Saturday, June 16, 2012

Author Blog Challenge # 15

This one may take a bit of work, but I promise, it will be worth it. Find someone you know, either online or in the real world, who is a true bibliophile and interview them about their reading habits.

Due to difficulty in accessing a reader to interview - I had thought about lurking at the local library and waylaying someone there - I have responded to today's challenge with a fictional interview.

Janet is a past member of a writing group I once attended and a classic bibliophile. She loves to read, admire and collect books, in addition to short term and longer term borrowings from the library and the bookshelves of her friends.  Her own collection is an eclectic mix of old and new, spilling from shelves bent low by a weight burden they were not designed to hold.
               When asked how many books she bought in a month she looked at me with an almost offended expression, as if I’d asked how many times she changed her underwear or how many lovers her grandmother had – and there’s another story. We parried the question back and forth before she understood my motive for asking was not personal, but her mouth remained tight and her voice clipped, as she snipped that she didn't know – she didn’t keep count. I suspect her reaction may have had something to do with  her many subscriptions to Reader’s Digest and other book suppliers and the marital disharmony this created and she probably thought I was having a go, too. As near as I could tell, from what she owned to, she bought one book a week on average and borrowed up to six at a time from the local library.
               Wanting to ease the tension and sensing I hadn't chosen my subject well for this interview, I asked her how many she actually read. Another withering look. Of course! She read them all didn’t she? Was she stupid? Why would she buy and borrow books if she wasn't going to read them? This wasn't going well at all, so I had a long sip of my coffee before moving to the next question, which she warmed to immediately, pointing to her groaning bookcases as she invited me to look for myself. I scanned the collection, picking up a few I hadn't seen before, reading the back cover blurb and asking her opinion on each.  A few familiar titles caught my attention and I recalled lending her these months and even years before, but decided this wasn't the best time to ask for their return.
                We spent time talking about where she bought her books, her favourite book shops and less favoured ones. I tiptoed around the edge of her subscriptions and she didn't invite me in, so I stayed on safer ground. I was surprised to learn she now bought online from Amazon and other online stores, and even made a foray into EBay on occasion. Here she paused to show me a bargain lot of romance novels she’d snavelled recently. I’d always thought she wasn't fond of romantic fiction, however, as I’d already covered the question of what she liked to read I thought it expedient to let this pass.
                Her favourite author? Another difficult question, as she inclined more to whom she didn't like and why. I kept after her until she fessed up and who else would it be but herself.
                ‘Well it would have to be me, wouldn’t it? Otherwise why would I write at all?’
                ‘But you haven’t had anything published yet, have you?’
                ‘Yes, I have. I had that short story in our anthology, remember?’
                ‘Sorry. I forgot for the moment.’ I gave myself a mental kick for forgetting her moment of glory and asked who her second favourite writer was.
                ‘I don’t really have favourites. That would be silly, wouldn’t it, and it would  limit my reading.’
                The next question as to what she liked about her favourite author became obsolete, as I didn't have time to listen to a manifesto on her qualities as a writer so I skipped ahead to book signings, knowing her to be a compulsive attender of literary events. She enjoyed book signings and readings as they got her out of the house and into the company of like-minded people with whom she could talk about the highs and lows of being a writer. She felt it was an opportunity to be seen and network with others in the industry and who knew where this might lead.
                I placed the next question in the no go zone, for reasons that would be obvious, and asked which book has most recently surprised or delighted her.
                ‘Well it would have to be your latest, I think, because I was surprised to see it had been published at all.’ She looked at me slyly before continuing. ‘No offence intended, but I figured if they would publish that, I’d have no problems getting mine picked up when I finish it. I am delighted and encouraged, so thank you.’
                I thought back to the book signing for this novel and her swanning around the dignitaries before bailing my agent up in a corner for almost half an hour to talk about the unfinished novel she’d been working on for the past ten years; the one that would probably never be finished, and pity overtook my anger at her insult.
                ‘Well, thank you for your time. It’s been interesting.’ I walked past the bookshelf on my way to the door, picking up books that belonged to me as I went. ‘I’ll just take these back while I’m here. They’re probably not to your taste anyway.’

Somehow I knew I wouldn't be back.

1 comment:

  1. I love love love this!! Your imagination is wonderfully put on display with this post! WRITE ON!


For some reason I'm yet to fathom I'm unable to reply to comments left by others so thank you for dropping by and taking the time to read and comment. Merlene