I had never done a book talk by Skype until the Literary Ladies book club of Columbia, S.C., asked me to join them and discuss “The Class of ’65” by remote hookup this week. I positioned my Macbook where the camera would show me against my bookshelves and waited for their call, which came right on time at 8:15. I clicked on the video button, and there they were: a living room full of book clubbers all facing me like I was there reaching for the cheese and crackers. In the corner of the screen I could see what they were seeing on their laptop, and it wasn't good. In an effort to illuminate my countenance with my desk lamp, I had made myself look like a scary flashlight face from a cheap horror movie. I apologized for the amateurish cinematography and started talking about the story behind the book.
It felt odd at first; I kept thinking of Edward R. Murrow interviewing celebrities like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall who were sitting in their Hollywood living rooms while he directed the banter from his New York studio. (CBS had better lighting, even in the 1950s.) But once I got over the novelty, it felt natural. I got to know a couple of the ladies, including Leila Dudley, a cousin of Deanie Dudley, one of the classmates in the Class of ’65 who reached out to Greg Wittkamper decades later and reconciled with him. Leila’s grandmother co-owned the building in Americus that housed the feed store that was bombed in 1957 for defying the boycott against Koinonia and doing business with the communal farm.
All in all, I highly recommend Skype book club meetings with authors and would be interested in doing others. There are only two problems: On Skype, the author can’t sign books or enjoy a glass of wine with the club. Our host for the evening, Becky Airheart, tells me that there was a bit of wine-drinking going on before they dialed me. I thought everyone looked happy! Thanks, Literary Ladies; hope you enjoyed the evening as much I did.