As part of Jamestown Community Library’s May programming schedule, Adult Services Librarian Mary Whitt invited Cincinnati-based novelist Jessica Strawser to speak at the Read Between the Wines book club meeting. The group meets monthly at Caesar Creek Vineyards. Attendees were blessed with the winery’s beautiful country setting on a warm spring evening, and enjoyed sampling the selection of Caesar Creek wines along with light deli refreshments.
Ms. Strawser, a former editor for Writer’s Digest and the current Writer-in-Residence at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, discussed her novel Not That I Could Tell, set locally in Yellow Springs. She explained that she wanted to write a story dealing with the social problem of domestic violence in the hope of raising awareness and spurring discussion. Jessica chose Yellow Springs as a more intimate small town setting for Not That I Could Tell in contrast to her much larger hometown of Cincinnati. She and her husband enjoy visiting Yellow Springs and John Bryan State Park, both of which figure prominently in the story.
With the story set locally, Not That I Could Tell was a natural for Jamestown Community Library and Yellow Springs Community Library book clubs to feature as their May selection. Jessica graciously answered a host of questions from the audience on the story, and shared background information concerning her personal connections and interest in the topic. She also spoke on the process of writing, finding an agent, and getting works published. Members of the Jamestown Adult Writing Group were particularly interested in learning about what it’s like working with agents and editors, and were curious about how she handles editorial criticism of her writing. Having been an editor herself, Jessica feels she understands what her editors are trying to accomplish professionally and takes their suggestions in stride.
As an interesting side note, Jessica spoke about some of the differences between the publishing and marketing of a story in U.S. and foreign editions. The choice of cover art and changes in spelling and vernacular can affect not only editions in the U.K. and Australia, but in non-English translation as well. As you can imagine, American English phrases and expressions may not be familiar to readers in the U.K., and can present an even greater challenge to render in meaningful translation for non-English readers.
Jessica’s books—Not That I Could Tell, Forget You Know Me, and Almost Missed You—are published by St. Martin’s Press and available for purchase in stores and online. Of course they are also available in multiple formats from Greene County Public Library. We thank Jessica for coming out and presenting such an interesting and informative discussion.
The Read Between the Wines book club meets at Caesar Creek Vineyards on a monthly basis to talk about the latest club choice. Those wishing to attend can find copies of upcoming titles available at the Jamestown library for check out—so pick up a copy and come join us. For more information or to reserve a copy of the latest book club pick, call Jamestown Community Library at (937) 352-4005.