In Dublin’s Fair City…
Posted by newromantics4
…diary of a virgin book clubber!
As a fledgling novelist, I daydream about what it would be like to have readers not only enjoy my book but to overhear them discussing it; talking about characters, themes, the cover – that would make me feel like a real author, I sigh!
Imagine how I felt when the call came through?
February 23: Leicestershire, at my desk researching (ie daydreaming).
“Hi Adrienne, Deirdre here,” says a blast from the past.
“Dee! Haven’t seen you in an age,” says I.
“The thing is, I’m in a couple of book clubs here in Dublin and we want to feature your novel. When we’ve read it, would come and talk to us about it?” says she.
“Would I what?!” says I, booking my flight before we’ve finished talking.
But what had I agreed to? Not only have the Irish produced some of the best examples of English literature in the world, the Irish are very well read. Yikes!
April 11: Getting ready in my childhood bedroom, Inchicore, Dublin 8.
To say I am nervous is a heart-stopping understatement, I’m petrified. Much of The Hollow Heart is set in Ireland; I haven’t lived here for over thirty years. What if these educated, intelligent and opinionated women think my voice is unauthentic, my characters unrealistic, my story…well, hollow? The Irish are lovely, warm and welcoming people, but don’t imagine they won’t tell you what they think, especially if you’re ‘one of our own’.
Deirdre, trying to put me at my ease, chatted away, giving me a profile of my waiting audience, as we drove across the city to a well heeled coastal suburb, where I was welcomed into a stunningly beautiful home by a charming lady called Barbara. Barbara greeted me warmly and I was shown to a chair in the centre of an elegant lounge; eager faces nodded and smiled as we made our introductions – I could barely sip the delicious glass of wine our hostess placed before me. I need not have feared.
An animated discussion ensued. How do I write? Where do I write? Who are my characters based on? Then debates about themes – motherhood, forgiveness and romance as a genre; these ladies take their literature seriously, I was honoured they had taken the trouble to read my book. I left elated and glowing, if I had given them a fraction of what they had given me, the evening had been a success.
April 12: Fidelma winds down the window so I can hear the bells of Christ Church Cathedral as we drive by. My mother Marion and Deirdre’s mother Edna are in the car – it’s Friday night, it already feels like a party.
We arrive as Deirdre opens the doors to her stylish home filled with candles, white roses and laughter. I was introduced and handed a drink as we crowded into the room. Deirdre started the questions and in no time the girls were firing all sorts at me, from how a book is produced, to how to write good sex – Loose Women had nothing on us!
I’d made up a quiz based on the novel, which some of the girls took so seriously they even tried to look up the answers. Sheena, however was a clear winner, and I was delighted to present her with her own Hollow Heart pendant – she knew more about the story than I did!
Saying goodbye, I signed the Harte sisters’ copies, including a comment on Nuala’s favourite page 245 – you’ll need to read it to find out why it’s her favourite – and we headed happily home, ending my very first encounter with book clubs; two different but equally wonderful experiences, so special just recounting them makes me want to cry with joy!
These gorgeous, intelligent women made me feel like a real author, they took me into their homes and my novel into their hearts. If my writing has done anything, it has rekindled old friendships and made new ones – without doubt the best thing about this whole experience.
I’ll certainly be back when the sequel A Change of Heart is published later this year…that’s if they’ll have me.