For any writer, a positive connection with a reader is priceless. When a reader feels compelled to seek me out, I am flattered, overwhelmed, happy, encouraged…and I whistle for days.
I received a Tweet from @taramade, an exuberant reader of my book, Human Slices. She wrote, “Great read, Gloria! Love the museum scenes. I want to see them myself!”
I was over-the-top delighted. When she comes to Chicago, I will be happy to show her around.
By museum scenes, she was referring to the novel’s opening action that takes place at Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry. One spot is particularly pivotal. The human slices exhibit, comprised of actual cross sections of human bodies, is the first meeting place of the two main characters.
At the human slices exhibit, each rectangular display case jutted out from the wall so that people could observe the slices from both sides. Salm stooped down to examine a shrunken, yellowed stomach from one side of the display case. Playfully, she closed one eye and peered through an open gap between the stomach and the intestines. Through this tiny opening, she could look out to the hallway. She looked left and then right, and then she saw a man appear from around the corner.
The title of the book, of course, is a tribute to that weird and fascinating installation.
I’ve been told time and time again that Human Slices is too freakish for the title of a love story. When I was looking for a publisher, one agent wrote in his rejection letter, “Is there really such an exhibit in a Chicago museum? Your lady’s attraction to body parts seems morbid and ghoulish. You’re making things very tough for yourself.”
I understood, of course, yet I never was able to change the name of the book. I was following the gut feeling emanating from inside my own “human slices,” the same way the female protagonist in the book listens to her heart to find her own truth and happiness.
In spite of the peculiar title, readers still reach for the book and periodically send me some first-rate feedback. It’s so much fun to know that someone has enjoyed it and given my characters a chance to come to life again for a brief moment in time.
A few days after @taramade’s Tweet about the museum exhibit, she posted other enthusiastic comments, like: “Loving all the little details! I forgot to mention the shrimp cocktail wine glass,” and “You come up with the perfect boat of course. A fat little red tug with lots of blankets.”
Next, she shot me a Pinterest photo (below) that reminded her of a scene where the lovers go stargazing in the back of the pickup. The photo she sent was absolutely perfect. @taramade was reading my mind! If a reader can “see what I mean,” I’ve done my job and that’s amazingly gratifying.
I didn’t think her comments could get any better. And then I received one more message…@taramade wrote: “I’m afraid to read too fast…I don’t want it to end!! :)”
Then another reader @La_Raconteur wrote to @taramade: “OMG, isn’t this book simply gorgeous? It’s one of the few I’ve read that immediately captivated me. Perfection! ”
With those most excellent Tweets, my own “human slices” sparked and sizzled inside of me.
I’m still whistling.