Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 2 years ago

Friends and Fiction with Brit Bennett


Brit Bennett joins the Friends & Fiction authors to talk about the stunning smash success of her novel THE VANISHING HALF. Hear about her background, her inspiration for this incredible story, and her reaction to news of the HBO adaptation of her work.

Welcome to friends and fiction. Five best selling authors, Endless Stories, Friends and Fiction is a podcast with five bestselling novelist whose common love of reading, writing an independent bookstores found them together with jets, author interviews and fascinating insider talk about publishing and writing. Thes friends discuss 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. Bestselling novelist Mary Kay Andrews, Christine Harmel, Christie Woodson, Harvey Patty Callahan, Henry and Mary Alice Munro are five longtime friends with more than 80 published books. To their credit at the Start of the Pandemic, they got together for a virtual happy hour to talk about their books, their favorite bookstores writing, reading and publishing in this new, uncharted territory. They're still talking, and they've added fascinating discussions with other bestselling novelists, so join them live on their friends and fiction Facebook Group page every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern, or listen and view later at your leisure. Hi and welcome to Friends and Fiction, our weekly Facebook live show featuring author chats in support of independent bookstores, were so happy to see you here and wait. You may be wondering who exactly I mean by we were supposed to be five of us, right? Ladies, are you there? Ladies, ladies, eso That's better. As you can see, we're together. Actually, four of the five of us air together in person for the first time, practicing social distancing with the exception of Mary Alice, who has a family emergency and will hopefully be dropping in later this week. So let's begin. We'll be talking about that in just a second. So I'm Christine Harmel and my next book is the Forest of Vanishing Stars. Coming July 6th. I'm Christi Woodson, Harvey, and my next book is Under the Southern Sky. Coming April 20th. I'm Patty Callahan and my next book is Surviving Savannah and Comes Out on March 9th And I'm Mary Alice Munro and my summer book is the Summer of Lost and Found Coming out May 11th. But I'm Mary Kay Andrews, and my next book is the Newcomer out May 4th and this is friends and fiction. Welcome everyone. Now I'm gonna give these ladies just a minute to get back to their own computers. So as you can see tonight is a very special night here on friends and fiction. Not only do we have a number one New York Times best selling author Brit Bennett on, but like I said, four of the five of us are all together in one place collectively for the first time. So, Mary Alice, we miss you. We wish you could be here to We're really hoping that you could make it to join us in just a couple of days because it's obviously not complete without you were five, right? You should be here. So we want you all to know we all took a rapid Covad test before coming. We have assigned seats in the house and hand sanitizer and Lysol everywhere. We're keeping masks on and keeping at least 6 ft between us, and we have a whole list of other precautions to. In short, we're not taking this lightly, and we know that none of you are at home either, and that we all seem fine. We're keeping our distance from each other while we're here, just in case, which is pure agony, because all we want to do is hung from all repeatedly but this virus is serious stuff, and we're serious about not taking any chances. But they were. There were about a million decisions we all needed to make for the future of friends and fiction for the future of this show, for the future of everything we're doing together. And we couldn't wait any longer. Eso let me just tell you briefly about our our bookstore this week, and then we will introduce our amazing guest, who I know you're all very excited to see. We're so excited to talk to her. So named for historical heroin. Harriet Tubman Harriets Bookshop in Philadelphia is our bookstore of the week. Harriet is an independent bookstores celebrating female authors, artists and activists. They have set up a special page for us on their bookshop dot com storefront, which feature features a built in 10% discount. So head to our Facebook page to find that link under announcements, you can get all of our recent books, plus Brit Bennett's two incredible books, The Vanishing Half and the Mothers. Alright, so ladies, before we bring Brit on and before we do our introduction of her, I wanted to just talk a little bit about being together for the first time. And you know, Mary Kay, why don't you start by telling us where we are telling? Telling all the viewers out there where we are today. And then we'll talk a little bit about what has surprised us about being together. Yeah, we are at, um, my family's beach house on Tybee Island.

