Login   Sign Up 


Collated Answers from WW interviews

Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.
Alan WilliamsI havenít been fortunate enough to have feedback from the general public. However friends indicate that my writing style is similar to other Australian authors and this might explain my particular success in that continent. I acknowledge that a lot of my writing is unconventional.
Reading one of my stories aloud to a group of English writers resulted in stares of amazement and no comments at all. I felt like leaving the room at that point. My writing is not for everyone.
Probably the best observation that sums up my work was from an editor (the one who gave me my first commission).
ĎAlan,í he said. ĎThe most polite word I can use for your writing is quirky.í
And Iím happy with that.
In so far as that Ďquirkinessí gives me a uniqueness, Iím not afraid to push the boundaries with any story ideas.
Andrew BlackmanOne of the hardest things about writing is rarely getting any feedback. Even when I was a journalist, writing articles for millions of people, most of those readers never respond. But perhaps the rareness of a response makes it more special when you do. I still keep readersí letters from my days at the Wall Street Journal. Then, on a summerís day in 2008, I listened to Sam Mills, one of the judges of the Luke Bitmead Writerís Bursary, describing the ďmature prose styleĒ of my prize-winning novel, and it was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Anne BrookePeople tend to say good things (when they say anything at all) about my poetry, which gives me the energy to keep on trucking. In terms of the novels, "The Hit List" gained mixed reviews, with some people enjoying it and some hating it - so that was difficult to handle. Still is, if I'm honest. With "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice", the reviews and responses have been positive so far, but I must admit I'm waiting for that bad response to come through - I'm nothing if not pessimistic at heart! In terms of the first ever response to my prose, I have to say that the first agent I ever directly showed my work to back in 2001 said I was "unpublishable, unmarketable and unreadable." That really floored me and I was too stressed and unhappy to write anything for a while. With the help of Guildford Writers' Group (http://www.guildfordwriters.net) and my husband, I got over it, but it still rankles.
Beanie BabyIt never ceases to amaze and surprise me how intently children or adults listen whenever I do a talk or class; they seem to cling to every word, no matter what their age. I think it is because my writing is heart and soul driven; I speak from my own experiences and what I have learned in this endless quest. Whenever I do a talk I come away feeling really fired up and inspired.
Bill SpencePeople always seem to be interested in meeting a writer and if they have read my books it makes the meeting even more interesting. I find their comments valuable especially on the book they have enjoyed most. Email has made contact more widespread (I get them from all over the world) and I value the comments that come this way.
Candi MillerMy novel launched on July 29, so that remains to be seen. But one of the reasons Iíve set up the blog is to get response. Talk to me, readers.
Caroline RanceSo far, I've had a really positive response to my book, with people emailing to say how much they have enjoyed it Ė even a few people I don't actually know.

People tend to mention the atmosphere of the setting, which is something I didn't really give that much thought to when I was writing it Ė it all seemed pretty obvious to me! The main character, Mary, often makes an impression on readers, too, which is interesting as I always prioritised plot over character.

It's lovely when people say they can't wait for the next book, but it also puts the pressure on. I feel like saying 'don't get too excited...'

Cassandra ClareThe great thing about writing for a younger audience is that they will
give it to you straight with their responses. They'll tell you exactly
what they liked and didn't like, and when they're enthusiastic, they're
unashamedly enthusiastic. They'll talk to you about your characters as
if they were real people, which is wonderful.
Catherine RichardsTo be honest, not that many people have read my writing yet. Certainly not people that Iíve sat down and discussed it with yet. Iíve just read a review in ĎRoundtable Reviewí that says some really nice things about the book so thatís quite encouraging.
Iím certainly looking forward to seeing what people think of ĎHeading Southí. Iím certain thereís still plenty I have to learn about my writing.
Cathy GlassSince the publication of Damaged and Hidden the response from my readers has been completely overwhelming. Thousands of emails from all over the world, thanking me for writing the books, sending their love, support and best wishes, and asking when my next book is due out. Some of the emails I have received have been very personal where readers had been moved to share their own stories, and were for my eyes only. Others wanted their views aired so I started a blog on my website Ė www.cathyglass.co.uk. Without exception every single email (and letter) has been positive; I have been very touched.

Claire AllenI've a nice following of people who read my weekly opinion column 'Skirting the Issue'. Generally they like that I'm writing about real women, facing real issues. I think it is so important that your reader can take an element of what you have written and identify with what you are trying to do.
Claire MossEveryone I know who's read the book has told me they finished it very quickly Ė which either means they couldn't wait to find out what happens, or there wasn't much in it to detain them for very long ... Also a few male readers have told me that they found the voice of Carl (the male MC) very believable, which was a relief. I've always been very in touch with my masculine side, but it wasn't until a real-life man had read it that I could be confident I had got the tone right.
Craig BaxterWatching your play with an audience is the best place to learn about it. The good bits and the bad bits become very clear (particularly after the adrenaline of the first performance). Sadly, itís usually too late to do much about any serious problems at this stage. Itís very obvious when an audience is bored or hostile and you have to learn the lessons that they are bored and/or hostile because your play is boring and unconvincing or offensive. But they are good lessons and valuable lessons. On the plus side, there is little more satisfying than an auditorium full of people laughing at one of your jokes or silent at one of your tragic revelations. These lessons are more encouraging.

Danny RhodesIíve had the pleasure of receiving some really supportive messages from readers of Asboville and Iím grateful for each and every one. I donít like to be influenced too much by others when it comes to my writing. I think new writers should always be wary of other opinions. If you give a person the opportunity to criticise something, they usually will. The danger is that in trying to please everyone you end up pleasing nobody at all, including yourself. Whatís the point in that?
Domenica De RosaOne of the best things about being published is having reactions to your work that are not from blood relatives. A lot of people have liked the sex in The Italian Quarter which surprised me as I didnít think there was any. People have also said that it has opened their eyes to the story of Italian immigrants in Britain, which would be wonderful if it were true.
Elizabeth BuchanSee above. I always bear in mind that is if something has a life in it, then it is bound to be liked and disliked for the dual response is a reflection of human nature. It follows, then, that you have to believe absolutely in what you are writing and be prepared to stick by your vision. When I published Revenge of the Middle Aged Woman it created quite a difference of opinion Ė and some readers were angry that Rose, the abandoned wife, was not more vitriolic. But I wanted to show how Rose arrived at state of healing by living well Ė which, as it turned out, was the best revenge. And I had to be prepared to stick by this, and to defend the theme of the novel. On other hands, some readers have told me that the novel has changed their lives. Then, I feel so touched and rather humble. The written word possessed a great deal of power over us.
Eva SalzmanI feel little guilty to so crave the high from that drug of applause, but a lot of this is more about the writerís constant fear of rejection. (I seem to have a small, exclusive fan-club, comprised mostly of middle-aged European menÖfor some reason.) Readers and audiences donít influence the actual writing, but knowing theyíre there certainly does. In order to be satisfied with a piece of writing, I must be convinced itís universal in some way, relevant to othersí experience too.
Fiona RobynSome people like my writing, and some people donít Ė but I imagine the first group are more likely to email me and tell me! I always feel honoured to hear from readers. Iím not affected by their responses, as thatís not how I write Ė if a particular novel was more successful, I wouldnít have a clue how to Ďreplicateí it. Of course I do work hard on polishing my writing.
Gary DavisonFirst oneís out in Feb, so Iíll keep you posted!
George SzirtesPraise exalts, justified criticism educates, wrong headed criticism is nothing to do with you. The trick is to know which is which. That is not always easy. Damn braces, bless relaxes, said Blake. Too much of either is potentially fatal.
Gordon and WilliamsRG: With The Highfield Mole we asked neighbours and friends to read it and be merciless, and some of the most valuable feedback came from a couple of young teenagers, Bernie and Hilary, who helped shape a few sections of the dialogue. But, in general, Brian and I write for ourselves Ė we have to be happy to with it.

BW: I donít think peopleís responses should ever influence oneís writing. You should never write simply to please. You should always write the book you want to read. Itís the same as those abhorrent test screenings they have in Hollywood. Itís culture by committee, and itís always for the wrong reasons.
Helen BlackIím still staggered by those lovely people who get off their fat backsides and email me to say they love the book.
One woman even told me she was considering fostering after reading it. How fab is that?
Overwhelmingly, readers say they want more Lilly which has made it easier for me to continue with the series. Frankly, she gets on my pip, but that may be because I spend more time with her than anyone else, including my husband.
Helen CastorThe warmth of an audience who have given up their time to come and hear you speak because theyíre interested in the stories youíve told in a book is a hugely sustaining and heartening thing, especially when writing the book has necessarily been such a solitary process. Thought-provoking, too, when they come up with questions you hadnít expected. Iím not sure it has a direct influence on my writing, though Ė other than much-valued encouragement that there are other people interested in the kind of stories I want to tell
Jae WatsonSo far Ė apart from the publishing team and my partner - I have only shared my work with the Writerís Club at City Lit College, London. It is quite an exposing experience but I have learned so much by allowing my writing to be analysed and criticised. Fortunately it didnít lead me into despair and I was able to make changes and finely-hone my writing, a process which Iím sure eventually led to publication. I would highly recommend this process to other writers. I now have to prepare myself for the response from a slightly bigger audience. (Yikes)
James BurgeI listen very hard to all responses, especially when my first thought is, Ďwell you havenít really got the point of thisí. It is then that you have to consider why they havenít got the point and whose fault it is Ė usually yours.
Jane ElmorA lot of people have said they can relate to My Vintage Summer, I think because it covers adolescence and youth (and the passing of it). I've been surprised that people of all ages have enjoyed it, and not only those that were young in the 70s / 80s! It's so exciting when someone says something you've written resonates with them. I love it when it's made someone laugh. I've had a few people say it made them cry, which I was worryingly thrilled about.
I really value readers' input on work in progress, and I think it's important to consider all criticism (however much it hurts) whether you ultimately revise what you've written because of it or not. It's all subjective, and you have to say what you want to say in your writing, but if several people all say something doesn't work for them, there's a good chance it doesn't. Sometimes it's the hardest thing, deciding what to keep and what to change.
Jane RogersFor a novelist the main response is reviews Ė which seem very important at the time, but in the end seem to have almost no effect. I like to hear readers' responses, but I donít think that influences what I write Ė I am usually writing in order to explore something for myself.
JemWell, so far Iíve had two fan letters that have appeared in Womanís Weekly Ė one indirectly from a burly sheep farmer in Australia, whoíd phoned his sister-in-law here in the UK asking her to send him the latest copy of the magazine because he wanted to know how the serial ended. (That was good!) She was so amused by the idea of her strapping brother-in-law reading the womenís mags that she put it in a letter to the Editor.
Jenn AshworthWell, the novel isn't out yet, so I'm still feeling nervous about the prospect of feedback on it. Those who have read it have either found it very dark, or very funny - I'm going to be interested in hearing what other people think, but I don't think it will influence the work I'm doing now too much. I seek and accept feedback, but most reviews say more about the reviewer than the novel, I think.

Jim YoungerAs far as reader response goes Iíve had some very gratifying comments and support here on this site, from good writers like Roger and Dee, to name just two, and readers have taken the trouble to get in touch to say they like it. And some good reviews, like I said. I know the book will not please everyone, but you donít have to please everyone. I was very happy to get an excellent review in the Philippines, and there are Japanese people reading it too (in English).
John MurrayAs my stuff is comic it tends to go down well when I do readings. But audiences vary hugely. Occasionally you read at a rather posh venue and because they aren't falling about in their seats you think they haven't enjoyed it. But then they come up to you at the end and shyly tell you they loved it. Though I once read something rather rude and ribald(about pile cream and toothpaste being accidentally confused) at a rather stuffy venue and they genuinely didn't like it there. I had to change tack and read something different or they might have lynched me!
Jon HaylettIím quietly thrilled when someone says they like my work but Iím far more interested when I receive thoughtful criticism. However, Iím very careful about reacting to criticism because I do firmly believe that an author has to be true to themselves.
Josa YoungNot published yet, but previews have elicited some wonderful feedback.

From Julie Myerson: 'hey i've been reading your book for the last hour and i have to say one quick thing: you write sex brilliantly! (hardly anyone does)ok that's it, that's all i'm saying. for now. oh ok, one more thing. i love the novel's old-fashioned straightforwardness. you observe stuff very well and you're not trying to be cool about it. there's something very touching about the way you write'

From Isabel Wolff: ĎOAT is very unusual, and very accessible and human yet quite erudite and I do love that combination. Yes of course I'll say that it made me miss my stop - a delightful annoyance!í

From French novelist Fabrice Pataut: ĎYou can't forget Dora. You're with her all along - in may senses of that phrase. The twist in the tale works very well. It's completely unexpected.í
Julia BellPositive, negative but not neutral. Publishing a novel is scary because it opens you up to endless redrafting by the critics Ė Philip Roth says that the editing starts once a reader engages with your story. Which is true I think. I like to think that itís the sign of a good book that it inspires a reaction. As long as Iím not boring which is the worst crime you can commit as a novelist Ė be provocative but donít be boring.
As for how it influences my writing I think itís best not to listen to the critics Ė too much good press and you start to think youíre a genius and too much bad press you might never pick up a pen again.

Kal BonnerI've had a fantastic response to the first book. As I write comedy, it's generally a good sign when someone says it made them laugh. I've also been told by readers that they relate to my characters and really feel as if they know them, or someone like them. This is also a good sign and makes all those hours of people watching worthwhile. I hasten to add that 'people watching' is not to be confused with Peeping Tom - that case was never proven.
Of course, good feedback has a mighty uplifting influence on my writing and helps keep me going. Getting a good review from Scott Pack was also a bonus.
Kate LongBecause TBMH contained heroines from three different generations Iíve had comments from a whole range of readers. Teenagers get in touch, as well as middle-aged mums and grandmothers, all picking out different sections of the novel they identify with. Thatís obviously a real boost for me as a writer. Iím also moved when someone says, ĎI called my mum up after reading your bookí, or ĎThis book got me through a bad time in hospital,í sort of thing. When you get responses like that it tells you youíre on the right track.
Kia AbdullahLife, Love and Assimilation has had responses ranging from the extremely positive to the extremely negative. The negative reactions are a result of the fact that the book tackles a lot of unpopular subjects in the Asian community (e.g. drug abuse, child abuse). However, itís for the exact same reason that I have had people tell me they love the book. I have been told itís audacious and inspiring. If the feedback has taught me anything, it is this; stay true to yourself and donít hold back because for every detractor, there will be at least one supporter.
Lee HenshawI once read at The Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden and the audience, who, to be fair to them, werenít expecting a prose reader, looked at me, to quote Bill Hicks, like a dog that has just been shown a card trick. There are lots of terrible words and offensive ideas in my book and I chose to read them.

I donít write to please, how could you, but I always hope to entertain, and it disappoints me when I donít.
Lee JacksonRarely letters, generally emails, mostly positive. Not millions of them, but a pleasing trickle. People also write to complain about mistakes in books Ė things that proof-readers have missed. For example, in two of my books, towards the end, the wrong character is speaking a line of dialogue Ö I should have made it my trade-mark artistic flourish! Any feedback, as Iíve suggested above, stimulates you and makes you want to write more.
Lola JayeIn addition to someone telling you how moved they were by your work, a real life person actually dissecting each of your characters like they are real people can be really cool. And scary.

