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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



vivico1 wrote:

Peppermill wrote:


Stewart_ONan wrote:


the_mad_chatter wrote:
Hi Mr. O'Nan,
This weekend I read a quote from Charles Darwin that basically said that it's not the strongest nor the most intelligent that survive but those who can adapt. It made me think of your story because we are rooting throughout the book for each character to survive the horror of Kim's disappearance and there are certainly few adabtable charaters in your book.
We've had some great discussions about the book and I hope you'll take some time to read a few threads. I've enjoyed the heated debates and passions and would like to thank you for all the clues.
Bravo!


Thanks--and a great point. Their adaptations change and maybe even warp them, and then there's Ed, who basically can't change and just have to keep living even though most of his world is gone.





That's not how I read Ed. Mr. O'Nan, you have been dropping viewpoints about your characters throughout these posts that I wish you had made more suggestive in your original text. What you say here isn't inconsistent, it just tells me more than I was capable as a reader of reaching on my own.

Now, maybe that is a comment on my reading skills.....

Pepper


Pepper, Its not just you and I feel the exact same way. I have gotten more out of this book and more about the characters through these posts than I got out of the book alone. When someone said, the information about JP was stunning! Well, a lot of it we knew but a lot of it was some real revelation, real insight into what the heck was going on with the family and JP, or JP himself, since I too found him to be a more major player than evidently he was. I am not a young person, this is not my first book and I know from your posts in other clubs Pepper that you are as insightful as anyone in reading! So here's the thing, I agree with you completely and if we needed the help of Mr. O'Nan to better understand the characters, and we have a whole new grasp of it by talking to him, how will it work then with the public at large who will just be reading it without all these insights? Stewart, I know you want the reader to do their part and put their perspective and thoughts into it, but I think what we are saying is, if we had known this much more about the characters as we have gotten here, then we could have put our own feelings to it. We could have not only sympathized but also empathized with this one or that one or understood why this person was doing this or that and then wonder, would we feel or do the same? Thats when we could have put more of ourselves into it instead of bugging you about information on them now. This has been quite an interesting discussion indeed.

Please see my reply to Peppermill.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



caseylc wrote:
Mr. O'Nan:
 
My question was already answered.  I wanted to say that I really enjoyed the book and understood why you left so much open ended.  I can say as much as it can be frustrating to readers that need all the answers, I also enjoy a good book that leaves you hanging.  As soon as I finished, the moment of frustration quickly turned to elaboration in my own mind of what I think happened.  I understood that to be the point immediately.  I intend to recommend this book to others.
 
Without this first look, I am not sure that I would have discovered you as a writer.  I loved your writing style and I intend to read your other books as well.  As soon as I finished Songs, I searched for your other books.  I will take your advice on what to start with. 
 
Thanks so much for the opportunity to share your book with us.  I am an avid reader and it is a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
 
Sincerely,
 
Casey 


Thanks so much for reading the book, and for your kind words.  Much appreciated.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



LucyintheOC wrote:

Dear Mr. O'Nan,

Thank you for taking your time to participate in this month's discussion. It takes up a lot of time to be a participant and I appreciate you taking that time to be with us and answer our questions.

I like your writing, a lot! I am so glad that I was introduced to you through B&N's March book club (Last Night at the Lobster). I was impressed at how you could say so much in 156 pages (give or take a page or two) that other authors can't fit into 300 or more. I like everything about the way you write and tell a story, but expecially your economy with words. I feel the same way after reading Songs for the Missing, which I'm so glad was chosen to be a First Look selection. It is a great book, that I had a difficult time reading. I had to read it in chunks--I would read a bit, then put it down for a day or two, then pick it back up. At certain points, like another reader, I skipped ahead, then went back and picked up where I left off. Sometimes, I just couldn't stand "not knowing" and I lost my patience and just had to see if I could find my answers "somewhere in the future" (i.e. farther into the book) but like real life, sometimes the answers weren't there. I love that about your writing style--you seem to know just what to include and what to omit.

I look foward to having time to read more of your works. I have recommended Last Night at the Lobster to my book group (which meets at a local B&N one Saturday each month) or, as I said to them, any other of your books whose story may appeal to the group more--but that we should definitely read something by you. I'm really happy that I know about you as an author so I can look for more of your works as you publish.



