Karen McCullough is the award-winning author of almost two dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romance, suspense, and fantasy genres, including the Market Center Mysteries Series and the No Brides Club Romance Series. Today she joins us to talk about book clubs. Learn more about her and her books at her website and blog.
A Book Series Joined Together by a Book Club
By Karen McCullough
Confession: Although my most recent book, Falling for the Deputy, is part of a series centered around a group of women who belong to the Hopeless Romantics book club, I’ve never belonged to a book club myself. Everything I know about them, I’ve learned from listening to others talk about the ones they are in.
I’ve often thought it would be fun to be part of a group focused on talking about books, but I’m not sure it would work for me. For one thing, my time is at a premium. I already have too many demanding jobs. When I do have time to read, I generally want something light and entertaining.
But more importantly, I’m an author. That has changed my relationship with books and the way I read, especially fiction. I suspect my slant is akin to the way people in the movie industry watch films. Instead of being able to sink into the dream being presented in words or on screen, we wonder about the tricks, maneuvers, and sleight of hand the creators are using to convince us that what we’re reading or seeing is true.
I write romance, mysteries, suspense, and paranormal, and I’ve read widely in all of those genres. I grew up reading a lot of mystery novels because my dad had an extensive library. I gobbled up Rex Stout, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, and John D. McDonald in my teenage years, after graduating from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.
Back in those days, the books often surprised and amazed me by producing solutions I didn’t see coming.
Now, I can tell when the author is setting up that person we casually met in chapter three, who appears to be just an interested friend, as the murderer. It’s all too clear that the grumpy but good-looking sheriff is going to end up being a love interest. The irritating neighbor will have a key piece of information.
That scene in Harry Potter book six, between Snape and Dumbledore? Most people experienced it one way. I recognized the careful wording and realized there was another way to read it. I knew where the author was going with it.
When I read books now, I can’t help considering how the author is building specific characters, even down to the words he or she uses to describe them. I think about the setting and background and how they relate to what’s happening.
Basically, it’s hard to sink into the dream and let the characters carry me away. Instead, I tend to try to take a book apart and see what makes it tick.
That doesn’t mean an author can’t surprise me on occasion. It’s rare but I love it when it does happen.
Still, I think authors read books differently from the way most readers and book clubs seem to approach them. Readers want to talk about how the books affected them, whether they liked the characters, whether the plot worked, what they thought the author intended, whether it succeeded or not, etc. They explore whether the book worked for them.
An author wants to know what a fellow writer did to make it work.
Falling for the Deputy
Hopeless Romantics of Willow Ridge, Book 4
After losing at love twice, Barbara Wilton needs a change, some place far from her home in Boston, so she takes a position as manager of a small branch bank in Willow Ridge, Georgia. She’s done with relationships and ready to concentrate on her career. The experience in Willow Ridge will help her move forward in the banking industry, but she doesn’t plan to stay there permanently. Nevertheless, an invitation to join the Hopeless Romantics book club, a position on a planning committee, helping a little league team that needs coaching, and being adopted by a stray dog begin to wind her into the community. Meeting Deputy Chris Harper, a former Charlotte police officer until his marriage fell apart, draws her even deeper. But when money goes missing and Barbara becomes the chief suspect, duty and feelings collide.