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Have you ever heard of the Living Book program?  Recently I was interviewed by a journalist from the ‘Auburn Review’ about my involvement in this program at the Auburn Library.  You can see this interview by clicking here:

http://www.torchpublishing.com.au/read/Auburn_Review_14_June_2010/images1/004.jpg

As it explains, ‘Living Books’ are people who are prepared to share their own stories, lives or culture with anyone who chooses to ‘borrow’ them at the Library for a twenty-minute period.  Readers can reserve a ‘book’ for a particular time slot and then when the moment arrives, they are introduced to their ‘Living Book’ by one of the library staff, who will later inform them when their ‘borrowing period’ is up.

There are certain rules in place for ‘readers’, one of which is that each ‘book’ must be returned ‘in the same mental and physical condition’ as when it was borrowed!  But the ‘books’ too have rights, including time out for a break when needed.

I have found that ‘readers’ reserve the two ‘books’ I have listed in the ‘catalogue’ (‘Writing for Publication’ and the more personal ‘Writing from the Heart – An Author’s Journey’) for a variety of reasons.  Some are clear that they want tips about novel writing or how to find a publisher.  Some simply want to know about my own personal journey – how I have managed to finish five novels and have four published.  Some don’t know anything much about writing and in fact may simply want to practise their English!  And that’s fine by me.  Then there are others who, I suspect, are quite lonely and just enjoy one-on-one time with someone who will listen and have an intelligent conversation with them.

I have met some fascinating people through this program – like the young scientist who just ‘happened’ to be in the library one day when the program was on and came and chatted about his dream to write that he had almost lost.  At the end, he thanked me for reigniting this dream – what a privilege!  Or the writer from one of the Eastern European countries who had published books in his homeland but now faced the challenge of doing the same here in a language not his own.  Or the Iranian doctor who was struggling to retrain in his profession here.  Or the Chinese student for whom authors were obviously such exalted beings!  Often they ask me why I write and what I write about, and I answer honestly. I tell them my novels have a fair bit about God and faith in God in them and that I used to be part of a local church ministry team.  At that point, ‘readers’ sometimes talk about their own faith, Christian or otherwise, and how this impacts their lives.  And what interesting discussions we have had!  Or they may be puzzled at my answers and choose to take the conversation in another direction.  And that’s fine too – they have the right to do so.

One of the reasons I enjoy being part of the Living Book program is that it is an opportunity to engage one-on-one with another person in a way that may greatly encourage them or make some difference in their lives. And I also want my ‘readers’ to feel valued and listened to in the process.  After all, that’s how God treats me.  So watch out for a Living Library program in your area – or come along and visit our program on Saturday 9th July at the Regents Park Community Centre on this occasion behind the Library in Amy St Regents Park, Sydney, from 2.00-4.00pm!

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