Thanks so much for reading the Lobster and Songs, and for your generous comments.  Like real life--yeah, that's what I'm hoping to do in these two books.  Glad you liked them, and hope you find the others worthwhile too.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Everyman wrote:
Are there any questions you think we should have asked but didn't, and if so what, and what would your answers have been?

Maybe a few more questions about Elise, the third (and quietest) of the Three Amigos.  Why didn't I include her as a POV character, since she's obviously been close to Kim for a long time?  My answer would be that the overlap of her sections with Nina's would have clogged the front part of the book and duplicated too much.  Of the two, Nina's more interesting (being more volatile), so I went with her.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Dear Mr. O'Nan,
 
I wanted to take a moment to let you know how much I love this book.  This is the first book I have read that you have authored, and I am hooked. 
 
I appreciate the fact that you are giving people a look into what a family goes through when they lose someone they love.  The different view points are very interesting,and help to fill in a more complete picture.
 
I participate in three different book clubs, and plan to recommend this book for each one.  My question would be, have you considered adding a section at the back for book clubs?  I would love to see a section with discussion points, and some of the insights that you have shared here with this group.
 
Wendi
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



wbarker wrote:
Dear Mr. O'Nan,
 
I wanted to take a moment to let you know how much I love this book.  This is the first book I have read that you have authored, and I am hooked. 
 
I appreciate the fact that you are giving people a look into what a family goes through when they lose someone they love.  The different view points are very interesting,and help to fill in a more complete picture.
 
I participate in three different book clubs, and plan to recommend this book for each one.  My question would be, have you considered adding a section at the back for book clubs?  I would love to see a section with discussion points, and some of the insights that you have shared here with this group.
 
Wendi


Thank you so much.  I'm thrilled that you'd recommend Songs to your book groups.  I'd expect Viking to include a Book Club reading guide in the trade paperback edition, but I'm not sure if they'll have a freestanding one for the hardback.  Not a bad idea.  I'll have to ask my editor. 


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

That's exactly how I felt about Ed and I got so busted by some of the other posters! 
 
Can I also say that your use of water symbolism was awesome or was it just coincidence that Ed's favorite hobby...his boat on the lake...was a non-changing, stagnant body of water while we associate Nina with the river? 
 


Peppermill wrote:


Stewart_ONan wrote:


the_mad_chatter wrote:
Hi Mr. O'Nan,
This weekend I read a quote from Charles Darwin that basically said that it's not the strongest nor the most intelligent that survive but those who can adapt. It made me think of your story because we are rooting throughout the book for each character to survive the horror of Kim's disappearance and there are certainly few adabtable charaters in your book.
We've had some great discussions about the book and I hope you'll take some time to read a few threads. I've enjoyed the heated debates and passions and would like to thank you for all the clues.
Bravo!


Thanks--and a great point. Their adaptations change and maybe even warp them, and then there's Ed, who basically can't change and just have to keep living even though most of his world is gone.





That's not how I read Ed. Mr. O'Nan, you have been dropping viewpoints about your characters throughout these posts that I wish you had made more suggestive in your original text. What you say here isn't inconsistent, it just tells me more than I was capable as a reader of reaching on my own.

Now, maybe that is a comment on my reading skills.....

Pepper


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Stewart_ONan wrote:


Everyman wrote:
Are there any questions you think we should have asked but didn't, and if so what, and what would your answers have been?

Maybe a few more questions about Elise, the third (and quietest) of the Three Amigos.  Why didn't I include her as a POV character, since she's obviously been close to Kim for a long time?  My answer would be that the overlap of her sections with Nina's would have clogged the front part of the book and duplicated too much.  Of the two, Nina's more interesting (being more volatile), so I went with her.


