Katherine Reay is the author of the new novel The Printed Letter Bookshop. Her other novels include Dear Mr. Knightley and Lizzy & Jane. She lives outside Chicago.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Printed Letter Bookshop, and for your three main characters?
A: The C.S. Lewis quote, For the present is the point at which time touches eternity, started the whole story. I wanted to put three very different women together, at very different times in their lives, and let them work out their best presents.
A: I wrote the chapters in the order in which they appear. It was very important to me to have them not only weave together well, but play off each other without repetition. I could only get their collective experience by keeping them together.
Also, please note their points-of-view. Each woman tells her story from the verb tense and point-of-view from which she views her own life. I had so much fun with that aspect of the novel.
Q: The novel takes place in the Chicago area. How important is setting to you in your writing?
A: Setting is always a character for me. It is vital. Chicago provided the perfect home for this story with its tight local communities and its wonderful downtown. I also like the Midwest perspective and thought it fit each my characters well.
Q: What do you think the story says about the role of independent bookstores today?
A: The story asserts that independent bookstores are vital to our communities. We want both diversity in our shopping venues and in our book choices. They bring us together and we need to support them. All that said, they can and will disappear if we don’t let our dollars follow our intentions.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I have just handed in the line edits for my next novel, Of Literatures and Lattes. I have never returned to characters or to a town before, but I am this time and I’m so excited. The story takes place in Winsome once again and Alyssa, Janet’s daughter, comes home.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Simply thank you! It’s been a delight to visit with you today. And please reach out on social media.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb