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The first thing I heard was the sizzle of hot coals.  My mind immediately flashed back to Savonarola burning hated books in Renaissance Florence.

Calm down, get a grip.  It won’t come to that.

It had all seemed such a good idea at the time… “We’re going to do Monkey Wars in our reading group; why not come along and hear what everyone thinks?”

Great! I thought. A chance for feedback, straight from the readers’ lips. Invaluable.

And then I started to hear things about this reading group… how they were brutally honest, how they did a statistical analysis of their opinions, how they had very high standards and rarely agreed, which often triggered huge debates.

What if they all hated Monkey Wars?  It may only be a BBQ, but the coals were surely as hot as Savonarola’s.

As it was the last meeting of the year, it started with (delicious) food, where no-one was allowed to talk about the book… which left me trying to read body language.

Was there any hidden meaning in the way Shane wielded his knife?

Was that a pitying glance from Reg?

“As soon as we’ve finished eating, we’ll move on to the book,” announced the organiser, John.

I immediately slowed down, trying to make the cheesecake last as long as possible… putting off the moment.

Then suddenly it was too late – the discussion started.

To my huge relief, the news was good: nearly everyone had really enjoyed the book.

Better still, the group had some really interesting questions about the story, writing in general, and in particular about the idea of a sequel…

The ending to Monkey Wars points to the cycle of history going on, with action triggering reaction triggering more action.  The sequel is implied, but is there any need to actually write it?  Would it just cover the same ground again?  Are some sequels best left unwritten?

This reading group seemed to think so, and with the hot coals still sizzling in the corner, who was I to disagree?



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