Something captivating -- very captivating -- happened from the moment Megan Easter of the Kanawha City (KC) Book Club invited me to meet with them to discuss my debut YA-novel, HONEYSUCKLE HOLIDAY . . . and every minute of the gathering became more and more captivating -- more and more engrossing. Nine avid, enthusiastic, and passionate readers greeted me warmly at Panera Bread at Southridge in Charleston, WV: Debra Parker, Linda Johnson, Susan Wright, Danene Hartley, Pat Hose, Sue Riley, Sheila Dale, and Sherry Durst entered Panera Bread not only with HONEYSUCKLE HOLIDAY held close, but genuine smiles that suggested that by the simple, yet powerful thread that joined each of us to one another -- letters and words and sentences -- had been firmly planted long before we had ever met. It was a priceless moment, and one that I'm not likely to forget anytime soon.
We broke bread and began our discussions: Lucy and Caroline and Grace. And Lila. And the resilience of Maggie Moore. And we talked about the historical relevance of the book, which takes places in the 1960s in the south, set against the racial tensions of that era. We talked about the evolution of a debut novel, voice, conflict and resolution. We even talked about pacing and the spiritual thread that is woven throughout the novel. And, we talked about the mystery and magic that surfaces through conversation, edging towards to what degree does the story reveal something personal about the author. And, it's in that revelation that the i's are firmly dotted and the t's are firmly crossed with conviction.
We discussed the writerly life and the contribution of readers long before the work ever sees the light of publication. And we talked about that moment -- that indescribable moment -- for a writer, when they are no longer penning the story. And finally, we came together to an even deeper degree when conversation led to current book banning (e.g., To Kill a Mockingbird's removal from a Mississippi school) and how that movement -- that very dangerous movement -- has made its way to HONEYSUCKLE HOLIDAY'S journey to various schools throughout the Appalachian region, vowing with deep conviction to never, ever becoming a part of that destructive movement. Ever. And it was perhaps in that moment that the light shined brightest and the thread that bound us all together was reinforced. And that became the only moment that mattered.