Find my review of Alice Bliss: HERE.
Although I was excited to talk about the book with Ms. Harrington - how often do you get the opportunity to have an author at your book group? - I was slightly nervous about how openly we would be able to speak. Thankfully, Ms. Harrington was a fantastic addition to our meeting. She was honest and engaging and truly made our experience with her novel richer. We are so thankful that she came!
Here is our book group, and Laura Harrington in white in the center of us. We've been reading and discussing books for five years now. Also of note, I'm just realizing that I am the only blonde (yes, I know that makes me sound even more blonde).
We had a lively general discussion with Ms. Harrington, and talked candidly about a variety of bookish and non-bookish subjects, including book covers, social media, and the role silence does (and doesn't) play in our lives.
Of course we also talked in depth about Alice Bliss, including our very emotional responses to the story. Below is some of the great insight we gained about the novel from the author herself.
- Laura Harrington was a playwright before she was a novelist, and she wrote Alice Bliss as if she were a theatre director and the story her stage - directing the reader to where the action is. I could definitely sense the cinematic quality of her writing as I read the book.
- A number of her plays and stories, including Alice Bliss, have characters in them who have been confronted by war. When asked why that theme interests her, Ms. Harrington explained that war is something that she still doesn't understand. In writing about it she seeks to "express something about my disquiet about it that would be interesting to my general audience." We all thought she succeeded there.
- She purposely set the story in 2006, which was before members of the military had unlimited access to email. Alice's family also doesn't have cell phones or a computer at home. All of that affected the communication between Matt Bliss and his family.
- Ms. Harrington did not give a lot of description about Alice's appearance, so that the reader could "understand who Alice is through her thoughts and actions, not through her looks."
- Alice Bliss is based on Laura Harrington's 30 minute one-woman musical called Alice Unwrapped, which is set in New York City. And she is currently writing Alice Bliss the musical.
- We all wanted to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. She's open to writing a sequel, but not planning one currently. Until that happens she's not sure where the characters will go. (Then we offered suggestions, which she listened to graciously.)
THANK YOU, Laura Harrington for a fantastic book and engaging conversation.