I am so glad to welcome author Emily Winslow to Book Club Exchange. Yesterday, I reviewed her latest novel THE START OF EVERYTHING which is a terrific psychological thriller set in Cambridge, England. I am very excited to share with you Ms. Winslow's post about her experiences with book clubs that discuss her novels.
I do write book
club questions to go with my books, but there's an unwritten, obvious
question that is usually asked first, and which I have found can fill at
least half the meeting, or even all of it: Which narrator did you like best?
of my novels, The Whole World and The Start of Everything, are told
through multiple first-person narrators. These characters are villains,
victims, investigators and witnesses. None of them alone have the whole
story, and each one misunderstands or mistrusts the others. These
limited points of view bumping up against one another is much of what
propels the plots, and also can inspire lively discussion.
I've had the privilege of attending several meetings with groups who have read my books, and a few patterns have emerged:
first to speak will be consciously polite, because I'm there. They'll
say who they liked, and why, and pass the question off to the next
person, who does the same. By the third person, things get looser.
Someone across the circle will respond by zinging back, “No! I hated
him!” or “Yes, but when they did _____ I was really angry.” Someone else
who hasn't yet spoken will interrupt to defend the character, “But they
had to do that! Don't you remember when they...” And that's how a
discussion is born.
I've noticed that American
readers tend to look at my setting of Cambridge, England as a fictional
fantasy world, while local Cambridge readers tell me that they
recognise not just the city but the characters as utterly familiar
types. I enjoy both points of view. As an American who lives here, I
identify with both.
I've noticed that mothers
of young children have generally judged my difficult mother characters
harshly, while mothers of adult children have been more forgiving. As a
mother myself, I see both sides of this too.
strive to be compassionate towards all my characters, even those who do
terrible things. I strive to be honest about my characters, even when
honesty doesn't flatter them. I can understand anyone saying they love
any one of my characters, because I love them. I can understand anyone
expressing frustration with them, or other negative feelings, because I
don't have illusions about them.
book clubs has been a huge treat for me (and not just because so many
of them serve amazing food!). So, thank you, book clubs! And, thank you
Booking Mama, for this chance to talk about it, and for providing a
place for book lovers to find more books to love.
curious to hear from book club members how the presence of the author
affects what you're willing to say. Do you hold back or let it all hang
out? Any tips to help authors to put readers at ease?
A huge thanks to Ms. Winslow for participating in Book Club Exchange!
If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.