It's ebb tide. It's Ah, circa 1932 beat up Old Beach Cottage. But it's it's big enough for all of us and and for all of us, a social distance. So we are thrilled that everybody could make it here. Absolutely. So Mary Kay, do you want to start by talking about maybe one thing that surprised you about all of us being together here for the first time? I was. Well, the first thing was that so much wine got carried into the O Christie. That's got your name on it. I think, Uh oh. Was it ever my goodness. But their eyes keep a social lubricant hair. Another thing is, you know, I've known Mary, Alice and Patty for a long time and and I had met Christie, but never met. Kristin. Isn't that crazy? I know in person. But anyway, when Chris when Christie got here, we're like, Wow, you're taller than we thought. That was the number one big surprise. E Could I get that a lot, Which I think is like, I don't know why that's funny. Well, and I always get your shorter than I thought. Christie, what's one thing that surprised you about us being altogether? Oh, gosh. It just It feels very normal. You know, I think I was surprised how it just feels like this is what we're always doing. And I was thinking it would feel a little stranger than it did, but it's felt like Oh, yeah, here we are, normal, But I totally agree. Completely seamless. Like like I've hung out with you guys hundreds of times before. It's so where you have e No, this is like the new normal right episode. Is this y'all? Oh, I don't know. That's a good question, Thirtysomethings. I think it's gotta be well, yeah, boy will in a minute. Yeah. Patty, how about yo 30 on this episode 31? That's amazing. So, Patty, how about you? What was one thing that surprised you about the end together? Um I knew I was really the whole time I was driving here. I was just so happy. I was like, Oh, gosh. Finally. And I think what surprised me when I got here was I had this immense sense of relief, not something I expected. But just this relief that it finally worked out and we were finally doing it. And maybe in that sense of relief that that things will slowly start to change over the next few months. You know, test hurts. I know e. R on the inside of my right geared up my brain still hurts. Like I'm like, What are you digging for? Like exactly a sense of relief that maybe time changing and we're not always going to be. I mean, we're always going to be here for you, all on the computer. But maybe there's a time we can slowly start toe also be together. Yeah, you're right. It feels like we might hopefully be moving in the right direction eventually. Mary Alice, how about you? You're not with us right now. We're hoping you could make it down on Friday. What do you look most looking forward to about spending being you I feel that. You know, I feel that that I'm so far away and I'm so grateful everyone should know that everyone in this room was so supportive of me when I had a little trouble at home, and I really it means a lot. So it doesn't have to be in person. I feel your love and I it means a lot. Poor Mary Alice is gonna be stuck behind your computer all day tomorrow, zooming into our in person e for the world. We're gonna be sitting around in our individual chairs with our individual masks. And Mary Alice is going to be in our screen. E Yeah, I'm looking forward to every minute. All right, everyone, we have an incredible guest backstage, and I don't want to make her wait any longer. So let me tell you a little bit about the wonder that is Brit Bennett. So Britt is the author of 2016, The Mothers and, of course, one of this summer's biggest hits, The Vanishing Half. The New York Times called the book gorgeously written and an ambitious meditation on race and identity. And boy, is it ever. I will let Britt tell you about the book in a moment, but I know many of you have read it and felt profoundly moved by it, as I did, I think, is all of us did. It's the story of twin sisters who are black, one of whom decides as a young adult toe, let the world believes she's white and whose own husband doesn't know anything about her past. But it's so much more than that to it's a story about how our past influence, who we become and about how the choices we make shape our lives. One of the things that fascinated me about it is that it's a very specific story that at the same time feels like a very universal one in Brits capable hands, and I think that's quite a feat.

So in addition to becoming a number one New York Times bestseller over the summer, the vanishing half was also a Good Morning America Book Club pick, and it was long listed for a National Book Award. This is a book that is both elevated and accessible at the same time, and it truly became a part of the national conversation this year, so born and raised in Southern California. Brit graduated from Stanford University and later earned her Emma and Fiction at the University of Michigan, Where she wanna hop would award in graduate short fiction. In 2014, she received the Hurston Wright Award for college writers. And in 2016, her debut novel, The Mothers, which The New York Times called bittersweet, sexy, morally fraught, made its New York Times List debut. So without further ado, let's welcome Brit Bennett's welcome welcome. Thank you. Um, yeah, thanks for joining us. If only you could be here with us in person to that way, are so thrilled you're here. We all have so many questions for you. But before we get started, would you tell us a little bit about the vanishing half? The book that everyone has been talking about since this summer? Oh, yeah, yeah, it's a story of these twin sisters who live very diverging lives on. But it was kind of sparked from a conversation with my mother about a town that she remembered hearing about growing up in Louisiana and assume she told me the story about this town and immediately struck me as the opening or the Genesis for a novel. Mm, That's awesome. Um, Mary Alice, did you wanna ask your question? I do. We You know, first of all, I have to just tell you there aren't a lot of books. When you read the extensions, you just stop and have to re read the sentence. It was just so beautifully done. But what really interested me was the town of Mallard. You know, for everyone who has not yet. I don't know if there are many of you out there who haven't yet read the book, but it is this town, a small southern town where black people live, who are very light skinned, and they intention is to remain light. And I thought it was really interesting to bring out that racial identity question with that, you know, amongst the blacks, I think it's, uh it's a part of history that I'm not sure everyone's aware of. And you did such a good job bringing it out through this town. And number one. The question was, I googled it. I couldn't find such a town. Is there such a child in the United States? And if so, tell me about it. And if not what inspired you to create such a town. And the town absolutely influenced the characters. One went away. Desiree Stella didn't come back. So it involved there. Characterizations. Can you talk about the importance of the town in the whole novel and doesn't exist? Eso No, not that is represented in the book, but yeah, it was sparked by the time that my mother remembered hearing about as a child on, uh, eso originally, it kind of arrived to me is sort of. It felt like a myth. It didn't feel like a real place. Uh, because it wasn't a place that she said she had been. It was just something she had heard about growing up in Louisiana s. Oh, no, it doesn't exist. But I was able to draw on some actual, uh, sort of historical research for similar towns this small, insular Kriel communities in Louisiana that were very color conscious, although maybe not to the extent that it isn't a book. So they did exist. Color conscious communities. I knew naturally that was a big issue. But I didn't realize that there was a town. So is so that you made up the town. How did that influence Desiree the twins, Disarray and Stella. Yeah. So the town came first, which is not normally the way that I write, but the town came first. And as soon as I thought about the idea of this town that was obsessed with lightness and getting lighter, I thought about the idea of there being twin sisters who come from that town and decide to react to the values of that town in two very different ways. One who decides Thio go in the opposite direction and she not only wants to remain black, but she marries a man who is very dark on the other one who decides to go in the complete opposite direction decides to actually become a white woman. So to me that those characters kind of emerged from the town. And the idea of this town being so strange and peculiar and oriented around this very specific value of prising lightness above anything else on what it means for these two sisters to come from that same place but decided to react to the values of that town in very different ways. The same town and the same mother who had very strong feelings about it, too. Yeah. Quinn's kind of raised questions of nature versus nurture pretty naturally. Eso the idea of them being raised the same way, witnessing the same central traumatic events growing up and one really rejecting the values of the town and the other one becoming complicit...

