I’ve recently posted my short story Her Husband’s Ex to Lush Stories and interestingly this story has got rather more requests for a sequel than almost all my stories (with the exception of The Golden Knot, which is best described as niche).
However, I sort of think this story is rather too insubstantial to warrant a sequel, and in any case this would go against the story’s original purpose which is to relate the rather odd relationship a second wife or a second long-term partner has with the one who preceded her; and, furthermore, with the very real and sometimes realistic fear that the first wife still takes emotional precedence. The reason I wrote this as a short story is that there wasn’t much more I wanted to say (unless it could somehow be incorporated into the original short story). The only exception I’ve made to this general practice is the aforementioned The Golden Knot, in which both the original and the sequel were meant as a kind of joke on the kind of epic fantasy fiction it satirises.
It is strange though that a story like Her Husband’s Ex which is one of the least adventurous and most naturalistic of my stories has had such an appeal and, as I commented in an earlier post, has somehow attracted an extraordinary amount of bile. It’s something I don’t really have an answer to.
If I were trying to make some kind of commercial success out of writing sex fiction, I guess this would be a seam worth mining: but I guess I’m not really that kind of writer and I sort of think I’ve more or less exhausted what I can do with this story of Caitlin, Ken and Sonya.
I sometimes wonder who my target reader is. There’s a kind of notion, promulgated by all those ‘How to Write a Novel’ books, that says that the successful writer tries to write fiction that the target reader would enjoy. I understand this in an abstract sense and I kind of agree with it, but I don’t really follow this prescription. The nearest to a target reader I have is someone like myself: but a someone who unlike me prefers to read fiction on the internet rather than the huge body of high quality fiction available elsewhere. I sort of imagine someone who understands some, but not necessarily all, the references I make and someone who is in sympathy with at least the moral intent of my stories even if they may disagree with the precise political, socio-economic and religious bias.
I kind of think that many of my readers occupy a different space altogether. It’s not one I wish to designate too precisely, but I don’t think it exactly occupies the same space as I sort of expect.
But does it matter? Different people get different things out of the same source material. When Bruce Springsteen sung “Born in the USA” he was making a kind of plea for a particular kind of understanding of what it means to be American, but many of those who enjoy the song have a totally different understanding which is essentially anathema to its intentions. But it still gives pleasure to many more people than Bruce Springsteen originally intended.
So perhaps, in a similar way, some of my own fiction has somehow spilled over to a quite different demographic to what I intended.