BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

NORA INTERVIEWS REL BOOK CLUB LEADER FROM AUSTRALIA



How did you decide on where your club should meet?
In the first couple of years we met at our church but it was too cold in winter and the chairs weren’t all that comfortable! We now meet in my home where it is certainly cooler and you need to get there early to grab the comfy chairs - LOL!

What type of book club do you run? What kinds of books do you read? (New York Best Seller - Christian Fiction a little of both) Why?


We focus on Christian Fiction novels with bite - something we can get our teeth into! I select books that deal with a particular issue (eg. Abortion, missions, family life, fearful living), are well written and engaging. I also alternate between different genres so we are exposed to and challenged, beyond what members would normally choose for themselves. We have read thrillers, women’s fiction, chick lit, fantasy, suspense and more.

Formally, I suppose we are known as the RBC Book Club (Rowville Baptist Church) but we just call it Book Club! We meet every six weeks on a Friday night.

So, Rel, I have just come to your book club for the very first time, what can I expect? Prepare me for a night at your club.

We start at 8pm and chat a bit while everyone turns up. We have around 20 members and we all sit around my rumpus room on chairs of varying quality! I usually lead the discussion and nearly everyone chips in with a few comments, some more than others - LOL! We focus on the theme or issue and the characters and their response. We rarely discuss the technical aspects of the novel - we use the discussion to challenge and encourage our thoughts and lives. We formally finish around 9.30 (if we have a conference call it can be later) but there is always still some hanging around for a chat until the wee hours of the morning ;-)

Does your book club vote on the top books your club had read for the year? If so what is the Favorite bookthat your club enjoyed?


Our favorite book has been Charles Martin’s When Cricket’s Cry. Everyone loved the prose, the story, the characters and the tenderness of the novel. It is simply a beautiful story of forgiveness, compassion and unconditional love. After our discussion, we had our very first conference call as a book club, with Charles, who chatted to us for over an hour (I transcribed the whole call and you can find it on my blog!). It was wonderful getting his perspective, hearing how his characters “appear” to him and more.

Was there a book that your book club read where people broke out in a sweat (because tempers were rising)? How did you handle the heat?

(This is not Rel's stack that generated heated discussions)

Yes, on a few occasions . We encourage members to share when they haven’t liked a book (it is fascinating to hear why one or two people don’t like a book that most of the others do!) and the only rule is that you share why it didn’t appeal. Some of our best discussions have been generated by someone taking issue with a book or part of it. If we all sat around agreeing that a book was nice it would become a little boring.
One discussion that got very heated related to the way a morality issue was handled by the writer. That night’s discussion went on for a few weeks - LOL! And it was all important to discuss and work through for everyone.
We have a terrific bunch of members who are all very compassionate and understanding (for the most part - we’re not perfect) and allow for others to share conflicting opinions.

Was there a book that just did't work out for you? (not enough to talk about - people just couldn't get into, some never finished reading it etc).?
Again only one or two. One was a fantastic book (a quirky comedy) that everyone enjoyed reading but there wasn’t much to discuss once we met. That was in our first year of book club so I think we have become a little more savvy with our selections.

I know that you have had authors interviewed via e-mail and you have had authors speak to your club on the phone - What surprised you the most, what made you laugh? Any in person visits?


No one in person yet but I’m working on it! As we are in Australia and the overwhelming majority of CF writers are American is it a bit hard but we have found ways around it. My first request to an author to email questions to was the delightful Siri Mitchell. My members sent me questions they wanted to ask her after reading her book Kissing Adrien (great book club book!) and I emailed them on to Siri. I printed them off for book club and each person read their question/s and Siri’s answer. It worked really well and significantly added to our discussion. Thanks to Siri’s kindness we haven’t looked back and we often email authors the same way now.

As I said above we have now done a number of conference calls including Charles Martin, Amy Wallace, Tamara Leigh and Karen Ball.
Amy was so much fun to talk to. We chatted about her books, faith and even homeschooling and asked her why so many American authors write characters that have to be beautiful or ‘devastatingly’ handsome!
Tammy is a real sweetheart. She shared from her heart on many topics including where her characters get their quirks from and the joy of raising two sons and how one of them uses her books to talk to girls - LOL!!!!

Karen was amazing. She got up at 4am just to speak to us - we were blown away by that and her bright and bouncy demeanour when talking to us at that hour of the morning! We chatted about her book, What Lies Within, writing, faith, marriage, editing, changes in CF over the years and more!

Which author are you waiting in line to have at your book club?



Mmm…good question! I think Francine Rivers would be fascinating to talk to. Redeeming Love and A Voice in the Wind have been book club selections that she has written.

