“It was a dark and stormy night…”
Well, not really, but threatening clouds were the backdrop for a Frankford Public Library book club discussion this past week on the beach near Campbell Street in Bethany Beach. Although it never did rain, the clouds were menacing enough to make the discussion even that much more interesting as ladies from the club got to chat up Megan Hart, author of “All Fall Down,” their book for this month.
Hart, who lives in Pennsylvania, also has a home in Bethany Beach and spends much of her summers in the area. This is the second summer that she has met with the ladies from the book club.
“Megan was gracious enough to come again,” said Cindy Givens, a librarian at Frankford Public Library, who heads up the book club. Givens said the club talked with Hart last year about one of her romance novels, so having her come back for a totally different kind of book was exciting.
“All Fall Down” tells the story of Sunshine, or Sunny, who is wakened in the middle of the night by the sound of an alarm going off — the sound alone is not all that new, as they often have drills at the compound in which they live, practicing for the time they all “drink the rainbow,” thus leaving their earthly “vessels” behind and moving on into everlasting life (or committing mass suicide, as it is seen on the outside).
But, this time, it is different— Sunny’s mother is talking to her through the alarm, telling her of how to get out of the compound with her three children and shoving some money and the name and address of a biological father Sunny didn’t know existed in her hands.
“All Fall Down” tells Sunny’s story.
To get the meeting started, Givens had each of the women read a critique of Hart’s book out loud, and then they discussed the questions at the back of the book, all while having the best person there to actually help answer those questions — the author!
Hart joined in on the conversation, answering one of the questions, saying, “Yes, I think they all probably should have had some more therapy, but sometimes what you think and what the characters actually do are not the same. Many times, people think, because I am the author, that I agree with the characters and the choices they make, but I don’t always.”
Hart was first published in 2002, although she has been writing for most of her life.
“When I decided to become a stay-home mom, I also started writing novels. Horror, science fiction and fantasy are my first loves, but I also loved reading sexy romances, so that’s where I began my career. Now I write erotic fiction, mainstream fiction, horror, young adult horror, science fiction, fantasy... a little bit of everything I love!” said Hart this week.
She said she’d always been writing and had always wanted to be a writer. Hart said being a mom of young ones helped her learn to write more efficiently.
“I discovered something interesting about myself — when I only had naptimes to write in, I wrote a heck of a lot more than when I’d had all my time to myself. Focusing on accomplishing one chapter at a time kept me going for a long time, until, at last, I’d finished a full-length book that would be published in 2002.
“I kept working at it while my kids napped or, later, were in pre-school, until I sold to Harlequin in 2006. Writing has been my ‘job’ for a long time, but now it’s also my career.”
She described herself as a “realistic” writer.
“Even when I’m writing horror or paranormal stories, I try to think about what the characters would do — realistically how they’d react. While my plots might sometimes seem a little far out, I always want my characters to feel real,” she said.
In particular, when asked about where the idea for “All Fall Down” came from, Hart said she has always been fascinated with what happens “after.”
“Cults have been interesting to me for a long time. I started wondering what would happen to someone who was the only surviving member of a suicide cult — how would she live in our world? What would that be like? ‘All Fall Down’ came directly from that.”
Givens said the book club grew from the moms who brought their kids to tot time at the library and wanted to get together to read some books just for themselves. They meet each month at the library and, in the summer months, they meet at the beach. For more information, visit frankfordlibrary.org online or call (302) 732-9351.