...and kind of furthering. Right. And that was the surprise, wasn't it? With Stella. Thank you. Yeah. You know, your book was one of the ones really at the center of the national conversation. We're all having about race. But I've read this great quote from you saying I'm not an educator. I'm just telling a story about these people in their choices. So it's strange to be swept up in this discourse. Can you talk a little bit about that? What that experience has been like for you? Yeah. I mean, I think it's been strange. I don't have any more eloquent way of putting it. Um, you know, I think I was working on this book for four or five years. I did not forsee that the moment in which I was publishing the book would be kind of the week that the protests over George Ford's murder really ramped up eso I didn't interest rate that the whole point in which I was writing the book. You know it's not. It's not as if that moment emerged from nowhere. So full point in which I was writing the book thes things were happening thes types of murders and these types of protests were happening the whole time. So it doesn't it didn't feel sort of, you know, it felt strange that this was the lens in which the book was being read. Andi, I think beyond that I, you know, I think the anti racist reading list, uh, you know, there were lots of books on their written by educators and historians and people whose job is to explain, and that's not what I dio. I'm not somebody I don't I don't have answers, and I'm not particularly interested in providing them. I think that for me, it's always about pursuing the most interesting question, and I think this book, it's just about questions. It's a while questions that I was trying to figure out and eso it was strange, I think, to see the book kind of swept up in books that alongside books that are meant to provide answers because that's just not what I am capable of and not what I'm interested in. That's really it's interesting that you think that there are books that actually seek to provide answers that are fiction. No, not even necessarily fiction. I think, like how to be an anti racist, you know, these other books that were like, I think, like that whole kind of anti racist reading list emerging. Uh, there's something you know, to see, to see, eye to see my book read alongside that just felt very strange because again, like Dr Kindy is an educator, he's, you know, he's an academic. I am not eso so yeah, I mean, I think it's It was strange, I think, in a lot of ways, and even for the book to be read in a contemporary way, it was strange, because again, the events in the book take place decades ago. I never thought, Oh, this book is going to come out. People are gonna think it's really relevant. You know what? I know what I imagined writing it so it was all very strange, I think, to experience the book being read against this much larger moment and how relevant it is today. Still, Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So, Christie, um, speaking of just the immense popularity in the book I know you had a question to Yes, I dio and I do. I have to, like, you know, put my hat in the ring to of just saying I was so well by the story. And I was in sort of. I was kind of having a book hangover, like I just finished. A couple of books were so fantastic, and I just kept picking things up. Nothing was really the right thing. And then I picked up the vanishing happened. I just could not put it down. It was just exquisite. So which obviously everyone else felt that way, too, Because the film rights sold to HBO after a wild auction featuring 17 bitters. You know that I'm telling you, e o telling you all the other things about your e. Can you tell us what it was like for you to go through that? And then is there anything you can tell us about the plans for the book on screen or for plans for the film version of the mothers, which is being developed by Kerry Washington. And another thing we're telling you. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it was as well as you can imagine. It was just lots of calls. Way just did it all on phone. But we don't even have, like, the zoom. So just a lot of very chaotic phone calls with a lot of people just trying to talk and on these calls. And, you know, I think it was surreal. It was. It kind of happened all at once. It felt like where we started, have a few people who wanted to talk to us. And then the next thing you knew, it was five. When it was 10, that was 15 on. Do you know, everybody was interested in, was really enthusiastic, was really passionate about the book and was really excited about it. So it became so much larger than I think. We anticipate the type of interest that we received, but I was really thrilled. Tow Land, HBO. I just think that they make such great television on bond. Yeah, it's exciting to imagine that this would be like as a limited Siri's there. Um, I don't really have any other updates to be honest. We are still assembling the...

