Is there anybody out there?

You know the one: the social situation with people milling about, being polite. Someone asks you what you do. You tell them you write. Then they ask what sort of thing. You explain you’re a children’s writer. At this point, you may be asked what you’ve had published – or if it’s someone feeling clued up, who’s your target audience?

It’s then I translate their question into the one I want to answer – like a politician. What I hear is ‘Who am I writing for?’ My immediate response is me. There’s an element of ‘you can’t please everyone…’ in there, and the child inside. I write the books I wish someone had written for me.

Then, of course, come the second thoughts. A nasty little Imp of Doubt asks whether modern children could possibly have any interest in my concerns. I bat it away with the assertion that adults’ needs and desires haven’t change over millennia – and neither have children’s.

My third thoughts bring me back to the original question about ‘target audience’.

I don’t have one.

Chasing trends, thinking about demographics and responding to focus groups is SEP* as far as I’m concerned. Perhaps it’s arrogant, but I think my calling is to tell this one story as well as I can.

And what I see, who I am writing this book for, is a boy (I have three sons). He is boy fascinated by the sea. He is a boy who wonders if there’s some truth in myths and legends. He is a boy who half-sees things in grungy corners, who wants to escape into another world. He thinks the ’60s were cool.

I hope he’s out there – him and his mates.

*Someone Else’s Problem

4 thoughts on “Is there anybody out there?

  1. my tuppence worth is, If the writing is good and the story gripping, them modern readers (they don’t have to be children) will want to read it, no matter where or when it’s set or leading x

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