But another person telling me how inspired they were by my story of never giving up on my dream Ė well thatís just so rewarding. A girl has written to me and said that after reading my book, she has decided to travel to Australia and take driving lessons (when you read the book, this will make sense!). Another person wrote the following on my Guestbook; ĎThank you for getting me to like reading again.í
Lucy McCarraherAs ďBlood and WaterĒ hasnít yet been launched at the time of writing, Iím not sure I can answer this. I have a few trusted readers, some of whom read my work chapter by chapter; others of whom I ask to read the finished novel. So far, responses have been mainly positive, but I take great note of criticisms, editing and suggestions, and change things where I need to. Iíll let you know what happens when the public get to read the book and I hear their reactions.
Malcolm BurgessIíve tended to just get feedback from editors Ė if itís good you may get commissioned for another series. But a recent office series in The Times apparently got more responses from pissed off secretaries than any other series theyíd run. Oh, and I wrote a funny series about people in publishing and remember seeing one entry pinned on someoneís notice board and this gave me great pleasure. It obviously gives you more confidence and makes you feel you must be doing something right but I donít think itís ever affected the way I write

Maria McCarthyI have (shamefully) lurked on learner-driver internet forums and seeing both learners and instructors say theyíve found my book useful makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!
Mark BoothI have a need for some kind of immediate, preferably positive feedback. Usually I co-opt my partner, Jo Tyler, to read my latest story before itís even been edited. She occasionally smiles. The response Iím looking for in the rest of my readers is at least a wry smile, at most an uncontrollable guffaw. If I can make people laugh then Iím made up.
Mark Liam PiggottFriends say I write stuff thatís too close to the truth; my family would probably say I rewrite history. Both are right.
Matt LynnIíve had a great response from readers, and it's one of the things that keeps you motivated as a writer. Iím not sure it really affects my writing, however. Writing a novel is very much a solo project. The story is a product of a single mind. No one else really has any say in it.
Meg PeacockeThere seems to be a small but quite convinced kind of readership to whom my work speaks, and I am grateful to them, but I donít believe they influence me. Thereís always this paradox about needing an audience but writing for oneself.
Michael RidpathI often receive e-mails from readers telling me that they have stayed up all night to read my book in one sitting. These make me feel I have succeeded. Sometimes when I am considering the trade-off between pace and some other goal (description, characterisation, background information) , I remember these readers, and go for pace.
Michelene WandorWhen I do readings/performances, audiences are always great and responsive. That is pleasing. Otherwise, there are reviews, when they happen. If the reviews are good, of course Iím pleased; if occasionally they are grumpy, I get annoyed if I think they havenít read whatever it is properly. But these responses canít really influence my writing, because they are always about work which is finished. Every new piece of writing is exactly that.
Michelle Harrison
Itís been a very positive response so far. Iíve had messages from both adults and children who have enjoyed the book, and winning the Waterstoneís Childrenís Book Prize is also a real boost. It has affected my writing in two ways: firstly itís given me more confidence. But I also feel more conscious of how my second book will be received. Itís interesting to read comments where people have written that they want to know more about a particular character, which varies from person to person. I think in the end you just have to write the story in your head Ė if you tried to cater to everyoneís needs youíd end up going a bit mad!
Milly JohnsonIím very lucky Ė my good reviews (so far) have far-outweighed any negative ones Iíve had and Iím getting an increasing amount of letters from readers who have enjoyed my books and taken the time to write to me. I love it when readers say that my books feel so real to them and that I make them both laugh and cry but leave them uplifted at the end. It makes me sure that Iím in the right job and that I want to get better with each book and keep my readership.

