Thursday, August 12, 2010

Book Club Exchange - Lisa Unger

I am so honored to welcome best-selling author Lisa Unger to Book Club Exchange. Last week, I reviewed her latest novel FRAGILE; and I thoroughly enjoyed this emotional book which explored the long-term effects of a murder on a community and its inhabitants. Make sure you check out my giveaway for a copy of FRAGILE!

I just love Ms. Unger's writing style, and I think it shines through in her guest post about her love of book clubs. It's just a great essay about how she relates to book clubs and what they really mean to her.

Book Groups and Pajamas

I love book groups. What could be better than a gathering of smart, funny, engaged woman (well, it usually is all woman, and maybe a husband or two) talking about books? Generally, wine and snacks are involved. And I’m usually in my pajamas. It’s true -- a couple of times a month, sometimes every week, I join in book group discussions of my novels around the country. One evening it might be Seattle, another Minneapolis, the next night New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Of course, they’re doing all the wine drinking and snack eating. And I’m in my pajamas, usually in my office, chatting with them via speakerphone while my daughter sleeps.

I have a theory about book groups. Book groups don’t actually get together to talk about books. They get together to talk about something much more important. There’s a popular misconception that people turn to fiction because it provides an escapist pleasure from the mundane everyday. But most readers -- and writers -- know that’s not true. We turn to books not to escape from, but to understand life. And when we get together to talk about books, we’ve really come together to discuss our lives and the lives of the characters we met. Because a great story is a little slice of life – it shows us something, teaches us something. Story helps us to understand each other and ourselves better.

What I love the most about visiting with book groups (as opposed to book signings where most people are coming to get their copies and haven’t read yet) is that everyone has already read the book. They’re teeming with questions, and they are as involved with my characters as I am. We chat about process, the vector of my career, how I research, and the inner lives of my characters, often things that are not on the page. Of course, I don’t answer every question. Sometimes I leave people hanging. But that’s my job: to keep my readers in suspense!

I have a couple of local groups that I visit with every year in person. I do manage to get myself dressed for those, in case you were wondering. And that’s been a really lovely experience … to grow with my readers, to expand on a conversation that started with the last book, to be able to drink the wine and eat the snacks everyone else is always enjoying!

People think that the writing life is a solitary one -- and in many ways it is. But I have been blessed enough to be invited into the homes of fabulous people across the country to talk about my work. And that is one of the many gifts of my profession. I create alone. But I’m then allowed to share my stories with the world. And what better way to do that than one living room at a time?

If you’d like me to join your book club, write me a note here:

Lisa Unger is an award winning New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author. Her novels have been published in over 26 countries around the world.

She was born in New Haven, Connecticut (1970) but grew up in the Netherlands, England and New Jersey. A graduate of the New School for Social Research, Lisa spent many years living and working in New York City. She then left a career in publicity to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time author. She now lives in Florida with her husband and daughter.

Her writing has been hailed as "masterful" (St. Petersburg Times), "sensational" (Publishers Weekly) and "sophisticated" (New York Daily News) with "gripping narrative and evocative, muscular prose" (Associated Press).

I am so grateful to Ms. Unger for writing this fabulous guest post. If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.


bermudaonion said...

I love this post! I think Lisa's right - I think a lot of what we read is to try to understand the world around us.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I think I'm just following Kathy around and repeating what she says today, but I totally agree. I think that is why I am so obsessed particularly with true stories. I want to understand why people do what they do, and how they handle it. How cool would it be to have Lisa Unger call into a book club while in her pajamas. I need to work on our group to read one of her fabulous books...

Vanessa Sobotta said...

Julie - it's funny to read Lisa's theory on book clubs today as that was the sentiment one of our book club members shared during our discussion Tuesday night. She doesn't read to escape, but to often compare her life (experiences) with those in the books she reads.

I wonder how many authors are like Lisa and chat in their PJ's...I sense a themed book club meeting coming up - one where we all wear PJ's!