[With acknowledgment to the creators of this ‘card game’ Keith Lamb and Louise Howland.]
Q: ‘What is needed to take a writer beyond the limits of a national framework to an international readership?’
A: Very little. I don’t believe that readers have ever been so insular as to only read writers from their own country: the British only reading British authors; Americans only reading American authors. Readers, as a very general statement, read to discover new worlds and different people and behavior. Yes, often we tend read about topics with which we are familiar, about settings and characters we can identify with, but because people are people, the world over, whether their problems are set in California, Birmingham, Alice Springs, or Crete they will all show similar hopes, dreams, motivations, or depravities, and so it matters very little where the story is set.
Of course, it is always very interesting to read about other countries and the differences in their daily routines as depicted by the characters. I would never have known that it is very common to have cheese for breakfast in Norway if I had never read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; I would never have understood the terrible hardships suffered by the migrant farmers in California if I had never read The Grapes of Wrath; I would never have known that in Japan the city is broken up into prefectures if I had never read Kafka on the Shore. So, while I am sure the national readership of these novels were delighted to read about events set close to home where they could envisage the scenery and the everyday lives of the characters with ease, to read these from an international point of view only increases the enjoyment in learning about different ways of life.
I think the difference between being a national and an international writer lies not in the content of their novels, but with the acquisition of a very good publicist.