I'd like to welcome author Daniel Kalla to Book Club Exchange, a feature on Booking Mama which highlights anything and everything book club-related! I recently reviewed Dr. Kalla's latest novel THE FAR SIDE OF THE SKY, and I thought it was both a fascinating and enjoyable read about Shanghai and World War II.
Recently, I asked Dr. Kalla to write about why he loves book clubs, and here's what he had to say:
The reward in attending book clubs as the author
As an author, I couldn’t be happier that book clubs have evolved into such a societal institution (thank you, Oprah). Even men’s groups are getting on board (no thanks to Oprah, there). I love being invited to book clubs. I have attended several in person and, for the past few years, appeared “virtually” via Skype, iChat, speaker phone and most other electronic means you can imagine. I have visited book clubs from Nova Scotia to Texas, and even one in London where everyone was drinking at 11 a.m. (my time) on the West Coast.
Obviously, book clubs represent a great opportunity to promote my work and introduce myself to new readers, but that is by no means the sole benefit. I love discussing the characters, plot and theme. I also enjoy delving into writing, medicine and, in the case of my latest historical novel (THE FAR SIDE OF THE SKY), the amazing historical backdrop for my work. I enjoy being challenged and asked to consider aspects of my characters and stories that had never before occurred to me. Nothing is more satisfying than when a reader discovers a theme buried in my work that I had no idea existed. At that point, I usually see no option but to nod gravely and take credit for an idea that had never once occurred to me.
I view most book club appearances as a learning experience. The insights and feedback I hear are often invaluable for future novels. For example, I have been attending book clubs to discuss my current novel while I am finishing a draft of the sequel to it. Sometimes, I will even “premier” chapters of the new manuscript for the group to critique. This has proven as valuable as reading my book aloud to my eleven-year-old daughter, who is a tough yet insightful critic in her own right.
Truth is: book clubs are always a ton of fun to attend, particularly when the wine is freely flowing. Sadly, at virtual book clubs I don’t get to sample the goodies that I can often see on my computer screen. A glass of wine or two inevitably lubricates conversation and, now and again, elicits a provocative question that might otherwise have gone unasked. I’ve been known to keep a glass of wine beside my keyboard during Skype sessions. But wet or dry, whether I am sitting in the middle of the room or communicating from thousands of miles away, I always enjoy myself.
I am grateful for the easy (almost universal) access to video conferencing technology that has brought me closer to readers across the continent. I am committed to attending as many book clubs as feasible. Not only are they worthwhile, but where else can you return home from a good party with just a click of a mouse?
|Kentville, Nova Scotia, September 2011|
The idea for his first medical thriller, Pandemic, sprang from his clinical experience in facing the SARS crisis of 2003. He has written five science thrillers and or medical mysteries, delving into themes and topics as diverse as superbugs, drug addiction, prions, DNA evidence, pandemics and patient abuse. Kalla's sixth book, Of Flesh And Blood, is a multigenerational family drama, featuring a fictional West Coast hospital and interwoven storylines.
His latest novel, The Far Side Of The Sky, weaves together intrigue, medical drama and romance to bring to life the extraordinary and little-known chapter of the Second World War, when the cultures of Europe and Asia converged. Stirring and fast-paced, it is a grand, sweeping account of a world in tumult and a moving saga about the value of family and courage in the darkest of times. It has been short-listed for the 2012 Ontario Library Association’s award for favorite readers’ book.
Daniel is a keynote speaker at cultural societies, medical conventions, interdenominational events, universities, women’s organizations and book clubs. He has appeared on or in ABC, NBC, FoxNews, CNN, CBC radio, The National Post, City TV, The Vancouver Sun, Entertainment Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly. He was featured on the front page of the Globe & Mail review section and was interviewed on national TV on the Vicki Gabereau Show.
Daniel received his B.Sc. in mathematics and his MD from the University of British Columbia, where he is now an assistant clinical professor and the Physician Operations Leader for St. Paul’s Emergency Department. He is married and the proud father of two girls in a home predominated by the XX chromosome (even his beloved Labrador retriever, Lola, is female.)
A huge thanks to Dr.. Kalla for stopping by today and sharing his 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.