...creative team surrounding it. So I'm not adapting. But we're getting the writers together together. We're getting the producers together and all of that right now. So nothing has happened beyond that stage right now on Daz, where the mothers, Honestly, I have no idea. I loathe, you know, the last I knew they. So they're still, you know, they're still excited. They're still working on it. But that's the last of heard. So that is completely at the mercy of the development God's at this point. But it's exciting. Regardless, Thio have that type of interesting to imagine the books translated into a different form. It's fun. Yeah, absolutely. Congratulations. That's very cool. Thank you. Mary Kay. Did you have a question? I do. But it's not the question I planned to ask. E like it. So, you know, keeping us on our toes right now. Join us a curveball. I think your earlier I was listening to the audio when I was driving down from Atlanta to Tybee. And when I heard the character of early when you first introduce him, he is, um, sharing fruit with Desiree who? He kind of has a crush and he's a teenager, and somewhere in there, too, you have the really devastating seen where the girls basically are listening in on their father's lynching. And I kept thinking about strange fruit. You know, the big the Billie Holiday song. Did any of that did that influence your or am I just making connections that don't exist? You know, that was not I have to say that wasn't a connection that I personally made, Um, but I think that is like a really interesting reading of that. I think, Yeah, I I think the early stuff. I enjoyed writing because I think that there is something. There's a lot of it in the two scenes that you have described, I think speak to impart some of the duality within this book, which is other moments of really intense brutality. But I think there's also these moments of sweetness, and I think that's seen of him courting disarray by bringing her this route. And that's kind of all. He's not somebody who has really much to give her, but that's what he can give her Onda. There's something about that that I think it was really sweet and on Enjoyable. I think for me to write toe have those moments of sweetness and those moments of people showing love and showing care to each other amidst this backdrop of brutality and a violence that exists within this world around them. Yeah, I keep thinking about the description of her with the blueberries in her hand, you know? And she scatters them when her mother shows up and, you know, basically chases early away. Yeah. I wonder if that was, like, a subconscious thing. If you'd ever like I don't know. I don't know about you, but as a writer for me, lots of times I write things. And then later I find out that somehow subconsciously, I've absorb something. Yeah. I mean, that could be true. Yeah, I think so. I mean, I never knew what strange fruit, you know. The big Billie Holiday song was until I read something about that. It's about a lynching. Yeah. Yeah, It's a very haunting song. Yeah, he is. Okay. I wasn't supposed to ask you that question, but I did anyway. No Interesting question. That's awesome. Patty, do you? Would you like to ask you a question? Bread? I have to tell you I have total writer envy. Um, the way that you can dip in and out of time is nothing short of masterful. Um, you dip so close, we can smell the blackberries in her T shirt, and then you rise up and fly back to the ease of time and space. And while I was reading and listening because this is one of those books that I got the book and the audio. So while I've been reading and listening, I kept wondering about your background. Um, and we have this question that we ask every week to people. And I wanted to ask it of you, which is what were the values around reading and writing in your household when you were growing up? And how do you think that shaped not only you as a writer, but its story. Yeah, that's an interesting question. I mean, I think that I feel I feel fortunate. A lot of ways that I mean, I think my mom will first, I'll say my... was a big reader and is still the big reader in my house s. Oh, my mom was really the person who kind of instilled that into me. Uh, my interest in books. Um, and you know, I grew up experiencing books, is a form that was very free, Like my parents did not care what I read at all they they didn't like, you know, they were kind of judgy about music with the cussing, and they didn't really let us watch, like, rated r movies, and they were kind of like they would censor that a little bit, But with the books, they did not know what I was reading. They didn't really care. They were just kind of glad I was reading. Um, my older sister worked at the library, so she was just like my hookah, like I would get so many books through her or whenever she was done reading them, I would read them because she didn't have, like, you know, she just cleared her own late fines so she way could just like she was cleared herself was late. So yes, eso And she was like, my, like, my book plug that I went thio and that was how I got so many books was either through her or the books that my parents just had on the shelf that I read, Uh, and that was really important to me. I think it's supplemented the books that I read in school, which were not particularly books that I was interested in. So eso it was a lot of it was the books that my parents had on the shelf, and they have a lot of Cem classic books or the books that I read the library, which was just like anything that I wanted to read because my parents didn't monitor or censor. It s so I think that that's that's that was important to me. Was having books be a place of absolute freedom, and my sister was working at the library, would tell me about people like parents who would come in and have to look through their Children's books before allowing them. E. I just remember always thinking like Oh, that's awful because there were a lot of books I've read that I should not have been reading. E think it's important for that to be a space that can be private and can be free for you as a person who's growing up and to me that that's an association that I have with reading and stone writing. What did your sister think about you? Now that your library in sister the one who survived? Now that you're a great author, what does she think? I mean, yeah, she's I mean, my whole family is very supportive. My sister has probably been to the most of my like, zoom events out of anybody. She goes that way, she could go Thio. Yeah, that was that was so important to me that have, uh, you know, my direct line Thio the library was just I just asked her like, Hey, can you get me this? And she would always be able to, like, bump me up to the front of the line to get the way subverted the system and a lot of ways to do that. But your focus like number 400 on the way e No, right, Exactly. That her being the vanishing half, she was like, You're book thief, e. I love that question so much because I we find these little peeks into the writers that we become to this little tiny lens that we don't talk about that much. But that is fascinating. And probably all of those books that you read that might not have been allowed, like, snuck their way into who you are today. It's fascinating. Was there one? Was there one book that you remember? Your sister hooked you up with that? You were just like, Yeah, this is it. This is my jam. You know, it's hard because I remember I would read like a lot of different romance novels on I remember, like enjoying, Remember enjoying this was like my parents were not going toe have romance novels. I just wasn't what they had on the show. So I remember reading some of those I don't really. I just remember the thing that I miss about how I used to read as a kid was that I read so widely, like, you don't you're not like a snob when you're a kid, you don't have any type. Of least I wasn't so maybe some people were, but I just read so widely. I read everything I read. Wyatt read romance. I read mystery and read whatever I wanted to read, I had no sense of I. Well, I don't like science fiction or I don't like, you know, I didn't have any sense of eso. I just remember just reading so widely and often reading things that she had finished and kind of passed on to me if she was done with it. But just reading so widely and yeah, in that space of of not being judgmental and just being free to read whatever. Like I that's the That's the feeling. I think I continue Thio chases an adult, but it's hard because you know you develop preferences or you kind of put yourself in boxes sometimes of what types of things you like and what types of things you don't. If we could yes, give that Teoh every kid, Brett, right,...

...that feeling of being able to go into a library and choose that third enter without sensitive. Yeah, I think of all the world's that would be opened. You're absolutely yeah, eso as you all out there. No, one of the reasons we do this is to support independent bookstores. Um, and as we mentioned, we have a great one this week. Mary Kay. Did you want to tell us a little bit about the bookstore of the week? Yes, it's Harriets bookstore, and it is Brit, where is this bookstore thinks in Philly. That's why I grew up in Philly. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, Harriets bookstore is the indie bookseller of the week. You can see the link to it, and they are going to give us a discount. Yep. They have 10 10% off at on their bookshop dot org's page. Um, and, uh, you know, I really like this. When when she opens the owners a woman named Janine Cook, and when she opened the store earlier this year, she described her store to Philadelphia magazine as if black girl magic were a bookshop. Eso it's really become from what I've read, a very magical place. Andi, They're kind of extending this magic thio you by offering these books with this 10% discount. So the link is up on her friends and fiction page, and I'm just realizing I need to pin it to the top again. But I will do that a soon as the show is over. Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you purchase $50 worth of books that you're going to get a free a really nice book bag, and you're also going to get a really nice feeling that you supported an indie bookstore, which is really something that we feel very strongly about. Absolutely. Thank you. That's perfect. Okay, so now the four of us had a chance to ask for it. Some questions, and now we would love to let you do the same. So we've chosen to from among the questions on our Facebook page, and we would love to let Britt answering with them. And then we'll ask a couple of live questions, too. So, Mary Alice, do you want to start us off? I do. I have the very first one. And this question is from Emily Hampson, who says she just finished reading the vanishing half. And she says, I would love to hear from Brit Which sister storyline was more challenging to write or did both evolve fluidly throughout the drafting process? It's a good question. Um, yeah. Wow. E think they both presented their own challenges in different ways. Um, but I think overall, I think I have to say, Stella, I think that's Stella's. E knew going into it that Stella was going to be. Well, maybe I shouldn't say. I knew I assumed going into it that Stella would be there character that readers would be most resistant. Thio. Um, I don't know that that's true. That z No, I can't. I haven't gotten that vibe overwhelmingly that people hate Stella. Some people have told me that they hate Stella, but it hasn't been like that is the consensus. But I thought going into it, people might hate Stella. So I knew that there was going to be a challenge of not making this character likable, but just making her choices understandable like I wanted. You do understand why she was doing what she was doing. Even if you didn't like her S o. I knew that that was kind of some heavy lifting that I would have to do with writing. Stella was just making her choices. Ledge a ble, uh, and I think in a context and in a time and a place in which people might find it hard to understand, Why would she do this? So So I knew that going into it and then beyond that, just her as a character, she's a very interior character. She's very guarded, She's very secretive, and I think those types of characters could be really difficult to represent what they're thinking, what they're feeling, cause they're not going to just tell you, you know, so on a lot of ways, I think her story was really challenging and knew that she would be this character that was kind of missing. Like in the beginning of the book, she its's the absence of Stella. That kind of drives the book forward s So there's a lot of pressure on Stella even in her absence that she has to do a lot of work in the book. So I knew that there was a lot of a lot of pressure trying to get Stella right on. But I think that that that was probably why I think she felt more difficult. Thio There was just more for her to do in the book that that was also challenging for them. That thank you, absolutely. Patty, would you like to ask a reader question too? Yes, This question is for Morgan Bowen, and I'm going to combine it with a question of my own, because that's how I am. But she's wondering why you chose this toe end the story at the point you did she? I'm not going to give a spoiler, but she said she was left wanting more in a very good way. Which kind of leads me into Will there be a sequel? Uh, my addition to the people, the vast, the questions. Yeah, I mean, probably not. But I do think that there is space in...

