As authors, we are told to figure out who our intended audience is and then write for them. Sound advice, if I do say so myself. So when I wrote WANTED: Dead or Undead my intended audience was teen girls (Yes, a zombie book for girls). There are some gross zombie scenes, of course, but mostly it is a romance set in the wild, wild west.
So when someone, who is not a teen girl, decides to pick up my book and give it a read, I get a tad nervous. But guess what, so far so good. I've had teen boys tell me they read it in one day and loved it, wanting to know when the second book will be available. I've had older women read it and tell me really enjoyed it. I've even had some men read the book who liked it (though they are a little harder to please--they don't care for the romance so much and want more blood and guts. So I warn them--this book contains gross stuff like hungry zombies, decapitations, and kissing).
But my most favorite fan mail came from the daughter of a sixty-five year old man. This is what she had to say:
"I have to tell you about my dad's experience with your book. Let me preface with this, my dad is not a reader. He is EXTREMELY picky about what he reads, and he does not read often. That being said, you can now say you have a new fan in your 65+ category. My dad is already finished. He started reading it last night, and by the time he looked at the clock he realized, "Oh s%@# ! It's past midnight!" Those are his exact words. So when he gets up this morning, he gets ready for the day and picks the book up again. He finished it by the time my mom came home at two!
He read the first chapter of your next one and wants to know if you'll give him some hints as to what happens next! He said it would make a "damn good movie", and would like to see that happen! He did say there were a couple parts that were "pretty steamy", but he can't wait for it to snow again so he can make some snowmen and cut off their heads. (I have no idea what that means because I haven't read it yet, but I will as soon as I can pry it out of his hands).
He does have some questions for you, like:
How many books are there going to be in the series?
Can she give me a little hint as to how they get out of the trouble they're in?
How soon can I get a copy of the next book?
Oh, and he says to get your butt in gear and finish the second book already."
To know that my Young Adult intended book is a hit will senior citizens--and male senior citizens to boot--is a pretty awesome feeling. So yes, write for your intended audience, but don't be afraid to let those outside of your target audience give it a go. You may just end up with a new fan or two you were never expecting :)