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Today I've invited author Susan Breen to write a guest Dear Reader column. Susan's debut novel, THE FICTION CLASS (previously featured in our Fiction Book Club) was published by Plume (Penguin). Her short stories have been published widely, most recently by Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Susan currently teaches at Gotham Writers' Workshop in Manhattan and today's she's giving away five copies of THE FICTION CLASS, so be sure to drop her a line and say "hello".
You can reach her at email@example.com
Thank you Susan, take it away...Suzanne Beecher
One of the first questions I'm asked when I visit book clubs or libraries is, "Where do you get your ideas?" I wonder about that myself, quite honestly, and worry that some day the ideas will run out and I'll have nothing to write about. So far, however, the ideas keep coming. Quite often they come from something I see or overhear.
Just recently I was at the vet with my dog, a cockapoo. A woman sat across from me who was clearly agitated. She didn't have a leash or anything else that made me think she had a pet. She kept looking at the door, checking her watch. She wore lipstick, but her clothes were rumpled and old. Suddenly, another woman burst into the vet's office, this one carrying a crate with a cat in it. She sat down alongside the first woman, putting the crate to the side, so that they were both ignoring the cat, although the cat was pressing its paws against the grill, causing the crate to rock back and forth, making me worry the whole thing would tip over.
To make a very long story short, the lady with the cat was a rogue animal rescuer. She had placed a dog with this first woman, telling her it was part Shih Tzu. The first woman was unhappy with the dog, however, and wanted a bonus for keeping it, such as free dog food. The two women began arguing, I began thinking how much Charles Dickens would have enjoyed this, and then I'm darned if a woman doesn't walk in with a Shih Tzu.
Now, if you've ever seen a real Shih Tzu, you know they are quite a dog. They have long beautiful hair and bulging eyes and look like they should be sitting on a king's lap. They are also very proud of themselves for being so lovely. Both the aggrieved woman and the rescuer eyed this Shih Tzu intently and finally the aggrieved woman looked at the other and said, "There's not a bit of Shih Tzu in my dog."
From that one moment I got so many ideas. There was the humor of the moment, of course. Some words, like Shih Tzu or cockapoo, make me laugh. But the situation was also tragic. Here was this woman who wanted something and realized, looking at this beautiful dog, that she would never get it. I doubt I'll have a scene about a vet in my next novel, but I might very well have a scene in which a woman faces disappointment. I'll be thinking of that woman's face as I write it, the way she sucked in her breath, the way her eyes disappeared into her flesh for a moment. When you read that in my new novel, and I hope you do, you'll know that's where that idea came from.
Email Susan, say hello, welcome her to our book club and be sure to include your mailing address in case you are a winner. Susan is giving away five copies of her book. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
* This month's Penguin Classics book is THE MARTYRED by Richard E. Kim. Start reading now and enter to win a Penguin totebag. Go to: http://tinyurl.com/January12Classics
AUTHORBUZZ: Meet author Kristin Hannah, author of HOME FRONT (Fiction)...
HOME FRONT is a timely and intimate look at the price of deployment on an American family. I really believe HOME FRONT is the best, and most emotional book I've ever written; it explores big emotions and big themes: love, honor, duty, commitment and sacrifice. It's about doing our best and doing the right thing in the face of incredible odds. I hope you enjoy it!
Go to: http://authorbuzz.com/dearreader Click on HOME FRONT to read more. Author Kristin Hannah would love to hear from you.