Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 10 months ago

Friends & Fiction with Armando Lucas Correa and Katherine Reay

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

On this episode we welcome two author guests. First we talk to Cuban-American author Armando Lucas Correa, a journalist who has worked at People en Español for 24 years, the past 14 as editorial director. He joins us to discuss his new memoir, IN SEARCH OF EMMA: How We Created Our Family, the moving story of his lifelong dream of becoming a father and the long emotional road to making that dream come true. Then we sit down with Katherine Reay, the national bestselling and award-winning author of several novels and one work of non-fiction book, Awful Beautiful Life, co-authored with Rebecca Powell. Katherine joins us to discuss her forthcoming historical novel, THE LONDON HOUSE, in which an uncovered family secret sets one woman on the journey of a lifetime through the history of Britain’s WWII spy network and glamorous 1930s Paris.

Welcome to Friends and fiction for new york times, bestselling authors, endless stories, novelists, mary Kay andrews, Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson harvey and Patti Callahan Henry, R four long time Friends with more than 70 published books between them together, they host friends and fiction with author interviews and fascinating insider talk about publishing and writing to highlight and support independent bookstores. They discussed the books, they've written the books they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books and you're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Hello, hello, it's Wednesday night and that means it's time for Friends and fiction. Tonight we have a very special show for you because we have not one but two featured guests were so excited to introduce you to both Armando Lucas Correa and Catherine Ray, both of whom have written books that are perfect to curl up with this month as the weather turns cooler. So let's get started. I'm Kristin Harmel, I'm Patti Callahan, Henry, I'm mary Kay andrews and tonight we're missing Kristy Woodson harvey but she'll be back next week and this as you know is Friends and fiction for new york times. Bestselling authors, endless stories to support independent bookstores And we have such a fun and exciting partner this month and next month also perfect timing butterball Turkey because we're going to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the famed Turkey talk line all month long so you won't make Turkey talk line. You want to make sure to join us on our talking turkey with butter ball after show tonight we're going to be chatting about the history of the turkey talk line and mentioning some of our favorite turkey recipes and we will be sharing those with you this month and december. And as you probably already know, the part of our original mission was to encourage you to support independent booksellers when and where you can. And one way to do that is to visit our very own friends and fiction bookshop dot org page where you'll find Armando's book and Kathryn's book and books by the four of us and our past guests, all at a discount of course at bookshop dot org. A portion of each sale goes to the friends and fiction shop to support Indies and this show. So if you enjoy watching this is a great way to support all of our guests because anyone we have ever had on the show is in our bookshop dot org bookstore. It's actually kind of cool when you check it out. Right? Like I talked to all those people about all those books like how lucky are we? Right, so both are the books we're talking about tonight are about family, in the case of Armando's In search of Emma, we're talking about building a family and in Kathryn's the London house, we're talking about digging into family secrets as we approach the holidays. Ladies, I would love to hear about a time when something related to your own family changed something about life for you. How about you mary. Kay you know you asked me this earlier in the week and I really had to think about it and I think I have to say you know my both my parents and my older sister passed away very unexpectedly um within about three years of each other and one morning I woke up my older sister was 20 months older than me and one morning I woke up and I thought oh my God all of a sudden I'm the matriarch. Oh my God wow chills. Yeah I mean my older sister was large and in charge of everything and we all just did what she said the same thing with my mom and so um and I guess now I'm large and in charge to wow that's why you all around and we'll let you know, I don't know why you don't, it's how we all finished our books last year because you just get to work. Ladies you're a ben efficient made pre are you Beneficent. Beneficent? Is that the one you are? It's benevolent. Benevolent, Benevolent. It's the opposite of malevolent malevolent. That. Benevolent. All right. I think that I mean there have been so many instances where our families shift you find something out you um You know somebody gets married, you get a new son in law but I think one of the biggest times that our family transitioned about the ideas of what family is is when my sister who had placed her child for adoption 20...

...years before found us and you know now the families are all family and everybody is closed and it is one of the most joyous days I've written about it, but it redefined what family is to all of us, that's incredible. You know, I was thinking about this question too and one of the things I was thinking about was losing, losing my grandmother, she had dementia and so we lost her very slowly um with her memories kind of slipping away day to day and um that was something that really changed our family because I think at least for me, I realized too late how many stories she was taking with her that I didn't know and you know, there were flashes, there were there were pieces of her late in that, in that, in that whole cycle right? Like where she was gone for the most part, but then she'd come back for a little while almost and you could ask those questions or she'd tell the story from 30 years ago, but there were these little snippets and it wasn't enough. So I think it made me realize how important it is um to talk while we still can, you know, to share those family stories and those family memories. But anyhow we have such a great show for you tonight and I want to introduce you to our first guest Armando Lucas Correa, a bestselling writer, journalist and editor who has a lot to say about family. Armando entered the world of print journalism in 1988 when he was appointed the editor of tablets. I'm sure I'm mispronouncing that a national theater and dance magazine in Havana cuba. His career as an american journalist would be Gin three years later at El nuevo herald, which is the Miami herald's spanish edition newspaper where Kristin's sister in law got her journalism start to were always tied together everything's tied together. Our Armando later began working as a senior writer at a senior writer, wow at people. Um you guys have got to learn not to give me the pronunciation problems, um writer at people and espanol magazine and has worked at the magazine as the magazine's editor in chief Since 2000 and seven, Armando's first novel, The German Girl is an international best seller and has been translated to 14 languages and published in more than 20 countries. He followed that up with another novel, the Daughters Tale in 2019. He received outstanding achievement awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Journalism and the National Association of Hispanic Publications. He was also recognized as the journalist of the year by the Hispanic Public Relations Association of new york and he received the humanity of Connection award from A T and T. How cool is that? What's so cool. Yeah, very cool. Now. Armando is a graduate of the University of Arts in cuba and has a pomegranate degree in journalism from the University of Havana. He currently resides off I win, he resides in Manhattan with his partner and their three Children. The first ever English translation of his first book in search of Emma. Two fathers, one daughter and the dream of a family was released on October 12 with a new introduction by Armando. Wonderful! I cannot wait to talk to him about it sean can you bring Armando on please? I Armando. Well, we're seeing you know, all of you that you pronounce at all the names in spanish perfectly over. I'm so happy to present my book in special fema here today with you, thank you. We're so happy to have you, Armando. Can you begin today by telling us about In search of Emma? Oh my God, In Search of Emma is my, my most personal book. And when I never thought I right, I remember that an editor at harpercollins came to my office at people in espanol and I thought he was interested in publishing a book about legendary hispanic celebrities. They actually wanted to talk me into writing a book about how I had my daughter be a surrogacy. I was shocked and I I usually don't speak or write about my personal life. It took me took him like why to convince me, but I agreed to do it. You know why? Because when I went over notes. Had been keeping through how the process. I discovered I had extensive record of conversation I had With my family over the years. It took me to think, think about it. I started the process in 1998, and I had my...

