I am so glad to welcome author Julia Gregson to Book Club Exchange! Ms. Gregson is the author of book club favorite EAST OF THE SUN, and she has a new book being released in the U.S. this week called BAND OF ANGELS. Unfortunately, I haven't read either book yet, but both sound absolutely fantastic!
I absolutely love this guest post about how much Ms. Gregson values meeting with book clubs. I always enjoy hearing from authors who appreciate their readers!
When I was a child one of pleasures of reading was that it was solitary. On Saturday mornings, I would lie in bed with a pile of apples and munch and read, munch and read. My taste was catholic, and philistine- mostly pony books, or Enid Blytons, but sometimes Dickens- both Charles and Monica his great -niece - skipping what I considered the boring bits. Once, in great confusion and a queer sort of delight, I found my mother's copy of Peyton Place, a racey book of the time and devoured it in a couple of hours.
So I came late to the delights of the book club. Last year in fact, when my book East of the Sun surprised everyone by becoming an overnight success. My much loved neighbor, Sarah, a nurse, asked me over for supper and to talk to her book club. I felt slightly embarrassed. I am late to authorship- my first book was published when I was in my fifties. We live in the country in Wales, a place where people don't make too much of a fuss about books and sudden success and I knew all these people from my other life as a mother, helper at the jumble sale, dog walker and so on. Some who'd known me for years didn't know I wrote.
That evening will stay in my mind as incredibly special. We ate delicious spaghetti by candle light, drank several bottles of wine, much laughter and an animated discussion about the book. It was so pleasing to hear these women discuss my characters as if they were as real to them as they had been to me. Their intelligent comments were helpful and instructive, we swapped stories about travel and emigration - both themes that the book touches on- we talked about the ways in which Indians and English people misunderstand each other; we bitched about the mean characters in my book- the gin swilling Ci C was a particular hit.
I learned a lot both as a writer and as a reader from this evening. As a writer: get out more, show your work, don't be shy, readers complete the circle of creation. As a reader: if you like a book, reach out to the author. Writing is a lonely occupation and getting letters is a great joy, but the book club was better because it was more personal, more real. It is one of the best experiences an author can have.
Julia Gregson has worked as a journalist and a foreign correspondent in the U.K., Australia, and the U.S. Her second novel, East of the Sun will be published by Touchstone in June 2009. It was a major bestseller in the UK in 2008 and won the Romantic Novel of the Year Prize. Her short stories have been published in collections and magazines and read on the radio. She lives in Monmouthshire, England.
A huge thanks to Ms. Gregson for writing this fantastic guest post. If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.