This morning, I posted my review of Meg Waite Clayton’s latest, The Four Ms. Bradwells. Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending a signing/reading by Meg, joined by several of my favorite bookish people, including Swapna and Kristen (DC area book bloggers) my good friend Jackie, and the lovely Alma Katsu, author of the upcoming book, The Taker. A suprise appearance was made by the wonderfully talented Eleanor Brown, author of The Weird Sisters. I’m not afraid to admit that I literally squealed, jumped out of my seat, and hugged Eleanor when she introduced herself. I make no apologies; I’m a hugger!
Back to the signing…
Meg was originally slated to tour with author Sarah Addison Allen (The Peach Keeper). Unfortunately, shortly before the tour was scheduled to tart, Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her book released one day & the very next day she started chemotherapy. To honor Sarah, Meg arranged that a breast cancer survivor do Sarah’s reading for her. Judy, a friend of Alma’s and a breast cancer survivor, did the reading:
Meg started her portion of the event by doing a reading from The Four Ms. Bradwells. She chose to read one of my favorite scenes in the book in which Betts, in the middle of a Senate confirmation hearing, gets asked a particularly difficult question:
‘I’d like to ask you what you know about a death that occured in the spring of 1982, at a home in Maryland where I believe you were a guest?’
‘Oh, shit,’ Ginger says–mercifully not before the silent blink of the crowd absorbing the question gives way to a collective murmur, the photographers surging forward as even the senators exhaled their surprise…we watch as Betts, oddly, unlatches the clasp at her throat and lets the pearl necklace slide into her hand…She doesn’t stand, though. She remains in her chair…she smiles the way she smiles when you stumble upon her doing yoga on her screen porch in the morning: a little embarrased, but somehow more for you than her. And in the same soft, self-possessed voice she and I rehearsed again and again over the telephone–a voice even I almost believe–she says ‘Senator, I don’t believe I have anything to add to the public record on that.’ (pg. 10)
What a powerful passage, yes?
Meg then went on to answer questions about her writing, the characters in her books, and her life overall. Here are some nuggets of information I learned:
- The Four Ms. Bradwells wasn’t orginally “planned” to contain the mystery storyline. Meg’s editor asked that she add a contemporary spin on the novel, and voila!
- Meg was tempted to change the point of view from first person to third person. Writing from the point of view of four very different women was challenging. Both her husband and editor convinced her to continue with the first person narrative, a decision I am forever greatful for!
- Meg got the idea to write The Four Ms. Bradwells based on her own law school experience (I’m assuming there were no mysterious deaths, though!). Additionally, the names of several individuals who had an impact on Meg are featured in the book. Meg did get their approval before publishing their names 🙂
Following the event, we all (Meg included) went out for drinks & dinner: the cherry on top of the wonderful bookish evening!
I’ve been a fan of Meg’s since reading The Wednesday Sisters but attending this event, seeing her in person, engaging in conversation with her, truly made me appreciate what a talented and skilled writer she is!
Thanks to Alma for arranging this “meet up” and for telling me about Meg’s visit. Oh, and for the pictures! As often happens when I attend author events, I get so involved in the reading that I completely forget I have a camera in hand!