Why did you start reading Christian Fiction in the first place? What was the draw for you?
(my eldest daughter and my Grandma)
I started reading Christian Fiction when I was about 10 years old and my grandmother gave me my first Janette Oke book! Grandad and Grandma would always give my sister and I Christian Fiction books for Christmas and birthdays so you could say she started it all for me! She still loves reading, even now at the age of 93 and is always asking to borrow my books :)

Out of all the hats that you wear and have worn in the past, which one was most rewarding for you? Why?




(My three girls walking at Sorrento beach in Victoria, Australia)

Wife and mum! I think the roles that most challenge us are the ones that reap the biggest rewards Grin! :D

What has your book club read recently that you just loved and the discussion was lively?


The Restorer by Sharon Hinck. I knew I was taking a risk choosing this book as 90% of my members had never read or wanted to read a fantasy novel. You should have seen their faces when I told them about it! I then had women chasing me after church wanting to tell me how much they were enjoying and being challenged by it. Nearly everyone has been clamouring for the sequels.
It is a book that really touched people’s hearts and has so much substance regarding personal growth, fears and faith that everyone found something meaningful to ponder. It was a great selection.

How do you pick the books that your book club reads? Do you vote on them or do individual members take turns picking?
Usually, I select them. As a reviewer, I often get access to books before they reach Australian bookstores so I know what is available and what would make a great read. I have two other team members that assist. I do ask if any members have ideas but they seem content for me to choose!

Did you belong to a book club before you began leading the book club you have now? If so, how was that book club experience as opposed to the meetings you hold now?

No, I didn’t. It was all new to us and we just found something that worked for us.
What lead you to leading the book club you are leading now? Did you ever lead a book club before this one?
I have a personal library of over 1700 CF books from which many of my church friends borrow from (CF books aren’t usually available in public libraries in Australia) including my pastor’s wife. Knowing of my passion for books, my pastor asked if I would be interested in starting a book club so I chatted to a couple of my friends to gauge interest and started from there.

What has been the funniest moment you recall that you book club has ever had? What was the scariest?


Our first telephone conference with Charles Martin wins both awards! I was pretty nervous ringing Charles and the room was filled with anticipation. I was so conscious of ringing the right number as it was early in the morning in the States and I didn’t want to wake up some poor unsuspecting person! I forgot that Charles was going to be away so when I rang his home number I got the answering machine! As was mumbling my way through an insane message, I remembered he had given me an extra number. I then rang that number and a woman answered and I promptly hung up on her - LOL! By this stage the women thought I was nuts. I then rang the number again, realising it was probably the owner of the home where Charles was staying! Charles answered this time and very graciously didn’t ask whether I had just hung up on his host - sigh! We had a wonderful time as long as we spoke slowly as Charles did have a little trouble deciphering our accents!

What are some of the most interesting authors you've personally interviewed and/or have met? (I know that you write interviews for a couple of places) What struck you about the interview that you just couldn't shake?

Gosh! My experience has been that they are all interesting! It is hard to pick one over another really. How about I name a few authors I have interviewed and describe them in one word (be assured there is a lot more to them than one descriptor!) You can find all these author interviews on my blog.

John Olson ~ hilarious
Karen Ball ~ effervescent
Rachel Hauck ~ engaging
Elizabeth White ~ delightful
Erynn Mangum ~ sweet
Lisa McKay ~ amazing
Rebeca Seitz ~ energetic
Robert Liparulo ~ genuine
Tamara Leigh ~ gentle
Amy Wallace ~ compassionate
and I could go on!

FUN QUESTIONS you want to know about Book Club Leaders?

1. If you had to pick a super hero to be for a while, who would you be and why?
Hmmm…it would have to be Wonder Woman! I like the thought of being able to be invisible sometimes Grin!

If you had 48 hours to hang out and interview anyone dead or alive in the history of the world; what 2 people would you pick and why? What would you do?
Of course, Jesus but I am a Martha rather than a Mary so I would have to learn to sit first and if I could do that, just listen.

If you had all the time in the world (and just as much money); to do anything you wanted to do, what would that be?



(The three girls and their daddy doing one of their favourite things together - music)

Live and laugh with my husband and girls, and with the money buy multitudes of books so my favourite writers could keep doing what they do best!

What is a special quality, talent or event that has happened to you that or have that people would be surprised by?

I studied Japanese at school and university so used to be able to speak it pretty well. Not so much, anymore - LOL!

What are your favorite two places to shop? Why?




Okay, to the shock of most women out there, I do not like shopping! When I shop I like to get in and out as quickly as possible ;-) However, I do love to shop at garden nurseries for plants, especially roses and of course, book stores, Koorong for Christian books and Borders for their fabulous kids’ selection.

If you had to pick one "Reality" TV show to be on what would you pick and why? If not, is there a "Reality" TV Show that doesn't exist that you think should be on TV.?
The only reality TV show I watch is The Amazing Race so I would go on that with my husband. Why? Because I could go on it with my husband and get to travel to some fascinating countries. Not sure how well we would go though as Steve is not a big fan of heights and I get claustrophobic - LOL!

