Last night we were privileged to have the wonderful Amy Bloom with us at the RWB. We never tire of telling everyone that her book Away is one of our favorites and its true too. It was with great excitement that we asked Amy to come for a reading and luckily she accepted right away. In person, she is smart as a whip and despite her jet lag was witty and funny. I loved how the way she read Away gave an extra dimension to Lillian, its memorable heroine. And I’m glad that she didn’t kill her off because we learned that she actually contemplated killing Lillian while writing the novel. Lucky for us that her editor talked her out of it! Because we were a rather intimate group last night, we were able to have a good discussion with her. Our questions ranged from what inspires you to advice on the writing process. I thought it was really interesting how she made the distinction between sentimentality and romanticism. The line between the two is clearly a blurry one and a less skilled writer can’t or doesn’t always distinguish between the two. If you think about it, there are a great number of sentimental novels passing themselves off as romantic ones. What’s great about Amy’s work, whether in the short story form or the novel, is that she is able to cut out all the extraneous sentimentality to leave the bare bones of feeling in the stories that make them even more unforgettable. Before we closed our evening with her, we asked her who her favorite authors are and we were surprised (though I don’t know why it should be surprising) to learn that she is a great fan of mystery novels ,P.D. James and Ed Mcbain being some of them. I thought that was a nice segue into the next author to have a reading with us who just happens to be a great mystery writer!
It is none other than Cara Black who was with us tonight. She is famous for her Aimeé Leduc mystery novels. Eight novels so far, each set in different arrondissements of Paris. Despite her cold, Cara was en plein forme, wonderfully entertaining and lively. She is a great raconteur and we were treated to stories behind her books. She did a great job whetting the audience’s appetite for Murder in the Rue de Paradis which is set in the 10th arrondissment of Paris. And while I knew that an enormous amount of research goes into each of her books, it was clear from tonight just how much really goes into each one. We are fortunate for her attention to detail because the books really come alive for their authenticity and richness of details. It was a lively group tonight with people peppering Cara with questions on how she came to write about a female detective. And it was interesting to learn that she in fact based Aimeé on a family run detective company, whose office is in a street on Rue du Louvre. A switch of the syllables and from Deluc we have Leduc. One of the most interesting things to come out of our reading tonight was something Cara said. She said that a mystery novel is a really great way of telling a story. Why? For the simple reason that there is a neat and tidy resolution to it that we rarely have in real life.