What have been the benefits to you in having relationships with reading groups?
Writing is such a solitary occupation; you can sometimes feel completely alone. You work alone and then you send your book out into the world and you can only imagine who might pick it up and read it. That part of the writing process—the part in which the book is read—is mostly invisible to the writer. But when you actually do meet some of those readers, your audience begins to take on names and faces and you can know you really are connecting with people through your stories. That’s what’s so wonderful about reading groups!
Where would you like to see your relationship with reading groups grow? How do you think your goals can be met?
I’d be happy to meet with more groups via telephone. Right now I’m primary caretaker for my 87-year-old father so I don’t do much traveling, but I’m always available to call a reading group and speak with the members that way. It’s not quite as personal as being there, but still, it can be lots of fun. Reading groups just need to know this option is available.
Do you have a set size a reading group has to be before you'll talk to them on the phone or in person? What do you feel most comfortable doing?
No set size. Two, 20, 200, it doesn’t matter. The smaller groups are cozier, though, and it’s easier for everyone to participate.
Which type of book club meeting do you prefer? Why?
As I mentioned above, it’s difficult for me to travel, so for this season of my life I prefer telephone meetings, though I do meet with book clubs in my area or reasonably close.
What have you learned about your book and yourself from book club meetings?
|Deborah Raney, Yvonne Lehman, Ann, Beverly Varnado & Kay Mortimer|
(Picture above is @Ridgecrest Awards Banquet) About a year ago, a man from Michigan contacted me and said he wanted to send his wife and sister-in-law to North Carolina to meet me since they were always talking about my books. It was to be a combined birthday present for them both. When I told my then 13-year-old daughter these women were coming to visit, she threw her head back and laughed. “They’re coming all this way to see you?” It was inconceivable to her that anyone would come so far just to see her mom! But honestly, that’s very much how I feel about myself sometimes. So that when I meet with book clubs and the members are enthusiastic about one of my books, I come away thinking, “My goodness, it seems I really can write something other people will enjoy!” It’s a morale booster, that’s for sure.
Did you learn more about your characters than what you had originally intended? If so what?
After my first book came out, I was meeting with a book club when one of the members said she didn’t like something that the mother said in one particular scene. I responded by saying, “I didn’t like it either but that’s what she said and I couldn’t change it!” I realized my characters really do have minds of their own and I have to let them be who they are.
Have you been surprised by readers’ reactions to one of your books? Characters? If so, which ones?
The one response that really surprised me was from a professor in Indonesia who so appreciated All the Way Home, he wanted his students to read it for one of his classes. What surprised me was 1) he was a man, 2) he was a Muslim and 3) he had read the book in his native language of Malay. I didn’t even know it had been translated into Malay!
Has your book club experience - getting feed back from reading groups - helped you in writing future books? If so, how has it helped you?
|Lynette Eason, Ann, Angela Hunt, Ray Blackston, Deborah Raney & Yvonne Lehman|
(Picture above is @Ridgecrest book signing) Like many writers, I have doubts about my work. So as I said above, when a group of people chooses to read one of my books and then lets me know they’ve enjoyed it, I’m blessed beyond words. That kind of encouragement is what helps me push against the doubts and keep writing.
What would you like to see in reading groups that you haven’t experienced yet?
More men. Just because a woman writes a book doesn’t mean a man can’t appreciate it.
What was your most memorable reading group experience? What made it so fun?
I was invited to visit with a group at a library in Troy, NC. What was so great was that they put me up for two nights at a fabulous Bed & Breakfast there called the Blair House. My husband and I enjoyed a weekend getaway, and on top of that were treated like royalty by the kind folks of Troy. The librarian baked homemade brownies that he served after the meeting, which I thought was the nicest thing imaginable. I felt like I was in Mayberry, it was so idyllic!
Why write Christian Fiction? What is the draw for you?
|Lynette Eason and Ann book signing at Ridgecrest|
|Yvonne Lehman @Gideon Awards Banquet|
As a Christian, I can’t write any other kind of fiction. Even if I had a secular publisher and I wrote a story in which the name of God wasn’t spoken, God would still be in it. God invades every part of my life and everything I write. This is how it is for every novelist; each one writes from his own point of view and promotes whatever he believes. It can’t be helped. Art is conceived and born out of the artist’s personal beliefs.
