Our thanks to Kathy Murphy, famed founder of the Pulpwood Queens book clubs, for taking time out from her hectic schedule to participate in this Q&A… Five Questions with the Queen! Have a question for the queen? Leave a comment and we’ll get it her way!
1. What is it about BOOKS that brings readers together so brilliantly?
First of all and foremost, it’s sharing our stories. We are the only animal that shares stories, it’s what makes us human and more humane. We are educated, enlightened, entertained and you can read all by yourself or with others.
The interesting thing is, if you read by yourself, that’s one dimension. If you share it with your book club that’s another, but when you bring the author into the mix, like we do with our Pulpwood Queen Book Club Selections Authors, you get the three-dimensional picture in full focus.
2. What was your motivation to launch the Pulpwood Queens?
Shortly after opening my Hair Salon/Book Store, (Beauty and the Book), the local book club invited me to join them for a meeting. I thought they invited me to join and be a MEMBER, not!
Evidently, only eight members were allowed to join and as the hostess told me, “Unless someone dies or moves away, that is all that will fit around our table.”
I was secretly thinking, Who made up that RULE?! Anyway, I went home, sat down, and made a list on what I would do if I started my own book club. This book club would be inclusive, not exclusive. We would call ourselves The Pulpwood Queens, “where TIARAS are mandatory and reading OUR good books was the only Rule!”
By wearing the crown we would tell the world that we were “beauty within” queens as we were real readers. So for nearly 16 years we have been meeting monthly, first with my charter chapter, The Pulpwood Queens of East Texas.
Since then we have made the news with appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, we kicked off their “READ THIS” Book Club and other radio and print media with now over 580 chapters nationwide and in 15 foreign countries.
3. And what was your motivation to launch your now famous “Girlfriend Weekend?”
Girlfriend Weekend began after my first year, very humbly. I set up tents in the front of my house and shop in woods of East Texas and invited in all the authors we had selected that year. I think we had as many authors as attendees.
Each year the attendance kept doubling so when it got big enough I moved it into town. We will be celebrating our 16th year, January 14 – 17, 2016 in historic Nacogdoches, Texas and we sell out every year.
It’s the book party I would most want to go to and I invite ONLY the authors who are OFFICIALLY our book club selections, past, present, and future. You can get the last remaining packages at www.beautyandthebook.com but do NOTE! Members get a substantial discount so it pays to join The Pulpwood Queens, whose sole mission is to promote authors, books, literacy and reading all while having BIG TIME FUN!
4. What will readers get out of being a chapter and where/how can they hook up with an existing chapter?
Everything pertaining to membership is on our website, www.beautyandthebook.com but the difference our book club has over others is we bring the authors into the picture. Most of our authors will teleconference, SKYPE or even visit chapters and for sure be featured at our annual Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend. I know of no other book club where you have this kind of access to the authors.
I also make all the authors participate in ALL EVENTS at our Girlfriend Weekend. So it’s no secret that Pat Conroy has served Sweet Tea at our Author Dinner, where I make all the authors wait the tables in crazy costumes. You eat, drink, and the authors even stay in the same hotels and bed and breakfasts.
It’s full immersion into the Wonderful World of the Pulpwood Queens with the Grand Finale being our Great Big Ball of Hair Ball. The theme this year is ONCE UPON A TIME. All the authors dress up, too, and it’s the ultimate Kodak moment, so bring your cameras BIG TIME!
Ed. Note: To become a member, visit: www.beautyandthebook.com/membership
5. What is Kathy Murphy looking for in a good book? What speaks to you as a reader?
Since my book club is now international here is what I am looking for:
- An unknown author, one that is perhaps a first time/first book or one that hasn’t been discovered in a really big way. Yes, I want to pick a big name once in while but only if they can come and be a Keynote at my annual convention which we call Girlfriend Weekend. Example, Pat Conroy, Fannie Flagg, John Berendt, Jamie Ford, etc.
- This is a given but it must be well written, free of flaws and my book club members do not like to read books with gratuitous violence or language, but I do make exceptions. I selected Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because it was just such a great, well written story.
- Most important of all, the book must tell a story that has NOT been heard before or from a perspective that gives the reader a different view of a subject. Examples: The Sunday Wife by Cassandra King, The Dive From Claussen’s Pier by Ann Packer, Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman. Do not send me another queen book set in the south, particularly one that is also a hairdresser. I hold that card, DONE.
- I want a book that changes people’s lives for the better. Examples: My Orange Duffel Bag, Same Kind of Different As Me, a book that is discuss-able and that includes book club discussion questions written by the author. My book club hates generated book discussion questions, too literary and not very personal. Authors tend to write questions that they answered.
- I really don’t care who publishes a book, a good book is a good read no matter who publishes it.
- Last, I want a real book to read, I’m on the computer so much, I want to cuddle with a book in bed!
Several of the WWW tribe will be heading to Kathy’s 2016’s Girlfriend Weekend and we look forward to sharing more about these tiara-wearing, well-read authors and book club members!
Kathy L. Murphy opened the Only Hair Salon/Bookstore, Beauty and the Book in the country in Jefferson, Texas and in 2000, founded and now operates the 580+ chapter book club, The Pulpwood Queens, nationally and in 15 foreign countries, making it the largest “meeting and discussing” book club in the world. She is the author of “The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life” published by Grand Central Publishing and endorsed by 16 library associations.
Earlier this year, DreamWorks signed on to produce a movie about Kathy, though as she says, ”I did not do this alone and am not an overnight sensation,” Murphy said. “This came about through years of struggle and hard work and the incredible friendship and help of my Pulpwood Queens Book Club members and our authors and the love of my daughters, my sister and family. We — note that I say WE — have struck a film deal.”