Last night at the office of Richmond’s Frontier Project, on the corner of East Franklin and 20th Street, writer and actress Irene Ziegler met with readers to discuss her mystery novel Ashes to Water: the July-August selection for Richmond’s city-wide book club co-sponsored by Chop Suey Books and River City Reads. Rather than reading a long passage from her work–as many authors do–Ziegler alternated short excerpts from Ashes to Water and Rules of the Lake, its prequel, with reflections on writing and anecdotes from her life growing up in Pre-Disney, Florida.
As an author who is also an actress, Ziegler possesses an awareness of audience that many writers lack. When an author reads an entire chapter, even the best listeners are likely to lose their way. One image captures our interest, we linger with it, and never catch up to the narrative that’s unfolding. Ziegler encouraged the audience to write about what scares us and recounted how Francine Prose offered the same advice to playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. Following her advice, he wrote Rabbit Hole, which received the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2007.