In the last week I’ve had two opportunities to discuss my memoir, Leaving the HallLight On, and most specifically bipolar disorder and surviving suicide at two book club meetings.
One was in the San Diego area, about an hour and a half from my home; the other in Palos Verdes Estates about ten miles south of where I live. Both of the invites came from long-time friends. Even so, I felt very honored to be asked.
And since I feel the intimacy and the openness of a book club discussion is a wonderful way to promote a book and a cause, I don’t mind traveling long distances to attend.
On Friday night I met with ten women. Yesterday eighteen women huddled around me firing questions left and right.
That’s how I like it. Though I might say a few introductory words, I like the discussion to be in the form of questions and answers. That way I can discuss what my audience wants to hear.
And both groups wanted to discuss the subject matter of my book – bipolar disorder and suicide, and how I survived my son’s suicide. They also wanted to tell their stories. No matter how many groups I’ve interacted with, it always turns out that most people in attendance know someone – a relative or a friend – who has been through a similar experience as mine. I always hear a story or two that breaks my heart.
Of the many people I talked to this week, only one was interested in how I put my book together and how long it took to get my book published. I found that interesting. These are groups of readers, not writers. They generally don’t want to hear about how a book is made, they want to know more about the story in the book.
For me that’s a good thing. I want my story to get out. I hope these women will join me in my mission to erase the stigma of mental illness and help prevent suicide. And from what I heard I’m confident they will.
Left or Right?