Author Joshua Henkin (whose book, Matrimony was one of my favorite novels last year) just sent me a link to this article about his experience visiting book clubs as they discuss his book.
I did a few of these when my book came out. The ones where I visited in person were SO much fun--it was like discovering a roomful of new best friends (because honestly, what bonds women faster than discussing our romantic hopes and failures over a nice Chardonnay?) The phone in calls were a mixed bag, though. Some groups were open and friendly, and I felt like I was right there with them, laughing and considering different perspectives. But others were incredibly awkward, as if I'd somehow found out they were discussing my book and called in without warning to crash their party. I wasn't sure what to make of this, until I had this interesting conversation with a young mom I sat next to on a plane.
We were making the usual small talk. I was on tour for the book, so that came up, and I (trying to spare her from making the obligatory "Oh--I'd love to read your book!" comment) segued into my favorite conversational topic, asking "What do you like to read?"
She told me about her favorite authors, and recommended a few titles she'd really loved.
"Which author would you most like to meet?" I asked next, caught up in her obvious enthusiasm for escaping into stories.
"None of them," she said, a baffled look crossing her face. "I don't want to meet authors, that would give me too much information. What if I decide I don't like them? Or they see their stories differently than I do? That could ruin everything. If I like an author," she said, "what I really want them to do is stay home and write more books..."
This got me thinking. I LOVE meeting authors. The vast majority of them have exceeded my expectations in terms of how openly they share about their inspiration, their struggles, the funny little things that happen in the course of writing. And the ones who aren't nice are not nice in such a memorable, over-the-top way that it's still worth the time to drive out to meet them. When my book came out, I was excited to join the ranks of the fun, open authors, and excited to meet the people who had read my book. It never crossed my mind that they might not want to meet me...
But as I sat there on the plane, pondering the young mom's comments, I could totally see her point. And even Henkin admits that his scenic tour of book clubs has delayed completion of his next novel.
How about you? Do you like to meet authors (or other people whose work you've either loved or hated)? Or do you prefer to keep a wall between those worlds?