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A Dinner in Seattle

The penultimate pre-sale book tour dinner arrived with the drizzle in Seattle. Upstairs in the Dickensian Tulio, there were coat hooks and the odd umbrella. Soon, the room filled with booksellers, librarians, venue programmers and writers – great readers, all. The chat came fast and easy – everyone knew everyone and they welcomed me as they would an old friend. It was, of course, Amity & Sorrow who were their old friends, but how lovely it is when some of that love rubs off on the writer. How thrilling it is, truly, when readers take characters to their hearts, able to speak about them as people – as the people they are for me. The readers of Seattle made the book feel so real – for them and for me. It is a feeling I will never forget.

From the start there was conflicting support for the characters, alongside discussions of their relationships and how the six primary characters of the book – the three women, the three men they find in Oklahoma – fit together in the story. There was quite a lot of love for Amity and for Amaranth, individually: poor Sorrow didn’t get a look in. Perhaps only I am left to love her. There was also a lot of affection for both Dust and the old man, which would greatly please both of them – even if they would each begrudge it of the other.

Perhaps unsurprising in a room filled with women, talk often centred on gender politics and the choices women make and have made to survive. For there are questions about the choices that Amaranth makes in the book, of course, of how much anyone can “save” anyone. The actions and choices of all the female characters, both daughters and all 50 wives (with particular love for Hope), were utmost on minds and in questions. There were also free-range discussions about local history and of the West and the Dust Bowl, how “true stories” merge with fiction, as well as lots of time to talk about writing process with other writers in the room. Throughout, there were discussions about the ending of the book, its tone and violence and the effect of a good editor, but I won’t discuss it: no spoilers here!

Thank you to Mike Heuer for his hospitality, to Associate Publisher and Director of Marketing Heather Fain for her care and keen eye, and, as ever, to Little, Brown and Hachette. I have lost count of how many booksellers and librarians have praised Little, Brown for their publishing, their great events with booksellers and book lovers, and for their author care. I could not agree more.

With grateful thanks to these fine booksellers of Seattle:
Liberty Bay Books
Secret Garden Bookshop
Third Place Books
University Book Store
Thank you to local distributers:
Partners West
And, a big thank you to librarians and venues:
King County Library
Seattle Public Library
Town Hall Seattle

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