Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meaning? What meaning?

Last summer I held a book signing in Nashua, NH, for my brand spanking new paperback Strange Neighbors.

A woman approached me, glanced at the books piled high on the table and didn't even pick it up before she asked, "Are you ever afraid people will misinterpret your meaning?"

I was stunned speechless. What the heck was she talking about? I had to ask--"What do you mean?"

"You know," she said. "Do people ever not get what you're trying to say?'"

I was lost in an existential fog, but I figured I'd better wing an answer before she misinterpreted my silence and declared me an idiot savant.

Being the brutally honest person I am, I said, "There's no meaning to get. My books are strickly FYE...for your entertainment."

Now she was the one who looked stunned. Yet she wasn't held captive behind a table full of her books, so she just wandered away, probably deeply dissatisfied with my answer.

Shrug. It's not that I can't write books with meaning. I'm intelligent enough. I'm even capable of a rare moment or two of serious depth. I just choose to write for a different purpose. I have no intention of educating or prokoking serious thought with my words. I just want to give a few hours of pleasurable giggles, good for a healthy escape--no more, no less.

I did, however, write a free short story that's dangerously close to meaningful. If any of you would like to check it out, here's where you can find it:
Or see it on the ARe site.

Most Unpopular Workday of the Year
By: Ashlyn Chase | Other books by Ashlyn Chase
Published By: Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
ISBN # 9990200018000

Available in: HTML, Adobe Acrobat, Epub, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket, Rocket
add to cart

About the book
Andy is the new nurse and has to work on Christmas Day. SheĆ¢€™s part of a skeleton crew taking care of one little boy with end-stage Muscular Dystrophy. As she reads to him, Jeff, a young intern, visits. Through their love of this little boy, Andy and Jeff discover a deep connection and love for each other.

So, how about you? Do you ever write books with meaning (like, on purpose?)


Christine H said...

Hi Ash, Well I'm not a writer, But as a reader, I'm not looking for a big meaning or lesson when I read. I just want lots of love, good sex and two wonderful characters, that's written well and has a good story, even if it's simple story I love the simple plots, with less characters just as much, maybe even more. I love the focus to be one the main characters love story. That's all I need to make me happy. :)

Michelle Polaris said...

I admit it, I love when my books end up with meaning and message. I can't say I do it absolutely on purpose, but kind of. I like to choose big issues--environmental degredation, bigotry, personal trauma, individual growth--but I never choose them over the importance of character development or dynamic plot. I must say, big issues give lots of room for engaging plots. Lots of drama potential. It's not that I'm a zealot about any of the issues I write about, the synthesis between issue and character comes naturally and is a lot of fun to develop.

But do I read books without big meanings or issues? Sure. At heart, however, I'm a melodrama girl. Ah well, it takes all types.

Love the topic, Ash. And I'm sure glad there are plenty of authors out there with the important goal of writing to entertain and spark laughter and joy. That's just as necessary.

Ashlyn Chase said...

I appreciate your always showing up in support, Christine. We seem to be on the same literary wave length.

Michelle, I know what you mean about including issues. A lot of my books highlight tolerance or sympathy for the underdog. But I don't intend it as a message. My all-time favorite movie is Chocolat, because the message of tolerance was slipped in there so subtly, it's almost subliminal. (grin.)

Oh, and as far as books that make me cry go...I'd like them to come with a 1 to 3 tissue warning. I absoutely hate being made to cry--especially when I'm looking for an entertaining escape. I've wanted to write to a couple of authors and chew them out for jerking my emotions around. Really, how dare they? LOL


Dalton Diaz said...

I probably like a bit more reality in my books than most, but that's what I need to connect. That doesn't mean I want a tear-jerker every time I open a book, tho. Writing, or reading.

I don't get what that lady meant, either. Maybe she was talking about Vampire Vintage, and wondering if you wanted to bite her or something? Can you imagine what she says to thriller authors? "Hey, if you need someone to practice on..."

Real life is dramatic enough. She needs to take a chill pill.

Ashlyn Chase said...

The weird thing is she was completely serious. Like she was worried my readers would accuse their neighbors of being vampires or werewolves or witches...well, okay the last one is real, but still! LOL

That's all I figure she could get as a message from the front cover.


JIllian Hallowell said...

Hi Ash.

I feel exactly the same as you. I want to write to entertain. I want someone to stay up all night just to finish my story just because they want to.

There is too much drama in the world, on the news that we are constantly bombarded with. Take a time out and enjoy the story.


Ashlyn Chase said...

It sounds like your books are really terrific if you keep people up all night, Jillian!

Kate Hill said...

I can't say some of my books don't have a meaning, but not everyone will get the meaning and that's okay. Usually the meaning is for me and if someone gets it too, that's great. If they pull something else out of the story that's great too. Like you said, Ash, my main purpose is to entertain. If someone gets lost in the fantasy while they're reading my story, that's what's most important to me.

Ashlyn Chase said...

Well said, Kate. "The meaning is mostly for me." I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're right. I suppose there's always meaning for the author.

I learned a while back that we all have "themes." My theme usually showcases characters who reinvent themselves. I suppose my meaning could be: "It's never too late to be what you might have been." Oh, wait a minute. George Elliott said that first.



Jina Bacarr said...

I'm like you, Ashlyn, I like to entertain with my stories. I also like to give the reader something to think about, as I did with Cleopatra's Perfume--I wanted to pay tribute to all the people who worked in the Resistance during WWII.