...daughter in 2005. Oh my goodness, wow, that's such a long road. Oh my goodness! Now How old are so Emma is 16 now, is that right? She's gonna be 16 this Sunday by the way. Oh my God, uh and then you have two younger Children also, right? Yeah. You know when Emma was like a 2.5 years old, we were living in Miami during those years and I remember her saying, oh my God, I that I want to have a brother and a sister, and then I talked to my partner, Gonzales said because you know the process, it was, you know, very expensive and we said we'll never go back there. But when, you know, two years later, when Emma mentioned that, I said, Gonzalo, we have a couple of embryos frozen, let's try. No, no, I can't do that again. You know it wasn't. I'm er and I said okay, let's talk to the surrogate mother, you know mary and she's available, let's do it. If not we're gonna explain Emma later. And then we talked to mary after having Emma, you know by the law in California to become a surrogate mother, you have to be a mother, you have to have a child and then Emma and after Em and she has another girl and she said, okay give me a couple of months and I think I'm gonna be ready and let me talk to my husband first. But you know for you guys are gonna do whatever you want. And then the next day we received the call and it's a Gonzalo, let's do it. And with the twin, he was like an easy process. We did the first for and we have no one, we have two a boy and a girl. Oh my goodness. Oh beautiful. Now you've just talked to us about the joyous ness, about how you, how you got your Children. But would you talk about the challenges you faced on the road to having Emma? And I know that when you began this journey, there were roadblocks right away at the time at the time, same sex couples couldn't adopt Children in florida where you were living. So if you would tell us a little bit about that when you know, Gonzalo and I, we met after coalition cuba. We came together to the States and when I started working full time at the head all, we bought two years later we bought our first house with a big backyard in florida. You know, and I said Gonzalo, I think we're ready to have to create a family and then he said you are crazy when I do that, that's impossible. We came to this country a couple of years ago, You know we're learning the language now and and then I started doing my research and I remember sending letters to china emails to train to Guatemala in latin America and then I realized that it was illegal to adopt for us in florida. But you know it is a good news now, same sex couple cannot adopt Children. The old fizzy state fostering Children however, is still complicated for 10 seconds. But at the beginning was it was impossible to us. I remember having a meeting with one of the agency's okay. You can say you're going to have your shy by yourself. Don't mention Gonzalo, but you know I can I can lie for me it was impossible to do that. We moved to new york and I remember working at at people in espanol is a senior writer. I have access to the five people and they prepare a story that we're editing a story that is going to be published two weeks later about a gay guy who has a daughter via surrogacy with an egg donor. And I read the article, I called the agency immediately. They said what do you know that? Because the articles would have been to explain to them that I was working the same company. Uh I remember he mentioned that he spent like a $75,000 when I spent Gonzalez. Now that's impossible. We don't have that money. We just bought our first apartment in New York. We sold the house in Miami, what do you think you're going to get the money? And I said don't worry we're going to find the money if we have to sell the apartment, we sell the apartment And we saw the apartment uh to make him I am a cost over $125,000 accidents with all the lawyers and changing the egg donor, all that. But you know uh and and this is something that some may be easy for you. But the biggest accomplishment more than anything that I have to ever done in my work life including writing and publishing my books is having my Children. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Mhm. Now that you talked about you after you had Emma you had two more anna and...

Lucas and you write very honestly in the book about the challenges you all face sometimes from people who just refused to accept you as a family. And I know that you said in the introduction that there were those who said I am on and Lucas weren't your Children. Um they refused to baptize your Children. And even those who said, I mean this is just horrible to me that they would rather die than have, it's painful. I think it's painful to read and it must have been difficult for you to write about and for your kids to face that could you talk about that and how you overcome those challenges you know uh with all my Children this is an open book you know they know how they were made, they know the story before having you know writing in search of Emma I create like a small book picture for her when she was like two years old and it's called In search of Famous without the picture of the family the surrogate mother, the egg donor. And they know the process and I remember when she started kindergarten and after school she had piano classes and one boy she saw you know he saw that it was too dad right and I am I am papa and Gonzales papi and then he said to her uh if you have to that you have to be adopted and she said no no I am not adopted yes you are adopted and then she came home and she she explained to us that it was that simple you know Emma you know you are not adopted it's fine to be adopted but you are not adapted you have to that. And then the next day when we went to school to pick her up the teacher said pale said oh my God Emma is very shy, she never talking classroom but at the end of the class she said she wants to explain how she was made and she said okay papa you know me donate a warm the doctor put her in the plane and you know the donald, she said the name, I can mention the name publicly put an egg and with a spoon they removed a play and create an embryo and they put the embryo, two embryos inside mary and one of the embryo is me. They always have that kind of reaction. I remember, you know, it was before the, before the pandemic in our house upstate. We have a couple of friends visiting, some of them, they have a boy the same in savannah And right now it's gonna be 12 in December and I think they were like nine or 10 and after dinner when they left, they saw the boy said that he preferred to be dead. Mm he said having to that and you know myself, hookers, this, this problem, you know, the boys is saying and uh, you know, I don't, this is the problem is they want to be that this is a problem. It's not mine. You know, they are very open and they understand that they're going to have that kind of confrontation. And I remember when, you know, because we're catholic maybe we have no religious but my family, they are catholic for both sides. And when we want to baptize them, the priest said in Miami by the way that he can put both names on the, you know, on the program for the, you know the only one that, so no, we're not gonna do that when we have the queen's we were in Pasadena California and across the treaty was a church, I think it was a methodist church and we went to praise on sunday, you know, we have the kids, they were premature and then we talked to the you know, the priest came to us and we talked to him and you want to privatize them Oh yes. And then you know, they were like a couple of days old and with them and we baptize the three of them and then oh I like to seem to find some people closed door, others opened the door. Yes, that's such a good point. Oh wow! Alright Armando, Even though In Search of Emma is a new release, it's actually only knew in translation am I right? Yeah, when I explain that, because you know, I wrote in spanish and after uh many years was able to get in translating english, thanks to the success of the German girl and the daughter cell, I always said that the German Girls exist thanks to Emma because it was johanna Castillo, my first editor and now she is my literary agent, read Emma in spanish and told me I should write a novel and I told her at every writers or those who want to be right or half a novel already written, I didn't speak to her about the not that novel I had but of a few chapters that I had written about the ST louis. And a few days later I was signing a contract...

