So without further ado, I'd like to welcome Joe Wallace to Booking Mama!
I love being a writer—I’ve never wanted to be anything else—but for most of my career I’ve written nonfiction, books about science, exploration, and baseball. For all of these, I’ve met and interviewed people who were smart, funny, and filled with great stories. They’ve provided windows to exciting, unexpected worlds.
Researching and writing Diamond Ruby, my first novel, was something else again. In many ways, it was the most thrilling and satisfying experience of my life. But it was also a deeply solitary one. Learning about the world of the novel—New York City during the Roaring Twenties—meant countless hours in the microfilm room at the New York Public library, immersing myself in that time and place by reading day by day through more than half a dozen newspapers.
And then the writing of the book, of course, was also a solitary pursuit. Not lonely, exactly: I felt like I was living inside the colorful, dangerous world of the novel. But regardless of how all-consuming that was, it was no substitute for living in the real world, surrounded by the people I had to turn my back on for hours every day as I wrote.
Now that Diamond Ruby is out at last, all I can say is: Thank goodness for readers! As I expected, people who have read the novel are full of questions: Did the great influenza epidemic of 1918 really spread across New York City the way I describe? Did Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey (characters in the novel) really behave that way? Did the Ku Klux Klan actually infiltrate the Brooklyn Police Department, and were there really running gun battles off Jones Beach between Prohibition agents and rum-runners?
The answer to all those questions is yes. More importantly, I love being asked them. I love hearing readers’ opinions, thinking on my feet, being challenged. (For example, if you read the book, you’ll probably want to ask me how and why I—a man—chose to write a novel with a teenage girl at its center. Well, let’s talk!)
Regardless of what you choose to ask, never forget that I welcome the questions. Most simply, I’ll love hearing the sound of your voice. Even such a simple pleasure as that can be a real treat when you’re a novelist. It’s like oxygen, so essential that you forget you need it until you’re deprived of it for a while.
Getting to do what we love, we writers are as lucky as anyone on earth. Speaking for myself, though, if I didn’t get to interact with readers, none of the work would be worth it. A book is only complete when it’s been read and discussed. And I’m only complete when I can alternate the world of my imagination with the world of human contact and communication.
What a fabulous guest post from Joe Wallace! I have a feeling that Joe would make a terrific addition to your next book club, so you should really consider picking DIAMOND RUBY!
Joe has assured me many times that he absolutely loves talking about his book, so bring on the questions...
And now on to the giveaway! I have one copy of DIAMOND RUBY along with a Ruby cap and a baseball card to share with one lucky reader. Can I just tell you how jealous I am of these prizes? To enter, just leave a comment (with a way to contact you) telling me why you want to read this book. To double your chances, you can leave a question for Mr. Wallace about his novel -- he will be thrilled! This giveaway will be open until Monday, June 21st at 11:59 p.m. ET, and I will notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!