My Wednesday’s Guest today is Dave Terruso who has a new book out, Cube Sleuth. I love the cover. What do you think?
His previous book is Lost Touch, which I read and reviewed HERE. It features a woman psychic who loses her power for a short time, just when she needs it most. It is a good mystery.
Dave is here today to share some tips on being a guest at a book club. Some book clubs are fancy, serving tea and crumpets, while others just have a glass of wine. Maybe that would work for us today.
I’ve attended two book clubs where the members were discussing one of my books, once for each of my published novels. Both were clubs composed of one of my friends and a handful of strangers. Both experiences were a lot of fun.
If you’re an author and have yet to experience this, here’s my advice on how to be a perfect guest, as well as the two questions I think you should ask.
Of course anyone would like an entire night that revolves around him. But I think for a novelist it’s even more exciting because you’ve spent years writing this book in solitude. Your book has been like a great secret you’ve been dying to tell people. And now you’re part of a conversation with several people who know your secret.
My main tip on how to behave: Keep quiet as much as possible. Sit back. Smile. Listen and nod. Pay attention. Take mental notes. (Don’t take actual notes. It’s a dinner party, not a focus group.) In my fiction writing workshops in college, when my short story was being reviewed by the class, the professor had one rule for the writer: You cannot speak until the very end of the class. I had to sit in silence while a class of my peers eviscerated my work to impress our award-winning novelist professor. That was hard. This will not be.
You already know how you feel about the book, and while you may be anxious to share those feelings, you’re there to find out how other people feel about it. Those people spent their own time in solitude reading your book. Think about watching a season of a TV show alone and how excited you are when you get to talk to someone else who watched it.
In general, let the book club direct the discussion. If someone says something that puzzles you, ask them to elaborate. Otherwise, zip it.
But make sure you get to ask these two questions:
1) What did you NOT like about the book? Please, be brutal. Big things, little things, plot holes, unnecessary subplots or tangents, corny lines of dialogue, pretentious prose.
You want to hear that your book is brilliant. It’s a natural human desire. And if you’re lucky you’ll hear some lovely compliments. But there is no value in praise. Constructive criticism is the life’s blood of an author, the only way to grow as a craftsman and an artist. That moment when someone points out a weakness in your writing and you get this terrible sinking feeling because you realize you agree with them, that is an invaluable learning moment for you. The good feelings in your stomach, they help your ego, not your writing. Nausea is your friend.
2) What behind-the-scenes information do you want to know? How I came up with the idea for the book. The reason for character names. Plot points. Allusions. Word count. To what degree the story is autobiographical. What my writing habits are.
Think about what you would want to know if you could sit down with the author of a book you loved. Our culture has become obsessed with behind-the-scenes, DVD extras, director’s commentary. A novel is like a magic trick, and we love finding out how the magician pulled it off. Be candid with the book club members. Tell them everything you’re comfortable divulging. That is the greatest value you can add to this book club experience for them. Make it worth their while to have paid for your book, read it, and have come out to discuss it. If you’re lucky, they’ll invite you back when your next novel comes out.
Bobby Pinker hates his humdrum corporate job. He only has one friend at work, a comedian named Ron. Just as their friendship starts to blossom, Ron is found dead in the office parking garage.
The police rule Ron’s death a suicide, but Bobby becomes convinced that one of their coworkers murdered him. He starts snooping around the office, slipping voice-activated tape recorders under desks, breaking into the HR filing cabinet, and tailing people home.
Bobby’s investigation will likely get him fired. It will possibly get him arrested. And if he isn’t careful, it just might get him killed…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dave Terruso is a novelist and screenwriter who lives in Philadelphia.
He is also a stand up comedian who has opened for Maria Bamford, Gilbert Gottfried, Dana Gould, Richard Lewis, and Charlie Murphy.
He is a co-founder of Philly Sketchfest, an international sketch comedy festival.