Friday, 30 August 2013

Book club Q&A - To the Grave

Overreaders Anonymous

One of the great things about being a writer is the interaction I enjoy with my readership, and for me it doesn't get any better than when I receive an email from someone to say that their book club is going to read one of my books. This happened recently when Alice from Rockford, Illinois contacted me to say that their book club, 'Overreaders Anonymous' was going to be reading To the Grave, and she asked if I would answer a few questions afterwards. I said I'd be very happy to, and with the book club's kind permission I've included a photograph of the group that Alice sent me afterwards. In one of her emails, Alice told me that Rockford Illinois was listed in Forbes as the third most miserable American city. I think they must have got that wrong. It looks great to me. :o)

A big THANK YOU to the 'Overreaders Annonymous' book club - where every member of the group serves as president, so that whenever anyone dies their obituary will read "She was president of her book club." From left to right they are Alice, Pat, Helen, Mary, Jan and Martrice. One other member, Kathy, couldn't make it.


Below are some of the questions and answers that came out of the discussion. I've not included any that contained spoilers - which unfortunately was most of the story related questions - so don't worry if you've not read the book yet.


Q&A

From Jan:

Q. How do you keep track of who knows what when, both in the 40s and the present?
A. I keep a lot of notes, although by the time I've written something into a book it's usually become stuck in my head pretty well from having gone over it so many times. Keeping track of things can certainly lead to a few headaches though, but I sort everything out by the final draft, or hope to.

From Pat:

Q. On a related note, when you start a book do you know how it's going to end? Do you have the beginning and end in your mind and just plot the middle or do you start and see where it takes you? 
A. I rarely know how a book is going to turn out when I start writing it, largely because things always change along the way. I have a good idea, but I've not written one book so far that ended up exactly how I envisaged it at the start. The characters really do help to define what happens to them in my books, and I'm sure that's true for many if not most writers.

From Alice:

Q. You write women, and in particular teen girls, really well (shout out to Boots No.7, available here in the U.S. at Target!) Where does that come from? Do your wife/sister/women friends help you out?
A. Haha, I have no idea! I've been asked before how I understood Mena - a teenage girl in the 1940s - so well, and I really don't know. I suppose I get wrapped up in a character and in doing so come to understand them. I don't have any sisters and haven't sought guidance from anyone else. I suppose I just put myself in my character's shoes, whoever they are.

Q. Would JT ever consider buying and wearing some jeans, especially since he seems to get into a lot of precarious situations where his tan suit gets ruined?
A. I'm not going to tell him you said that, Alice (btw Alice is the name of my lead past-narrative character in book 4). Actually I'm pretty sure he is going to get a change of wardrobe in my next book, although the tan suits have become a part of his identity. I don't think he's a jeans type really. I think whatever he ends up wearing he's likely to feel uncomfortable in it and will be begging to have a tan suit back by the end of the book!

A couple of our other members didn't have any specific questions, but Helen said, "It's been awhile since we've read a really GOOD story like this!" Then she downloaded your other books for vacation. :-)