Neil ForsythReceiving emails and other contacts from strangers who enjoyed Other Peopleís Money has been fantastic. Someone emailed recently to say that the book had made their summer holiday. Having said that, they never said where theyíd gone on holiday.
Neil J HartMy short stories normally leave people a little hollow as the subject matter is normally quite dark, abrasive and to the point. Iím not usually one for happy endings. Iíve had some great online feedback from readers of Spritz, which is amazing. Because the book is filled with characters we can all identify with, people tend to tell me that they know somebody just like Bob Flint or Johnny Davies. This is not to say that Iím merely playing on archetypes but a grounding in the everyday helps lend weight to the characters. Adding loads of fun idiosyncrasies that make them wholly original is the best part.
Nick StaffordI had a play on once which was a great story but I didnít tell it well enough; the audience told me that. I used to be very instinctive and not think about much at all, consciously. Now I try to write the intitial drafts like that but pay more attention to technique when Iím rewriting.
Nicky SingerI never think about an audience when I write. People often ask me how did I cope switching from adult to childrenís work, but I never thought about it. I just use whatever words the characters would use. It is wonderful to have to have feedback when youíve finished though, this is especially acute in the theatre. I listen to how well the lines play to the audience and often change things according to where eg the laughs do (or donítÖ) come. The novels, they have to stay the way they are. But in any case each reader brings his or her own sensibility to a book, itís not the same thing as the communal experience of a piece of theatre, so thatís right too. I couldnít actively write Ďforí an audience though. I wouldnít know how to begin. You have just to write the story as it burns you.

Nik PerringIím lucky enough to be able to go into schools to talk to them about writing and part of what I do usually involves a reading so Iím able to see peopleís reactions first hand. So far, the reaction has been really positive. Iím just keeping my fingers crossed it continues!

I think one of my favourites was when I found that someone had gone to the trouble of visiting my website to sign my guestbook. That was really nice.

I donít think it influences my writing though. Not consciously. I just do what I do to the best of my ability.
Patrick DillonThe first response for me, and the most valuable, comes from my wife, Nicola. She has to endure every draft of every book, and then endure my gloom when she tells me it isnít working. But her judgment has the biggest impact on where I take a book.

Unlike architects Ė indeed, unlike almost all other artists Ė most writers are self-taught. For me, that means that you can always go on learning and improving your technique. For The Last Revolution I asked two close friends to act as readers. Both write and theyíre both in the book world, one as bookseller and the other as editor, and their detailed editorial comments were a brilliant learning experience for me. They taught me to be far more aware of the craft of writing and to rely less on instinct.

With The Story of Britain I was lucky in having an editor who linked instinct, technique and enormous experience. We really developed the book together, through numerous drafts and long conversations, trying out alternative approaches and tearing them up if they didnít work. Thatís taught me not to be afraid to experiment. When you start writing you tend to think words are precious. The more experienced you get, the more confident you become that thereíll always be another way of approaching things.

As for real readers, their response is, of course, the one that matters. Putting a new book in front of readers is a terrifying moment, but when it works thereís nothing so rewarding. We launched The Story of Britain at the Bath Festival of Childrenís Literature. I was nervous because I havenít written for children before, and had certainly never done a platform performance for eight year-olds. Ten minutes in I realised they were loving it and thought, ĎOK, this has worked.í

Paul ReedUsually very positive. Some people are sympathetic but I like it best when people tell me they've learned something about mental illness from the book. I also like getting a few laughs from an audience.
Peter RobertsonI always show my writing to my best friend, both of whose parents happened to be successful writers, but I donít necessarily take his advice. I believe in myself and what I am doing. If a reader were to tell me that he didnít like my writing, I would ask him why he bothered to read me at all when there are so many other writers he could be reading.
Preethi NairMostly positive and this inspires me. It doesnít actually affect the writing but my attitude to the moments when seemingly it isnít going well.
Rebecca StrongI have had very encouraging responses from those who have read extracts, but I look forward to more comments. I think as a writer, as in any job, you should always look to progress and develop, so Iím sure I would take any constructive criticism on board for the future Ė although ideally there wonít be any!
Ron MorgansThis is my salvation. The agents might not like my books, which means publishers never see them Ė but I give presentations of them to local book circles. Bless them, the lady readers (they are usually made up of avid, lady readers), they love them.

