Book clubs are a writer’s best friend. The book club that meets at the Chambers County Library (in Anahuac, Texas) honored me by selecting my first novel, Morgan’s Point, as their novel for the month of March. Last night, the club met to discuss my book. What made the evening even more special for me was their surprise invitation for me to join them via Skype. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I enthusiastically accepted. What a grand evening it was for me and (I hope) for the members of the club. I would love for other book clubs to read my books and extend me that same invitation.
If authors have to explain too much about their book, they probably missed the mark. The Anahuac folks were full of questions, but they were the kinds of questions that I would have asked of authors whose books I enjoyed. I don’t want to provide any spoilers for those who might want to read Morgan’s Point or Anahuac, but women who meet the world on their own terms, predestination, mangled justice and the origins of the name Faircloth were hot topics. During our discussions I discovered that Faircloth, the last name of major characters Taylor and Cooper Faircloth, is also the last name of the State Representative for the area. I had to explain that there were specific reasons I used the name Faircloth, but not because of the Honorable Mr. Faircloth.
Another fact that I learned during the meeting was that the old Mexican Fort that once stood on a high bluff along Trinity Bay in Anahuac had tunnels that were used to bring cargo up from ships. I wish I’d known that when I wrote Anahuac. There would have been some underground fun. Maybe it’s not too late. I am busy writing two books now. One is a prequel about Sarita Jo Franklin, the toughest woman on Smith’s Point, Texas, who was an important (albeit briefly appearing) character in Anahuac.
The first time I ever heard of a book club came back to me as I waited for the Skype call last night. I was only eight or nine years old when I first saw the movie The Third Man at the Woodlawn Theater in San Antonio. Joseph Cotton played the role of Holly Martins, who wrote schlocky Westerns. Martins is in post- war Vienna because of the death of a good friend, Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles. As a young boy, I was lost for most of this film noire masterpiece because of the film’s complexity. One uncomfortable scene I did understand was at a Vienna book club meeting to which Martins is invited to speak. It seemed that Martins has a following of intellectuals in Vienna who were dying to pick his brain about his cowboy works. Martins is out of his depth and their deep questions about his shallow works leads to an embarrassing evening. That memory was probably not the most settling of remembrances to have immediately before an appearance before a book club. Fortunately, I think I escaped Holly Martins’ fate last night.
Last night was enjoyable and instructive for me, and I’d like to thank the members of the Anahuac book club for such a wonderful evening. If you are a member of a book club and want to read one of my books, I will myself available for your meeting to discuss the book. Skype is an easy, fun way to make this happen.