OBBC72: March Recap & author discussion

Last week my face-to-face book group met to discuss ‘While my Sister Sleeps’. We had 13 women join us for a discussion with author Barbara Delinsky. What a night!

Let me know start our recap by thanking Barbara for talking with us for an hour. Her new book has been out for a month and she agreed to meet with us while her schedule is in full swing with events to publicize her new novel.

Barbara Delinsky (BD) writes commercial fiction. She was quick to note that she isn’t fond of this term - explaining that her novels appeal to a large, diverse audience. Her readers are looking for a fast paced storyline with surprises throughout the book.

When starting a book, BD generally knows where she is headed but leaves room for new ideas and character development. When asked if there were any surprises during the writing process, BD mentioned Marjorie (grandmother with Alzheimer’s) wasn’t intended to be in the book and was a pleasant surprise.

BD knew she wanted to write about an event that would stop a family in their tracks. Robin’s character came to her first, a runner who experiences a life threatening event, resulting in most of the books focus placed around a hospital. She also wanted to bring family secrets into the storyline and knew that Molly (the 27 year old sister) would be the main character. This is a coming of age story of Molly (who has been living in the shadow of her older sister).

Robin is in a coma for most of the story. When developing Robin’s character, BD thought to introduce a diary but wondered how a 32 yr old would use a diary, thus creating journals on her computer and having the discs “hidden” in her belongings. Molly finds the journals – as we learn more about Robin, Molly learns to be her sisters voice.

BD mentioned that running a common theme in her books (this is not intentional). She is not a runner but grew up watching the Boston marathon and has fond memories of handing orange slices to runners. She had to do a bit of research on the subject while preparing to write this book.

All of the characters experience personal growth throughout the book. BD maps this out beforehand – it is well planned. After the first 2 to 3 chapters have been written she charts out the character to see their growth. BD doesn’t like to have a villain in her stories – she doesn’t enjoy writing them. She likes redemption in a story and understands that there are two sides to every story.

Lastly, we asked her what she is currently working. She is writing a story involving three teenagers who decide to get pregnant. The story may sound familiar to the 2008 Mass ‘scandal’ but this story will focus on the mother’s. Sarah Palin is a loose inspiration for the story. When a young girl becomes pregnant people tend to look to the mother and she feels judged for the situation. One of the mother’s is a school principal, the impact of having a teenager daughter who becomes pregnant will be explored.

What are you reading right now? ‘Unaccompanied Earth’ by Jumpha Lahiri (for her book club). She also loves reading Toni Morrison. She recently read ‘Mercy’, ‘Beloved’ is her favorite Morrison book.

Barbara Delinsky is a Breast Cancer survivor (her mother died of Breast cancer and her two sisters are cancer survivors). She has written an empowering book called ‘
Uplift, all proceeds are donated to charity.