Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book clubs and The Taker

I've had the good luck to talk to a few book clubs about The Taker, a few by Skype but mostly in person. For the author it's been a wonderful experience, to meet people who've read your book and to hear the interesting things they've taken away from it. I was a little afraid that given the book's dark nature, people might be shy about discussing it in a group, but that hasn't been the case. On the contrary, the characters do so many controversial things that people seem to want to talk it over with others who have read the book.

There's a reading group guide available on the website, but I thought I'd list some of the topics we've talked about below--and yes, this is a shameless attempt to get you to consider having me speak to your book club. Just drop me an email at alma @ almakatsu.com to set up a date. The trade paperback version of the book is coming out the end of March, the format preferred by book clubs, I hear.

  • Jonathan: He is perfect book club fodder. Readers either love him or hate him. People love to discuss whether he's to blame for Lanny's troubles--did he lead her on?--or whether he was the victim, in a sense. For those who can't see his appeal, I ask if they've ever been in the presence of a man who oozes sex appeal, because if you have, you realize it's not an easy thing to ignore. At one book club, this discussion prompted one woman to confess that she'd once met Jim Morrison of the Doors!
  • How much of the history in The Taker is real? We've had some interesting discussions about Colonial-era history, how novelists do their research, and how much fact is sufficient in fiction. Fact that may surprise you: Jude Van de Meer, the charismatic preacher in The Taker, was based on a real person.
  • The path to publication: There's a long tale behind how The Taker made it into print, including how it started as a short story thirty years ago and how a near-death mysterious illness got me to return to writing fiction. But on top of that story, I'm happy to talk about the writing process and my experiences in the book business.
  • The nature of evil: Many readers have said they feel real evil in Adair, the story's villain, and it's for good reason: I spent years in my career as an intelligent analyst studying genocides and war crimes and the people who commit them. We've had some great discussions about the difference between a "believable" villain and one that really makes your skin crawl.

Happy reading!


  1. Looking forward to reading the guide...I still can't stop thinking about The Taker. SO excited for The Reckoning!!

  2. I have just finished The Taker today. I appreciate the work you have put into this novel and thankyou for sharing it. I look forward to your next installment!!

    Thankyou Alma for providing us with this wonderful reading group guide!! that is beyond the call of duty!! I really appreciate that and will make sure to utilise it would my online group as well.


    1. Hi Lisa--thank you for stopping by, and please let me know if you discuss The Taker with a reading group. I'd love to hear how it went!

  3. I'm not a member of a book club, yet really enjoyed mulling over the topics in your post (and probably will continue to think about them all day--thanks!). ;) There are hours and hours of compelling discussion that could arise from your work on The Taker! I loved it. Looking forward to reading THE RECKONING!