Though not a question for the author, I would like to post the following comment that resulted from the “conversation” here.  Stewart, my apologies if this goes astray… 
 
Something about Peppermill’s emphasizing Stewart’s comment that “this is a story in which the center goes missing permanently” really made an impact.  In the center of the POV characters experiences, there is an emotional blind spot that possibly reflects something lacking or a black hole that sucked something vital out of them, which might account for the low-key emotional response that has been noted by other readers.  When Stewart responded to Everyman’s question, it became even more obvious.  Elise seems to me to be more “normal” in the sense that she is absorbed in her own life, and while missing and grieving for Kim as a best friend would, is able to continue in her own life with regularity.  She doesn’t seem to have major unresolved issues (outside of her own love of drama in breaking up with Sam at the beginning) and she is first off the bridge when she and Nina commemorate the “Three Amigos”, despite being the last to jump at the first event which included Kim.  The contrast between Elise and the other characters closest to Kim nicely emphasizes that human void that I believe exists in the center of this experience.  It is that very center which is so totally personalized to each individual, that it cannot be explained or defined and requires “reader” participation to create a value.       
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Stewart_ONan wrote:


wbarker wrote:
Dear Mr. O'Nan,
I wanted to take a moment to let you know how much I love this book. This is the first book I have read that you have authored, and I am hooked.
I appreciate the fact that you are giving people a look into what a family goes through when they lose someone they love. The different view points are very interesting,and help to fill in a more complete picture.
I participate in three different book clubs, and plan to recommend this book for each one. My question would be, have you considered adding a section at the back for book clubs? I would love to see a section with discussion points, and some of the insights that you have shared here with this group.
Wendi


Thank you so much. I'm thrilled that you'd recommend Songs to your book groups. I'd expect Viking to include a Book Club reading guide in the trade paperback edition, but I'm not sure if they'll have a freestanding one for the hardback. Not a bad idea. I'll have to ask my editor.





I've also seen these included as a link on a book's page on the publisher web site. Not sure if Viking does this or not, but it is certainly a low cost option to add after the fact.
-Philip
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



the_mad_chatter wrote:
That's exactly how I felt about Ed and I got so busted by some of the other posters! 
 
Can I also say that your use of water symbolism was awesome or was it just coincidence that Ed's favorite hobby...his boat on the lake...was a non-changing, stagnant body of water while we associate Nina with the river? 
 
and sonan wrote back:
 
 
Not sure why they busted on you for it.  The evidence is right there on the page.  It may be that people try to read too fast?  I know from experience that that's one of the major pitfalls when you're reviewing a book.  Or maybe the size of the print caused people to skim bits?  But you're right.
 
Don't know if I'd go as far as calling the lake/river thing symbolism, but it's true that Ed's idea of a good time is being out there by himself with no cares in the world, in a timeless, static present, while Kim's dreams always involve motion and action, escape.


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Peppermill
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Great points and excerpts to call to our attention, Stewart. However, I read them as signs of depression, rather than as of inability to change -- at least insofar as resistance to change was a personality trait of Ed's. I.e., I read any resistance to change as more a result of what had happened, rather than a characteristic of Ed that made it harder for him to adapt to what had happened. And that was laying personal experience on the story -- people who are normally quite able by personality to get up and keep moving can get stopped, at least for awhile and sometimes for some time, by life.

Thank you for your willingness to engage in these conversations. They deeply reinforce the depth with which you have "lived" with your characters.

Pepper


Stewart_ONan wrote:


Peppermill wrote:


Stewart_ONan wrote:


the_mad_chatter wrote:
Hi Mr. O'Nan,
This weekend I read a quote from Charles Darwin that basically said that it's not the strongest nor the most intelligent that survive but those who can adapt. It made me think of your story because we are rooting throughout the book for each character to survive the horror of Kim's disappearance and there are certainly few adaptable characters in your book.
We've had some great discussions about the book and I hope you'll take some time to read a few threads. I've enjoyed the heated debates and passions and would like to thank you for all the clues.
Bravo!


Thanks--and a great point. Their adaptations change and maybe even warp them, and then there's Ed, who basically can't change and just have to keep living even though most of his world is gone.





That's not how I read Ed. Mr. O'Nan, you have been dropping viewpoints about your characters throughout these posts that I wish you had made more suggestive in your original text. What you say here isn't inconsistent, it just tells me more than I was capable as a reader of reaching on my own.

Now, maybe that is a comment on my reading skills.....

