It is great to know that The Red Scarf is receiving good reader-response in its first week on sale. To hear from one reader that it leapt out at her in Toronto airport and from another that she is starting a book club with it keeps my nerves from jangling.
The Red Scarf is a complicated and convoluted tale of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of 1933 Russia. It's a vivid and intense moment in history that is unfamiliar to most readers. I want people out there to get involved, to be discussing the book's ideas, to be gripped by the story, arguing over the rights and wrongs of the moral questions posed within it. And, above all, to fall in love with the characters. But isn't that what every author wants?
My intention in writing The Red Scarf was to lead my readers into a different, difficult and demanding world to see how ordinary people react under pressure. And I would like to think some of the images will linger in a reader's mind, prompting further thought, further questions. I hope so.
But the strange thing is that here I am, watching over this book's first steps, worrying and fretting over it, when at the same time I am deeply engrossed in writing the next one, a sequel to The Russian Concubine. All authors suffer this. A kind of mental tug-of-war. Pulled in two directions. One book on the bookstore shelves demanding attention with interviews and the whole PR circus, while another totally different story is clamouring for space and thought-time in one's head. Is this what it's like having twins?
But hey, who ever said novel-writing was a walk in the park? I'm fascinated by the process that builds a story in a person's head and love to know what effect it has on others. That's why it's so satisfying to receive feedback from readers. So keep it coming.