Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Welcome from the Author

I'm thrilled to be joining the Barnes & Noble Book Club. There's nothing like it, at least that I am aware, in the UK. It's a really tremendous chance to kick up a conversation, perhaps in a little more detail than is possible at festivals and readings where microphones whistle and people get shy and there's no chance for people to come back after a question is answered, sometimes, no doubt, unsatisfactorily. More to the point, I haven't been in the US since the book's release so this is actually my first opportunity to juggle feedback and answer whatever (and I mean absolutely whatever) questions you might have. In short, I'm really excited about being online for the next four weeks or so. I don't know if everyone participating will have read the book or not. I guess most will, but those who haven't read it yet should feel welcome to join, whether they need convincing or want to ask a question before they dive into the book.

I've been told to prompt the forum with a kind of mini essay - it seems to me that there might be just as many questions and comments about the setting, the history as there are about the story itself. In many ways the two intersect with such regularity it's hard to pull them apart. I've been asked questions such as: "did you make that up". The answer is sometimes yes, in some surprising cases, the answer is no. Pick the most incredible sounding passage, or the most terrible crime, or the most absurd piece of State "logic," I'll probably be able to offer you my source.

I've found Soviet Russia to be an extraordinary landscape, not just visually, but in terms of the range of human drama. The bleakness is unquestionable. The horrors are often staggering. But more important to me is the way in which people refused to be beaten - families broken apart, traveling thousands of miles to be reunited, the bravery, the strength and love which triumphed against impossible odds. It sounds sappy but it happened again and again, someone managed to survive or escape or just fall in love and it has always been their stories that have stayed with me, inspiring me during the writing of Child 44.


Learn more about Child 44.
Contributor
echostar
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎05-31-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author

Hello Tom,
 
          My name is Junaid. I have just finished your book. I dont have words to say how amazing your book is. This was my first novel that I read in this catagory. When I first reading I couldn't stop reading it... Fist thing i like about your book is the beginning, how you told that story about andrei and the pavel I think it was just amazing almost like watching movie....I hope you keep writing and keep giving us more interesting books
 
Thank you
Junaid
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author


echostar wrote:
Hello Tom,
My name is Junaid. I have just finished your book. I dont have words to say how amazing your book is. This was my first novel that I read in this catagory. When I first reading I couldn't stop reading it... Fist thing i like about your book is the beginning, how you told that story about andrei and the pavel I think it was just amazing almost like watching movie....I hope you keep writing and keep giving us more interesting books
Thank you
Junaid





Hi Junaid - that's very kind, I'm really pleased you enjoyed the book.

By category do you mean genre? That this is, maybe, your first thriller?

Either way, you raise an interesting point about the way in which genre has become as much of a put-off for readers as it is a useful tool in helping us find the book we want. To me, genre is simple. It boils down to what kind of feeling am I going to get from this book, or movie. Is it going to make me laugh? Is it going to make me cry? It is going to be exciting? It's as simple as that. Genre doesn't mean anything else: it doesn't have to mean this is for men, this is women, this is badly written, this is well written, this is smart, this dumb.

When I sat down to write CHILD 44, I wanted to try and write something that people couldn't put down. I was living in South London at the time, commuting to work in East London and it used to take well over an hour. The trains were always packed. I needed a book to get me through the journey, and not any book, the kind of book where you got caught up in the world and you didn't mind if the train was twenty minutes delayed because it meant you could read an extra ten pages. So it became a thriller because that's what thrillers do, they grab you by the scruff of the neck and don't let you go.

One of things that pleases me most is when readers say: they wouldn't normally have read this kind of book. I'm like... that's great, my job is done, I can sleep easy now.


Learn more about Child 44.
Frequent Contributor
READERJANE
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author

Hello Tom, I just bought the book over the weekend and am looking forward to reading it especially after reading your posts about it, Jane
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author



READERJANE wrote:
Hello Tom, I just bought the book over the weekend and am looking forward to reading it especially after reading your posts about it, Jane





Hi Jane,

That's great. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know!


Learn more about Child 44.
Contributor
echostar
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎05-31-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author

Hello Tom,
 
                Thanks for the reply, you have no idea how happy I am just read your reply. You are right by category I do mean genre. Just wanted to know how much does it take to write this novel, how long was your research before writing this book. Please keep me posted if you planning to write something new I will be the first one to buy your second book.
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author


echostar wrote:
Hello Tom,
Thanks for the reply, you have no idea how happy I am just read your reply. You are right by category I do mean genre. Just wanted to know how much does it take to write this novel, how long was your research before writing this book. Please keep me posted if you planning to write something new I will be the first one to buy your second book.





You have no idea how happy I was that someone posted a nice message! So we're even on that score.

