Firstly I'm not sure that owns is the right word here but it feels the most appropriate. And there's a lot of topic here, so I may carry some of this over to next week.
I've recently read a couple of author interviews and over time 'witnessed' a few author meltdowns via the internet about how readers choose to interpret stories.
So who does a story belong to? Who gets to decide what it means?
My own take on this is that once a story is published it 'belongs' to the reader. If a reader chooses to interpret a story in a certain way then I think usually it's either because the author made things too vague allowing the story to be interpreted in that way, the author was influencing the reader in a certain way as a source of misdirection or the author wanted to take advantage of the wishes of the minority of their fans whilst reserving the right to write whatever they want to.
Vagueness - I don't really have a problem with. I like when authors give their readers credit. I want to engage my brain when I read. I want to puzzle things out. I don't like always having everything spelt out for me. For me the joy of reading is engaging your imagination and the more someone chooses to guide you through the specifics the less you get to do that.
Misdirection - I don't really have a problem with. :) For all the above reasons to do with vagueness. I read a LOT. And if an author can get me to think one thing while really something else is happening I love it. Mainly because this increases the re-readability of a story by 100%. To read through a story for the second time and see where you read all the signs wrong, to have the insight of knowing where a story is going, is one of the best parts of reading and it happens so rarely. (Recently read The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner which has one of these moments and I'll hopefully have the review of that up this week - loved it).
I don't have a problem with vagueness or misdirection. If it's done well the reader will 'get it'. If it's done badly it's no use the author throwing their teddies out of the pram if a reader chooses to interpret the story in their own way.
I believe the author should write the story they want to write to the best of their ability. If a fan/group of fans says they want an ethnic character or a gay character or they want a certain couple to end up together* the author should ignore it unless it's organic to the story they were already telling, unless that's where they were already going. You can't please all of the people all of the time and you shouldn't try to, you'll just end up disappointing (and annoying) everybody.
So who does a story belong to? I have a copy of Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn to give away to one poster to this thread. Winner to be chosen at random by random number at randomnumber.org. on Saturday (I add here that as far as I'm aware Carrie Vaughn has never thrown her teddies out of the pram, it just happens that I have two copies of KatSB after accidentally buying a second copy. An occasional hazard of having such a HUGE TBR pile.)
*I admit this is something I'm guilty of as a reader. Sometimes you can't help yourself.