There are some wonderful authors interviewed on this website on a regular basis, and I'm proud to have been one of them. However, this week, I would like to interview someone who is essential in
our profession, without whom none of this would be possible. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce an interview with:
THE READER!In the course of preparing this column, I combed the Internet for volunteers/readers who were interested in giving their opinions on the particular subject of mysteries. I gave each of them a number of relevant questions and while analyzing the responses, I learned quite a few things.
It was a relatively representative sample, ranging in age from the mid-thirties to the sixties, with two lone males. They were from all over: Ohio, Mississippi, quite a few from North Carolina, New Jersey and one from Saskatchewan, Canada. (One thing I learned was how to spell "Saskatchewan!")
QUESTION: Approximately how many books do you read per month?
Whew! The answers were all over the place on this one, beginning with 1-2 and capping it off with 40-60! Those on the lower end tended to be busy moms--no big surprise. And one person explained that they "read" a huge number via audio books on the way to work.
QUESTION: What genres of mystery do you prefer?
It was to be expected that many listed cozy mysteries, police procedurals and classics, but several responders added that they enjoyed a book with a scientific or science fiction theme, as well. Humor was another attraction.
QUESTION: How do you feel about a religious/Christian theme in a mystery?
This question is of special interest to the Suspense Sisters authors, because our work is rooted in our Christian faith. Interestingly, nobody--not even those declaring themselves "not religious"--actually objected to this, but just about everybody said they preferred that such books not be "preachy" or "in your face." It was important, they stressed, that faith be part of the character's life and not the focus of the mystery puzzle. Obviously, Christians were more comfortable with these themes.
QUESTION: Are you willing to spend extra money on a "solid" book or do you prefer an eBook?
It would seem that the eBook is here to stay, though many responders said that if they really loved and enjoyed a book or series, they would spend the extra coins for a copy to put in their library.
QUESTION: What kind of theme/story/character would you like to see more of?
This was fascinating. What a range of ideas these readers gave! One would like to see more committed Christian characters, "on fire for God;" another wanted to see a strong female scientist working in the astronomy field. Science fiction themes was the request of another, while there was also a call for "military themes, good vs. evil." A responder liked "everyday people solving crimes" and detectives with "special abilities" (a la Sue Thomas, FBEye).
QUESTION: Do you prefer series mysteries or stand-alones?
Most readers were glad to read either, but some expressed a preference for the continuing relationship development that a series allows. They begin to look on characters as friends.
It's important, one reader stressed, that even series books be able to be read as stand-alones, without spoilers.
QUESTION: When did you discover mysteries?
Most people became addicted at age 9-11, and it was generally agreed that Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were the gateways to this benign habit, though one mentioned Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, too.
QUESTION: What makes you stop reading a book, never to pick it up again?
This question seemed to puzzle some of the readers. I think it never occurred to them to NOT finish a book, even if they didn't particularly like it. Others, however answered "if I can't get into it," "poor writing," "overt sexual themes," and "foul language."
QUESTION: What do you think has become cliché in mysteries these days?
This was another puzzler for some, who honestly couldn't bring anything to mind. But some had very definite opinions: "multiple red herrings," "the all-powerful super-villain serial killer," and "the veteran cop taken out of retirement for one last case."
QUESTION: How do you feel about violence/gore/action in the books you read?
I think lumping all three together was a mistake on my part. Most people liked action. Some didn't mind violence and gore if it was part of the story--"It's crime fiction, after all"--but several didn't like the latter if it was gratuitous.
Quite a few responders had written themselves, but only one had completed a soon-to-be-published book. Not many had written reviews of their favorite books, but expressed the intention of doing so in the future. Some had even reached out to their favorite writers, which is what we like to hear!
So thank you, Dear Reader, for your ideas and opinions. They will be taken to heart and used by the Suspense Sisters authors to make better and more appealing books for you to enjoy!
E.E. Kennedy is the author of the Miss Prentice Cozy Mystery series, published by Sheaf House, and available in eBook or paperback via Amazon, B&N, CBD or any of your favorite online book sellers.
The series is about a high school English teacher/sleuth and the titles include: Irregardless of Murder, Death Dangles a Participle, Murder in the Past Tense and Incomplete Sentence.
This was such an intelligent, articulate group! Each of their names has been entered in the drawing for an eBook of one of my four mysteries--reader's choice.
If you would like your name entered in the drawing, too, please leave a comment below, along with your email address, so we can contact you if you win!