This Saturday morning, I get to do one of my favorite book-related things: participate in a book club. Over the years, I've belonged to bookclubs. Some were more about the wine than the reading (nothing wrong with that); but all of them were about coming together to share a love of books.
Since my novel came out last July, I've met with over 20 different book clubs. Each group has been wonderful and different. We've met in private homes, churches, coffee shops, and bookstores. I've talked with groups in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Virginia, and Kansas as well as my home state of Missouri. We've chatted in person, by phone and live-chat. At the end of one meeting, I was asked to stay and help decorate the Christmas tree. After another, I got to play with the owner's new golden retriever puppy. When I was getting ready for my first visit as an author, I was nervous (even though the woman hosting it was someone I've known for 15 years since we live in the same town and our kids played soccer together). I wondered what they'd expect from me, if they'd be disappointed in my lack of "authorness" (whatever that is, I doubted I had it). But each time, no matter how tired I am beforehand, I come away from a book club meeting feeling energized. These are women who intentionally chose to read my book, felt it was worthy of discussion, and cared about my characters as if they were the real people they'd become to me. Each group helps me to see different layers of my book; they view it with varying lenses which allow me to see it differently too. Their questions are thoughtful and insightful and make me think about the very words I penned.
And the funniest thing about each meeting? They thank me when it's over. They appreciate my willingness to attend. Silly them, I think as I'm getting in my car to go home or hanging up the phone. They're what makes all of this possible for all of us who write and who love to read. Without readers, we're toiling away in a vacuum. Yes, I write because I love it, because I don't feel as though I have a choice, but the real thrill is in the connection with readers.