Event Recap: John Boyne

Last Friday I had the pleasure of meeting two fabulous people.

John Boyne was at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL. Prior to the event I met up with Suzanne, an online friend who I was meeting in person for the first time. We initially meet on Twitter and Goodreads and it was really Books On The Nightstand that brought us together for Boyne’s event. It was great to meet her in person (and to hear about her experiences at Booktopia)!

I’m trying something new with author events this year. Instead of  taking copious notes on everything an author says, I’m trying to sit back and enjoy the event, listen to what the author has to say, to the questions asked and answers given. I used to approach author events like quasi lectures, sitting on the edge of my chair as if THE answer on how to become a writer would be revealed. Nowadays I know I’m a writer and that writing is a matter of me sitting in my chair and writing & revising the story that I want/need to write.

John Boyne talked a bit about the writing of his new book, The House of Special Purpose, and then read a bit from it, after which he opened things up to questions about the new book or any of his books or anything at all. Boyne actually wrote much of the book in the Winter Palace which now houses a museum and is open to the public. There were about 12-15 people in attendance and folks asked questions about a number of his books.

The House of Special Purpose was orignally published in Ireland and the UK in 2007 and is just now hitting the US market.

One thing I’ve been pondering since the event is that Boyne said he’s regularly asked when will he write a novel set in Ireland. He’s Irish, so its not that far-out of a question, but he said that only writers from small countries tend to get asked that question. Writers from the US or the UK don’t get asked when they’ll set a novel in their own country, but are instead free to write novels set in other countries without question. Interesting, yes?

If you’re a John Boyne fan and/or a reader who likes books set in Ireland, you’ll be happy to know that the book he’s currently writing IS set in Ireland. Boyne said he wasn’t necessarily aiming for it, but the right story came along and grabbed him.

I was happy to hear that a screenplay is currently being written for The Absolutist which I read last year and loved. Keeping my fingers crossed that it actually makes it to the big screen.

John Boyne giving a thoughtful answer.
Suzanne and me
Wanda, a boss from my days at Borders, was Boyne’s author escort that night–a happy surprise! Boyne is also a former bookseller–he worked at Waterstone’s for seven years.
I also purchased a copy of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas which I haven’t read yet. I’m waiting to read the book before seeing the movie.
Visit John Boyne’s website: http://www.johnboyne.com/

Or click here to go directly to the page about The House of Special Purpose which shows the book’s international covers and has a video of Boyne reading from the book.


  1. Thanks, Chris. I love getting info on books & this info on an author event is a great bonus. I'm not a writer & haven't ever been to an author event. Do you find they're more for writers or do you think a “only reader” like me might enjoy (& understand) one as well?

  2. Hey! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I think author events are for everyone and I highly encourage you to go to one (or some). I used to book events for Borders and most audiences were made up of readers/fans, but there's usually at least one or a few aspiring writer in the mix. Most authors will read from their latest book for a few minutes, talk a bit about how they came to write it, and then there's usually time for Q&A. Sometimes events are just “straight signings” which means you just get in line to get your book signed. It's usually a good idea to contact the venue to see what kind of even it will be so you're prepared.

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