Wonderful things can happen when readers sit down to discuss their favorite books! A sharing of the mind, often of the soul, and sometimes even of the palate if some good eats happen to be offered. Such was the case when I met the ladies of Girl Talk God Talk Book Club in Durand, IL this summer. What made our meeting extra special was that the discussion focused on their reading of my novel, The Gifts of Man! In what brought to mind the journey of the wise men I wrote about, I had traveled far from TN to join them. But the very turbulent plane ride, and long drive seemed as nothing when I was greeted by so many smiling faces. Over thirty women in GTGT read "Gifts" and twenty of those welcomed me for what turned out to be a fabulous discussion and a really delicious luncheon.
They asked so many questions! What motivated me to write Gifts, how I did my research, and how the characters reflected the lives of real people in those ancient days were just a few of them. No doubt you've heard the old saying that teachers learn as much or more from their students as the other way round. Well, I must add that as a writer I often learn so much from the feedback of readers; they often notice facets of the story that never occurred to me. The Durand ladies were happy to point out how the idea of family played such an important role. It wasn't something I had intentionally set out to do, but upon reflection I knew they were right. Perhaps it shows how sometimes a writer's innermost values make themselves known in unintended ways. Family has always been important in my life, and the GTGT gals noticed that was true of the characters in various ways as well.
In a similar way, the GTGT Marco Island Book Club which discussed The Gifts of Man back in February, pointed out the characterizations of strong women in the novel. It wasn't something I planned, but I confess I've always found strong women to be more interesting than weak ones. Hence my women characters.
Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the publication of Gifts, and I'm pleased that The Gifts of Man has been read and appreciated by book clubs in over five states. I've been informed that several more TN groups will be reading it as Christmas approaches, and I hope that like the book clubs in IL, NY, FL and OK , they will find the book a worthy read, one that adds context and flavor to the celebration of the season. Read on Book Clubs! and keep those great eats coming...