It's impossible to speak with Jane Hamilton and resist the temptation to ask how being a two-time Oprah's Book Club pick has affected her career.
"Oprah gave me a million readers. I'm grateful for that," Hamilton says without hesitation. "But it has been most difficult for writers whose books were first novels. That amount of intense attention was disarming. It could make people think that's how it would be for every book."
Hamilton notes that Oprah's imprimatur gave publishers the false sense that the TV star's readers would follow an author's entire career. "Instead, they read what she selected for them to read and didn't necessarily stick with authors," Hamilton says without complaining.
Instead, Hamilton focuses on what she calls "the need to cultivate your own audiences," in part through book tours. Hamilton's national tour for When Madeline Was Young will include stops at Borders West at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, and at Madison's Wisconsin Book Festival on Oct. 18-22.