Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Club Exchange: Karen White

Yesterday, I reviewed a touching novel called FALLING HOME by Karen White. In the meantime, I am so excited to welcome Ms. White to Book Club Exchange. I just love her how much she appreciates book clubs and I'm hoping you will too!


There’s a catchy song they’ve been playing on the country music radio stations lately called Little White Church and my favorite lyrics are, “I might be cheap, but I ain’t free.” Before you start jumping to conclusions, let me clarify: I am not a cheap date (just ask my husband). Unless you’re a book club. My motto as far as book club invitations go is: if you feed me or serve me wine, I’ll be there.

In the last ten years, I’ve published twelve books and in that time I think I’ve visited nearly 300 book clubs. That’s a lot of wine! It’s also a lot of hours traveling (most book club visits are local but I’ve been known to drive out-of-state), and chatting—hours that could have been spent doing other things, like writing the next book. So, food and wine aside, what’s the allure?

In a word (two, actually): Rock Star! Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Allow me to explain. I’m the mother of two teenagers with a demanding dog, I have a husband who travels a lot, and I’m writing AND promoting two books a year. I work 24/7, it seems, and I look (and dress) like a hermit because I simply don’t have a lot of excess time or energy.

Family members are vaguely aware that I do something with books, but their main interest where I’m concerned is when their laundry is going to be done. I have no idea what’s on television, and my contact with friends and family members has become quick emails and texts. I actually look forward to my grueling Pilates class three times each week because it gets me out of the house. In other words, in my Real Life I am not a Rock Star.

But when I visit a book club, I miraculously become a “celebrity.” Not like Britney Spears (with underwear, of course), but still not the hermit with the baggy sweater and holey sweats my family sees. For book clubs I get to wear my pretty clothes and jewelry (I love sparkly things!). I put on makeup, heels, and dress like the grown up I’m sure I am under those sweats. When I arrive, they are genuinely happy to see me (unlike my teenagers), and can’t wait to get food and drink in my hands!

They also like to give me things. I’ve taken home all sorts of lovely gifts including flowers, a gorgeous vase that sits in my office now, stationery, a horse statuette, candles, candy, a tote bag (that I now carry to every book club meeting with all my “gear”) and a very large bottle tree in honor of my last book On Folly Beach. My husband (who hasn’t read the book) looked at it oddly when I pulled it from my car but dutifully set it up on my back screened-in porch and there it sits today as a happy memory of a few hours spent with a group of really fun women who love to read as much as I do—and who really, really enjoyed reading my book.

But my joy of visiting book clubs goes far beyond all of that. The thrill for me is a chance to talk about one of my favorites subjects (books!) with fellow book lovers. It’s a great way to meet new people and share with them other books and authors I’ve enjoyed. It’s social and intellectual and the added bonus is that, for once, I get to be the center of attention. Wow.

In my quest to reach even more book clubs, I’ve gone high-tech and am now set up to Skype book club meetings around the country (that’s a lot of fun!) as well as have call-in meetings using the less sophisticated but just as useful speaker phone. And if they figure out a way to “beam me up, Scottie,” I’ll be first in line. 

In November my next book, Falling Home, will be released and my entire book tour is being set up around a book club visit in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Yeah, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it). They contacted me about a year ago asking if I could come visit any time this year. Knowing that I had a November release I said yes and booked it. I normally don’t travel that far, but I knew I’d be in the Charleston area for the tour anyway AND it will be with a group of several large book clubs. I can’t wait!

Unfortunately, at the end of every book club meeting, I become like Cinderella and have to come home; home to laundry, mail, bills, a book deadline, a dog that needs to be fed, and the rolling eyes of teenagers. My rock star glitter quickly evaporates and I’m left again in my grungy “I’m writing so don’t bother me” outfit. Every once in a while I’ll check my calendar to find out when the next book club meeting will be, and start secretly planning my next Rock Star appearance.


After playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind, Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O'Hara. In spite of these aspirations, Karen pursued a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from Tulane University. Ten years later, after leaving the business world, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer and wrote her first book. In the Shadow of the Moon was published in August, 2000. This book was nominated for the prestigious RITA award in 2001 in two separate categories. Her books have since been nominated for numerous national contests including another RITA, the Georgia Author of the Year Award and in 2008 won the National Readers’ Choice Award for Learning to Breathe.

Karen currently writes what she refers to as ‘grit lit’—southern women’s fiction—and has recently expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in Charleston. Her tenth novel, The Lost Hours, will be released in trade paperback by New American Library, a division of Penguin Publishing Group, in April 2009.

Karen hails from a long line of Southerners but spent most of her growing up years in London, England and is a graduate of the American School in London. She currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two teenaged children, and a spoiled Havanese dog (who appears in several of her books), Quincy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, singing, playing piano, chauffeuring children and avoiding cooking.

I am so grateful to Ms. White for writing this wonderful guest post about her love affairs with her book clubs. If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.


Beth F said...

I love the transformation to star and then back to laundry! Great guest post.

bermudaonion said...

I've had the pleasure of meeting Karen twice and she is fantastic! I'm wondering if I can lure her to my book club. I'll have to take a gander at her schedule.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I love this!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

How funny! I didn't necessarily want to be Scarlett, but I *did* want to wear her clothes, and of course have Rhett lusting for me....