Two weeks ago, I posted the first portion of an on-going conversation between myself and Jennifer Griffith, author of BIG IN JAPAN, and one of the few people I entrusted my early manuscript to of THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER. Part one of our conversation can be found here, while part two can be found here. Below is the third and final part of our conversation.
After asking about her novel, I took the opportunity to finish our conversation by asking Jennifer the following question:
RR: “Now, I’m curious, what were some of your initial reactions when you started reading THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER? I’m tempted to clarify the question further, but I think I would prefer the answer I will get if I leave it fairly open.”
JG: “When I first started reading it, the very first chapter, I thought, man, this guy can write. It was a breath of fresh air for me. As we got a little farther into the story, I thought Todd, your main character, was a sad case, and I worried that the story might end up being sadder than the kind of stories I usually read (although I do like a good Nicholas Sparks novel from time to time). But about five pages in, I started to recognize (and get!) the sense of humor that pervades the novel. From that moment on, I was in it for the whole ride.
One thing that I love about this book is how quickly (like, by page three) I cared about the characters in the book. From chapter one, I wanted to see this man triumph, I ached for his tragedy, I longed for his relief. It is the test of a true writer whether he/she can get the reader to care about a character, and I definitely connected with Todd from the start. And what a good, good journey you took him (and thereby, us, as readers) on!
As I read it, I was discussing it with our friend Aimee. She and I kept saying how this story will appeal to women since they love all the talkiness of this style of writing and the relationships that are the core of the story, but it will appeal to men as well because of the real man that Todd is. It’s got broad appeal. I am sure it will find a good readership. I’d recommend it to any of my reading friends. (Almost. There are some who only like Wimpy Kid books.)
I need to add one more thing, my other impression of the novel is that it is a story that is very timely. It touches on issues that members of the church deal with all the time and that have in the past been avoided in public discourse. Recently, these issues have been discussed more openly, and I think this book is hitting the shelves at just the exact moment, and I see it helping a lot of people come to grips with realities they never thought they’d have to face in their family relationships. I see it as a healing book.
And here’s my final question to you: Where do you expect to see THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER received the best? By that I mean, who do you think is the book’s best audience? (And for the record, I do see it having broad, broad appeal.)”
RR: “I think my strength lies with women over 50 who were avid watchers of DALLAS and THE LOVE BOAT in the late 70s/early 80s. I mean if someone liked JR Ewing back in the day, this is definitely the book for them.
Seriously,I have to admit I don’t know. I think that is one of the problems a person can run into when they just sit down and start writing without knowing their genre, their target audience or even where the story is going to end up. It may end up being the book you wanted to write, but when it comes to the business/marketing side of publishing, things can get tricky.
I think Generation Xers, male or female, will relate best to the story because that’s my generation and I write like an Xer. If you buy into stereotypes, my book would probably attract females more than males, but the men who have read it have made comments like, “I probably wouldn’t have picked this book up reading the dust jacket, but it ended up being much different than I thought it would be, in a good way.”
So again, I don’t know. I think most anybody who gives it a chance will enjoy it. I’m sure there are exceptions, but that will always be the case. My hope is simply that whoever picks it up finds themselves invested in Todd Landry and the people who surround him. And when it’s over, each reader is a little sad, because they feel as if they have to say goodbye to new friends. If I accomplish that, I will have succeeded.”
I would like to thank Jennifer Griffith for her time and willingness to take part in this exercise. For me, it has been a lot of fun to learn about her motivations and experiences in writing BIG IN JAPAN, and I have also enjoyed getting a chance to reflect on my experiences writing THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER. If anyone reading this has any questions for either Jennifer or myself (not that I expect any), please feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post or on the Facebook link that likely brought you here.
BIG IN JAPAN, from Jolly Fish Press is available at most bookstores and is available on-line at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER arrives in August, 2013. For more information on its release, go to facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor and click “like” for updates and additional postings. Ryan can also be followed on Twitter at @RyanRapier.