Face Time: Jennifer Miller

jennmillerAuthor Jennifer Miller grew up in Chevy Chase, Md., before going away to college and moving to Brooklyn, N.Y. Her first novel, “The Year of the Gadfly” ($15, Mariner Books), is a fictional account of her experience at a D.C. prep school. To mark its paperback release, Jennifer is attempting to break a world record by visiting at least 100 book clubs by the end of July. At press time, she’d visited 68.

How are you finding groups to visit?
I use Twitter quite a bit to build a network of other authors. I’m basically reaching out to people and saying, “I’m trying to reach this crazy world record and do a hundred book clubs in a month. Have you spoken to book clubs that may be interested?” Many have been fantastic and passed along emails for the book clubs they have been to.

Do you visit every club in person?
Most of the visits I’ve done are over Skype. Basically, I Skype in and usually everyone is sitting in someone’s living room with a bottle of wine. Then I introduce myself and people start asking me questions.

What’s it like getting immediate feedback from your readers? Is it weird?
I Skyped with a book club in Gaithersburg [Md.] recently, and they pulled out all this amazing analysis and symbolism that I had never thought of. It was so insightful — to have readers pull stuff out of your book and to have them be able to communicate that to you.

What made you decide to attempt this feat?
There are so many clubs out there, and I needed a way to pique their interest — and get them to pick my book for July. There are so many amazing books out right now, and I believed I could add something by talking to a club directly and hearing its questions.

What’s the book about?
“Year of the Gadfly” is based on my experiences going to prep school in the D.C. area. A lot of the book is poking fun at private-school culture.

What makes it a good book for a book club?
My book has multiple narrators. There are three very unique
personalities — two are students and one is a teacher — which can spark a discussion in terms of which character resonates most with you. And I think for the D.C. audience, a lot of the book is about what it’s like to navigate intense academic pressure and to forge your own path.

How can a group get involved?
My website is byjennifermiller.com. I would be thrilled to have more clubs. And I should add that in order for your book club to count toward the record, you don’t need to be a long-standing book club. Any five people who get together to read “The Year of the Gadfly” and spend time chatting with me counts! Holley Simmons (Express)

Also on Express

Putting Your Shoes to Work