March 7th, 2006

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Reading groups and gifts from friends from far away

So, some time ago when I was the guest speaker at a lunch for the Women's CLub of Sudden Valley, the woman who ran the local reading group or book club was there and they said that they'd look at "Jin shei" when it came out in paperback, which it did, and which THEY did.

They invited me to chat to them about it this afternoon, and there we were, eleven of them and me, and it was thoroughly wonderful. One woman said she'd given away *twelve copies* of "The Secrets of Jin SHei" for Christmas, to "absolutely everybody", which left me with a kind of pleased astonishment; four of them cadged up a pen and asked if I would sign the books they had brought; one said she was only halfway through and threatened grievous bodily harm if any egregeious spoilers were uttered by anybody at all. They asked about that book, and about what I was doing now, and about how I wrote and why I wrote and how long I'd been writing, and we all spent a cozy hour or so together, and I enjoyed myself immensely. This is the part of writing that comes only much later, after you're done the solitary slog of it, after you've dreamed and scribbled by yourself, after the powers that be picked it all up and turned it into an object that people recognise, an actual *book* - and then other people, other human beings, pick it up and read it, and you realise that the world you have created has taken on a life of its own and is growing like some strange pale flower in other people's minds and that *they can see the things that you have seen and described*. The purchase price of the book was by way of a visa into the worlds of your imagination, and they have now travelled there, the stamp indellible upon the passport of their minds. And it's wonderful.It is an absolute gift to be able to share your work with your readers like this, face to face; to see various incarnations of the book (hardcovers, which look like they Have Been Read; paperback copies, some with the "WA Book Award FInalist" stickers on them; one paperback ARC) being brought out into the light. To know that these things are out there - one bought at a Barnes and Noble in Arizona, one in a bookshop in Portland OR, one in the local B&N where, apparently, the purchaser was told that they "liked me" there. There is a world out there and sometimes, in the writerly solitude, it's hard to think about the concept of your book being in it. And I was grateful for the invitation, that they had me there, that they talked to me, that they let me see that the story had friends, that it wasn't alone.

Thank you, ladies. I'm proud that you chose me, glad that you liked the book, and I enjoyed my time with you immensely.

In other news, let me officially state that eneit is a wonderful human being.

She gave me warning, recently, that something she had tripped across within the last month or so had "reminded her of me", and that she was sending it to me.

Well, it came today - on the face of it, an ordinary women's magazine from Australia. But within lurks a *full-page colour ad for "Embers of heaven" *, and what's more, it's one which is worded in a manner I have never heard myself described before. "From the bestselling author of "The Secrets of Jin SHei"," it says.

Bless you, eneit. You made my day. My week. Probably my year.