What do you hope readers take away from your new book?
The knowledge that when you put your heart in God’s hands, it will never be broken by unrequited love. His throne is the one sure place we can lay our hearts and never have to take them up again. It’s the end of the journey. His is the love we long for and the only love that ultimately satisfies.
Can you give us a peek at what you are working on now? When will it be out?
It doesn’t have a title yet, but I can tell you it’s set in 1931 during Prohibition. It has to do with bootleggers, gangsters, family secrets and God’s mercy. Al Capone makes a guest appearance. I’m not sure when it’s scheduled to be out, but probably sometime in 2013.
Nora : Sounds very interesting. Can't wait to see were you take us in that story!
FUN QUESTION I JUST HAD TO ASK
What movie most affected you when you were young? If you didn’t watch movies what book affected you most in your youth?
We watched a lot of movies and I read a lot of books, so both forms of storytelling were part of my childhood. What this question brings to mind is this: I was reading Little Women when I was about ten years old. At one point, I went to tell my mother that Beth had just died of scarlet fever. To my surprise, I couldn’t tell Mom without crying! The characters had become very real to me, and Beth had become a friend. Still today, the characters of certain books are some of my best friends.
What is the most special thing anyone has ever done for you?
To meet the PE requirement in college, all freshmen had to run three miles in less than so many minutes. I was most emphatically not a runner! I hated running and I dreaded the whole ordeal. When the day came, my PE class was driven off campus to run along the path by the river. Another group of students was there who had just finished the course and one of those tired sweaty runners was my friend Jim. After my class was given the signal to begin, I hadn’t got very far when Jim came running up beside me. He stayed with me for the whole three miles, even though he’d just run it himself. He figured I could use the support of somebody running alongside me, and he was right. Not only did I make it, but I made it just under the time limit and I passed the test. That was more than 30 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten that act of kindness.
A friend of yours has a time travel machine and will let you have it for a couple of days. What would you do with it? Any events you’d like to experience? If so which ones?
I’d like to be there on that day in 1946 when my 21-year-old father returned home safely from the war. He’d been gone for almost two years, serving in the South Pacific and taking part in such battles as Okinawa and Leyte. I would like to see my 16-year-old aunt, arms open, running along the train platform, my grandmother and grandfather not far behind, all smiles of relief and joy, welcoming my father home. What a reunion!
You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?
Defense attorney for the one who got us shipwrecked.
Nora : Hysterical! No one has answered this question like this before! Fun!
You've been given 48 hours to hang out with any two people (alive or dead). Who would you pick and what would you do?
My great uncle, William Lytle Schurz, was a journalist, professor, State Department official, Latin American scholar and explorer of the Amazon. He traveled widely through Latin America and wrote numerous books about its history and culture. I’d like to spend two days with him sailing on the Amazon River and listening to stories about his adventures.
Second, as someone who originally wanted to be a nurse, I’d like to spend two days with Florence Nightingale, not just to follow this “lady with the lamp” on her rounds but to actually help her take care of the soldiers wounded in the Crimean War.
What three things would you rather not live without?
* Art in all forms (books, paintings, music….but especially books)
* My eyesight (though my eyes are growing dim with age, so long as I can read, I’m happy)
* My canine companions (a dog in the lap is worth two therapists in the wings)
ANY FINAL COMMENTS FOR READERS?
Thank you for being readers and book lovers! Let’s make sure that reading is a discipline, and a joy, that keeps getting passed on from generation to generation!
Thanks Ann for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. I'm EXCITED about the 10 book give away of your new book published by Bethany House TRAVELERS REST!!
You've come up with some fun questions for readers to answer. CONTEST STARTS SATURDAY MAY 19th and will end the 21st. Final winners announced by the end of May on the front page of TBCN!
ALL ENTRIES are at THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK www.bookfun.org NOT on this blog. LINK to the drawing will be on the front page of TBCN! Click and you'll be at the discussion!
Thanks to Bethany House and Ann Tatlock for this interview and the giveaway opportunity!
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