There are two concepts in literature known as "Death of the Author" and "Word of God." These views are often in opposition to one another and they make up a huge amount of fan arguments. Frustration and even outright anger stem from the misinterpretation of an author's words, so as I prepare for this next iteration of my own novel, I wonder which view will hold more weight.
To make sure we're all on the same page, let me explain those two terms. Loosely, "Death of the Author" means that once a piece of literature is written, filmed, or otherwise published, that's the end of the author's input on what is "real" about that world. Only the text holds weight. Whatever the writer intended is irrelevant. If the text contradicts their view, then they failed as an author.
This is contrasted with "Word of God," wherein whatever the author says, after the fact, is canon. This is most relevant to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling who has become famous lately for adding in canonical details years after the last piece of media was published. For example, though there is no significant text to support it, she claimed a few years ago that Dumbledore had been gay throughout the entire series. While somewhat offtopic, this has continued lately almost to the point of absurdity within the fan community as her tweets are now something of a joke amongst both fans and detractors.
Still, "Word of God" means that whatever Rowling says is true, is true. So what's the more valid line of reasoning? I would think, at first glance, that whatever the author says should be taken as law, but there are some good arguments against it. Without specific example, imagine a writer filled their text with racist and offensive imagery. Imagine that the text itself was not only offensive, but vile, and potentially dangerous to the communities it attacked. By "Death of the Author," we can interpret the meaning of this text purely on it's content, but "Word of God" means that the author can say, in no uncertain terms, they did not mean anything to be offensive... and that would have to be the conclusion drawn.
When I first learned of these terms, it seemed cut and dry which one was the superior philosophy, but as with so many things, the longer I look at it, the less clear cut it seems. Both sides clearly have merit, but which one is superior? And what does superiority in a philosophy like this even mean? In the end, I suppose all I can do is offer, as a writer, which one I would prefer to be judged by. And that is... I don't know. Again, I thought this would be clear. Obviously, I would like to have my word be the final say on matters not addressed by the text, but at the same time, have I done my job if my readers have to ask me what I meant?
I suppose if it's something nonconsequential, Word of God is fine. Is Reagan a fan of jazz? Does Jonathan enjoy late night television? But if they're wondering about the motivation of the villain, the drive of my protagonist, well... I suppose whatever I've written is what should really be the deciding factor. But that's just me...
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.