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Once a year, my two teenage grandchildren, Seth and Bailey, from Wisconsin come for a ten day visit. So I'm on holiday with two very special people. We've got a lot of activities planned, so today author Meg Waite Clayton, who reads at the book clubs, is filling in for me. Be sure to email and say hello to Meg. Not only does she answer all of her mail, she has at least 5 copies of her brand new book The Language of Light to give away to readers!--Suzanne Beecher
Take it away Meg...
I was first introduced to Suzanne and "Dear Reader" years ago, now, about the time my first novel was coming out. Already an enthusiastic book club participant, I was drawn to the opportunity to taste a book before I had to bite. Since then, I've tasted countless books and taken nice juicy bites of many, swallowed some whole, and shared meals of them with my various book groups.
True confession: I once realized in the middle of one of my neighborhood book group gatherings that my shoes didn't match. We were discussing The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and when I looked up from my feet, everyone else was far too intent on Diaz's book to smirk at my two black feet, one a mesh slide, the other a winter-suede moc.
The first book group I visited as an author was a little intimidating. The phrase most frequently repeated in the introductions was 'English PhD'--a title I can't lay claim to. Let's just say I took Great Books and Shakespeare and, having fulfilled my college English requirement, ducked into classes where I could know an answer rather than scratch my head and think, "That bird on the line at the end of chapter three is supposed to mean something?" I've always been a reader, and I keep as one of my memorabilia of my childhood a poem I wrote in the eighth grade, with Mrs. Thompson's bright red A+ at the top along with her request for a copy for herself; I am a sap for praise. It's a surprise to everyone except perhaps Mrs. Thompson, though, that I'm now a novelist.
I settled into that PhD-book-club for what turned out to be a mercifully gentle discussion of my first novel, The Language of Light. And when the great conversation and wine and dessert came to an end, I took away an amazing gift: a better understanding of myself as a writer, and of myself as a self. Since then, it's an oft-repeated moment for me: I enter a room, or answer the ring of my phone or open the skype box on my computer, and I learn not just about what I've written, but about who I am, who the people I'm visiting with over my books are, what we have in common and what makes us unique. Over The Wednesday Sisters discussions, someone will often admit to wanting to write; what have you got to lose, I like to say, except perhaps a little pride? Over The Four Ms. Bradwells, we talk about the evolving role of women in our society, and how our friends help us through the worst times and help us celebrate the best.
That's one thing that amazes me again and again about book groups: the odd mixture of critical reading among uncritical friends embracing each other--unmatched shoes and all--as surely as we embrace our favorite books.
Meg Waite Clayton
Meg would love to hear from you and she answers all of her mail. Send your email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Meg Waite Clayton...
Meg Waite Clayton is the bestselling author of The Four Ms. Bradwells, The Wednesday Sisters, and The Language of Light, which was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Michigan Law School, she lives with her family in Palo Alto, California. You can contact her or arrange a book group visit at www.megwaiteclayton.com
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