Sunday, March 25, 2012
By Ben Beagle, firstname.lastname@example.org
PERRY – For months, readers in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties have been connecting with the Appletons, the family at the center of Yannick Murphy’s novel, “The Call.”
The connection became more personal in recent days as those readers took advantage of the chance to meet Murphy through a series of talks, book signings and other events for the annual “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project.
The project culminated Saturday morning when more than 60 people attended Murphy’s talk at Perry Elementary/Middle School, 50 Olin Ave. The presentation was hosted by Perry Public Library, one of the 19 public libraries and Genesee Community College, that organize the Tale program.
“It’s a great program,” said Sue Hengelsberg of Perry, who has participated in the Tale program since it started 10 authors ago. “It brings people together and gives readers a chance to meet the authors – and see that they are real people.”
Murphy, who lives outside Reading, Vt., a town of fewer than 700 residents easily related to the readers who came from nearby rural communities. They found her to be an engaging speaker who shared stories of her own family –- which inspired events of “The Call.”
The novel explores a family’s struggles to cope when the rhythms of their daily life are disrupted when their oldest son is seriously injured in a hunting accident.
More than 400 people heard Murphy speak at public programs and a pair of invitation-only receptions. On Friday night, more than 50 people attended the author’s program at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, 620 West Ave., Medina. The visits began Thursday with a private welcoming reception at Genesee Community College, Batavia, followed by a talk at the college attended by 149 people from the college and community. About 125 people attended a Thursday evening program at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., Batavia. Murphy also met Friday afternoon for lunch with six winners of a writing contest sponsored by The Daily News.
“I was just really impressed with how well organized the events were. I knew everyone would be nice; they’ve been supernice,” Murphy said after her talk in Perry.
“I really enjoyed how many people came having read the book,” Murphy said. “I could feel a sense of connection with the audience that you don’t get at other reading events.”
Among those readers were members of a book discussion group from Avon. The women nearly filled much of the front row of the auditorium.
“It’s rare that all of the members of the group like the same book,” said Sharon Madison of Avon.
Group members said they liked the book’s use of humor, the stories of the veterinarian’s clients, and the book’s sense of normalness.
“She really brought the home to life,” Madison said.
Pat Moran of Avon, who worked with an equine veterinarian, said Murphy captured the interactions between doctor and patients.
“There always are stories,” Moran said. “Clients for racetrack vets make for very interesting lifes.”
Linda Morris of Wyoming said she has attended the past eight Tale programs. This year, she was drawn in by the mystery element of the story.
“It was totally new to me. It was unlike anything else I’ve read,” Morris said. “Some my favorites come from Tale.”
Murphy, who was accompanied to Western New York by her sister, spoke for more than an hour in Perry – the longest of her four talks. She weaves stories about her own family, writing career – “I have to fight the horrors of regularity,” she said — and life in a rural community. Some of the stories were similar to ones shared at earlier programs, but she also altered the talk in Perry to include more stories about her family, read from the novel, and talk more about the children’s books she has written.
While “The Call” is inspired by Murphy’s husband he’s not the type of doctor to keep a routine journal, she said.
“If he did keep one, I knew he couldn’t keep himself from reporting on the people he met, the beauty he sees,” Murphy said. “It would not be a doctor’s log all filled with medicine and dosage.”
Murphy shared a number of family pictures and gave away three copies of her first novel, “The Sea of Trees.” She gave away three copies at each public talk.
Murphy was heading back to Vermont Saturday afternoon. Next weekend she is scheduled to be in Boston to accept the Lawrence L. & Thomas Winship/PEN New England Award. She has readings scheduled in Burlington and is looking forward to once more having time to write.
“I really want to take some quiet time and work more intensively on writing,” Murphy said.
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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation