I’ve never written to an author whose book I enjoyed reading. I probably will in the future.
After The Best Laid Plans somehow won the Leacock Medal in the spring of 2008 and was republished by McClelland & Stewart, I started to receive emails and letters from complete strangers who had read and enjoyed the novel. How extraordinarily gratifying. In the wake of the release of The High Road and certainly after TBLP won this year’s Canada Reads, I began to receive one or two emails every day. It is undoubtedly one of the most wonderful parts of being a writer. I respond to every one as if it might be the last. With the added exposure both of my novels have received in the last few months, there have been the occasional negative review in the mainstream media. Were it not for the universally supportive, and downright humbling reader emails, I’m sure I’d be more upset about the odd bad review. These reader messages come to me in several different forms. Most often via email, but also through letters, Twitter, blog posts, LinkedIn, and Facebook too. They serve to remind me that first and foremost, I write for readers, not critics.
Here’s just one of the letters I’m truly blessed to receive almost every day. This email, reproduced here with Joan’s permission, arrived late last night:
Dear Terry Fallis,
I am a member of the Wednesday Bookclub here in Perth Ontario and yesterday we met to discuss your book, The Best Laid Plans. It was, I am pleased to tell you, a great success. Let me tell you a bit about our bookclub. The club began over 25 years ago. A group of women gathered at Algonquin College for a course about women and literature and had such a great time they decided to continue by meeting twice a month to discuss a book they had agreed to read. At two books a month, you can well imagine that a great number of books have been read. Some have been loved, some liked, some hated and some were considered not having been worth the trouble. There have been about half a dozen considered worth writing to the author about. I joined the group six years ago when I moved to Perth. Four of the original members are still in the group, four of us are new members. A few who have left due to health issues continue to read the books on their own.
I am pleased to say your book is among the half dozen we liked well enough to write to the author. It was most timely as our discussion took place the morning after the recent Tory budget. What did we like – your inside knowledge about Ottawa and the unique machinations of life “on the hill”; your very likeable characters – we found them complex, intelligent and well rounded. The timing and pace was wonderful – not so funny as to be ‘just a good laugh” but each of us admitted to laughing out loud while reading. You found that unique balance between cynicism and hope, humour and serious commentary, characters a little over the top but believable. We were especially taken with Muriel and spent a considerable bit of time deciding who was the model – there have been so many wonderful backroom women in Canadian politics.
We are looking forward to reading The High Road together. Thank you for a wonderful book on a very timely subject. As the next election looms we hold out hope for an Angus to come knocking at our doors.
Wednesday Book Club
It’s hard to express how fulfilling and rewarding it is to receive such wonderful reader reactions. It just makes me want to get on with writing novel #3…