Meeting Carla Buckley

A moment for which I had been waiting nearly since I completed her fantastic book, The Good Goodbye. Very rarely have I read something whose characters stick with me long after the last page is turned, or word is played in my case as I consumed the Audible version. The two mothers, and two cousins have such complicated, entwined issues as the kids prepare to start university in a less-than-expected situation that I find myself unable to stop pondering them. Then you throw in a female professor taking advantage of the shakiness of things and a male who becomes involved with both of them, and the story becomes filled with intrigue. All of this literally goes up in smoke, creating the major event that separates before from after. If you’ve not read it, I shall spoil no more. But go check it out!

That’s right, I had the pleasure of meeting Carla Buckley, after having inquired about when such an opportunity might be available via Twitter and being told to drop in on her speaking engagement at the Chapel Hill Public Library. As I strode in, tired from a long workday, Buckley immediately came to shake my hand and even had a picture of us taken seated together. Then I graciously consumed the cookies and coffee that were offered me, giving a needed energy boost.

There were an appreciable amount of people in the room by the time 4 PM, its start, had approached. I think she wanted to go ahead and start so that things wouldn’t get too loud for the library atmosphere. A brief introduction was given, wherein Buckley’s birthplace of Washington DC, the four published novels she has out as well as her forthcoming work were noted. And then she began to speak. They had already moved me to the front of the room, as I’d informed them of my hearing issues, and she also repeated information received from the back of the area.I really appreciated that, as I thus missed little.

Her speech wasn’t too long at all, focusing on the art of writing and what helps her do it well. “I write when the kids are at school,” she says “whether I entirely feel like it or not”. I think initially out of necessity she had begun writing while in the library, and now she finds it to be the most productive way to engage in this craft. “I don’t like writing sometimes as much as I like having written,” she says. Now that’s an interesting thought. I know sometimes I don’t quite feel like writing either, but letting those words out then feels good when I have managed to produce something no matter what.

The audience posed some excellent questions as well. “How do you structure a book?” She’s a Plotter, not a Seat-of-your-pants writer (or pantser). She laughed about the friction that can exist when individuals from both camps are attempting to work together.

“How do you come up with your stuff?” “Not everyone writes this way of course,” she replied, “but for me I write about things that deeply emanate with me”. Those are most often family issues, how they are formed and thought of by the individuals who comprise them. This could also be seen in The Deepest Secret, another of her books which I have read and enjoyed about a boy who has a rare disease that makes it dangerous for him to be out in sunlight. In this story, she wanted to explore the relationship between mother and son, which may have differences from that between mother and daughter. Incidentally, she notes that this novel also has her favorite opening line, a “great question!” that someone asked but had not been previously considered.

Not long before closing, she discussed how research involved in one of her four unpublished books regarding watching a building being taken down with dynamite had informed a scene in her later work. “I love conducting research with people who are passionate about what they do,” she says. “It is amazing and gives so much insight.”

I enjoyed the presentation, and the chance to encounter someone whom I had only known through the pages and social media contacts. I also met a kind volunteer who has worked in the library for a number of years, I think public libraries actually get much of their service from such, in many cases older, individuals. I thank them for the work they do as well in bolstering our communities.

So that was the first major event of 2017. What you got next, year? Assuming I can surface from these projects that roll like waves, breaking from them even in ways that I probably shouldn’t but must in order to maintain my sanity. Now to hit submit and get back to work on this discussion board! More soon.

2 Responses to Meeting Carla Buckley

  1. Oh, John–it was MY pleasure to meet you. I’m so happy you made time in your busy schedule to join me at the Chapel Hill Library. Connecting with you via social media and then meeting you in person reminds me of one of very favorite memories when my debut novel released during a blizzard back in 2010. Despite the terrible weather, one of the readers I’d connected with on Twitter made the journey to attend my very first book event. We are still in touch. I love when the internet world collides with the real one, and I count meeting you in person as one of my favorite memories, too. I very much look forward to our next meeting.

    • Thanks for reading, and for the invite. I just enjoy meeting the people behind the amazing stories that keep me going as I slog through this adulthood. Writers teach me lessons that I would otherwise learn the hard way. Haha. So keep doing what you do! I look forward to a future meeting as well.

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