We sat around a coffee table laden with supper treats. I held my mug of tea with two hands. My copy of Out of the Cages lay hidden in the bag beside my feet. A photo album next to it. The room filled up until all the seats were occupied and then there was a hush. A pause. A waiting. A few copies of my novel appeared, and then they asked me – ‘What inspired you to write this book?’
It was my friend’s Book Club. I’d been invited as the ‘guest speaker’ and ‘visiting author’. The group seemed a little nervous to have me there: apparently they’d never had an author join them before.
But I was nervous too.
After all, I’d written a YA novel and this was a room full of adult readers with questions and opinions and bookshelves full of titles I probably haven’t even heard of. And what if they didn’t like my book? Would they have to pretend they did because I was there? Wouldn’t it be easier to let them discuss it without me?
But I needn’t have worried. Like when I visited the Penrith YA Book Club earlier in the year, who would readily admit they preferred fantasy and dystopian type genres, I was warmly welcomed. (Maybe it’s a book lover thing?) Conversation flowed and meandered and relaxed. A few people bravely admitted they hadn’t wanted to read my book, and weren’t sure if they’d finish it. But they did. And they were glad they had. Others told me how angry they had felt while they were reading. Another wanted to know how much of the story was true. So I told them. I pulled my photo album out of my bag and answered as best I could. And then I asked them some questions. (And we posed for a photo.)
So often, as an author, I sit at my desk only imagining the responses a reader might have to a situation I write, or an emotion I have attempted to weave into a story. It was wonderful to be able to interact with the readers and listen to how they found the story, their take on it and what stood out the most for them. What a treat!
If you could have any author you liked come to your Book Club, who would you invite? And what would your number one question be?