Sunday, March 4, 2012

Listener Book Club: Interview with SJ Watson

British thriller writer SJ Watson's award-winning debut BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is the first selection of the new Listener Book Club, an initiative of New Zealand Listener Arts & Books Editor Guy Somerset and Booksellers NZ Project Manager Megan Dunn.

As reported on Crime Watch last month, The Listener Book Club, launched on 2 March, works on a four-week cycle:
"One book each month will be discussed in a variety of ways: the Listener will kick off with a lively interview in the magazine and online with the author of the selected book. In week two, a podcast of three booksellers talking about the book hosted by either Guy or Megan will be available online. The podcast material will live on The Listener website, and the Booksellers’ site will carry links. In week three there will be online written conversation and commentary from a real book club, and then in week four of the cycle, there will be a reviewer’s take on the book, both in the magazine and online, plus reader comment and reaction on Twitter, other social media and the Listener Book Club webpage, hosted by The Listener with Booksellers New Zealand input. It’s a chance for readers to have a say!"
Now, Guy Somerset's interview with SJ Watson, author of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP (the first monthly choice of the new book club) is available to read in full online. When announcing the creation of The Listener Book Club, Somerset said the first book choice is “A classy literary thriller about identity and what it means to be human. It is something people can get their teeth into with issues that will provoke discussion".

In the interesting interview with Somerset, Watson talks about the nature of memory, what inspired him to write the book, why he quit a senior medical job to concentrate on writing a novel, and much more. I found the following paragraph particularly intriguing, as its something I've wondered about at time (along with are some of our childhood memories real memories, or more just that we remember seeing the childhood photos of those times while we were growing up, so it's the memory of the memory, so to speak):
"From his research before writing the book, and subsequent further reading on the subject, Watson knows about the fallibility and distortions of even a good memory. “It does seem almost that in the act of remembering something you then invent details and it’s even possible we invent details about events that never ­actually happened. And those details become cemented as though they’re memories and it becomes increasingly difficult to tease apart which are memories and which are inventions.” Then there are the memories that elude us completely."

You can read the interview in full on the Listener website here.

To join the Listener Book Club conversation about BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, visit the Book Club section of the magazine's website,, follow the Twitter account @nzlbookclub and hashtag #nzlbookclub, or go to the Facebook page "New Zealand Listener Book Club".

Over the next four weeks, you will find a podcast discussion with three booksellers, a book group’s verdict, plenty of reader comments, and more besides. Hopefully there will be more thrillers and crime novels in future.

Have you read BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP? What do you think? Feel free to leave your comments here, or on the Listener's own website or Facebook page.

1 comment:

  1. I read this book several weeks ago and am still thinking about it--only the best books can do that!! I was intrigued by the premise of the book, the cover art, well, all the way through really. Christine can remember only snippets of her childhood and early adulthood, but she can't remember anything of her middle-aged life. Infact, she wakes up every morning scared because she doesn't recognize herself or where she is, Every day is like this for Christine, and from the very beginning the reader senses there is something sinister afoot and is compelled to keep reading to find out how it all fits together. It's hard to believe this is the first book for this author as she is a very polished writer. I'm anxiously awaiting more from this author.