CHILD 44 took about two and half years to write but since it was a non-commissioned project, which is to say I was unpaid and had no idea if it would sell, I was working on other paid writing assignments at the same time - some TV and some film scripts. In that sense, it took longer because I had to squeeze it in around the paid work. Although there were plenty of months when I had no other work and could just concentrate on the novel.

In terms of research, I read at the same time as I wrote. Partly this was because I was afraid if I spent a year reading and hadn't gotten a word down on the page, I might lose my nerve and never write the book. So the research and the writing went side by side, which worked out really well because if I ever felt a little uninspired, or if my confidence dropped, I'd read one of the amazing histories or diaries on the period and I'd feel rejuvenated, creatively at least.

I also figured if I bought all these books, some of which were expensive, it would force me to finish the book since I'd spent too much money not to get to the end. The books would sit on my shelf, staring down at me, saying type, type, type...

Right now I'm working on the follow up to CHILD 44, which will be finished at the end of the month! I will be out next year. The working title is THE SECRET SPEECH.


Learn more about Child 44.
Frequent Contributor
READERJANE
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author

I started the book yesterday. The opening page, the scene with Maria and the cat brought tears. I am up to the party of Leo being sick after the interrogation of the so called spy Anatoly. Your descriptions on the characters and of the Soviet Union in the 60's in remarkable. What is even more remarkable in that much of what you are witting about is still going on today in the Soviet Union. THere is an article on the front page of today's New York Times that could have been part of your book. I am looking forward to reading more. Jane
Wordsmith
maude40
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author

I'm about a third of the way through your wonderful book. It started out as a library book read , but I soon wanted one of my own, so off to Barnes and Noble to buy it. I love debut novels and this is one of the best I've read. I can't wait for your next book. Yvonne
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author



READERJANE wrote:
I started the book yesterday. The opening page, the scene with Maria and the cat brought tears. I am up to the party of Leo being sick after the interrogation of the so called spy Anatoly. Your descriptions on the characters and of the Soviet Union in the 60's in remarkable. What is even more remarkable in that much of what you are witting about is still going on today in the Soviet Union. THere is an article on the front page of today's New York Times that could have been part of your book. I am looking forward to reading more. Jane





Hi Jane - the scene with Maria and the cat is sad. I remember reading Robert Conquests THE HARVEST OF SORROW where he described how domestic animals simply disappeared during the famine. And I thought: what if there was someone who loved their cat so much they would protect it even when they were dying. I am a big fan of pets, cats and dogs, so that idea to me was very moving.

I'm cautious about comparisons between Stalinist Russia and contemporary Russia. I certainly didn't write CHILD 44 in order to make any kind of statement about modern day Russia. I wrote it because I'm interested in how people react under extraordinary pressure. While writing it my central thought was: how would I have behaved? What would I have done? I think these questions are universal.

Anyway, I'm glad you seem to be enjoying the book!


Learn more about Child 44.
Frequent Contributor
READERJANE
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author

Thank  you  for the insight, I am enjoying the book. You've given me a new way to look at the theme. Jane
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author



READERJANE wrote:
Thank you for the insight, I am enjoying the book. You've given me a new way to look at the theme. Jane





I guess what I mean is that I didn't want these predicaments to feel foreign... literally and metaphorically speaking. In a way, I don't see these events as belonging to any one country. The questions they raise about human behavior are relevant today, whether you live in London or New York or wherever.


Learn more about Child 44.
Frequent Contributor
READERJANE
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author

Hi Tom, Once again, thank you for a wonderful story.I finished the book late last night. THis story will stay with me for a long time. The questions that you raise and discuss about human behavior are universal as you said in your reply. The breaking down of Leo's beliefs and the reconstruction of his belief in human beings and the power of love were handled so well by you. Please continue to write, your gift is amazing. Jane.
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author

Hello Mr Smith, thank you for spending time, and sharing, with us, your insights into your creative process.

I introduced myself as a die-hard fan of the crime-mystery genre... CHILD 44 gripped me from the beginning paragraph, and didn't let go until its very end. Your story is an amazingly well-written blend of mystery, and perceptive psychological insights into the human condition during a specific time period of the Soviet era ...

As chapters revealed more of Leo, and Raisa, and their marriage under such relentlessly miserable conditions, I kept asking myself: how much more suffering can they survive? how much more misery can people endure, and still thrive?... whenever anything positive happened, I fully expected a severe reversal of fortune...

Although the thriller-crime=mystery genre is by itself gripping, it's your spectacularly sensitive description of Leo, and identifying with his humanity that kept me turning the pages... although I initially recoiled from him and his professional code, eventually I fell in love with him.. flawed, imperfect, troubled... I hoped for his redemption...

