Posted by: istop4books | March 29, 2009

Talking frankly with an author

This month, for our book club, we chose a book that came with an invitation from the author for a call in to our club to talk to us for an hour or so. Our book club had done this before and, after looking at the glowing recommendations for this book, (we all wondered later on where those recommendations came from)  we chose it for our March selection.  It would be an easy read, a bit of a mystery and a departure from some unusually complex books we’ve read in the past.  Hemingway, Atlas Shrugged, The Known World, From Beirut to Jerusalem, plus a few clunkers along the way.  

Well… we read this book, and as a group — hated it.  And no, I won’t say the name of the book in case the author googles it, I don’t want to break her heart.  The meeting was at my house, and we had to strategize first.  What would we say if she asked us if we liked the book?  We looked at each other, stiffling giggles and snide remarks, and came up with ” it was a quick read, fun and a departure from some of the books we usually read.”  We pointed towards the one woman in our group who said she had sort of enjoyed it.  She would answer that one.  

We then went on to come up with a list of questions to ask the author and decided to focus more on her process than on the plot (or lack of), and the characters, who were totally unbelievable.  At the appointed time, we assembled in our living room and I made the call.  

The author came on and pretty much was a talker.  She mentioned that in her neck of the woods there were no  book clubs,  well, there were book clubs, but all “high-brow” with women who just wanted to read “high brow” books.  Someone just about fell off the couch laughing, and someone else had a soft drink spurt from her nose as she tried hard not to laugh.  This author likes quick fast easy reads, and that’s what she writes.

But as we got further into the writing process and found out what had driven her,  we noticed a new respect for the process and for the courage it takes to even write an awful book.  It gave us a new respect for good authors, bad editors, friends who let friends write bad novels and publishing.  

In the end, many of us have a book inside us just waiting to be put on paper.  We have that story to tell, if only we’d take the time, take the plunge, and be courageous enough to do so.  This author did it, got herself published and was not afraid to talk to a group of women.  We were afraid to tell her what we thought, and we may have to rethink that strategy next time.

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