After a lovely afternoon with the women of the Moraira Book Club one lady sat silent. Finally I asked, ďwhat do you think?Ē She summoned a stern reply. ďThere was a split infinitive on page 102.Ē

I have a great time. They all read the titles thoroughly and plumb me dry with exacting questions. Itís so restorative! I forget the sniffy agents. These are the people I write for. Their attitude to my heroine, Henrietta Fox, turned my thinking upside down.

I wrote her as a feisty, 29 year old redhead paparazzo in bikerís leathers with an Irish temper, who takes no nonsense from anybody. She travels the world getting into, and out of, all kinds of trouble. I want my books to be fast paced, international, adventure novels. I expected her to appeal to the men in a dangerous, miss whiplash kind of way. I thought that women would hate her.

Wrong! They love her independence. They say Henrietta Fox does the things they would like to do. That sheís so capable. Itís the men who feel threatened by her. Iíve never believed the Ďdizzy blonde saved by strong heroí guff. In my experience itís mostly the other way around.

Rosy BarnesMy book was out on the 14th Feb Ė officially - so I havenít heard from any readers yet beyond family and friends. (My mother, of course, is a huge fan despite not actually knowing what sadomasochism actually IS.)

Rosy ThorntonNone yet from real people. Only the hardback is out so far, and thatís not on general release. But it means a lot when family and friends enjoy your work. Canít say that what they have said has influenced how I write. But the fact I know my mum (and my Aunty Sybil) will read anything I publish does stop me from writing lots of sex. There is one joke about anal sex in More Than Love Letters but luckily my mum wonít have understood it. (Good thing that Gaskellian bodice-ripper never saw the light of day, really!)
Sally NichollsWays to Live Forever makes everyone cry! And Iím not just talking about my boyfriend and my mum, it makes whole publishing houses cry. Thatís pretty exciting. As far as I know, no children have read it yet though, and thatís the real test.
Sally ZigmondI really donít know what the overall response is. People say they like what I write and I havenít had too much in the way of adverse comments. (But then, on the whole, people keep quiet if they donít like anything, donít they?) As for influencing me, if I feel any criticism has a point, I would try and change it. But I can only write what I write. I canít change my style fundamentally to please everyone.
Sarah StovellSo far, not very many people have read my work, and those who have are good friends, who only say good stuff. I mostly just file the positive comments away somewhere to keep me going during the rough patches, and take them with a pinch of salt. I donít know yet how Iíll deal with criticism. Iíll probably just be irritating and flippant about it and carry on.
Shelley WeinerI think my answer to Ďwhatís worstí covers the negative side. Or the commercial aspect, at any rate. On a personal level, Iíve had responses from people who have engaged with my books in all sorts of ways Ė itís been amazing to me that my work has touched them, moved them to write. Iím not sure if any of this has a direct influence on what Iím writing, but it certainly make me Ė as a writer Ė feel less isolated.
Sol B RiverThe response I get from audiences/readers has gotten grittier as time has gone on. I can't take for granted that even the closet people to me should enjoy everything I write. But I have a responsibility to an audience that is usually a cross section of society ... so sometimes it's more of a risk than at other times and that's when you will really see an audience react. If an audience member has managed to collar me and speak unfavourably about the work then there is usually a reason (good or bad), but it is their right. Fortunately I get a lot of compliments and I thank God for any support.
Steve FeaseyI do lots of school visits, and Iím often taken aback at the enthusiasm for reading that I experience. Teenagers are brutal in their honesty. They tell you exactly what they like and donít like in your books, and I love that Ė itís refreshing and often quite helpful. I also get lots of emails from people via my website.
Steven HagueAs my debut novel, Justice For All, has only been out a few weeks, I havenít had a great deal of response from readers as yet, although those that have been in touch (from afar a field as California and New Zealand) have been very supportive. I take great encouragement from positive feedback such as this, as I figure that if someone has taken the trouble to get in touch with me then I must be doing something right, but I wouldnít say that it actually influences my writing, as I firmly believe you can only write for yourself and then hope that other people enjoy it. What it does do, however, is influence my desire to write, as Iíve always responded better to the carrot than the stick.
Sue MoorcroftIíve been lucky with reviews and they are mainly good. I love to get an email from a reader saying, ĎThis village has got to be in South Lincolnshire because I know one just like it!í or ĎI fell in love with Ratty in Starting Over, cor, who is he?í When people feel about my work as I do about books by my favourite author, I feel Iíve succeeded.
Tania HershmanI am still not used to the fact that my stories are actually being read Ė and by people I don't know! I have a wonderful circle of fellow writer/bloggers, we all comment on each others blogs, celebrate achievements, commiserate over rejections, anxieties, difficulties. I had an unexpected message through Facebook the other day from a writer I had heard of but never met, who asked for a review copy of my book because, he said, ďI've enjoyed your writing in the past, but also because the amount of time you've spent reviewing everyone else at The Short Review probably deserves some good karma.Ē I was totally stunned by that, and moved, because I write and send stories out and sometimes they are published but you never really know who is reading them. It was a very wonderful thing for him to tell me. As for audiences Ė I let you know after I've done my first reading, at the Frank O'Connor International Short story Festival in Cork, Ireland, in mid-September!
Tim LottI had a terrific number of responses to my first book. Many people say that it changed their lives. I canít think of a better compliment than that.
Trilby KentIíve had some lovely mail from young readers. My favourite so far has to be the hand-felted carrier pigeon, modeled on Baron Sigwalt from Medina Hill, from a girl who lives in my home town of Toronto. Heís perched on the shelf above my computer and always makes me smile.

