I've been going to a lot of weddings lately. People who are getting married talk a lot about the first moment they saw their partner and oftentimes they recall a feeling that they just...knew. There's something comforting about this, the idea that you could be going about your business and out of the blue you see someone and it's game over. But what I find more intriguing than what you think you knew at the time of first contact is everything you didn't know. The idea that you lay eyes on someone without knowing that that stranger is about to crash into your life and turn it upside down, that there will be no going back from this moment.
This is true with books as well. You pick something up because a friend recommended it or because you read a good review or maybe just because you like the cover. Your expectations vary depending on the situation but the ones you really fall in love with, the ones you end up talking about for years, they always catch you by surprise.
I remember where I was when I started and finished Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go the way that people remember where they were when they first met the person they fell in love with or when they first head about a life altering event.
When I think about what being successful as a novelist means to me, I think it's that above all things. That feeling. That impact. That lasting love.