Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Club and Barbeque

Young Girl Reading-- Cassatt, Mary, 1844-1926, painter. As promised, I’m reporting in on my book club appearance from a couple of nights ago. I have to say I was really impressed with the group.

Favorite parts of the evening:

In honor of the book, members served a Southern-style supper, which I found really thoughtful. Everything was delicious—barbeque, shrimp and grits, cole slaw….yum. (Believe it or not, I was one of only two Southerners there. Lots of Northern transplants in Charlotte.)

They’d collectively sold out my book from the Barnes and Nobles and Borders stores in the Charlotte area, which I sincerely appreciated. Note: book clubs are more of a successful sales event than most booksignings and workshops.

Hearing my book being discussed in an intelligent manner. Sometimes I felt they had better insights than I did, and I’d written the darned thing. They discussed what they thought motivated the behavior of my sleuth’s police chief son (they decided it might be because he was an only child), and why a man might prove a good sidekick for an elderly woman.

Introducing mysteries to some non-mystery readers. I like to say there’s a mystery genre for everyone: police procedural, cozy, thriller, etc.

Having an attentive audience of avid readers. They were very interested in hearing about the genesis of my characters and the plot. They also wanted to hear about the publishing process and what it entails.

Challenges …

My book was a departure from their usual book choices. I knew going in that the group usually read literary fiction. There was a particular member who found the departure from literary fiction toward genre fiction a rough ride. I completely understood that—I’m definitely not aspiring to serious literary merit with my books (not at this point, anyway.) I’m writing solely to entertain, not to educate or to provoke a particular response.

Things I learned:

The members wanted to know more about why the small Southern town on the North Carolina lake was a beacon for a real estate developer. I just blinked. “Well, because it’s a small Southern town on a North Carolina lake.” They looked at me. “Because of half-backs.” More stares. “You know….the Northerners who retire, are tired of the cold North, move to Florida, find Florida too hot, and move half-way back.” This was completely obvious to me (personal knowledge of these towns), but not, clearly, to others. I’ll definitely want to explain the appeal of this type of location in upcoming books.

I thought the members of the book club had very interesting ideas about my characters and the type of direction they like to see them go in. I love reading character growth over series, so their ideas were appealing to me.

And now, because it’s Thursday, I’d love it if you’d also pop by the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen. It’s my day to post and I’ve got a great barbeque and BBQ sauce recipe to share.