkle to the torture chamber. There you will kindly slice him into thin slices. Afterward you may feed him to the seven-headed dogs.”

L. Frank Baum, The Emerald City of Oz

I read somewhere that L. Frank Baum used ideas from fans when writing the sequels to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He wrote more than a dozen full length Oz books (and a few other Oz short stories). If you’ve taken that literary journey into Oz, then you know with each progressive sequel Oz got weirder and weirder. It’s a little unorthodox to work so hard to please your individual fans, but I think there is something beautiful and special about it, too. Can you imagine being a kid and writing a letter to your favorite author with an idea and actually seeing it in the next book?

Wizard of Oz book cover

Before I wrote Rachel and the Mighty Arm that Built Egypt I generally pictured authors as far away mythical beasts. They might exist somewhere, but they weren’t things I could reach out and touch. But now having had conversations with some of my readers I see authors, readers, and storytelling differently. My stories are something I get to share with you. And I am humbled and honored by the fact that you read them. When I first read about L. Frank Baum’s practice of including readers’ ideas, I thought it was nice, but crazy. But I understand now. These wonderful people who used their time to read my book… I want to make them happy. I want them to enjoy reading my books as much as humanly possible. The reader/writer dynamic is a relationship. Naturally, you should want to please the other person in the relationship.

Dr. Rachel Conner’s story is going to be a trilogy. A large portion of the next two books is already swirling in my head (or sitting in unopened emails I’ve sent myself when an idea strikes me at 3 am), but books two and three are not set in stone yet.

Talking with readers is fun because I find out what matters to them. I expected someone might relate to Rachel or love Hester. I’ve been a little surprised by how interested some folks have been in Liam (but not terribly surprised). The one I absolutely didn’t expect, though, was the special interest in Kesi. This blog post has no plot spoilers, so I’m not afraid to mention character’s names. But, Kesi?… Okay. I didn’t expect that. But it’s funny… one reader said he wanted to know more about Kesi, so guess what? I’m L. Frank Bauming it, folks! There will be more from Kesi.

I don’t plan on going as wild with my reader input as Mr. Baum. I like having the freedom to create my own stories. But, if you want more of a certain character or you want certain questions answered, don’t be afraid to send me a message or tweet at me. I want the next two books to be the books you want.

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