Cheers to Chris Bohjalian!

Book Club Nirvana!
Our middle school faculty & staff book club choice for May was The Double Bind by Vermont author Chris Bohjalian. He was gracious enough to meet with our group in Burlington tonight to talk about the book and his writing process.  Life would be perfect if every time you finished reading an incredible novel, you could sit down with the author and talk with him about his research, revisions, and thoughts while writing the book.  (Chris is the literary-looking guy in the middle.)

If you haven’t read The Double Bind, it’s a literary psychological thriller — the kind of book where you make prediction after prediction and smile smugly to yourself, only to fall on the floor when you find out the real deal.  As soon as I finished reading, I was compelled to look back at about five different parts of the book. 

It was fabulous to talk with Chris about our thoughts and connections with his novel — and even greater to hear how this amazing book came to life.  Chris told us about the eight drafts and four different points of view that he worked through before putting this book to bed.  It was worth every minute of revision. 

We’re planning our next field trip — to hear Chris read from his current work-in-progress at the Burlington Book Festival on September 15th.  (I’m reading from my middle grades historical novel Spitfire  and presenting a families workshop the next day as part of the children’s strand of the festival, and I still can’t quite get over the fact that my name will be on the same  program!) 

On top of his gift for writing, Chris is one of the most interesting, down-to-earth, and genuine people I’ve ever met.   What a terrific night.  I’m convinced the world would be a happier, more peaceful place if we’d all sit around and talk about books more often. 

2 Replies on “Cheers to Chris Bohjalian!

  1. Sounds fabulous…I think I would have enjoyed being a part of your literary group — y’all look like you’re having so much fun.

    Did Chris give any suggestions and/or insights about writing that you’d be willing/able to share?

  2. Incredible Evening

    An add-on to Kate’s blog from Marjorie:

    Chris Bohjalian was so gracious and forthcoming during his meeting with us. I found it fascinating to hear how he planned all the threads and details for this novel before writing it, whereas with his previous ones he was less structured. After hearing of the numerous revisions he did (Kate mentioned previously), I felt like the laziest person on the planet. When he shared with us that his drafts and writer’s notebooks are archived at his alma mater, Amherst, you could see the ELA teachers thinking, “ROAD TRIP!” Imagine being able to see how he went through the various points of view with the ENTIRE novel four times before finding the perfect one. Think of holding his writer’s notebook and seeing how he brainstorms. What a great topic for a class discussion with my students.

    Not only was Chris open about his writing, he also explained how he became involved with the homeless in Burlington and discussed the work done by COTS (Committee on Temporary Shelter). One of the characters in the novel is based on Bob Campbell. Take the time to read about this man and his work, as well as the program at COTS at

    Kate, I’m so glad you arranged this meeting. It was an inspiring night and has spurred me into action. If busy people like Chris (AND YOU!!!!) find time to write (and write WELL), then I have no excuses.


    Final Reflection:
    Not only is Chris everything Kate said in her last paragraph…he is also self-effacing and funny!