Anyway, our August book was FINNY, by Justin Kramon. I first heard of this book in an email from the author - he was looking to connect with book clubs to discuss his book. Then, while I was in NYC for BEA, I ran into Justin and had a chance to talk with him. I came back from NYC and polled the gals in my club and we decided to read FINNY and invite Justin to our meeting to discuss it. (I reviewed the book last month, in case you want to check out that post.)
Six club members were at this meeting, which we held at our local library. Usually we meet at someone's home or church but this time we decided to be more "official". (Actually, we were hoping we'd need the extra space so another local book club could join us, but it didn't work out.)
Each of the gals brought food to share. The idea was to bring Maryland themed food since Finny (and our club) is from Maryland. We had Berger Cookies and Crab Chips, plus local fruit salad and some standard finger foods. Then we jumped right into a conversation about the book.
To start things off we went around the room and shared which character was our favorite and why. Some we liked for their good qualities (like Mr. Henckel) and some we liked because it was like watching a disaster in action (Judith). Then Justin talked a bit about the inspiration behind some of the characters and also where his idea for the book as a whole came from.
From there we talked about several of the books that influenced Justin's writing, but we focused mostly on GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Justin explained that FINNY is meant to follow the same basic structure as Dicken's classic work, but to have a more modern feel to it.
When you have an author at your meeting you can't exactly discuss a book the same way you would at a regular meeting. For example, most people wouldn't feel comfortable saying "Oh I really hated the part whem ..." So the conversation necessarily focuses more on the author's writing process and the inspirations behind the story. If you get lucky an author may even give you insight into the why behind a character's actions. Justin didn't indulge our curiosity in that area though - he really wants readers to draw their own conclusions about the characters and their actions.
This is the third author my book club has been privileged to host and only the second to attend our meeting in person. It would change the dynamic of our club too much if we did this kind of thing regularly, so we try to shoot for a once-a-year author meeting. That seems to work well for us.
Just is traveling the northern mid-Atlantic area to meet with book clubs; contact him on his website if you'd like him to come to your club's meeting.
I'm looking forward to seeing Justin again at the Baltimore Book Festival ... in fact, he might even drop in at one (or both) of the panels I'm moderating. If you're there, be sure to say hi to the both of us!
Today's post is my stop on the TLC Book Tour for FINNY. You can check out what other people thought of the book by following the links here.