In Review

by jackieballantyne

Writers need their work reviewed. Feedback nourishes the creative mind. A good review in the press or on air will sell books. A damning review will likely cause angst, a string of expletives, a lot of hand wringing and pot banging, and eventually, introspection, a rethink and a return to writing.

There is another form of review, however, far richer and more powerful than words in the public domain and that is direct reader response. That someone reads my words; considers them and takes the time and effort to contact me with their response never fails to bowl me over. Since the release of The Silver Gaucho in September I have received a number of emails from enthusiastic readers. I have also received seven hand written cards, each selected, inscribed, stamped, posted and delivered. These personal reviews are my treasures. They spur me on to write more – to write better – to keep these readers with me.

Some months after the release of How to Stop a Heart from Beating, I was talking with a book group about the character of Solly McKeen and her 9 year old take on her world. A woman in the group was bubbling with eagerness about the book and rattled off direct quotes from Solly and her family. It wasn’t just single lines either – she could recount entire conversations verbatim. I was gobsmacked. Here was a reader who was so familiar with my work that she had committed chunks of it to memory.

It doesn’t get much better than that.