I went to lunch with some book lovers today. My favorite kind of people to be around. Maybe because I’m a book lover too. My love affair with books started as soon as I learned to read and found some books that said something besides, “Look, Jill, look.” Or “Run, Jack, run.” Or maybe it was Jan and Jack in those reading books. Very boring. The only fun thing in those books was Spot the dog. I was such a dog lover even then that I didn’t mind reading, “Jump, Spot, jump.” I wanted him to jump right out of the book and be my dog. But that’s another story I’ll tell another day – my dog hunger.
I remember one of the first books I read was about a horse called Penny. Then of course I read Black Beauty and Tom Sawyer and Little Women. I pretty much read any book I picked up. I would even read this one old book at my aunt’s house with morality stories. The only one I remember now was something about the kid not cleaning his plate. I was a picky eater back then, so guess that’s why that one sticks in my head. But I always wanted to be reading. A good book was a treasure, a treat, a reward. I still feel that way, and I try to write my books to make others feel that way. Each new book is a gift to my readers. “Here, try this story,” I’m saying. “Jump in and live with my people a while.”
So I got to have lunch today with a couple of other writers. Jan Watson’s new book, Sweetwater Run, was released in August the same time as my book, The Believer. She’s very popular with her readers because her characters spring so fully to life in their imaginations and because she’s just extra fun to be around. Then I got to meet Kathy Thiessen who has published a cookbook called, Somewhere in Thyme. Now isn’t that a great title? She was sweet enough to give me a copy and the friends with her said it would make me want to cook. So I tried to give it back. No, just kidding. It’s a beautiful book and I’m enjoying all the great illustrations that Kathy took herself. She’s not only a talented cook, but a talented photographer with an eye for beauty.
The other ladies there were members of a bookclub. I love bookclubs. I wish I could talk to a different bookclub every week in person or on the phone. It’s so much fun to talk to people who love books, and maybe the most fun when you get to answer questions about your own book. Sometimes people expect wiser answers about why you let this character do this or that, but quite frankly sometimes the answer is just because that was what happened. When those characters come to life in your head, they can lead you down some odd paths as they show you their stories. Jan said people keep jumping into her stories in minor roles and then end up telling her “Hey, you’ve got to tell them my story.”
That’s happened to me a few times too. Aunt Love in The Scent of Lilacs was that way. I didn’t really know her story until she sat down and told it to Wes and Jocie. But it had to be told to make the book work. Little sister Hannah might have been my surprise character in The Believer. I enjoyed getting to know her while I was writing.
Hope you are reading a book with characters you’re having fun getting to know this week. And thanks for reading. I said I was going to only write two or three paragraphs, but I guess I had some thoughts that jumped up and said I had to tell them too. I’ll work on being more concise next time.