Speaking of the Novel

There are probably millions of people in the United States who belong to a book club. Although I don’t belong to one right now, I was fortunate enough to be invited to one a few days ago to discuss A Better Life.

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It is an amazing experience listening to people, some I have known for years and some I just met, discussing Margaret and Jenny, Gene and even Darlene. They talked about Jenny’s family background and they asked many questions about the story which were often answered by another reader. Perhaps the most interesting comments for me were about the ending; readers have been pretty divided on whether they were satisfied with it or not. The fact that many readers want more of Jenny and Margaret’s story is a wonderful thing for this author.

What I loved sharing most was the process of writing the novel. The getting to know the characters, the characters surprising me at times, either by their actions or their reactions. People are amazed that I don’t know what the characters will do or say in advance, that there isn’t more planning or outlining involved. I explained that there are many authors who do outline and plan much of what they write and that is their process, but not mine.

People in the book club were amazed that I know and care so deeply about my characters. That my characters become so very real to me is part of what makes writing special. It is a mysterious process to people who don’t write, as well as to people like me who do.

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