On Friday night, I visited my first reading group meeting to discuss THE VISITORS – and I couldn’t imagine a nicer one! I went to the Healing Reading Group, a group of ladies from the North East Lincs village of Healing, who meet at each other’s houses to discuss their latest group reads. I was invited by Teresa Rouse, Assistant Head at Healing Primary School, and was made to feel so wonderfully at ease by everyone. Teresa even had Early Grey tea (my favourite) and the ladies provided much cake too…heaven! Despite the fact I got hopelessly lost on the way and turned up a bit late, they all gave me a very warm welcome.
Teresa & I with a hardback copy of The Visitors.
After introductions, we began our discussion of the book, led by Teresa with a range of interesting questions. We talked about issues as diverse as the Boer War to family history, first love to hop farming, historical research to how much the author intends when they write fiction, and how much readers can read into those intentions. We even got down to the nitty-gritty of sentence length! I was delighted to talk about such a fascinating range of issues stemming from the book. I was so impressed by the depth and breadth of discussion and how deeply all of the readers in this group had thought about the book. For me, having written the first draft in early 2012, it was lovely to think back to those days of writing – the days before publication, before I knew it would be published, in those long years of working seemingly in a vacuum when I had no idea if anyone other than my nearest and dearest and my agent would ever read it – and now to jump forward 3 years, and to be sitting with a group of readers discussing the effect my novel had on them…it was a pleasure and a privilege.
The illustrious Healing Reading Group, a very smart bunch of readers indeed. Seated in front are (left to right) Helen Ward and Sharon Hayward, and on the sofa we have (L-R) Helen Stanley, Cherry Gerrard, Carol England, Nichola Oldridge, Sue Sharpe & Teresa Rouse.
Also present was lovely Claire, who had to leave early so wasn’t in the photo and – small world – we share the same brilliant hairdresser Debbie! I also gave out some lovely Hodder bookmarks and postcards and invited everyone to the launch of SONG OF THE SEA MAID in Lincoln on June 20th.
After discussions, we all had some cake and several people helped me with directions to get home, as I have no sense of direction and shouldn’t really be let out alone after dark. But their brilliant map got me home safely!
A huge thank you to the Healing Reading Group for a super evening – yet mostly I thank them dearly for reading my book and discussing it with me. It was a delight to revisit Liza and Lottie, Caleb and the oysters of Whitstable, the hop farm and South Africa…
If all my reading group meetings are as super as this one, I’ll be a very happy author indeed… 🙂