It was a banner day for our Maples Book Club—the biggest one in our two-year history. Nineteen women gathered around a large table—our guest author, Amy Gail Hansen; 16 members; another guest/prospective buyer; and our sales assistant, who came in on her day off. It was our largest turnout, our first visit from an author, and, in my teacherly opinion, our best-ever discussion.
The Butterfly Sister, Amy’s debut novel, was our featured book. Here is the summary of the story that appears on the back cover: “To uncover the truth about a friend’s disappearance, a fragile young woman must silence the ghosts of her past in this moving debut tale that intertwines mystery, madness, betrayal, love, and literature.”
Amy proved to be an ideal guest, with her enthusiasm, humor, and down-to-earth friendliness. Her teaching and drama experience were evident as she shared stories about writing the novel, finding an agent, and having it published by HarperCollins.
I would guess Amy enjoyed the afternoon as much as we did. Before it was over, she had answered our questions, joined in our discussion, posed for pictures, and signed copies of the book. Amy had a first too, when Doris asked her to sign the cover of the Nook that she had read the book on.
For me, personally, it was an incredible experience that began in August when my copy of The Butterfly Sister arrived in my mailbox. I had read the first chapter online and couldn’t wait to see what came next. But first I made myself read Amy’s acknowledgments. And there, to my utter amazement, I found my name on a list of teachers she wished to thank. My name, there with those of teachers of all grade levels, even college professors.
Amy’s life and mine have intertwined several times over the years. We met when she was a student in my sophomore mythology class at Woodstock High School. Then she went to my alma mater, Carthage College. During her college years, we both spent a couple of summers writing for The Woodstock Independent. After graduating, she taught English at WHS for two years. Since then our lives have been on parallel paths until we reconnected recently at two book signings and our book club meeting.
I have the feeling I’ll be seeing Amy again. She arrived early yesterday so she could visit Home Sweet Abbey before the meeting. When she saw my newly redecorated office, she asked if she could reserve it for a writing retreat.
I love the idea! I hope that one day soon, she’ll set up shop in my office, while I write in my sun room office. I can imagine us both losing ourselves in our words and ideas and characters. Like butterfly authors, we will spread our wings and fly.