Pepper

I think this line from p. 192 is pretty much to-the-point: 'In a larger sense, much of his daily life as he knew it no longer mattered, yet he clung to it.'
Also the way he tries to stick with the old routines of his life (like fishing or watching the Indians) but finds them empty and unhelpful.
His attitude is apparent throughout pp. 226-232, including lines like: 'He had to wake up and go to work. He had to eat and sleep and know what was coming up on the calendar, though he no longer looked forward to anything. Pretending to be interested took a constant effort. When he was by himself he went slack, and then he remembered he had to fix the light in the closet or refill the cars with wiper fluid or buy more ice melter.'
Likewise, the way he doesn't understand how Fran can go running around being positive and public, expending all this energy.


"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



ELee wrote:


Stewart_ONan wrote:


Everyman wrote:
Are there any questions you think we should have asked but didn't, and if so what, and what would your answers have been?

Maybe a few more questions about Elise, the third (and quietest) of the Three Amigos.  Why didn't I include her as a POV character, since she's obviously been close to Kim for a long time?  My answer would be that the overlap of her sections with Nina's would have clogged the front part of the book and duplicated too much.  Of the two, Nina's more interesting (being more volatile), so I went with her.


Though not a question for the author, I would like to post the following comment that resulted from the “conversation” here.  Stewart, my apologies if this goes astray… 
 
Something about Peppermill’s emphasizing Stewart’s comment that “this is a story in which the center goes missing permanently” really made an impact.  In the center of the POV characters experiences, there is an emotional blind spot that possibly reflects something lacking or a black hole that sucked something vital out of them, which might account for the low-key emotional response that has been noted by other readers.  When Stewart responded to Everyman’s question, it became even more obvious.  Elise seems to me to be more “normal” in the sense that she is absorbed in her own life, and while missing and grieving for Kim as a best friend would, is able to continue in her own life with regularity.  She doesn’t seem to have major unresolved issues (outside of her own love of drama in breaking up with Sam at the beginning) and she is first off the bridge when she and Nina commemorate the “Three Amigos”, despite being the last to jump at the first event which included Kim.  The contrast between Elise and the other characters closest to Kim nicely emphasizes that human void that I believe exists in the center of this experience.  It is that very center which is so totally personalized to each individual, that it cannot be explained or defined and requires “reader” participation to create a value.       


Thanks.  Yes, these are the people who are stuck.  They can't handle Kim's disappearance.  They'll never be able to fit it into their lives, and every time they try to probe their own feelings about it, they become even more lost.  I don't think their reactions are low-key at all, but for the main part their breakdowns (say, Fran sobbing as she holds Lindsay (p. 70) or Fran crying by the stereo after her first TV shoot (p. 79)) aren't accompanied by heavy violins and long-held close-ups.  The one that is--Lindsay at the softball game--is a reaction Lindsay fights with everything in her, because it's a reaction to the sentimental power of a pop song, and, in her eyes, not real or true to how she feels.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



pheath wrote:


Stewart_ONan wrote:


wbarker wrote:
Dear Mr. O'Nan,
I wanted to take a moment to let you know how much I love this book. This is the first book I have read that you have authored, and I am hooked.
I appreciate the fact that you are giving people a look into what a family goes through when they lose someone they love. The different view points are very interesting,and help to fill in a more complete picture.
I participate in three different book clubs, and plan to recommend this book for each one. My question would be, have you considered adding a section at the back for book clubs? I would love to see a section with discussion points, and some of the insights that you have shared here with this group.
Wendi


Thank you so much. I'm thrilled that you'd recommend Songs to your book groups. I'd expect Viking to include a Book Club reading guide in the trade paperback edition, but I'm not sure if they'll have a freestanding one for the hardback. Not a bad idea. I'll have to ask my editor.





I've also seen these included as a link on a book's page on the publisher web site. Not sure if Viking does this or not, but it is certainly a low cost option to add after the fact.

Smart idea, thanks.  Groups could download it and print out copies.  Again, I'll ask my editor.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Peppermill wrote:
Great points and excerpts to call to our attention, Stewart. However, I read them as signs of depression, rather than as of inability to change -- at least insofar as resistance to change was a personality trait of Ed's. I.e., I read any resistance to change as more a result of what had happened, rather than a characteristic of Ed that made it harder for him to adapt to what had happened. And that was laying personal experience on the story -- people who are normally quite able by personality to get up and keep moving can get stopped, at least for awhile and sometimes for some time, by life.

