A couple of months ago, Wendy at the literary website Musings of a Bookish Kitty asked if I’d like to write a guest blog just before her review of my novel, The Brightest Moon of the Century appeared. I wrote about the connection between author and audience. I include the posting below.--
As a professional writer, I started as a playwright first, before becoming a novelist. Never did I think the two mediums would meet, but a recent posting at a literary website gave me an epiphany. My wife often laughs at my epiphanies, so let me explain this one.
One of the joys of having a play mounted is that one senses what an audience feels at every performance. My play Who Lives?, recently mounted at the Pico Playhouse in Los Angeles, has a mixture of drama and humor. The play explores the serious issues that surrounded the selection of people dying of kidney disease in the sixties for the first long-term experiment in kidney dialysis. How the citizen-based committee reacted to the pressures sometimes brought humor. Each night I saw the show, audiences reacted differently.
They did not act inappropriately, but certain sections in the play brought outright gawfaws on some nights, and other evenings, soft appreciative laughter. The last two scenes typically were so powerful that everyone barely breathed. You could hear a pin drop.
My own interests in writing over the last decade, though, have brought me into writing fiction. Rather than have actors and a director help me push toward the drama, I’m now on the wire without a net. My only feedback has been reviews. Those can be quite interesting because a critic, focused on my book, may take notes, write impressions in the margins, and underline favorite passages. Later he or she will make sense of it all in a review. Sometimes I learn things about my work that I didn’t see, things that may have been at a subconscious level, by which some of the best writing is guided.
Still, that’s not the same as being in the room with the reader. Once I discovered Google Alerts, I now witness even small mentions of, for instance, my recently published novel, The Brightest Moon of the Century.
This first registered recently when Wendy at Musings of a Bookish Kitty quoted a passage from The Brightest Moon of the Century in Tuesday Teasers, and a few days later wrote, “I spent a good part of the week in Minnesota with Edward, the protagonist in Christopher Meeks's novel, The Brightest Moon of the Century. When I began reading the book, I was nestled under the covers in bed. ‘Honey!’ I called, scurrying out of bed to get my husband who was playing World of Warcraft in our home office. ‘Listen to this!’ Barely a page into the book and I had found something funny I just had to share.”
That’s wonderful. I’m there witnessing the act of reading, and it makes me smile.
I’m also witnessing the act of wanting to read the book in the response section after some of the online reviews. For instance, in a long and wonderful piece at She’s Too Fond of Books, one response came from a woman named Kathy: “Okay, since part of the book takes place in a trailer park in Alabama, I have to read it!”
Another person wrote, “You had me with ‘quirky characters.’ I love the inclusion of the photos, too. This sounds like a great read and I’m off to add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the review.”
This is the equivalent of a wave at a stadium and it shows we’re not alone. Books—and the Internet at times in literary websites—can bring us together.
Causes Christopher Meeks Supports
Associated Writing Programs