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June 12, 2008

Book Clubs On Air --- Bringing Authors and Readers Together in Conversation

Posted by carol
Today Jennifer Hart updates us on an initiative she started several months ago, an online radio show that brings book clubs together with authors...

Those of you who have read some of my earlier posts will know I've embarked on a new book group venture --- the book club call-in online radio show on the site Blog Talk Radio. Now that I'm a few shows in, I'm continually amazed by the response to the shows.

The first three shows were held with Jamie Saul, author of Light of Day; Katrina Kittle, author of The Kindness of Strangers; and Thrity Umrigar, author of The Space Between Us. From Jamie we learned about how he built the story and some of the original titles for his novel. Katrina shared her inspiration for her story as well as a key reason for the structure of the novel. And Thrity talked about growing up in India and how that has influenced her as a writer as well as how it inspired The Space Between Us.

The way it works is this --- the author is on the phone, a book group is on the phone and I'm on the phone and manning a switchboard on my computer. People around the world can listen to the show live on their computers, and anyone can call in with a question or comment. On each show the authors have been asked such insightful questions and provided such interesting answers that both they and our listeners have desired the conversation to go on much longer. And I love that anyone who tunes in live is able to call in and participate (see my next show here with the call-in number).

What's even better? Due to the eternal nature of the web, the conversation lives on and can be downloaded at any time. Indeed each show has now been listened to by hundreds of people --- well more than those who were able to take part in the live call. What a great resource for a group that has picked a book and can't get the author on the phone the night of their meeting --- they can simply play the show during their meeting and then hold their regular discussion.

Bookstores and libraries can host book group events and play the shows, and also include links to each conversation on their websites where they host book club resources. And authors can have them on their sites too, to offer to their readers and fans. Click on the widget below to listen to our conversation with Thrity Umrigar!

In the coming months of 2008 I'll be talking to seven more authors, including Laurie Viera Rigler, author of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict (June 25th, set a reminder here); Victoria Lustbader, author of Stone Creek; Debra Dean, author of The Madonnas of Leningrad; and Ann Patchett, author of Run. Check back on my blog,, for monthly updates of who's to come and to listen to past shows.

I hope to hear from some of you during an upcoming show!

---Jennifer Hart