...with Simon and Schuster to publish the novel I had yet to write. I remember I presented only a couple of pages 10 pages I think with a storyline and all my research. You know, because you know Christine all of you know that when you are doing historical novel, you get obsessed with facts and pictures and you go to my apartment. Now I have like a small museum about the ST louis have played Auriana Minions, a postcard, a lot of pictures, document books and language that I don't read. But I always said that thanks Emma, I am a fighter now because of that is amazing. And for those of you who don't know his two historical fiction novels are the german girl and the daughters tail. But you are also the longtime editor in chief for people in espanol and you have a long journalism background. I want to talk about the through line from this book to your novels that came afterward. I want to know how you knew that this was something you could do. I know that your editor said your story writer. But what did you do inside of you that said, okay, I'm going to go for this. Yeah, I think the first time that I heard about the son louis you know this ocean liner with over 900 jewish refugees living Hamburg Nazi Germany in 1939 all of them with government of disembarking cuba. I'm Cuban. And when they arrived they deny the entrance. You know the government, the president at that moment requested Another $500 per passenger. That that was a fortune at that moment. And then the weeks later they trying to go to the United States and Roosevelt denied the entrance to the Mackenzie from Canada. All of them returned to different countries in Europe Belgium France and Great Britain. And and the only, the only one who survived the worry was the one in Great Britain and around 200 because the rest of them, you know the world started in September and they ended in Auschwitz and there is a couple of survivors, you know the Children. And I remember I I think I heard this story for the first time when I was like a 10 years old. I remember my grandmother, my grandmother is the daughter of a Spanish immigrant Who arrived in Cuba at the beginning of the 20th century and she said all the time Cuba around me Cuba is gonna pay very dearly because what they did to the Jewish refugees and when I went to college, I'm trying I have access to the national archive that in CUBA is really hard to get there. And I asked about the ST louis if they have some materials of information and in whispering, you know, the librarian said to me or Mando, we used to have like a couple of boxes labeled with the ST louis and all of them disappear in the 19 seventies. When I arrived in the United States I working at the herald, I started you know reading and buying materials And I have some chapters of the book from 1997, And at the beginning I was thinking to create like a nonfiction book because I am a journalist. I said okay I'm gonna interview with historian. Like gonna talk to the survivors. I found one in Miami one in new york. And when I have Emma in 2005 everything changed. You know I realized that I need to tell this story from the point of view of a father. That was my idea at the beginning when I talk to johanna I think Emma is going to give voice to the book. And then I remember the first line more or less is I'm gonna be 12 years old And I decided to kill my parents. But at the beginning it was nine years old because Emma was nine then 10, 11. Uh Emma was 12 years old. And I always said that you know Emma Emma and became becoming a father changed my my my life completely. You know and then the book had this emotional connection with Children's and the father and you know I'd love how she not only inspired you to become a storyteller but then inspired you to tell it from that point, a view that's a mini Yeah, it's interesting you say that because, you know, I think something that the german girl and the daughters tail both have in common is this idea of people being Children being separated from their parents, Children, you know, and the pain of...

...that separation. So, you mentioned Emma being a little bit of an inspiration for that, do you think that you tapped into that idea of being separated from Emma for a long time before you had her? I mean, you were separated from almost this this right to have a child, You wanted a child so much and you knew she was out there, you knew you would love her. Um you know, and then finally you were together, was that part of what went into this novel, do you think? I think right now when you mentioned, and I'm thinking about it, but I remember when uh mary mary said I'm pregnant and you know, and she's based in san Diego California and we are in new york, you know, six hour by playing the beast. And I remember, you know, I was talking to my daughter from the distance, you know, think about it, think about it because you are working and if you are having a child and you're surely not with you is like being in a long, you know, the sense of time and distance changed completely for you and then you have to communicate with her because I know the if your heart you have everything around you is completely different and for me was I was getting anxious all the time with the twin was different but I didn't remember with Emma I went to all the doctor appointment you know I I took the early flight in the morning and coming back in the red eye every week, sometimes twice a week because I have to work you know I was saving my vacation for one am I gonna born and then I remember that was flying all the time, back and forth, back and forth going to all this appointment and therefore the biggest appointment I have the whole family you know where a Cuban family and I remember the first ultrasound to know if there's gonna be a boy or a girl. We were 16 people in the small room test a I remember the doctor said she's she's a girl, how it's gonna be the name is Sugar Emma, okay I think she's Emma, she's still an Emma. I said well maybe it's going to change because you know it's depending depending where they're moving around the big, there was barely she's still Emma and I think she's gonna be an Emma. Oh beautiful that is so Armando I have one more follow up question about that but I just wanted to say to anybody out there if you have a question for Armando I think we're going to have a couple of extra minutes to take a few of them. So do you plug your question and if you have one but Armando I was also thinking both of your historical novels are about jews fleeing the Germans during World war two becoming immigrants and then seeking to settle elsewhere. And you mentioned that you yourself are an immigrant from CUba which of course is such a part of an important part of your own story in your own identity. So even though you were writing fiction, do you think that there was a piece of your own life that you were writing in those two books in terms of summoning the courage to start over again someplace new and unfamiliar. Yeah, I think the I remember when I was promoting the book in Australia because the german girl the first country that became a bestseller was Australia, the second one, it was Canada and then the United States and doing the tour for 15 days in Australia. Everybody said that I wrote the book because it was in the I remember it was in the middle of the Syrian crisis. You remember all the Syrian group would be running around europe trying to find a country and I said okay you have to understand when the book is published, you finished in mind there is in spanish you have to send it to London to translation. It's like you know I finished the book three years ago, I never talked about the Syrian crisis but at the end all these historians are connected. I am a frequently attend to and and and everybody said I mentioned I realized that all my books and even when I was promoting the Duracell and the one that I finished now the night traveler is about the fear that we have for the other one. You know the people who has a different skin color or the people who believe in different gods or have a different sexual orientation. We always afraid or the other one and all my books and all everything that I write Has to be. I am including me, you know we always think with one our Children to marry people like us, you know we always afraid of, I living in a co op in New York and you know go up in New York is like a nightmare to get in my building from 1905 is one of the oldest coop in, in the west side in Manhattan. And I remember when we apply, they said that we were the first Hispanic family...

