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.