Many thanks to Stephanie Selah, for this guest post about this week's National Reading Group Month event in New York City. For a full slate of National Reading Group Events, visit the official website.
This past Wednesday evening (10/21), the WNBA's New York City chapter hosted five female authors at the lovely Mint Theater in the heart of NYC's mid-town for a dynamic, and engaging reading group discussion and tribute to National Reading Group Month. The impressive panel of authors, and the books they discussed, included Eva Hoffman (Appassionata); Christina Baker Kline (Bird in Hand); C.M. Mayo (The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire); Julie Metz (Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal); and Roxana Robinson (Cost). Over the course of the evening, the authors introduced their works and read some brief passages from their books, and the discussion was in full swing, led by moderators Rosalind Reisner, WNBA member and author of Read On. . .Life Stories and Jewish American Literature and Miriam Tuliao, the Assistant Director of Collections Development at the New York Public Library.
Questions ranged from how their experience of being published has changed with the increasing influence of blogs and online efforts (consensus: online reviews are more important than ever and online outreach takes much longer than traditional outreach), to what audience, if any, the authors write their books for (and many said they write mostly for themselves, hoping the audience will come to the work on their own). Surprising insights about the authors and their works were revealed. For instance, Julie Metz, whose memoir delves into the shocking discovery of her husband's secret double-life in the wake of his sudden death, admitted that she was able to harness the strength and resolve to share her memoir from an inspirational book on tape that she listened to in her car. Christina Baker Kline revealed that her novel, Bird in Hand, which is her fourth novel, actually began long before her last novel, The Way Life Should Be, was conceived -- it just took much longer for this story to be told. Roxana Robinson shared her insights on how she wanted to reveal in Cost the delicate dynamic of a family structure, which she saw as a hanging mobile with multiple family members in balance with one another at different lengths; in fact, one of the sons in the story, who is revealed to have a crushing addiction, surprised even her with the direction he went in her novel. Eva Hoffman and C.M. Mayo shared their remarkable back-stories, which influenced their decisions to write their novels; Eva was classically trained as a concert pianist in Poland, while C.M. is married to a Mexican man and lives in Mexico City, amid the history and untold stories of the cosmopolitan city.
All in all, it was a wonderful evening, full of deep insights and startling connections among all of the books and authors on the panel. Special thanks to Lori O'Dea, Valerie Tomaselli, and Jill Tardiff for organizing such a memorable evening!