Diana: What inspired you to write STELLA BAIN?
Anita: A character from a previous novel had not a chance to tell her side of the story, and I was determined that she should. I can’t reveal the name of the character because it would give away an important plot point. When I realized the time period I was dealing with was WW1, I was off and away. To thrust a character onto a battlefield during that war was rich ground indeed.
Diana: I know that one of your books, The Pilot’s Wife, made the famous Oprah book club. Congratulations! What was it like to be part of that experience?
Anita: My Oprah experience was fabulous in every way. I discovered I had been picked when she called me at my home. Her booming voice is so familiar that I knew right away who she was. I just couldn’t believe it. For days, I couldn’t believe it. I was number 26 of 43 authors she picked during that first and most famous iteration of her club. She did for me what she did for the others. The book went right to #1. It was not my first novel, thus readers tended to go to the backlist after they’d read The Pilot’s Wife, which she’d chosen. Hence, I had a much wider audience, which was the chief benefit to me. What you see is what you get with Oprah. I found her to be warm, charming and dead serious about books. It was lovely.
Diana: I miss hearing Oprah’s enthusiasm about books. Is there anything comparable to the Oprah book club pick today?
Anita: There are many who have tried to duplicate Oprah’s Book Club, but none have come close to having that kind of power and influence over readers.
Diana: In this age of online purchasing, and bookstore closing, there really is a void for readers. Where do you think people find new books?
Anita: I can’t answer for other readers, but I suspect that most people find books the same way I do — either by a review that hits a sweet spot somewhere so that I feel as though I have to run, not walk, to my nearest book store, or from word of mouth. The latter, I think, sells more books than anything else.
Diana: Thanks for being here today, Anita. And for my own readers, Happy New Year! May it be filled with health, happiness and the time to enjoy a wealth of new books this year.