Two nights ago, I was very honored to attend a book club meeting held by 7 lovely ladies (Bev, Anne, Eve, Isabel, Gloria, Nancy and Joyce) in west Edmonton. It started at 7:30 and went until 10:00. I had a blast...especially since I was the 'guest author'. They had just finished reading Whale Song.
The first order of business--food. Hey, what's a good book club without good treats? And I tell you, these ladies know how to put on a spread. Crab quiche, made specially because of the ocean theme of Whale Song. I asked if we were having whale sandwiches next...hehe. Nope, but fresh veggies and strawberries, salsa and chips, cheese and crackers, chocolate, cashews...wine (darn, I don't drink!)...coffee. Why does book club food taste so awesome?
I'm thinking the next book I write should have a steak and lobster theme. Hmm, wonder which of the ladies will be BBQing...lol
We chatted about traveling as one of the ladies is off to Paris today or tomorrow and another is heading for Madrid. I told them I was going to Pennsylvania, but somehow that just doesn't compete with Paris and Spain.
Then they got down to business.
I am always very excited (and just a tad bit nervous) when attending book club meetings. After all, I expect them to be honest about their thoughts and reactions. The first thing they did was a thumbs up/thumbs down vote.
I held my breath.
8 thumbs UP!
I was told that doesn't often happen.
They began telling me how much they loved Whale Song and many of them said they cried. In fact, I was encouraged to give out packages of tissue with the book. Strangely enough, I have thought of that idea often.
The conversation around Whale Song was great! One woman started telling me about one of her favorite parts and she started crying. Next thing, we were all blinking away like crazy and talking about Whale Song. They asked a ton of very thoughtful questions, about the book, writing, my life, living on the Queen Charlotte Islands, native relationships, getting published. I wasn't surprised to hear that many of them really loved the native grandmother Nana.
What I found most interesting was when one of the ladies shared how she thought the story around the mother (Daniella) and her illness was going to go in a certain direction, and that all the clues and foreshadowing could lead to that conclusion. And she's right! Yet, I had never really thought of it...probably because I knew exactly where it was all leading. As a writer, I find it very satisfying to learn that I have delivered a twist, consciously or not, that works.
The ladies had me sign their copies of Whale Song and then they bought The River and Divine Intervention, which I had on hand for a special price.
In the end, I left feeling exceptionally inspired. It is one thing to write a book and know people are reading it; it is another to actually meet your readers. I have found that being a guest at a book club meeting is a wonderful way to see what people like and don't like. No matter how many industry reviews I get, there is nothing better than being reviewed by avid readers.
They want me to come back. I would love to! (And thank you, ladies, for such a wonderful time!)
P.S. Attention Edmonton book clubs: If you read any of my novels in your club, please email me. I would love to attend your book club meeting. Seafood, optional! :)
Read an excerpt from Whale Song.
Order Whale Song: A Novel