...the Siri's, maybe to go beyond the book and in some ways that are interesting Thio eso. But again, I'm not going to be writing it, so that's not up to me this point. But there were some interesting ideas that have been floated about ways to go beyond the scope of the book, that air exciting to me. I think so. Maybe that will make some of the questions people have. But yes, that question where the book lands, I think endings are impossible. I usually know where I want to begin, something I never know where I wanna end. Eso I think things are impossible and I think this book it was particularly challenging because they were all of these different relationships and they all kind of ended at different points. There wasn't one feeling of like you like the season finale where everybody gathers in the bar. There's not a moment there's not a moment like that In the book on there was like an obvious possibility that presented itself when there's an event that happens at the end. But but that felt so neat and convenient, and I just kind of resisted that eso I think for me the challenge of is there's all of these kind of cascading endings throughout the book. But to me, that was what I understand the way in which that maybe is not as narratively satisfying as the gang gathering in a bar together. But to me, it felt more like, really, oh, felt more like yeah, felt more like real life like That's what happens is people kind of lose touch of different ways or you say goodbye to people of different points or you lose them. It's some other moment to me that felt that felt more real in truth, the book S O in that way, and I think also thinking about that. I knew that I wanted to land with Jude because I think that Jude is a character who eyes, you know, she's one of the first characters you meet. She's the character who box onto the page in the first paragraph of the book and her arrival to Mallard that causes a lot of controversy and causes things whole town to kind of be, uh, freaking out, that there's a stark skin child arrived to this town. That's what happens in the opening of the book. So landing with her also felt right. Thio kind of create that circle and and also to create. To me, there was something hopeful about the ending the book. Maybe people are going to read it that way. But to me, I felt there was something hopeful toe leave you with that next generation you've seen. You've seen what has happened in this previous generation and all of the choices that people have made all the complications of that. But to leave you looking ahead to that next generation, to me felt like felt like a moment of hope that maybe it will be different this time. And I think that's that's all you can really offer and all you can really believe in. I love it. It's so beautiful. Yeah, I love that. You said cascading endings. Yeah, it was a really good I'm going to write that down cascading e Refer to the happy ending Big dinner party at the end. I actually much prefer, so I e thank you. Yeah, my son Christie, did you want to pull a live question? Yes. I'm sorry. I'm leaning at Patty has, like, really amazing eyes. I got really amazing glasses, so No, I love this question. This is from Linda Stanko, their arm or characters and the sisters who have a vanishing half. Do you see, all of us is having a side that we try to deny. I love that. That's a great question. Question e think I mean, probably I think I think a lot of us dio I think for me so much of the question driving this novel was about how we become who we are and how we become the people that we ultimately are and who and what part of us ourselves. We we change in order to do that, or we deny in order to do that or leave bond. Andi, I think that there's so many of these kind of shadow Selves that we have a different people on different timeline. I would have gone toe law school or in a different timeline, I would have done whatever I would have stayed in California. Whatever it is, we all have these these parts of ourselves that we leave behind at some point, Um, in order to become somebody else and we kind of eso to me so much of this book was about exploring that and exploring thes lives not lived, but also thes thes transformations in the ways in which they could be very liberating. And also, they could be painful and how we exist within that duality of changing in a way that kind of freeze you. But also sometimes morning what you left behind. Mm. Wow. Points. Yeah. Um, So, Britt, this is also interesting. And, um, as all of you out there,...

