I'd like to welcome author Liza Gyllenhaal to Book Club Exchange, a feature on Booking Mama which highlights anything and everything book club-related! Yesterday, I reviewed Ms. Gyllenhaal's latest novel SO NEAR and I found it to be a touching and thought-provoking novel about the lasting effects of grief. It's also a great book club pick!
I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Gyllenhaal's post for Book Club Exchange and I hope you do too!
Book clubs give back to writers in so many ways…
When my first novel for NAL Local Knowledge was published in 2009, I really enjoyed calling and, if I could travel by car to the area, sitting in on book club get-togethers. Writing is a pretty solitary undertaking and I put two long years of my life into Local Knowledge. So it was a gratifying experience to be invited to get out and meet readers in person or over the phone and talk — for a happy hour or two — about something so dear to my heart.
Initially, I have to admit, I was a little intimidated — and worried. Like many writers, I tend to be shy and not all that verbal. What if I said the wrong thing — or sounded like an idiot? What if my being there actually dampened, rather than enlivened, the conversation? What I didn’t take into account was the fact that, in terms of a novel I’d written, I actually was the leading expert on the subject. In fact, I think there might have been a couple of meetings when my hosts started to wonder if I ever was going to, um, shut up.
One of my most rewarding meetings was in my home town in Pennsylvania. The group was comprised of women a generation younger than me, many of them still bringing up young children. By this point, I’d started writing my second novel So Near (now just published) and I mentioned that my work-in-progress involved a young couple who lose their child in an accident when the safety seat malfunctions. They then pursue a product liability case against the seat manufacturer. When I heard a young woman cry “oh, my heavens!” I worried that the plot line had upset her. Instead, it turned out that her husband was a lawyer who specialized in product liability cases, representing car seat manufacturers!
Book clubs give back to writers in so many ways — but that was a particularly serendipitous moment. I was able to interview the lawyer on several occasions and he generously provided me with the kind of first-hand information and authentic detail that makes all the difference in bringing a story to life.
A huge thanks to Ms. Gyllenhaal for stopping by today and sharing her thoughts about book clubs! If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.