What is your favorite restaurant to have breakfast? Why? Is there
something you usually order when you go there? If so, what is it?


Firstly, Aussies don’t eat out anywhere near the extent Americans do so it is hard for me to have a favorite restaurant, especially for breakfast! I will be having my first breakfast out this year on December 6th for our Women’s Ministry final function at a local restaurant called The Eating House. I will be having Eggs Benedict - yum!

You found a magic lamp and the genie inside wants to grant think I you three wishes. What would your wishes be and why?
1. Neverending book shelves for all my books
2. The ability to read and review a book in under half an hour
3. Ice cream that melts away pounds rather than adds them!

Do you have a favorite board game you like playing as a kid? If so, what was it? Do you play it today? When?

Cluedo! My sister loved Monopoly which I hated (and still do!) so there was always a tussle over which one to play. And yes, I bought my eldest daughter Cluedo a couple of years ago and we love playing it but only when my hubby agrees to it instead of Monopoly. Yep, it still remains an issue - LOL!

Thanks for letting us get to know you and your book club. You've been such a great sport my questions, including the fun ones. It has been a pleasure and a delight to hang out with you today Rel. I've admired your work and appreciated encouragement to me this year. You are an inspiration. Any final words; thoughts you'd like to throw out there for other book club leaders?

Don’t worry about everyone liking your book selections - they won’t! As long as you communicate your goals then it is up to individuals to decide it they want to participate. I clearly state every so often that I don’t choose books that are just sweetness and light. That isn’t the point of our book club. You will be amazed at what people will read and enjoy even if at first they are skeptical. I love that the women in our book club are brave enough to read (and fork out good money to buy!) a book they wouldn’t normally pick up.

Encourage members to be caring and compassionate. Book Club should be a positive experience not a battle ground where people to air their views combatively.

ARE THERE ANY FINAL COMMENTS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE MY READERS WITH?

Love generously, laugh loudly and read relentlessly!
Thanks Nora for your time and the great questions! I hope my answers are half as interesting ;)
Rel

Thanks again Rel. You can read more of Relz Reviewz at her website
http://www.relzreviewz.blogspot.com/and Title Trakk
http://www.titletrakkbooknews.blogspot.com.
Blessings on your day my friend - until we talk again.


Rel is featured this month in my book club article found on http://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/biz.html
ENCOURAGE REL - LEAVE A COMMENT, Let her feel the warm American welcome!! Thanks for your time and sharing your club with us Rel. Thanks to those of you that leave a comment. I look forward to talking to you again Rel!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

14 comments:

  1. Nora and Rel, what a GREAT interview!!! This is soooo much fun getting such insight into a reviewer that I know and love. Thanks for a fun read!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  2. What a fun interview! Makes me want to visit Down Under. Thank you, Rel, for sharing your favorites. And Happy New Year!
    Patti

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  3. Loved the interview. It was great hearing an Australian perspective! Thanks for everything Rel and Nora.

    Gail Mundy

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  4. Wow thanks for a great article.
    I really loved the Author descriptions
    it made me want to read their books :-)

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  5. Thanks for a great interview! Yay Rel, you are such a presence on the Aussi Christian Lit scene and I think you're fabulous. Looking forward to crossing paths in person one day. Cheers, Lis

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  6. Hey Nora,
    Great interview I was jealous she has 20 in her book group. Mine is still struggling with 5. Got any ideas of how I can increase my number??
    Shellie

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  7. cool interview Rel and Nora it was good to learn more about Rel and the bookclub.

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  8. I enjoyed this interview! I've belonged to a book group for almost ten years, and it was fun to hear how Rel's is similar and different to mine. My book group also read THE RESTORER, and they had a similar reaction when I recommended it. But they, too, ended up enjoying the book.

    Thanks for the chatty, informative interview.

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  9. Wow - Nora - what an amazing job you have done! Thanks for all the added pics and the lovely comments everyone :) Really appreciate it!

    Hugs

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  10. Totally enjoyed the interview, ladies. Sounds like you and your group have tons of fun, Rel. Wish I lived closer! *grin*

    It was nice getting to see pics of your family as well - your girls are sure growing up. *hugs*

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  11. Amy Wallace at 3:45pm January 5
    Rel is soooo awesome! Great interview to both of you.

    This is Amy Wallace's comment on my face book not about Rel's interview. I wanted to share it with you. :D

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  12. Chris Coppernoll
    at 5:57pm January 3

    Great interview!

    This is a comment Chris made on my facebook note. I wanted to share it with everyone. :D
    Nora

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  13. Thanks Nora and Rel, I loved geting to know Rel more intimately. I even wrote down some titles to add to my book club as I have a lot of respect her choices. Great interview!!!

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  14. Great interview! I love learning more about Rel - she is an amazing person!

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