...probably no. On every friends and fiction episode, we try to give you a writing tip for all the aspiring writers out there. But I think that tonight the five of us are all really eagerly waiting to hear what you have because we're all in. You know, I think we just all a Z obviously, as writers ourselves, we have a lot of respect for the writing you're doing. Can you can you share with us a rating? Tim. Tonight? Yeah, the writing tip I have is a very small one, and it's not particularly original, but something that has helped me, I think particularly writing during this pandemic, when it is often difficult to focus. Um, part of what's helped me really is when I've finished writing for the day, I try to write one or two sentences into the next thing that I'm going to write, whether that's the next section, the next chapter, the next paragraph, I give myself a two sentence head start heading into the next day onto me. That's been so helpful because there's truly nothing more intimidating than sitting down to write and staring at a blank page. Eso. When you give yourself that little head start, you take away the stress of staring at that blank page. Even if it's something that you wake up the next morning and you don't like where that was going, you want to go a different direction. It's just psychologically so helpful to have something on the page when you're starting, and it's also, I think, so much easier when you're already in the rhythm of writing Thio do an extra two sentences than when you're sitting down, and now you have to create that from nowhere. Eso that's been something that I've been really trying to do is just when I find myself reaching a stopping point instead of stopping at the end of that chapter and being like getting that feeling of completion that you finish something that's such a good rush and I enjoy it. But I tried that myself. Stop there and push myself into the okay, what air to such insists toward tomorrow. And then I stopped there because I think that it's psychologically is just helpful to not be intimidated by that blank page sent a really good idea because you do get intimidated the next morning with the blank page over and over again. Yes, anything it takes so much longer to start like you may take an hour to write two pages that two sentences that next day, where you could have done the two sentences that day because you're just kind of in the rhythm of doing it. I think it's just starting cold. It's a lot harder than once you've been going, I'll tell you, but I've been doing this for a long time, but I haven't done that. But I think I'll try. Great tip. Um, Brick, That makes me wonder. Do you outline or do you just sit down and go? You just have so many interesting interconnecting storylines. Kind of wondering how you juggle them. Thank you. I don't outline. I have a very, um, inefficient writing, which is just following wherever the story leads me. And, yeah, just dealing with the fallout later. So it's not like I wouldn't recommend my process to anybody e, but I finally like i Finally, this new thing I'm working on, I finally started using a timeline of just, like events. You'd be surprised that, you know, it's helpful to know where you are in time and to know what things have happened. Or are there other things? Who knew? Yeah. Timelines are my nemesis. You're laughing because this is so related. This is yeah. Every book I'm like, uh, what year was it again? Maybe down e called the problem story. Math? Yeah, E o. Definitely all of us. Right Words. And don't deal with numbers. Exactly. Can you tell us anything about what you're working on now. Yeah, I want to say it's still very early, but it's about singers. It's a book about these two singers who have a lifelong feud. Uh, a fun book. I mean, it's yeah, it's a fun book to write about music, and it's fun, Teoh, right into this world that is very larger than life. And also to ride into a world that's very different than are socially distanced world right now thinking about parties and concerts and those types of things, it's been it's been a lot of fun. Thio Spend my time working on that book. Zack, wait. We also love to give book recommendations on the show. Do you have anything you've read recently that you might want to recommend to our viewers? Yeah, I read. I read reselling. Um uh such a fun age by colleague uh, a friend, book club, and, uh, yeah, such a such a fun. Just like come, like propulsive. I mean, I'm not a fast read. I'm a very slow reader on I just ripped through. It s Oh, that's That's a great book, I think.

Particularly Lee. If anybody has any Rhett or were struggling to finish anything right now, that's a great book that don't you? Andi also really loved the book. Feast Your Eyes by My Goldberg, which is written in the form of an art catalog friend is the books already recommended it to me. She's described the character, the narrator's describing photographs that you never actually see, but the captions to these photographs. And that is like leaving together the story of her mother, who was a famous photographer in the sixties fifties. So, yeah, that was heartbreaking but so beautiful and just amazingly, I don't know how this like, I don't know how she did this, but I love reading a book that gives you that feeling where you're just like this person did something I could never dio. And that's amazing. So I love that a lot. That's awesome. Great recommendation. Thank you, Mary Alice, I think you have a book recommendation. I do. Thank you. I'm reading. Just finished. I can you see Fannie Flagg's The Brand new, The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop and what? I absolutely loved it. It's, um, anyone I love fried green tomatoes at the whistle stop cafe. Uh, it was a really a landmark book When it came out, it was really popular. And the movie I watched it recently in preparation for Fannie Flagg's visit Justice. Fabulous. I mean, when you you know when a movie is made, that's really good glass. It really ties the book into the memories in the hearts of your readers. And this one, the Wonder boy of Whistle Stop is Buddy Thread Good, who lost his arm if you remember in the original book and he returns to whistle Stop. What I didn't expect is that much even more so than your book, Fred, you bounce around time Ah, lot in this book, and so it it makes it go fast, but it also links the story together. What I loved if anyone who read the original novel Fried Green Tomatoes, you see everybody, it's a gathering from evil and you know, Tawanda, Thio Buddy and many the whole gangs there, and it's so heartwarming. And it has Spanich flag signature humor, which you're gonna love. And we're so excited because Spanish flag is coming and I read her book back when it came out. Um, gosh, one was late eighties early nineties, I think, and it waas I just want a seven. Okay, 87. And so this is taking a long time to write the sequel. We're all dying to read it, and she doesn't disappoint. So this is the wonder boy of whistle Stop. I really loved it. Well, that is the perfect transition into talking about Theis. Exciting thing. We have coming up next week. Patty, did you wanna tell us a little bit about it? Yeah. We are so excited to be taking friends and fiction on the virtual virtual someday. Riel Road next week, as Mary Alice mentioned, the amazing Fannie Flagg has a new novel out, and one of our favorite bookstores in Fair Hope, Alabama is page and pallets, and they're letting us the Fab Five take the reins to host Fanny for virtual launch event. Of course, Fanny is not only an author but also an actress, comedian, Academy Award nominee, blah blah e no, right. The Wonder Boy Whistlestop picks up a story that Mary Alice was just talking about. That so many of us grew to love in fried green tomatoes, which is, of course, based on her 1986 87 novel. So if you purchase your copy of the Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop from page and Palate. Not only will your book be autographed by not me but Fanny Flat on and Giving Us next Thursday, November 12 at 7 p.m. For a zoom chat with Fanny herself, we will post all the details under announcements on our friends and fiction page. I want to mention one book really quick. Um, I know it's out of order, but I want to mention this book that is coming that is out now by a Dublin publisher called The Epicurean by Charles McNair. And I know Kathy knows Charles Tu from Decatur, Alabama, and e mean Decatur, Georgia. But he's from Alabama, and his new book is a fairy tale book, and I just found it this week and hoof. So I just wanted to get out there along with it. So we will post all these books on our friends and fiction page. So a lot of you asked what was the name of that book? Yeah, yeah, we'll do it after we sign off tonight. That's perfect. And Mary Kay, you'll be hosting us next week on November 11th. What? Another lady three day before our Fannie Flagg...

...extravaganza right here on friends and fiction. Can you tell us a little bit about next week's episode? Yes, next Wednesday at our regular time. 7 p.m. Will be welcoming New York Times Best selling author Caroline Love it to the show. She is one of the founders of a Mighty Blaze, which is an amazing online book group. And she'll be letting us all know about her latest novel, With or Without You. So we'll see you right here next Wednesday night, 7 p.m. Eastern time for Caroline Live, and we hope you will all join us. Perfect. And Christie, can you remind us about our podcast and newsletter? Yes. So we will put links to both of those under announcements the top of our page. But if you are not subscribed to our newsletter, you are missing out. For example, this week, Brit gave us, um, answered some really fun questions for us gave us some little behind the scenes sneak beats. Kristin wrote. Really beautiful essay. Our book club is making announcements in there that you won't find anywhere else, so definitely make sure that you sign up if you have not. It comes on Wednesdays, and, um, it's great. And then we also have a podcast if you didn't know yet, so you could take us with us. Wherever you go, take us with you. We owe something like that. Yes. Our episodes there date back to the beginning of June, starting with our visit with Kristin Hannah. And you can listen wherever you are. And we're gonna be surprising you with some podcast exclusive content that is coming soon. So make sure that you follow us now. Perfect. And Mary Alice, can you tell us what we have coming up in the next few weeks? Absolutely. On November 18th, we have JT Ellison and Hank Phillippi Ryan. And then on November 25th, which is right before Thanksgiving. Our special treat for all of you is Sue Monk Kidd, where we're excited about that. And then we'll be closing out November with a special bonus episode on Sunday, November 29th, featuring legendary chef and cookbook author and great friend Natalie Dupri. We have lots of more in store for you in December, so stay tuned. Wonderful and all right, you guys. One more reminder about the bookstore. The Week Harriets Bookshop. The link is on our Facebook page, and there's no coupon required to get 10% off our latest releases. And, of course, Brits to wonderful books, too. So it's a great story to support. They've become a really vital part of their community. And like all bookstores now independent bookstores. Now they really need your support. Soto, all of you, out there, please stick around for a few more minutes because we're going to do our five minutes after show together all in one room with our masks on. So you get a glimpse at our mass game, which is very on point. Meantime, it's extremely. I mean, come on, you guys know you've seen me in my mask? No, but in the meantime, great. We cannot thank you enough for joining E. Thank you. Thank you for writing such a beautiful book. Yeah, Thank you. Yeah, it's you know, it's an amazing thing when the words we right can help move the country in a better, smarter, kinder direction. And it's been a it's just been amazing to watch that happen with your words and your book. And, um, you know, we're just also glad to know you. Now we look forward to reading your next one and hopefully having you back on our show in the future. So thank you so much. E. Thank you. In real life any sometime soon? Exactly Know she's gon hybrid. Okay, so you guys, that is a wrap on the show. But stick around for our after show. We're masking up. Mary Alice might infect us from far far away. I'm just kidding, Mary. Alice, like us, has taken a a covert test. She is negative. So I think the ladies should be coming behind me any second to join us for a live after show together. Let me just turn my audio up. Uh, Mary Alice, we cannot wait for you to join us. Yes. Here they come. The mask. Ladies, I've got my guys here. They're not gonna bar e. Almost. Looks like I'm about to get assaulted like you turn around. E s e amazing. Did you guys have such a great time? Oh, she was so great. And you guys out there we are so excited about what the future of friends and fiction is gonna bring. That's what we're doing here. That's why we're here in our masks. It's why we're here in our masks. It's why we had things stuck up our nose to make sure that we don't have way are gonna plan some amazing things for you. There's lots more to come, so thank you all tonight for one. Very Alice. We hope to see you in a couple of days way. Everything on friends and fiction. Thanks again, Britain, for joining us tonight with Leo. You've been listening... the friends and Fiction podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the friends and fiction podcast wherever you listen, and if you're enjoying it, leave a review. You can find the friends and fiction authors at www dot friends and fiction dot com. A swell as on the Facebook group page. Friends and fiction come back soon. Okay? There are still lots of books, writing tips, interviews, publishing views and bookstores to chat about goodbye.

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