I heard it said once that once a book is out in the world, the characters no longer belong to the author, but instead the reader. I didn’t pay much attention to this tidbit at the time and frankly, as an author, I wasn’t quite so certain I believed it. I rarely think about my readers, all of you out there sitting down with a copy of one of my books and diving in. I have a hard time thinking about someone getting lost in the characters that I create as I do on occasion when I’m reading a particularly great book. Reading becomes harder when you’re a writer, I’m sure many of you have heard a writer say that before. It’s not so much that we’re constantly critiquing the works, it’s just harder to lose yourself in a story.

So back to that statement… I don’t know that I tend to feel particularly possessive about other people’s characters very often. But it has happened. Most recently it happened when I finally succumbed to Hunger Game mania and I dove in. Within a week I had downed all three books and I felt quite thankful that I had waited as long as I did so that I could gorge on all the books instead of waiting for their release as I had done with the Harry Potter books.

But it was after I had read the books and I was sitting in the theatre with my niece watching the movie. She hadn’t seen it and I had taken the advantage of my sister being in town to watch my kids so I could take her daughter to see it since she is also a lover of the books. I became agitated in the movie, annoyed at some of the younger audience members who giggled and snickered during some particularly tender moments. And I realized in that instant why, it was because I was offended that they weren’t getting it, they were making these moments cheap and belittling them. Because those were MY characters. That was MY Katniss and MY Peeta and they could just leave if they couldn’t appreciate what was going on on the screen. Now granted much of the emotional progression of the characters was missing from the movie for the sake of time, but still the movie does a lot very right.

Every now and then you read books. Magical books that dig inside you and burrow deep into your soul. Characters that hang on and refuse to let go. Lots of books are great, wonderful even, but some books go beyond just a good story. Their worlds become so real, so engrossing that to leave them is nearly painful, as if you’re grieving a dear friend. I don’t want to leave the world of the Panem, of Katniss and Peeta and Gale and Haymitch. I don’t want to walk away from them. I felt this when the Harry Potter series ended. Satisfied with the way the story was told, but also a great sadness that the tale was over, that my journey with the characters had come to an end. Of course I can re-read them, but nothing ever feels the same as that first time turning the pages as fast you can (or clicking the kindle button as was my case) and grabbing on to every word so as to not miss one morsel of story.

I don’t know if I ever accomplish that as a writer. I don’t know if I have any readers out there who have been that engrossed in the worlds I create. Mine aren’t as unique and original as those you find in books with a more fantasy bent. But when I read books like these, they make me want to be a better writer, make me want to strive to create characters that haunt readers all the way into their dreams, that make readers clutch the book to their chest and sigh heavily when its all said and done because they’re sad to leave the characters and the world in which they dwell.

So how about you? Can you easily lose yourself in the world of books? What are some of your favorites that have totally captured you and made it hard to leave the characters?


10 thoughts on “You belong to me

  1. Robyn; it is exactly like that for me. I felt the same way about Harry Potter and about the Hunger Games trilogy. There were two other very popular series that I loved and was committed to until the authors did something (one killed a beloved character’s mother and changed the character completely. The other went in a different direction with her storytelling) that ruined the world that I had made my own. I can’t read any more books in those worlds because I’m still mad about it! :)

  2. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    I wouldn’t say I easily lose myself if a book world, but when i do I also get quite proprietary. I’d have to say Jamie and Clare from Gabaldon’s series, Eve and Roarke from JD Robb’s series, and Bella and Edward from the Twilight series (I know a lot of people hate Twilight, but not me) stand out as sucking me in.

  3. Love this point of view!

    I also went through the pangs of watching Hunger Games surrounded by pre-teens. In fact, I tried a second time, and it was worse!

  4. catslady says:

    I get lost in every good book that I read. Although some more than others but most every book. LOTR, Twilight, Hunger Games and Harry Potter were strong ones but maybe because they were at least 3 books too. Once the characters get into my head, I’m in another place.

  5. Hellion says:

    Those two exact series. *LOL* I loved the Hunger Games books much better than the movie, but I’m all for the boy with the bread, so he better not be heckled. *LOL*

    Books like these DO make me want to be a better, to write like that. That type of emotional as well as literal journey.

    I felt this way when I read Delirium. I felt very swept into the book; and Allie Condie’s books are so lyrical, they’re just a treat to read.

    I think the other series I am caught up in and if it was ever a movie, I’d be very into it or very emotionally involved in the picks: Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick.

  6. I definitely felt immersed in the Hunger Games world. Katniss et al were MY people! I didn’t feel that so much with the Harry Potter books, although I did enjoy them.
    I felt it with the Outlander series. And with a couple of TV shows lately.

  7. RobynDeHart RobynDeHart says:

    I’m so glad I’m not alone.

    And Hellion, yes, I got the shivers just by you using the phrase, “the boy with the bread” sigh, I might have to re-read that series very soon.

  8. Kathryn in Montreal says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… probably my all-time favourite book: The Pillars of the Earth. I was consumed by the story and the characters… Jack and Aliena, Tom and Ellen, the incredible research Ken Follett did into the way of life 900 years ago. Truly a great read. I also really enjoyed the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel; I found the characters and setting compelling. And Harry Potter…just an all around wow! I did enjoy the Hunger Games, more than I liked Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

  9. Emily McKay says:

    Yeah, I think this is one of the reasons series–even a great one–sometimes have trouble translating to the screen. I love the Janet Evonivich books (One for the Money, etc). I enjoyed the movie, but it didn’t translate as well because the that on-screen chemistry between actors is just so hard to nail down. I met a woman at RT this week, and she was so indignant that the guy who played Joe wasn’t even Italian. It was hysterical!

  10. Segh says:

    I tend to become involved with most books I read, however the best books are the ones that make me feel. I cryed when Doby died in Harry Potter,again when a favored character died unexpectantly in The Hunger Games,I cryed alot while reading Gone With the Wind and while reading The Doll Maker.

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