The Art of Letting Go and invited me along to their meeting (after they'd had an hour to discuss it without having to be polite!) to tell them more about it.
It was such an enjoyable thing to do, although bizarre and unnerving at the same time. I guessed everyone would be polite about it (which they were), but I was dreading the awkwardness that would occur if they were only polite about it! Luckily, they were positively enthusiastic. I'm sure some people enjoyed The Art of Letting Go more than others, but they all had interesting insights into how the characters made them feel. I even felt as if I learned something about my book by listening to a group of intelligent people discuss the motivations and desires behind my character's actions. It was certainly interesting to listen to people disagree about why Ben wanted to paint God, or what Rosemary was really looking for. My characters appear just as complicated and messy to me as they do to other readers, and it was amazing and encouraging to hear how other people had engaged with them, believed in them, given them a life of their own.
On the whole, I don't think I was a particularly insightful guest author. My comments along the lines of "don't know, I just thought it was kind of cool to put that in", or "my friend said something to me about thunderstorms, so I thought I'd write about a thunderstorm", weren't perhaps the stuff TED talks are made of, but I was honest at least! And if I'm even more honest with myself, I have to say that I still feel a bit of a fraud talking to people as an author. I don't feel as if I've earned the right yet, to call myself by the A-word. I don't have an interesting creative process, or some fascinating insights into the mind of a writer. I just make up stories and write them down.
The most enjoyable part of the evening for me, was hearing how my novel moved people. Different people were moved - even, perhaps, tearful - at different points in the book. I don't think I could get a bigger compliment than that if I were to win the Man Booker. To have made people stop and think - no - to have made them stop and feel, is all I wanted to do. I hope this won't be the last time I speak about my book as an author, but for a first time, I had fun!