Yeah, that’s a question. That’s a thing.
No writer is totally the sole active player in the game. All sorts of presences, as well as pasts and futures, are part of what appears on the page. Some of that stuff comes from the writer, and some simply flows on through.
No reader is actually passive. The reader contributes all the time. Their thoughts, feelings, experiences and stances influence immensely what happens as the words cross-pollinate themselves into their minds, and fuzz about amongst their daily activities and acquaintances.
So it’s all a collaboration. A fucking huge conflagration of things, which is so dynamic you could never hope to poke a stick at it.
When I started to write the Time Anew series I was asked by someone (in fact, myself) who my target readership group was or might be. It seemed a reasonable, albeit faintly ridiculous, question at the time. Boldly, but perhaps crazily, I asserted that I wanted my readership to be built around “those folk who in fact never read a book”. Yes, I wanted to attract sci fi and time travel fiction fans, and lovers of adventure stories, hero journeys, kick arse anti-hero stuff, comedy noir and so on and so forth, but mostly I wanted to access the inaccessible, and bring them on in. Bring them home. Who knows, maybe somehow, sometime, that will happen. On some level, the non-reader cohort want it to happen. Because they have so much to contribute to the story.
Yeah, let’s do it. Collaborate. Get down and dirty.