There is a lot to love about hanging out with book lovers. Not only do they usually love great food and drink, but talking about books at the same time with friends makes for what I consider to be a perfect afternoon or evening.
I don't usually read from my novel when I visit book clubs (they've already read the book), but when I visit libraries I usually pick a passage or two to discuss. However, one of the things that I think is interesting about both types of meetings is that I find that most people in the audience are less interested in the readings and far more keen on learning something new. That's where my research into the world of ancient Rome and food history makes a big impact. I love being able to talk to groups about the things that I found most fascinating when writing FEAST OF SORROW.
For example, did you know:
French toast is an ancient Roman dish? And so is fois gras? And so is haggis?
The manufacturing of garum (fish sauce) is often considered to be one of the first mass-manufactured products?
That Epicurus (who was a Greek philosopher) lived 340 years before Apicius (a first century Roman gourmand) and while they were both concerned with living the good life, their definitions of what that entailed were very different?
Usually when I speak to library crowds I don't give too much detail away about the plot of the story so the food history is a heavier topic. But with book clubs...well, that's where we can really get down to details and talk about character motivations--and my motivations for making them do the things they do. Why did I kill xx character? What do the birds in my novel symbolize? What can I tell them about the complex relationship between Apicius and his wife, Aelia? And we can also talk about the food too!
Meeting new people, often over a meal or a tidbit of food and talking about history and books is truly a dream come true for me and one of the best benefits of having written a novel.