I attended a music recital-cum-luncheon yesterday at the Academy of Art Museum in Easton. You can imagine how happy it made me when I sat down at a table with three other people to learn that two of the three had already read “The Oblate’s Confession,” and the third intended to. A prophet is not without honor even in his own town!
One of my luncheon companions, a lady who looked vaguely familiar, told me we had in fact met before. Apparently she’d approached me in the grocery a couple of months back to tell me she had begun reading my book. She said I’d told her then that it was meant to be read slowly, and she now reported that this advice had really helped her enjoy the novel. I’m not surprised. I myself prefer a slow read, especially at night, when a leisurely pace is guaranteed to send me contentedly off into the land of nod. With this in mind, I tried to keep each chapter in my novel (or each section within the longer chapters) to a length that would permit it to be read within the confines of that magical half hour before sleep. I like to imagine my readers drifting off each night dreaming of the 7th century.
But of course not everyone will have the opportunity to run into me at the grocery. How then does an author let folks know his book is meant to be read at a civilized pace? Well, if he’s any good, he makes this clear from the very first line, his word choice and the rhythm of his language signalling that this is not a story racing toward its conclusion but, rather, one that promises a gentle stroll through interesting landscape toward new and entirely unexplored territory. I have no idea if I pulled this off in “The Oblate’s Confession,” but certainly that is what I aimed for.