Thank you for your willingness to engage in these conversations. They deeply reinforce the depth with which you have "lived" with your characters.

Pepper


Stewart_ONan wrote:


Peppermill wrote:


Stewart_ONan wrote:


the_mad_chatter wrote:
Hi Mr. O'Nan,
This weekend I read a quote from Charles Darwin that basically said that it's not the strongest nor the most intelligent that survive but those who can adapt. It made me think of your story because we are rooting throughout the book for each character to survive the horror of Kim's disappearance and there are certainly few adaptable characters in your book.
We've had some great discussions about the book and I hope you'll take some time to read a few threads. I've enjoyed the heated debates and passions and would like to thank you for all the clues.
Bravo!


Thanks--and a great point. Their adaptations change and maybe even warp them, and then there's Ed, who basically can't change and just have to keep living even though most of his world is gone.





That's not how I read Ed. Mr. O'Nan, you have been dropping viewpoints about your characters throughout these posts that I wish you had made more suggestive in your original text. What you say here isn't inconsistent, it just tells me more than I was capable as a reader of reaching on my own.

Now, maybe that is a comment on my reading skills.....

Pepper

I think this line from p. 192 is pretty much to-the-point: 'In a larger sense, much of his daily life as he knew it no longer mattered, yet he clung to it.'
Also the way he tries to stick with the old routines of his life (like fishing or watching the Indians) but finds them empty and unhelpful.
His attitude is apparent throughout pp. 226-232, including lines like: 'He had to wake up and go to work. He had to eat and sleep and know what was coming up on the calendar, though he no longer looked forward to anything. Pretending to be interested took a constant effort. When he was by himself he went slack, and then he remembered he had to fix the light in the closet or refill the cars with wiper fluid or buy more ice melter.'
Likewise, the way he doesn't understand how Fran can go running around being positive and public, expending all this energy.


Ed's actions after Kim's disappearance are a reflection of his personality.  And his actions really don't change that much.  His emotional response to the world may be depressive (he himself wonders if he's clinically depressed), but throughout, he tries to maintain the same kind of normal, private life, even when he knows he can't.  But that's his ideal, so he keeps trying to go on that way, just as his ideal, professionally, is to have a strong housing market, even though that hasn't been true in Kingsville for years.  His reaction, professionally, is to do nothing but what he's always done, and fret about it.  He's a creature of habit (like most coaches) if not all-out inertia.



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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

[ Edited ]
Interesting. I know that I wasn't that hard on the Ed I encountered. I rather "liked" the guy for somehow sustaining some semblance of stability for his family when the world was unstable and some of that "stability" was inevitably the illusion he knew it to be. Maybe I've never known enough coaches!


Stewart_ONan wrote:
...Ed's actions after Kim's disappearance are a reflection of his personality. And his actions really don't change that much. His emotional response to the world may be depressive (he himself wonders if he's clinically depressed), but throughout, he tries to maintain the same kind of normal, private life, even when he knows he can't. But that's his ideal, so he keeps trying to go on that way, just as his ideal, professionally, is to have a strong housing market, even though that hasn't been true in Kingsville for years. His reaction, professionally, is to do nothing but what he's always done, and fret about it. He's a creature of habit (like most coaches) if not all-out inertia. [Emphasis added.]



Message Edited by Peppermill on 06-18-2008 11:01 PM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Hi,

I just wanted to thank Mr. O'Nan for joining us and to say that the group has asked some really good questions. I am also very excited to know you are writing a sequel to wish you were here.. I was left with more questions about the future of the characters than answers at the end of the book and hoped you would write a sequel at some point.

Jenn D
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Peppermill wrote:
Interesting. I know that I wasn't that hard on the Ed I encountered. I rather "liked" the guy for somehow sustaining some semblance of stability for his family when the world was unstable and some of that "stability" was inevitably the illusion he knew it to be. Maybe I've never known enough coaches!


Stewart_ONan wrote:
...Ed's actions after Kim's disappearance are a reflection of his personality. And his actions really don't change that much. His emotional response to the world may be depressive (he himself wonders if he's clinically depressed), but throughout, he tries to maintain the same kind of normal, private life, even when he knows he can't. But that's his ideal, so he keeps trying to go on that way, just as his ideal, professionally, is to have a strong housing market, even though that hasn't been true in Kingsville for years. His reaction, professionally, is to do nothing but what he's always done, and fret about it. He's a creature of habit (like most coaches) if not all-out inertia. [Emphasis added.]