...applying in the coop. Even the you know the superintendent is irish and when we applied were was the same couple of course and my partner became a member of the board and I remember that we started receiving emails a couple of weeks later uh and saying about another application and they explained the woman is a nice woman, the woman is a is a is a doctor and you know, the family is going to pay for the apartment or whatever and and the husband is very nice, they always say the husband is very nice. And then we realized that the guy was black because the first black, you know, and they didn't know how to explain that to the rest of us in the game, but we always afraid Of the other one. People who look different, we need to, you know, willing to fight with all this prejudice that we have, all of us have. It, I'm not excluding me, wow. And I think all the books, everything that I write, it has to be related. There is something there always and it's always about family and family separation absolute them. And you know, I I grew up around a strong woman, my grandmother, my mother, my sister, my aunt, My mother divorced my father when I was 2.5 years old. It was during the 60s, Beginning of the 70s, my mother wants to go to college and my father thought that he has to stay taking care of the Children and then she became an engineering, a very successful one. She's living in Miami is still working and and I always have done, you know, great admiration about a strong woman and that's the reason may be I want to begin a father because I grew up with the absence of one but at the same time all the character is about this strong woman I think Yeah wow that's true. And when you started writing personally you have been you had spent so long. I mean if you're writing for people in espanol you are writing about other people and their lives and their stories and these nuggets of stories. I want to hear a little bit about how you went from because mary Kay did the same thing and you're writing about other, she would write about a trial or something that happened and then you had to completely turn that lens inward to who you are and how you felt was that I want to hear about that transition and I don't know mary Kay but in my case I live a very hectic life. You know I am very busy here, closing that magazine working the website. I have three Children. But for me writing is like my my zen zone, you know, it's my you know, I I don't do yoga. I don't, I walk a lot. I love working for miles every day in the city of say and then when I'm writing is my therapy is my you know it's the moment that I can be creative be myself and be in my world and I I always said that I am a reader who writes you know I was a child was reading all the time and and then even when I start writing every day I have to read at least you know, 30 40 minutes, I when I I read my, my brain wake up all the time. I don't need something for outside to come to me expiration or something like that. I have to read when I read then you can start working hard and it's you know, writing is working, you have to play this soon and you have to write every day and you know, you guys, especially if you're writing, you have to write every day, you have a deadline and you if you sell the book, you know right now, I I saw 2, 2 more books and it was only one sentence in one of them. The other one, it was a pantagraph, wow, had to have a deadline. You know, I have to finish something that I have been writing for a couple of years, that is discipline. Yeah. Well speaking of that, Bruce Gilbert has a question for you. He wants to know when your next novel will be out and if you'll tell us what the title is. Yeah, my next novel is going to uh The Night Traveler. Uh oh, that's a great title, isn't it? Yeah, that's great. I love the title is a quote from, from a very famous poet. Rumi poet is night travelers are full of light And I decided to play the title from there and it's going to be published uh October 18, 2022 I finished before the...

...pandemic wow. And then you know the publishing house decided until we are back to normal had a book outside and uh we finished the english you know I I write in spanish but I worked really close with my translator and with the editor in english and then I have to go back to the spanish and and this is a book like I really like because I started writing before the german girl Oh wow. You know I put it on the side and I explained to johanna Castillo at that moment my editor that I need to do more research and because you know I have to finish the german girl because it was in my mind for many years and but it was the first idea that I have to to my my my list is published now. Then I traveled before the daughter said no the doors have to be now. Okay every book had you know there are times I think uh sometimes we don't know what that time is. That's true. Exactly. Sometimes somebody else has to tell us that sometimes stories bubble in the back of our minds for a little bit until they're ready. Written. Yeah they have to percolate a little. Yeah, absolutely. So Armando one of our favorite parts of the show is the segment where we get to ask our guest for a writing tip. Do you perhaps have a writing tip you could share with us today. Okay. You know every writer is different. I am the one because I am I am not a full time writer, I need to write at least 500 words per day that but that's part of my, my goal when I end in a better zone, I tried to write over 1000 but it's too much for me, you know, but 500 is fine. Another thing that I'm doing recently during the pandemic and the communication and I didn't want to keep it forever is I have a fellow fellow writer that we communicate, we are soon and every day during long shower we connected and we decide to talk for only five minutes like whatever we want to talk and then we put a mute and grieve right for one hour, one hour and a half for the time that we have monty described it and then, and then you know the next day we can talk about what we wrote but uh that's discipline and for me the most important you want to be a writer. The only thing that you need to do is write. You know, some some of us were more lucky that we can present an idea and they buy the idea but ideally is to have a book. I I'm trying to write more than I'm going to be published because if I have, I don't know, I remember that the German girl the first draft, it was around 200,000 war. Oh my goodness wow. You know I am the first editor of what my books after my mother read it And I cut it to 175 and then uh before going to my editor I got another 20,000 wars. I remember when we went to johanna was 1 35 and before going to the translator, we ended in 1 25,000 but I prefer to have more than and then you know, you keep it maybe for the other book because you know, sometimes we dedicate a lot of time in a sentence. You want the sentence and the potential to be perfect and sometimes it's perfect but it's not perfect for the book and then save it, Just save it. It's never Yeah, cut up my tv. I think you want to be a writer, deeper severance, you know, you have to have discipline and the most important thing is read. If you read, it's better than going to college, it's better not to a book club or whatever if you read, you're gonna learn how to write I think so that was great. Yeah, that was like a few pieces of writing advice all rolled into that. We love that one last. I love it. All right Armando before we let you go, do you by any chance have a book that you've read recently that you could recommend to us, um something that you'd like to be on our radar. You know, I I mentioned in the for the newsletter newsletter that I think it was meg that you asked me about. And the one that is still in my mind is Hamnett. I love the man, I am a fan of her. You know, I read all his books.

The you know, the personal one of her is beautiful. But Hamnett is a Master Bruce, I think is the kind of book that you start reading a historical fiction uh with a simple idea, you create a world. It's very simple. And then of the book, I'm not gonna spoil anything is memorable. You know, the uh she, you know, she found all this this world that she creates is about the stage and the emotion and the last, I love that book. I love that. What a great recommendation and patty. I think you had a book you wanted to mention tonight too. I do. I want to tell everyone, first of all, I love ham net. And without reading it, I was texting people to say who read it because I have to talk about it. It was such a, the word I kept using was immersive. That was a truly immersive book. But I want to tell everyone out there about a book that came out yesterday by our friend kim Marie martin called Doctors and Friends kim Marie is an E. R. Doc and this latest book focuses on a group of doctors during a pandemic And get this, y'all She wrote it before Covid. She had no idea he was finished with this book before Covid. So talk about christian. Yeah, it's crazy. The PW starred review says that it conveys the deeply personal as well as the bigger picture and I know I just want everyone to know about it. It came out yesterday. Oh great. It sounds good. I'll add that to the list. That's nice. Yeah, beautiful. I love exactly Alright, Armando we have been so happy to have you as a guest. So thank you so much for spending this time with us and all of you out there. Yeah, make sure to stick around out there because we have a double header tonight. Catherine Ray, the author of the London House is coming. But for now Armando we will let you go. We are so excited about your next book. Thank you so much. What I've been here with the Night Traveler. Yes, absolutely. We can't wait to talk about it with you. All right, Armando have a great night Armando now everyone wow, he's that story man so much to unpack there. But as we mentioned we have a real treat for you. A doubleheader tonight novelist. Catherine Ray is also joining us tonight and we cannot wait for you to meet her Catherine Ray is the national Bestselling and award winning author of several novels and one nonfiction book. She holds a B. A. And an M. S. From Northwestern University, graduating phi beta kappa. She then worked in marketing and development before returning to graduate school for masters of Theological studies. So fascinating. After living in texas England Ireland and Washington, wow, she must have gotten lost on the way your final and stories are so good finding settled down to write and she settled down that she lives in Chicago with her husband and three dogs. Her kids are grown and she writes novels that she calls love letters to books when not writing, Catherine can be found walking the neighborhood, hanging out with her kids and friends or even occasionally fly fishing in Montana. How cool! Her new novel, the London House, which I had the privilege of blur bing just came out last week sean, can you please bring Catherine on for everyone to meet? Hi Catherine. Hello. I don't know were you fine, thanks. How are you? All were so happy to have you here. So the London House came out 10 days ago, 10 days ago. 10, 9 days ago. Yeah, Tuesday. Oh it's so exciting. I've been waiting and waiting for this book and I won't make you tell everyone today. But um Kathryn's irish stories are we need a whole episode of just your iron stories. You have your first child there. Right? No, my third, which is partly why that was just so terrifying because that third kid comes a lot faster than the first. Oh my gosh, I but we're not here to talk about Ireland or your child. I want she would not appreciate that. The third. Just not, I know that, I know that. So tell us about the London House. Oh the London house with this great pomegranate skirt. Uh it is uh it's my first dip into historical fiction. It is a split time novel and in the past it has the sort of the glamour of the...

...inter war years and really the safety of those years. But then the tenor changes as the world approaches. World War Two and two sisters who are very close um split apart and secrets grow between them. They fall in love. You know, all the drama of the young the young twenties, But the secret does sort of occur within the family and the present day. Um the granddaughter of one of the sisters is trying to find out what that is and how that has shadowed her family for 80 years. So it's a little bit of suspense, a little bit of mystery, A little bit of drama and some really good 1930s, fashion. It was fun. It was a lot of fun. I loved this book. I got an early read of it and I just hard to imagine it's your first step into historical fiction because it was just so expertly woven together and so well done. Um you know, here on friends and fiction, we always are so interested in knowing where the idea of the book came from. So what was the spark for this book, Catherine? And you know, what made you say, I see a story here. Um you know, it the spark was a misperception misunderstanding and how that can grow and um what that might look like over 80 years, over three generations. It actually came the idea came from the book that came before it of literature and Lats, which is a contemporary story, but it's a mother and daughter story and each see their relationship so differently. So then I decided, let's explore that further. Let's take a misperception or misunderstanding and blow it bigger. But let's not just have backstory, Let's bring that moment onto the stage. And so that's where I came up with the idea of having this split time where you see in real time what's going on, and then you see how it arcs over the 80 years. That's what I love it. So fascinating where ideas come from. And I was thinking, we were going to say, I saw this house in London, I want to talk about research because it is my favorite as, you know, research in England. I mean, sometimes we just right about England, so that we have to you have to do their own research church in England. Right? So, I know you went to London for research for everyone out there. Katherine's instagram is beautiful. She posts loads of pictures of her trip there. Um, I want you to tell me about the research. Was there a house that actually you saw that looks like it or tell me what kind of research you did over there? Well, it was it was it was amazing. First of all, I did live there in the early 2000. So I knew how I wanted the story to feel and where I wanted the characters to move. However, um, I didn't know I needed to see some S. O. E documents. I needed to get into the National Archives. So I wanted to go in april of 2020 and my husband said no, no, no, we have a we have a five day weekend coming up with our child who is still at home at the time, let's take her and go at the end of february. So I rushed everything together. I got my reading passes and we went over for four days and it really was like Carolyn's contemporary journey. It was a race to learn all I could. Um two days in the National Archives a day at the british Library, Imperial War Museum, Churchill's war rooms. And it was just nonstop. Very frenetic and fantastic. And if I'd waited two more weeks, I would never get in there. You know, So it really was amazing. Um and that is what really brought the book to life. Um I had no idea that I could touch those documents like I had in my hand. The original memo that Winston Churchill signed in pencil to start the S. O. E. Uh at the beginning of the war it was incredible. It was everyone what an sso is okay the so is the special operations of Death Executive. And that was Britain's first foray into the spy world. They had intelligence gathering and reconnaissance with you know the early days of M. I. Five and my six. But this was true sabotage spy blow things up. Um That kind of stuff. And that was the S. O. E. It was considered very ungentlemanly warfare bit. Is there anything you discovered in your research at all? Then flipped the story you thought you were telling? Yes um flips the story. Well let's see I think the S. O. D. S. O. E. Documents really brought it to life and they made things more urgent and more on the...

