Let’s Talk with Karla Brandenburg

Billionaires or Average Joes?
by Karla Brandenburg

As a reader, there are so many different types of books to choose from. I have a very diverse reading list across several different genres. For me, reading is more about the characters I meet. Robert Langdon. Danny Torrance. The Holland family. I like characters I can relate to.

At one of the writer’s conferences I attended, an agent got up and said, “Pitch me your best story, and right now, the richer the better. Who’s writing billionaires?”

Not me. In my own little world, I prefer folks I’d like to meet. Does that mean I’m not interested in meeting a movie star or a fabulously wealthy person? No, it’s just that they come with their own set of issues. Those issues might make for a more complex character while writing, but those same issues make me less likely to adopt a celebrity as my best friend. Call it personal bias.

Some characters have unknown sources of wealth. Robert Langdon. Certainly he doesn’t come across as a millionaire/billionaire, and his source of wealth is never disclosed. He’s a working man who can afford to take fantastic trips all around the world at the drop of a hat. I don’t normally question the source of his wealth, but he *must* have money tucked away somewhere.

And then there is the Holland family. They own a vineyard in upstate New York. They come from money, and the other characters in their books respond to that in positive and negative ways. But they’re also “real” people. They are people I can relate to, for the most part. Then again, Kristan Higgins draws very relatable characters.

Most of the books I read don’t address the wealth (or lack thereof) of the characters. I like it that way. I like to read about Average Joes. People I’d meet on the street or in everyday life. I do realize there is a population out there who want their heroes/heroines wealthy, and the richer the better. They can do anything. Go anywhere. There are some very successful authors who write about the jet set life and the prince and the pauper scenarios where the wealthy benefactor saves the life of a down on his luck person or the wealthy guy falls in love with the dirt-poor girl, etc. etc. etc.

What about you? Do you like reading about how the other half lives? Or do you like to read about people more like you?