The joy of book clubs by YA thriller writer Tracy Darnton

Posted in Author/Illustrator Posts on Mon, 4 July at 12.41 pm

My latest thriller Ready or Not is just out. Teenager Kat disappears during a game of hide-and-seek at a late-night party on holiday in Cornwall. For years, three families have holidayed together at Creek House so the ‘Creekers’ have grown up together. I tell the story through Millie, the youngest, who’s devastated by the absence of best friend Kat. One year on, the remaining teenagers head back to Creek House.

One of my favourite author things to do is join in with a book club talking about one of my thrillers. All authors love to talk about their books and this is the way to have a group of engaged bookish kids or adults delighted to talk about it – what could be better! And often the organiser has gone to town on the refreshments and nibbles. I’m hoping for some Cornish fudge when talking about Ready or Not…

I’ve been to book clubs with bookshops and libraries or schools – and even the WI. Of course, the last couple of years have meant joining online once schools were back in action. Either way, I’m always asked such interesting questions – often people have seen something new in my books I didn’t know was there.

I’m in two clubs myself – one is with fellow writers and we alternate reading Middle Grade and YA. We’re always reading as writers, so looking at how the author has artfully worked in backstory or authentic dialogue. My pet topic is endings – especially in thrillers. I’m always on the lookout for a delicious twist and seeing how that has been foreshadowed by the author – how have they laid the groundwork so that the twist works well as though a switch has been flicked and it all makes sense?

I find writing discussion questions for my own novels a useful part of the development of the story. It helps me to crystallise what the book is about and to think about issues which will be of interest to my readers, who are at the stage of life where they are asking questions about self and society. So Ready or Not has questions about the writing, or craft, like: “How are games used in the book?” and ones to provoke more wide-ranging discussion about friendship, obsession or privilege like: “Is Noah right that he’ll be treated differently from the privileged Creeker teens? What does the future hold for him?

I can’t wait to pop along to some book clubs to hear what readers have to say about Ready or Not.

Ready or Not is available now

You can follow Tracy on Twitter or Instagram @TracyDarnton