If you write for a living, if you sell your work, who does it belong to?
A lot of amateur writers will never be faced with this question, but all professionals are.
My personal feeling is that once the service of writing something has been paid for, and once a piece of work is out in the world, it no longer belongs to the writer.
The reader is all.
The reader can say whatever he likes about the text once it has left the building, and do with it as he chooses. He can interpret themes and plots any way he likes.
When I wrote “Naming Names”, I believed that my intention was absolutely clear. It did not cross my mind that the novel could be interpreted in any but one way.
I was wrong.
I looked at what I had written, pulled it apart, examined it, deconstructed the grammar, and I still couldn’t see how I could have written it with any greater clarity. I had simply not taken account of the fact that every reader has a unique understanding of the world in which we live and therefore brings his own agenda to every new book that he reads.
The book was banned on Authonomy, and more than one of my own readers stopped reading the novel before reaching the end. It is not an indictment, it is a compliment. I have moved readers with my words, provoked visceral reactions, made them cry or throw away the book in disgust.
These responses might not be exactly what I intended, but, love it or hate it, readers do seem to respond to “Naming Names”. So, my work here is done.
I suppose the final arbiters of taste and decency will be the reviewers that one day read and judge “Naming Names” and recommend it, or not. I like to think I’m in very safe hands, but I won’t be reading my press: good or bad, but (almost) certainly not indifferent.