I’ve loved reading since I was a little girl and my dad was superintendent at a one-school district in the country. He’d let me stay all day, every Saturday, in the school library, reading whatever I wanted. I began with the A’s–you know, Louisa May Alcott.

As an adult, I facilitated Sacramento library book groups for ten years, including two for teenagers, the Banned Books Club, and the Underground Book Club, and one for adults, in which we read one hundred titles together. I learned a lot about what made a book fun to talk about through this experience.

At the end of ten years of library book groups, I stepped down from facilitating in order to write. Ten years after that, Copy Boy was published.

So the writing is all tied up with book clubs for me.

I would LOVE to join your book club, in person, or by Zoom. It’s been one of the most gratifying parts of being an author.

Please reach out to put me and Copy Boy on your calendar.

Copy Boy Discussion Questions

(also available at the end of the book)
  1. Scientists suggest that our experiences and those of our ancestors live on in our DNA, affecting our and our children’s health and behavior. Is that true for Jane? Can she escape biology or family history? Can any of us?
  2. What influence does Daddy have on Jane? What do they have in common?
  3. What do you think about Momma after learning about her childbirth at fifteen years old? Does this explain the way she treats Jane? Should Jane continue to tie herself to such a parent? Why or why not?
  4. How do you explain the voice in Jane’s head? How does this voice affect what she does, who she becomes?
  5. What should Jane’s obligation to her sister be? What kind of mother would Jane make?
  6. Does Jane really have to pretend to be a boy to succeed? Could she have earned the same opportunities as a girl? Why or why not? Does any part of her situation seem familiar today?
  7. What do you expect a masculine character to do and be? What do you expect a feminine character to do and be? How do the characters in the novel match or challenge those expectations?
  8. Jane becomes a skillful liar. These lies lead to her lifelong career success. How does lying help her, and how might it hurt?
  9. Grete crosses boundaries to make the best, most moving, most powerful photographs, arguing that facts are less necessary than truth. What do you think about fact versus truth?
  10. Some characters in the book focus on basic survival and hunger. Others work for worldly success. How do they get what they want? What are they willing to discard to win? Is it worthwhile? What have you had to give up to achieve what you want?
  11. Vee may be the only character who risks herself solely on behalf of others. How do you explain what makes a person altruistic?
  12. The Okies living along the side of the road are despised and blamed for local problems. How might ongoing generations of such families feel about field-working migrants and unhomed people today, and why?
  13. Jane will write for many decades, becoming an iconic San Francisco gossip columnist. How is she suited to this? What do you imagine for the stories she writes under a different name?
  14. This novel was inspired by historical incidents, photographers, migrant laborers, and newspapers in 1930s California. How are the lessons of this period relevant today?

Peek inside other Copy Boy talks at my author YouTube page, including the following videos and more:

Hard to See: Fact and Truth in the Work of John Steinbeck and Dorothea Lange
(A video essay for the National Steinbeck Center)

Panel discussion on the Literature of Resilience at the international Virtual Steinbeck Festival
A one-page reading from Copy Boy by actor Amanda McTigue
A one-page reading from Copy Boy by actor Jessica Laskey
Sacramento Had a Hooverville: A discussion with library archivist James C. Scott.