Vanessa CurtisIím one of those superstitious souls who donít want to show anybody their work unless thereís a guaranteed publishing contract at the end of it, although Iíve had kind reviews and positive comments from readers on the two biographies Iíve published so far. I did a live radio broadcast after my first book was published and although feedback was good, the experience was terrifying beyond belief, due in no small part to lack of sleep, a tube strike and being on the same show as Edwina Currie (she got the lionís share of airtime, obviously). Iíve never been a great fan of courses, workshops and writing circles, although I have read a fair number of Ďhow toí books and I take the comments of publishers and agents seriously. The thought of circulating my work-in-progress to other people doesnít appeal Ė one negative comment, however well meaning, carries the risk of denting your confidence irreversibly. I think you have to get used to judging your own work and knowing when it is ready to send out. No amount of degree courses or writing workshops can ever prepare you for what itís like to sit day in day out alone at your desk, trying to write a novel. Thatís the true apprenticeship and the true discipline and itís tough. It will show you whether or not youíre cut out to be a writer.
Vanessa GebbieIíve done a reading or two, and got decent feedback. Thatís nice. Iíve had a couple of little stories on BBC radio, one in a competitive situation where the listeners voted for something Iíd written. At the Charleston Small Wonder festival, the audience voted by making a noise. That is lovely, wonderful, generous, and it is very hard not to be influenced by it.

In the end, a writer writes to be read, listened to, performed, whatever. I donít believe writers who say ďOh, I only write because I want to hide it away so no one ever sees it!Ē but I make a concerted effort to write fresh, not to order or Ďfor a marketí.
William ColesNot that many people I know have yet read The Well-Tempered Clavier - but the few that have seem to like it. Some are absolutely astonished that I've been capable of writing a genuine romance. The best news though was when I learned that the proof-reader had burst into tears when she reached the ending - which, I guess, meant that I'd made a connection.
William SuttonI send chapters to a few select friends and read bits to my girlfriend. Their response affects me perhaps too much, but it certainly gives me the encouragement to go on. I try to be sceptical when just one person doesnít like something, a scene or a character, but pay attention if several people comment. But the most important thing about it is perhaps recovering that initial excitement of presenting a story, which can get lost in all the rewriting and reworking.
Zoe LambertSometimes I have communicated something to readers and given them someone elseís view on the world.