A week ago I had my first visit - as an author - at a book club in my town. Having been a member of book groups, I know generally what to expect: conversation, laughter, wine, apps or sweets, and a book discussion. Sometimes people read it, sometimes they don't. Either way, members return for the group camaraderie. And the wine doesn't hurt. I didn't know anyone, only that they lived nearby and I'd likely passed them at Whole Foods. I felt like I was dressing for a date. I rang the bell. The door opened and I was welcomed by a welcoming, warm group of nine women.
I felt like I was on stage when I first walked in, but their smiles diffused my nerves and as soon as I sat in their circle it was as if this was my own book club. We laughed. Talked about kids. And then discussed Nation of Enemies. I loved hearing their thoughts and answering their questions. They asked about my writing experience and the process of getting published. We talked about the state of the world (the Paris attacks had just happened), and the refugee crisis. About how my book has an eerie, prescient quality, that makes the "near future" of 2032 feel too close for comfort. One of the women told me about how her fourteen year-old son had read and loved Nation of Enemies. Many of them said their husbands would like it and they planned to share it with them. All this news was heartening. I love learning that I've written something that appeals to a broad age range and to both sexes. I wrote a book I loved, without thought to my future readers, so this is sheer luck.
Evidently, their group often has authors visit with them. Feeling flattered by all their positive feedback, I asked if they always say that they love the book to make the author feel good. They swore they don't, and that they simply don't "gush over" the novel if it wasn't a good fit for them. One of the women said that it was the first time in eleven years they've all agreed on and loved a book. I was on a serious high.
Warmed by wine and chocolate cake, we wrapped up the evening by taking a selfie (don't you want to join this group?!). I left buoyed by the experience, smiling all the way home. And I wanted to do it again. Now I'm on a mission to find other book clubs to visit. If you have one and are interested in reading Nation of Enemies, please let me know! If I'm not local, I'm happy to Skype or FaceTime in to your meeting. I can't think of a nicer way to interact with readers.