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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Maxwell

A Conversation with a Reader

My daughter left yesterday to return to school in NJ, where she's studying to get her PhD. It made me sad to see her leave, but before she went we had a discussion about a book. My book! She had just read one of my ARCs of Murder at The Breakers, and to my great surprise and delight, she didn't guess who the murderer was until the evil villain was unveiled. Now, this is a child (ok, she's 25), who often within the first 15 mintues of a movie will tell you exactly what's going on - and she'll be right! It's infuriating how often she's able to pick up on clues that sail right over my head. Even her friends have forbidden her to voice her suspicions whenever they're watching something together. So score one for Mom!

We also had fun discussing the various secondary characters who are based on her own ancestors - great and great-great grandparents, for instance, because I've inserted references for the benefit of my husband's Newport family, who should get a real kick out of finding certain names in the story.

Then she pinned me down with some tough questions about why and how, and I really had to stop and think, and a time or two she almost stumped me about my own book! Smarty pants. But then again, this book was two manuscripts ago. The facts become a litte blurred, not to mention confused with newer plotlines. Still, it was fun having to think about why I chose such and such plot device, etc.

But that's not all our talk meant to me - in fact that was really the least of it. What struck me as so special was that she and I were having, basically, a literary discussion about characters and clues and motives in a book I wrote. Me! And she not only enjoyed it, it sparked her imagination and curiosity. I doubt very much she gave it much thought, but to me it felt like we connected on a level we'd never connected on before, and that, as a parent, I'd gained that elusive approval we don't typically expect to get from our kids. After all, we're just the parents, right?

I hope to have many more conversations with readers about The Gilded Newport Mysteries, but I can truly say that one will always stand out as special - as having made me feel special, and that I'd really achieved something.

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