In short, your book hooked me!

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author



READERJANE wrote:
Hi Tom, Once again, thank you for a wonderful story.I finished the book late last night. THis story will stay with me for a long time. The questions that you raise and discuss about human behavior are universal as you said in your reply. The breaking down of Leo's beliefs and the reconstruction of his belief in human beings and the power of love were handled so well by you. Please continue to write, your gift is amazing. Jane.





Hi Jane! Wow, I feel like I was with you through that reading, beginning to end. I'm so pleased you enjoyed it. And I have to say, your wonderfully generous comments gave me something of a lift today as I approach the end of the second book. If you come across a particularly good line on page 379 of book two, then it was probably down to you.


Learn more about Child 44.
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author



IBIS wrote:
Hello Mr Smith, thank you for spending time, and sharing, with us, your insights into your creative process.

I introduced myself as a die-hard fan of the crime-mystery genre... CHILD 44 gripped me from the beginning paragraph, and didn't let go until its very end. Your story is an amazingly well-written blend of mystery, and perceptive psychological insights into the human condition during a specific time period of the Soviet era ...

As chapters revealed more of Leo, and Raisa, and their marriage under such relentlessly miserable conditions, I kept asking myself: how much more suffering can they survive? how much more misery can people endure, and still thrive?... whenever anything positive happened, I fully expected a severe reversal of fortune...

Although the thriller-crime=mystery genre is by itself gripping, it's your spectacularly sensitive description of Leo, and identifying with his humanity that kept me turning the pages... although I initially recoiled from him and his professional code, eventually I fell in love with him.. flawed, imperfect, troubled... I hoped for his redemption...

In short, your book hooked me!

IBIS




Your comments remind me of something a very early reader said about the book: they remarked that when Leo entered the story, they didn't register him as the hero. Obviously, since he's my character, I knew that he was a man who loved his country, a passionate idealist, and someone who believed he was making a difference. But from a reader's point of view we meet him at a point when that dream has become remote and all we see are the terrible things he's doing in the name of that dream. So, in a way, the reader's journey with Leo is very different to my experience of creating him.

I agree with you completely - I think there is something lovable about Leo. For me, it is his absolute need to believe, his need for a dream. He doesn't become cynical even when his dream of a utopia is exposed as a falsehood. When his political ideals crumble, instead of becoming bitter, he fills that vacuum with love for Raisa.


Learn more about Child 44.
Frequent Contributor
READERJANE
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author

Hi Tom, I am so looking forward to that book coming out !! I just lent my copy of Child 44  to my friend who is a librarian in town. We are putting  it on the  library's Mystery Book Club list for next year ! Once again thank you for a really good read and I will look for that line on page  379, hopefully your editor won;t take it out !! Jane
Author
TRS_Old
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author



READERJANE wrote:
Hi Tom, I am so looking forward to that book coming out !! I just lent my copy of Child 44 to my friend who is a librarian in town. We are putting it on the library's Mystery Book Club list for next year ! Once again thank you for a really good read and I will look for that line on page 379, hopefully your editor won;t take it out !! Jane





Great! The second book should be out this time next year.

I'll fight for the line... he might have a point though when he notes that Leo being saved by a very friendly Russian called Jane doesn't quite fit with the rest of the book. I'll try my best to keep it in though.


Learn more about Child 44.
Frequent Contributor
READERJANE
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author

LOL, you do that !! :smileyvery-happy: Jane
Contributor
amanda10390
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎06-11-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from the Author

I just finished the book last night, and I could not put it down! I had to pick a choice book for an English project, and I saw Child 44 on this website on the 'recommended' list, and thought I'd pick it up. When I brought it home I was at first reluctant to read it because of the very short time I had, but as soon as I picked it up I literally could not stop. I read for 4 hours straight because if I stopped, I feel like I would lose the moment that I was captured in. I probably enjoyed this book mostly because of my background knowledge of Soviet Russia (my AP European History class has drilled this into my head). That definitely let me make connections, and enabled me to appreciate the book so much more.
I felt like I was there with Leo and Raisa on their whole journey watching as they ran from peril.
To wrap it up my class had to do a project on this book where we had to write a poem about it, and choose 2 other writing assignments. I chose to write about the title's meaning, and I wrote a letter from Leo Demidov to Jay Gatsby.
This book is the best page turning and historically connected (and accurate!) book I can honestly say I've ever read.
 
I see it's being made into a movie (2010?) ...I'm always scared to watch movie versions of books.
And do I see a sequel coming too?!
 
Thank you very much for writing this book for all to enjoy!
 
Amanda
Users Online
Currently online: 47 members 691 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: