Nora St.Laurent runs two book clubs near the Atlanta area and this year became ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Book Club Coordinator. She currently writes a Book Club Column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. You can read her reviews and author interviews on her Finding Hope Through Fiction blog located at http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com/ Nora also runs The Book Club Network on Facebook
BOOK CLUB LEADER INTERVIEW
FEATURING PATTY LEBLANC
Patty LeBlanc is married and has two daughters. She is active in her church with Awana. Patty loves Christian fiction, and when she’s not reading, interviewing authors, or scrapbooking, she’s riding her Harley Davidson Sportster 883L. She and her husband are actively involved with the Christian Motorcyclists Association. She splits her work day between two jobs. From 4 to 6 AM she does medical transcription; then she works full time as a secretary for a private Christian school.
WOW, Patty, I’m tired just reading your bio. You’re an encouragement. Many can see if you can do it, they can fit reading that month’s book club selection into their lives. You’re a multitasker. I’m impressed.
How did the Lord involve you with book clubs? When did you start running one?
I found friends who liked to read Christian fiction and it seemed the Lord was pulling me toward making it a fellowship opportunity. I started our book club in August 2008.
Had you ever been part of a book club before you ran one? If yes, please describe for me what your book club experience was.
I had never been to a book club before, so I was kind of clueless about how to run it. The first couple meetings were a learning process, but we all worked together and came up with what we do.
Does your book club socialize outside of your regular meetings? If so, what have you done as a group that you all enjoyed?
One time we got together for a Christmas party and exchanged gifts—most were books, but other items were also given. Of course, we ate food because we love to do that.
What is the most creative thing you have done for book club? What was something that was way over the top for you that everyone loved? Special event, field trip, retreat?
One month I arranged for Miralee Ferrell to be at our meeting. We were reading Love Finds You in Last Chance, California. It was a fabulous meeting starting off, of course, with food. Miralee actually stayed over at my house and the next day she did a book signing at our local Borders.
Where does your book club meet? Do you have or have you had special book club events? If so, please explain.
We usually meet at my friend Patty’s house because she has a beautiful house with room for all of us. We have also met once at Borders and once at my church. The meeting at Borders included a phone call from Patti Lacy. We ended up moving our meeting to my car so that we wouldn’t disrupt people in Borders or feel like we were being too loud. It was kind of comical to have a book club in the car. Afterward, we went back inside Borders and perused the Christian fiction section.
What other authors have spoken at your book club, in person, or on the phone? How did the meeting go? Any surprises you learned about the author and/or the book you didn’t know about before the chat?
We talked on the phone with Ann Gabhart about her book The Outsider and also with Patti Lacy about An Irishwoman’s Tale. The Outsider was about Shakers, which we all found very interesting. It was great to be able to ask Ann more in depth questions about them. When talking with Patti Lacy about An Irishwoman’s Tale we found out that the book was actually written about a true story and that Patti had met with the main character. One of our book club members changed her opinion about the book when she found that out, so that was quite a surprise to her.
What books have you read recently that sparked a lot of passion and discussion in your group? Why?
The two books that most impacted our group were Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers and Last Light by Terri Blackstock. Both made us think about where we spend our time and how we are using that time to impact the world for Jesus. Last Light incited each of us to start thinking more about how something like what happened in that book could actually happen and we discussed things we might want to do to be prepared for that.
Please describe how the book selection process works for your club. Do you vote secret ballot, or some other method? This will be helpful to book club leaders just starting out!
Since I started the group, I began choosing books by authors I had met online in an effort to support them. As we got going, other book club members gave suggestions and we all agreed. One month we did vote on selections I had chosen.
The entire interview with pictures can be read on my blog, Finding Hope Through Fiction. See Patty in motorcycle duds and with Francine Rivers.
Thanks, Patty, for sharing your group with us.
Until Next Time.
Nora St.Laurent, ACFW Book Club Coordinator