I caught up with Robert Whitlow and his wife at the ICRS conference in Atlanta this summer and was able to ask him a few questions. I wanted to know how he felt about book clubs/reading groups.
What have been the benefits to you in having relationships with reading groups?
Reading groups help keep me excited about writing! I also enjoy hearing reader perspectives on my books. Sometimes they find nuggets in the stories I wish I’d put in on purpose! Groups are also key in generating word of mouth buzz about a book or author.
Which type of book club meeting do you prefer? Why?
I enjoy clubs that read a specific novel to discuss. That works better than a general question and answer format about writing or multiple books.
Where would you like to see your relationship with reading group grow? How do you think your goals can be met? If so, how?
I want to be as available as I can to reading groups consistent with my writing schedule and law practice. I don’t have any numerical goals, but if a group of people takes the time to read and discuss one of my novels, I want to enrich the experience for them.
Do you have a set size a reading group has to be before you’ll talk to them on the phone or in person? What do you feel most comfortable doing?
A group needs to have around 10 readers to warrant a visit or phone call. I like in person visits, but of course that’s not always possible.
Do you learn about your book and yourself from book club meetings? If so what?
I often receive insights about stories from readers. They may see symbolism I missed or identify character traits that surprise me. This is a lot of fun.
What do you think about ebooks and future sales of your book? How will authors do book signings with an ebook reading crowd?
E-book use is now expanding exponentially. I have many e-book readers and hope this grows. I don’t know of any technology that allows e-book signings.
Did you learn more about your characters than you original wrote about? Have you been surprised by readers reactions to one of your books? Characters? If so, which ones?
The strongest reactions I receive are to Jimmy. When I wrote the book I underestimated the maternal attraction female readers would have with the
main character. Thankfully, there is an alternate ending available at robertwhitlow.com.
Has your book club experience – getting feed back from reading groups – helped you in writing future books? If so, how has it helped you?
All feedback is valuable. One thing a writer must do is observe life because that’s the raw material for stories. Book clubs are a part of that process, whether from an interesting person who attends or a comment from a reader.
Could you please tell us about things you are working on? Are any of your books being made into movies?
Thanks for asking. We are currently working on the script for a movie based on my book JIMMY! We hope to have it in theatres in about a year.
We have made the Movie The Trial and The List and are excited that they are available on RED BOX! The Trial is your classic courtroom drama that everyone can relate to.
Water’s Edge is Robert Whitlow’s New Release. It’s a Stand – Alone based on the scripture found in Jeremiah 16:16 about the Ancient Path. It’s when a modern man looses his life for the same of the kingdom. It’s coming to terms with Trust to not be killed!
Robert Whitlow is thrilled about his new project. He is handing in the final chapters of his new book titled,
Book Description: A mysterious prophecy leads a young girl to an impossible choice.
In 1974, sixteen-year-old Sandy Lincoln left town to hide her pregnancy and encountered a strange woman who told her she was carrying twin boys. The woman warns that should the sons ever meet, one of them will die.
Thirty years pass and Sandy is now a high-school teacher. When one of her students confides in her that she’s pregnant, Sandy follows protocol and advises her to meet with the school’s guidance counselor.
What ensues is a legal battle over what right a public school teacher—or counselor—has to influence a young woman on her reproductive decisions.
In this heart-warming and inspiring novel, Whitlow shows readers that the love of a mother knows no bounds.
Robert had tears in his eyes as he talked passionately about The Choice. I could tell this story and it’s characters touched him deeply. He liked how Waters Edge, a John Gresham type novel, turned out but I could tell The Choice was a story of his heart. I also got the impression he experienced something different writing this novel he hasn’t experienced with his other books. I know he hopes the characters and the story move the hearts and minds of his readers in the same way he was moved. I can’t wait to read The Choice, it’s scheduled to release in 2012.
For a look at Robert Whitlow and his other books – check out his Website RobertWhitlow@sellershinshaw.com
Nora St.Laurent – The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org