Yes, you're exactly right--'sustaining some semblance of stability.'  Brilliantly put.  That's Ed right there, for better or worse.  I think it's a rather stoic way to go, noble but possibly misguided.  My take is that he does it as much for himself as for his family (and I think Fran would agree, as she's often frustrated with him), but, because of who he is, deep down, he may be incapable of doing anything else.  The experience shows him the limits of self-reliance, and as someone who's based his life on self-reliance (100% effort somehow rewarding you), he now understands that that may not be enough to save him or the people he loves.




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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Jennd1 wrote:
Hi,

I just wanted to thank Mr. O'Nan for joining us and to say that the group has asked some really good questions. I am also very excited to know you are writing a sequel to wish you were here.. I was left with more questions about the future of the characters than answers at the end of the book and hoped you would write a sequel at some point.

Jenn D

Thanks--now I'm getting more excited about writing it.


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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Hi Mr. O'Nan,
 
How did you feel about having your book as part of B&N First Look?  Now that you've been through it would you do it again?  Is there any other outlet out there for this type of forum, if you will, with authors and readers and if so have you been a part of them? 
 
Also, I remember reading that you had a quote on a board that you had taken down.  Do you tack things up about the characters or notes while writing?  When reading a good book sometimes I get so caught up in the characters that I don't want the book to end.  Does this happen to you when writing? 
 
Sorry if these questions have already been asked. 
 
Thanks again for spending time with us, I've really enjoyed your comments and thoughts.
 
Shelly
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



tigger27 wrote:
Hi Mr. O'Nan,
 
How did you feel about having your book as part of B&N First Look?  Now that you've been through it would you do it again?  Is there any other outlet out there for this type of forum, if you will, with authors and readers and if so have you been a part of them? 
 
Also, I remember reading that you had a quote on a board that you had taken down.  Do you tack things up about the characters or notes while writing?  When reading a good book sometimes I get so caught up in the characters that I don't want the book to end.  Does this happen to you when writing? 
 
Sorry if these questions have already been asked. 
 
Thanks again for spending time with us, I've really enjoyed your comments and thoughts.
 
Shelly


Thanks for reading the book, and for your questions.  For me, it's neat seeing all the different reactions people have to the characters and to the way the book is put together--especially so when many of them have never read anything I've written, or come to the book from other genres (mystery, popular fiction, true crime).  Every time I log on and read people's remarks, I feel that I should thank them (and Viking and B&N and the moderators) for spending so much time on my book.  For an author there's no higher honor than a reader taking the time to read your book.  And then to take the time to comment on it as well?  That's incredibly generous of everyone, and I'm grateful, so yeah, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  Getting my characters into the hands of good readers--that's an ideal situation. 
 
I've done book groups and One Book appearances at libraries and schools where you discuss the book with a lot of people, but the format is usually live, and you don't have the time or opportunity to think your answers through or field follow-up questions or return to topics several days later.  I like this format better.  It can get more in-depth.  I'm also impressed at how thorough the discussions are, and the wide variety of responses.
 
I'm always tacking things up on my bulletin board.  Till it gets shaggy.  And I've got piles of notes all over my desk, and notebooks full of bits and pieces, scraps of napkins, looseleaf binders full of highlighted copies from research, shelves of books I need to read to understand a certain facet of the world I'm trying to convey.  I work best when my desk is a mess.
 
For me the books I write don't really end.  I can always go back and spend time with the characters, and inhabit the scenes--not just what I've written of them, but everything else going on around them that I didn't include on the page.  When you imagine something, you see a lot more than what the reader needs to see, but that world is solid and full and still there inside my head, so I can go back, say, to when they're driving back from Ed's mother's and come into town and see the fireworks going off over the lake, and I can stop the car and get out and sit with the people on their lawns or on the sidewalk (still hot from the day) and watch the rockets glide up and blossom again and again.  And while I'm there I'll see more--people smoking on their porches, and the glow of a TV inside, the lighthouse backlit by the colored reflections on the water.  That's the pleasure of having that imaginary world to go to--like having a book to read.


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