My review of Little Bee is very short and understated. There was so much to talk about but I was afraid I would spill some beans. 🙂 Everyone I recommended the book to loved it.
It was a no brainer for me to get a ticket to the Thurber House Evening with Authors featuring Chris Cleave. It was nearly a packed house at the Columbus Museum of Art. His energy radiated from the stage. He joked about being let out of his (writing) shed to go on tour for Gold.
His latest novel is about two women who are friends and rival speed cyclists. Cleave discussed how he came to pick that sport and read a portion of the novel so we’d get a feel for it and to introduce one of his favorite characters. He spoke about rivalry and his own cycling training before he took questions from the audience. Cleave was very funny. I’m not sure how many people were in attendance but the museum theater was very full and everyone seemed engaged.
Some of the questions included: Why does he usually write female main characters? Who is his favorite character out of all of them? Does Little Bee survive and would he be interested in writing a sequel if she does?
All good questions with good answers. I’ll paraphrase short answers to the first two questions.
Why does he usually write female main characters?
He wanted to write characters who weren’t him so he’d pay attention to the details that make their lives real. His goal is to combine those details with emotional truths and if he were writing another version of himself he wouldn’t pay attention to those details because he already knows them. With this book he wanted to write male main characters but then Zoe happened.
Who is his favorite character out of all of them?
Zoe from Gold. She’s a mess. If she were a male athlete no one would think to criticize her for her behavior. She does what she wants without thinking about the consequences to the people around her but she’s starting to realize she needs to change.
Cleave did sign books and spoke with everyone who wanted to chat with him. A book club waited in line together and had a picture taken with him. It was cute. He and I chatted for a few minutes while he signed my copy of Gold. I made a comment about Little Bee being devastatingly heartbreakingly beautiful and he said that made his night.
Chris Cleave has a tumblr full of behind the scenes photos of his tour if you’d like to see where he’s been on his travels.