Well. What a great occasion. I used to be in a terrific reading group in Brighton, and stopped three years ago, when I was focusing hard on sussing out short stories, and didn't want to be sidetracked by novels.
Tonight, I was the guest at their Christmas meeting, and they discussed two prizewinning stories, Words from a Glass Bubble, and Dodie's Gift., both of which will be included in the forthcoming collection from Salt Publishing.
A fabulous occasion, and the first time I have been on the writer side of the equation, at a reading group, answering intelligent questions from intelligent readers, who had all pored over my work.
Actually, it was intensely moving, and if it wasn't for the fortification of a glass or two of red wine, I'd have come over all wobbly.
Glass Bubble was discussed for almost an hour. The main character, Eva Duffy, made a deep impression on the readers - all women, all mothers of sons. We discussed the Don Camillo books which were such an inspiration for the relationship between Eva and the little statuette of the Virgin Mary (dubbed The VM, by Eva. They drew the requisite parallels between Eva and her son, and the VM and hers... and saw them as just two women coming to terms with loss.
It was fabulous! Exactly as I hoped...
Dodie's Gift made a different impression. The character of Dodie they loved, found her warm, vulnerable, real. Chimed with the theme, that of the evils we do to each other being meaningless, ultimately... but the human spirit being strong enough to turn tragedy into something positive.
Interestingly, they really loved the ending, and found it resonated long after the story finished... and even more interesting, for the writer, several wanted to know more... they felt it could be a novel length piece. What was the backstory, they asked. How did Dodie come to be there. Certainly something to think about.
I have made promo flyers, incorporating the endorsement quotes for Words from a Glass Bubble. Reading groups are a great place to visit... and it strikes me that for each group there are members who know friends in others... circles within circles.
So here we go...
Weddings, funerals, Bar mitzvahs. Vanessa's your girl...book early while stocks last...