Henna House, Historic Customs, and 100 Happy Book Clubs
I’m so happy to host author Nomi Eve today on the Book Club Cheerleader blog! Not only was her book one of my top favorites last year (and a definite favorite for my book clubs this year) but she is doing something rather fabulous with book clubs that you need to know about…
For the past four months I’ve been on a whirlwind journey. It’s nice to slow down and think about where I’ve been and what it all means. When Henna House came out in August, I challenged myself to meet with 100 Book Clubs, either in person, or via Skype to chat about the book. I knew I’d be busy, but I am tickled pink with how it’s all turning out. I just met with my 48th club last night by Skype. #47 actually traveled to me from New Jersey. Now those girls were intrepid and fabulous! Along the way I flew to a library book club in Boise, I’ve Skyped with clubs in different parts of the country, and I’ve personally visited many in the greater Philadelphia area. Oh, and there was also an on-line club that discussed my book at the same time I was having a Skype visit with a club in Chicago. Talk about being in two places at once! That group, the Outlander Book Club, discussed my book in their forum, and then submitted questions to me, which I answered.
I’m having a wonderful time meeting readers and answering questions. What I’ve found is that all groups ask me a combination of questions I haven’t heard before and questions I hear over and over. I’ve gotten pretty good at answering the latter. For example, everyone asks me about my research. Considering the fact that I’ve never been to Yemen but I set myself the task of imagining Yemen in the early part of the 20th century, readers are curious to know my process of gathering information and crafting a convincing world. Readers also ask me how long it took me to write the book (2-3 years, but around 6 years just to think of the idea), and why my main character’s mother is so incredibly mean (invite me to a book club and I’ll tell you the answer to that one.)
Also, people are curious about my writing process. They want to know where and how I write. I explain how after my first book, The Family Orchard, was published I had three babies in four years and didn’t write for a long time. When I got itchy to start again, I made myself an office all the way up on our third floor. I was so excited about my “room of my own.” I had all my books nicely arranged on huge book classes. All my papers, my research files at my fingertips. But guess what happened? With three small children, I never made it up to that room on the third floor. So I took my computer and plopped it in the middle of our kitchen. That was six years ago and I’ve been writing smack in the middle of our family ever since. My kids are all rather huge now. Two of them are taller than I am already. I write while they are at school, but also when they are home. My kids could be standing on top of me, and I can still write. That room of my own wasn’t what I needed. I needed to be accessible to my family and to my characters at the same time. Now they are all on top of me – kids and characters, and that’s the way I like it.
Here are some photos. Henna House tells the story of Yemenite Jews, and their precious henna life-cycle rituals. I’m including a henna photo, and an image of a Yemenite Jewish woman in a traditional bridal crown. My characters wear bridal crowns like this for their weddings. There is also a photo of my kids, and I’m including a whole bunch of book club photos. I take a photograph at each visit and post them on my FaceBook Author Page and on my blog. I love these photos. They are creating a visual trail of this special time. I am so grateful to the book clubs for inviting me into the warm circle of their close relationships. Many of the book clubs I’ve met with have been getting together for decades. After each visit I take notes. One day I’ll write a book called The Hundred Book Club Journey about the experiences I have had and the things I learned along the way.
Thanks, again, Nomi, for sharing some of the inside scoop on your research and writing process, the historical facts behind your fiction and the fun challenge you’ve set for yourself visiting book clubs. Remember, readers, if you’d like Nomi to visit (phone, Skype, stalk, etc.) your book club, please contact her on her blog. Who knows, your book club could be the magic number 100! I don’t know that there’s any kind of prize for that (other than being able to spend an evening with Nomi) but we are holding a drawing for a copy of Henna House—thanks to Nomi’s generosity—on Book Club Cheerleader, and all you have to do is comment below. Good Luck—and Rah, Rah, Reading!