I love book clubs! Not just the one I belong to locally, but all those I get to entertain when I am asked to come discuss BLUFF.
I just came off of several book club talks, you know, where I show up and field questions about the intricate inner workings and plotting that went into writing BLUFF. And it’s absolutely mind blowing how these characters that came straight out of my mind are now real.
Not they haven’t always been real to me. Hell, I gave birth to them. But the simple fact that they are real to everyone else is tantamount to someone actually seeing the same ghosts I do. I love it. Much of the discussion–and there’s always lots of it–surround what is going to happen to the characters that everyone has come to either love or hate. Either way, they are engaged in their lives and have come to not just care about them, but to want to fix them. I heard that verb a lot over the course of the last few weeks. My readers have a lot of compassion–much more than I do–for the lives of those who come together to make up the storyline in BLUFF. Many of them–mostly women–want to help. And in the course of that discussion, they asked many questions about the facts that aren’t in the novel. Questions such as this: Didn’t Jude have anyone she could talk to as a child such as an adult or caring teacher who could have helped guide her?
Well, the simple answer is, I don’t rightly know. It’s a novel, and the way I wrote it, I wanted to leave a lot of areas unexplored so that readers could make their own conjecture, color the pasts of the characters the way they wanted to, and allow for their interpretation of that which went undefined. In allowing that, I was amazed to hear just how many different interpretations there are.
As tragic as Jude was/is, readers in general didn’t dislike her at the beginning of the book as I had predicted they would. Many truly felt sorry for her, to the point that they even forgave her before her character turned around in the second half of the book. Same is true with Mary Shannon. I continue to be floored by the number of readers who actually really liked her from the get-go. These were two characters that I could have sworn wouldn’t have a fan base.
But they do. And as I go forward with the sequel to BLUFF–title as of now still undetermined–I am reminded that I can’t neglect any of my characters and my readers. And I want to thank all the book clubs for keeping reading alive and well in this country.