...ground and more tactical that kind of feel. But one thing that really didn't flip it but enhanced it was researching Elsa Schiaparelli and the fashions of the 19 thirties. Because I had never linked fashion with politics. Fashion as an expression of your worldview fashion as more than what you wore. But how you felt about yourself your image to the world, the world around you? I mean It was incredible. And researching the way she approached fashion and researching her her different collections in the 1930s, that was a whole new level of, I mean, I just thought a sweater and the sweater sweater is not sweater. Yeah, so it was amazing. That was and she's a designer behind and I have a oh my goodness, I have no idea where it is, I have a picture and everybody go look it up. But she was the designer behind the duchess of Windsor's Lobster dress, the capstone of her church, you know, with Salvador Dali designed the lobster. But Elsa schiaparelli was the dresses designer and there's so much great history with the Duchess of Windsor and the abdication of King Edward the eighth and you know, it's all tied together and it's amazing. Yeah. You know, Catherine, I always think it's so interesting to know about the first draft of a book versus the last draft. And, you know, we just heard from Armando about, you know, Finishing a 200,000 word book would make me feel super glad about what you feel better. I know it made me feel way better. But uh, would you talk about that? And and you know, how the first draft and how different or how maybe nothing changed in your final draft, You know, a lot changed. So interesting. The letters had the letters at first were much more exposition and pros, et cetera. And then I realized that I needed to dip in and out of history with the letters and really get people on the ground, so I had to tighten them up. Um and so that was very different and the the past characters really became almost the leading ladies through that process, which shifted the whole narrative also. Um I think what also really changed from draft to draft was making sure that the links between the past and the contemporary storyline were really tight by putting the past in letters and diary entries, they were able to sort of in real time talk to each other and I had to make sure that that communication was two way. Um and you know, they weren't running parallel and so I think that's when I went over it again and again, that's what I was trying to hone those connections, um just to make them really tight, otherwise I kind of felt they might be floating a little bit. It makes sense. I think it's always interesting for our readers to realize that you know, they're not reading first or second. Right? Exactly. And sometimes, I mean, even a point of view changes from the first draft last, but we have something really exciting Sean has found the lobster dress photo Okay, there it is. So I'm gonna tell you real quick about it like this, this is amazing. So the lobster dolly wanted the lobster to snap up at the duchess's private parts, uh paparelli said she absolutely not, and so she got the more, it's a little less aggressive, the fan is that it was her down, but it's still very provocative dress. Now, remember this is 1938 the panel that you see as orange, that is actually transparent for 30 1938. Right? The entire dress weighed less than £1 wow, So thin. So, I mean, almost the whole thing was almost transparent. It was amazing. But now here's a really great picture. A great image. Dolly wanted to slather the entire dress in Manet's, he came to the studio, came to stab Perelli Salon with a massive jar and he threatened to drench the whole thing in Manet's. And there are two reasons we know he didn't do it. Number one step. Really swore she'd never work with him again if you did. And the next year they came out with and this is this is when you read something and you don't hear something the tears dress. So I thought this dress is going to be lighter than this one. It was going to be blue and green and like tears sort of like make a...

