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July 17, 2009

Sally Gunning: Author's Turn...

Posted by webmaster
In today's guest post, historical novelist Sally Gunning shares her thoughts on meeting with book clubs --- the things she expected and the "delightful surprises" that she didn't.

Sally is the author of
The Widow's War and, most recently, Bound. Set in pre-Revolutionary New England, Bound is the story of Alice Cole, who after a series of misfotrunes is placed as an indentured servant at the age of seven. Eight years later, caught up in dire circumstances, she escapes and seeks refuge in Cape Cod. But in a time of personal and political unrest and uncertainty, she discovers that freedom, friendship, trust and love each have a price far greater than she ever imagined.

As the paperback edition of my second historical novel, Bound, hits the shelves and I embark on a second round of real or virtual visits to reading groups I find myself reflecting on the many delightful surprises this experience has brought my way. I had hoped that my characters and stories would speak to my readers and inspire lively debate and was thrilled when these things did indeed happen. I had expected to answer questions about the genesis of my ideas, share something of my writing process and answer questions about the intensive research that has gone into each book, and all those things happened as well. I didn't expect to gain insight into myself and my writing life or to make real friends across the country, sometimes in places I'd never been. All these things happened too.

It took a phone meet with a book group in North Carolina for me to realize that the widow I had encountered in my research was only half the inspiration for The Widow's War, that in fact the widows in my own family inspired my character in equal measure. It took my New York readers' personal struggles with Alice Cole, the indentured servant in Bound, for me to look anew at some of those struggles. As I thought out loud with Cape Cod readers about my work-in-progress, The Seeming Truth, I discovered false trails and new avenues to pursue. From everywhere I received such enthusiastic support and encouragement that it floated me over more than one boggy day at the computer. With each group I got to indulge in my favorite sport --- laughter. I met many, many intelligent, fascinating and insightful readers (and writers!) whose comments continue to keep me company when I retreat to my solitary writer's den.

I've received your heartfelt thank-yous for writing my books and sharing my time, but here is my thank you to you. Thank you for reading, thinking, talking. Thank you for caring about my characters and their stories (and me). Thank you for laughing at my jokes. Thank you for being there. Don't go away!

---Sally Gunning