I had a chance to do one of those this week, and it was somewhat unusual in that it was a social club in Portland. A big, locally well-known social club that, when we first moved to this area, was for men-only. They have long since changed their standards, of course.
I got the gig via Ray and Jean Auel, who suggested my name, and it was a novel experience.
My wife and I met the co-chairs of the book club in the bar for a drink. We adjourned to the library, a fair-sized room with floor-to-ceiling book shelves all the way around. I got an introduction, and we were off.
It was a small group; we pulled our chairs into a semi-circle and chatted about whatever came to mind; mostly I answered questions. They were attentive, intelligent, and there was some good back-and-forth.
A couple of the attendees were medical doctors. Since my background has a bit of medicine in it, that was interesting. One of them is actually a world-famous heart surgeon who co-invented the first artificial heart valve used in humans. He was considering doing a movie or maybe a series connected to this kind of surgery. Would there be a market for that, he wondered?
Oh, yeah. I'd watch it.
These were smart, successful folks. None of them had actually read any of my stuff; in fact, most of them weren't science fiction and fantasy fans at all. Always intriguing when you realize your audience doesn't have common touchstones regarding the subject you are there to present. Somebody knew Asimov's name. Some of them had heard that Ray Bradbury had passed away, but they didn't know who he was or why it was a big deal; they'd never read anything by him, either.
When you are involved in an area of interest, you sometimes lose sight of the fact that there are all kinds of people out there who have never heard of it.
One of the doctors I used to work with when I was a PA, a man who was in his thirties at the time, hadn't read a novel since he'd been in college, and that for a class. He read the newspaper, medical journals, like that, but he didn't read for pleasure.
As a reader, that always kind of astounds me, especially when the guy I'm talking to is highly-educated. I can't even imagine not-reading.
After a while, we decamped to the dining room, and had dinner, then went on our ways.
An enjoyable, somewhat surreal experience, it was ...