I met with a book group last Thursday to discuss my first novel, The Blood Confession. It was a great group, mostly teenagers who asked very thoughtful questions. But in the face of those thoughtful questions, I couldn’t help but worry that my answers were a let down.
It makes me wonder, what do we want to hear from authors, about their books? For example, one young woman asked a question about why there was a wolf in my book, what was my purpose in giving Erzebet a wolf for a pet. I really liked this question, so much so that I’ve been worrying ever since that I didn’t do it justice (I’ve worried I didn’t do any of the questions justice, really). I worry that if I get too much into talking about inspiration and symbolism and using all kinds of writerly words then I’ll sound too impressed with myself. The thought of this breaks me out in a rash. Also, I worry that if I start to talk about my characters in a way that’s too intimate, like they’re real people living in my head, my readers will start to shift their chairs closer to the door. It’s a very fine line, you see. And it’s difficult to put the act of writing and even the act of being inspired into words–at least for me it is. At least for me it is when I’m talking to people, as opposed to writing my answers down.
There is also the opposite extreme answer: “I like wolves. They fascinate me. It seemed a perfect pet for Erzebet, so I gave her a wolf.” I do like wolves. But is this a let down? Am I letting my readers down by being far less interesting than my book would lead them to believe that I am?
So yes, Erzebet has a wolf as a pet. The wildness of this pet suits her, completely. She and this wolf are mildly domesticated animals, co-habitating in her old castle on the hill. But, like the wolf, Erzebet isn’t really domesticated. If provoked in any way, she is liable to strike without warning. They each know, I think, what the other is capable of.