...sweater there. But it's not, it's the terrors dress and you can look that one up as well. It is a white silk gown with tears taken out of it with brown and hot pink and red underneath. Like you were tearing through the dress into the woman inside. Oh my God, I just fascinating dresses fascinating time. Anyway there's the lobster dry. I mean that lobster dress and I've heard them Turn before, but I thought, I always thought it meant that it was like the colour, which I think it was more like a pomegranate color than a laptop. It's fascinating. I mean, but that was the thing. And right in 1938, think about 1938, Hitler has already annexed Austria. He, by the end, he's been given the Munich agreement in September 30, which gave him part of Czechoslovakia, the student land. So he's on the move and schiaparelli puts on the biggest party ever for her circus collection. I'm talking whimsy extravagance, acrobats tumbling through her salon windows. I mean, it's just amazing sort of time and the fashions of the time. But what was going on at the time was right about, you know, and sometimes when we're writing historical fiction, we don't, we find out that one little thing. And yeah, the whole thing changes. You know what? My brother is getting married this weekend. So I'm just going to show up with a big jar of mayonnaise for the in case the bride would like to, you know, any last minute touch ups like me don't even recommend. Exactly. So Catherine, thank you so much for joining us tonight if you would not mind sticking around for a few more minutes patty has one additional question for you. Um and I think that our viewers out there might be fascinated to learn something big you and patty heaven commons it's going to be there. But first we want to remind all of you out there to check out our friends and fiction writer's Block podcasts. We always talk about them. You'll have to go check them out. They are just getting better and better and there is so much fun and if you like hanging out with us here you will love being there. A new episode launches every single friday and this past week are Ron block for the Writer's block podcast and kristen talked to James Hunty and Sarah Malinowski about middle grade series authors but this friday mary Kay talks to her agent Stewart Kosowski and I hope I said that right and powerhouse editor pam Doorman of hits like Secret life of bees. They also happen to be married to each other pam and start not mary Kay and story and for any for any of our writers out there this is an absolute must listen, I got an early listen and it is like a master class in what agents and editors look for in their stories. It's a fascinating interview. Thanks. And if you're not hanging out with this yet in the friends, official friends and fiction official book club yet you are missing out the group which is separate from us and is run by our friends lisa Harrison and Brenda Gardner is now nearly 10,000 strong. Yeah, This month. The reading once upon a wardrobe by patty and they'll they'll be discussing that with patty just a few days from now. This Monday the 15th and you've heard about our amazing reading journals right? I mean you have heard about these things. I believe these. Oh so flash flash. I think we have a purpose holding them up to. I am so obsessed with this reading journal. It is there we go. Oh my gosh, I love it. Um it was so gorgeous. It has this blue linen cover and pages to review all your books and I know what I am giving people for christmas. So watch out all of my friends. It pairs perfectly with the book. The inside pages have all these different play. It's not just blanket. Has these amazing places to write, what you're eating, what you think of the book. Yeah, I think Christie designed it along with the folks at Oxford exchange. So yeah, they did such a great job. Okay, so make sure to join us for our next episode of Friends and fiction. Next Wednesday the 17th, right here at seven p.m. Eastern as we celebrate thanksgiving a week early and welcome chef, restaurant owner and author Vivian Howard. Then in two weeks which is thanksgiving week, join us as we welcome Elin Hilderbrand...

And celebrate our 100th episode. Even know how that's possible. We've done 100 episodes. All right. And if you're ever wondering about our schedule, it is always on the fence and fiction website and the fall schedule is on our Facebook banner. And I believe we'll be posting a couple more authors tomorrow on that banner. So you want to be right there on your face. Yeah. Alright, Katherine. We have talked with you before on our podcast about what inspires some of your other books which you say are love letters to books. And I know that both of us have taken a deep dive into C. S. Lewis that have resonated it. So I think that sometimes as writer's there's one theme we return to again and again in our work. And do you see that in your work? I definitely do. Um As you say theme. Yes but also writer um I will tell you that as Armando said earlier that he gets his ideas from reading. You can get them from anywhere in the world, he gets his from meeting so do I. And mostly they come from C. S. Lewis. There's just something the way that he writes his online with how I think. Um And so I mean I mean I can just rattle off if you've ever read of course I am not prepared with like my book. So here, hang on. So lizzie and jane for me this is an actual and exploration of C. S. Lewis's the four loves. But in fiction what would compel someone to put those four loves back in her life. Um And the bronte plot is the great divorce but on this side of heaven everybody's alive. So his themes of uh you know you're in there so logical. There's a wonderful logic to him that resonates with me. And so yes, I've always got hope and redemption and things like that. But I also have that very pragmatic side of me which Lewis speaks to. Oh yeah that's when we first went met when Catherine and I first met we were like okay we're talking about and that's that's a Lewis quote as well. When you look at someone else and you say you two, that's when a friendship begins. Exactly. Alright, Katherine, thank you so much for visiting. Absolutely. Thank you for talking to you and good luck with the London house. Everybody needs to grab this book. It's amazing. Thank you so much. Thank you So bye bye. All right so all of you out there, make sure to stay for our talking Turkey with butter ball after show which I love. I love that. Talking Turkey with butter ball And don't forget that as we approach our 1/100 episode in just two weeks. You can find all of our back episodes on youtube. We are live there every week as well as being live on facebook and if you subscribe on youtube you will not miss a thing. Plus you'll have access to some special short clips. So be sure to come back next week. Same time. Same place as we welcome Vivian Howard, we'll see you in a minute to talk turkey in the after show. Yeah. Mm hmm. I have a video player just thinking since the after show, it's gonna be a price for the first one of us goes up like this, you know, like, like some pomegranate started around it for decoration, you know, quite a little very thanksgiving one. So yeah, I'm giving out a prize for the first time. I think it's gonna christian your sound is um, garble. Oh, is that better back? It was probably just leaning back too much. I'm sorry, I'm so exhausted. I'm just trying to get over the butter ball fantastically. Alright, so I'm mary k where's the turkey hat with pomegranates? I, I yeah, I suspect she'll be the first, I don't know. Don't count me out though. All right, so mary Kay told you earlier in the show tonight that we've partnered with butter ball for the next two months to talk turkey, so to speak. So this year, butter ball is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Turkey talk line. The turkey talk line which, you know, we probably all remember kind of comes up every thanksgiving, right? It started as just a phone line, but now they have a website and a facebook page and you guys, they're on instagram and Tiktok, right? Like it's not an important talk line is I know butter ball is way cooler than I am alright, of course we all know we can call in with last minute questions on thanksgiving day but what I didn't know is they're actually open from the beginning of november through the end of december. So if you have any turkey questions at all about, you know, can you defrost a chicken or a chicken to defrost a turkey, you know for for a...

...year, can you do this? Can you do that? Like how to defrost? If you have questions you can find it on their website now or you can call into the talk line and you know the time for Turkey remains after thanksgiving all december and you know we're gonna be talking lots about other things you can do with Turkey to in november december. But anyhow if you have turkey questions, give them a call, check out their website and you know it's listed right there, but if you forget to write it down, you can just google it or you can go to butter ball dot com and there's a little link right in the top, pretty easy to be so cool, I cannot believe that we're two weeks from thanksgiving. I mean it was just March and we were talking about having savannah were like talking about Turkey and I mean you guys know I am not the chef or the cook of this, happy for some of us of friends and fiction but my mother in law is a gourmet chef. A literal gourmet chef got the gourmet chef um piece of paper that says that you are. And when we first got married I thought I'm going to try really hard to be a really good cook. And then I realized that I was never going to be a gourmet cook. So I just thought now I'm a passable cook. Sometimes you just don't don't write cook. You are a very good cook. I'm raising your meals, your scrambled eggs and those gluten free biscuit. I'm good at. It's oh my goodness, this taco bowls, you made us basketball. That's true. But I have no idea about the turkey talk line, literally no idea. And I bet I'm in charge of thanksgiving this year and I got a call it. So yeah, I like it. How about Kathy, what are you doing for thanksgiving? I'm cooking a turkey. Okay, now here do you do it every year? Uh Yeah, yeah. Now Tom is usually the in charge of the turkey. Tom turkey. Get that tom turkey. Uh So he is usually in charge of that and I am usually in charge of the sides and the deserts and um so we usually have extended family come. Our nephews and their wives and families come and um my daughter Katie and son in law, Mark and the kids and I hope my son Andy and his gang will be here this year. We will, we will see. But yeah and uh tom every year he tries something different like he's been, he's been brining for the last few years, you know the whole Martha Stewart thing where yeah and you put it in ice and do all this stuff. Um but I actually, I bought a, I bought a butterball turkey breast this week because I thought you know, I'm gonna, I'm gonna cook one of those ahead of time. Oh that's so smart. You know what? I'm totally stealing that idea. I'm told it because I'm panicked that the one I ordered isn't big enough for for all of us getting together and maybe I should have genius. You're a genius. Yeah. And you know what I like to do um One of my friend's mother's movie taught me to do the oven roasting bag. Yes, simple. It's a turkey breast is genius every time. Well I don't do y'all enrich my life, Make me right at seven a.m. And do my pages Now. You're saving my thanksgiving kristen how was California? It was so good. It was such a whirlwind. It was just, it was four days. I feel like it was like meeting, meeting, meeting, meeting, meeting speaking engagements. Speaking engagement meeting, meeting meeting like that's how it went, but it was all good. I got to see some old friends and you know I had to really great speaking engagements with um both of them were with Martha hall kelly and alka joshi who is fantastic and then Susan Meissner moderated one of them too so it was just really good to see them and um it was fun Kathy mary Kay, did she do panels with someone else? I cheated on you guys? Sorry, sounds like what you're saying. I'm just saying for another word. She paneled with someone else. So the serial panel er gosh she's a charter and a panel er did my mother teach me no manners charting and all over the place you were in Tybee, how is that? Um it was so cold and rainy, you know um I had a signing at my friend Susan shop at seaside Sisters...

...and um we knew that they were going to be king tides uh this past weekend so uh friday um they put out an alert, the weather service put out an alert that the tides would be so high they would cover highway 80. There's only one road on and off Tybee island and that's us 80 and so we were, you know, kind of freaking out but It was cold, it was rainy, it was windy but um the tie did not cover us 80 on Saturday. It did, however, on Sunday so I and I was going to meet you at palmetto bluff. So I had to wait um no, it was monday, no sunday I had to wait until after one sunday because the road was covered and closed. I mean it was such a crazy rain Mary Kay and I were both down there rain. I'm not kidding you. I think it rained for 29 straight hours. Oh wow Pat and I kept looking at each other about every hour we'd go it's still raining. Oh my goodness still raining. Yeah. Are that it was raining so hard that night I had Halloween candy for dinner. I'm just gonna go get that as one does. I said oh I could go out and get take out or I could just you know eat some Halloween candy that works. That works too. I don't need a rainstorm to eat Halloween can. Speaking of weird weather when I was in L. A. It was really foggy and I was staying on the 18th floor of a hotel and I woke up in the morning and like eagerly you know tore the curtain back to see my sweeping view of L. A. And I literally couldn't see anything. Like it was like the fog was that dense. It was so weird. It was like uh it was like being inside of like a big white blanket but like it felt very claustrophobic. I've never really experienced it like that before. Kristin texted me a picture out her window. I said you're no pardon? It was like look you're right it was weird. I forgot I showed you that you're in a milk carton. Oh we're fine playing off having adventures out in the world. Crazy. Oh, it felt weird. It felt it was my first time on a plane in almost two years, but but once I got there it felt it felt pretty normal. And this week you are headed off to your brother's wedding. Yeah, he's getting married in Hawaii, which will be my first time there. That's going to be really exciting. Well, we're gonna miss you. I'm sorry, I'm gonna miss the show next week. It's going to be so strange not to be with you ladies, but well guess what? Everyone, we have a surprise guest host next week because Kristen's not there. I'm going up to see who our surprise guest host is. You'll be right. Yeah, and Patty, you have something going on this weekend, You have something going on, right? I know, I just get to go, I'm going to Auburn to see my son. Okay, this is kind of uh because this is my, you know, we're all we've been talking a lot about last lately because meg, you know, is going through some last with her son, graduating from high school. This is my last home game with my son in college at Auburn University. So we're going down to watch Auburn beat Mississippi State and um spend time with my senior college son. It's the last home game. Oh that's that's awesome. That's bittersweet, but that's awesome. Yeah. Alright, y'all this was a great. I love doubleheaders. Yeah, it was great. Yeah, we're talking about Turkey. I'm hungry. I know. I'm just tired. You know, I was going to tell you have had like the travel, wow, we've got to leave so early for the airport tomorrow. I think my head's already spinning. And you know, like when you have a flight in the morning, sometimes you just don't sleep that well. You know, like if you're worrying about it, I just know that's going to be tonight for me, but I'm always afraid like the battery on my phone is gonna do the alarm isn't gonna go off totally. So I wake up and I check like two a.m. And then my husband, he insists we however, what time you think you should get to the airport? Tom always think we have to get there another hour earlier. Yeah, that's how I am. I'm the tom in our relationship. You know, sleep at the airport. Let's say let's go and let's just stay in the airport. We're gonna we're gonna call you tom the turkey from now on. All right. Speaking of I gotta go get some supper. All right. All right. All right tonight, everybody. Thank you for tuning in. You can join us every week on Facebook or YouTube...

...where our live show airs on Wednesday nights at seven p.m. eastern time. Also subscribe to our podcast and follow us on instagram, we're so glad you're here.

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