Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 2 months ago

Friends & Fiction with Christina Baker Kline

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Meet the #1 bestselling author of ORPAHN TRAIN, Christina Baker Kline and learn all about her new novel, the instant bestseller THE EXILES, her research and writing process, and the challenge of blending fact and fiction. http://christinabakerkline.com

Welcome to Friends and Fiction. Fivebest selling authors and the stories. Novelists, mary Kay andrews, ChristineHarmel, Christie Woodson, harvey patty Callahan, Henry and mary Alice Munroare five longtime friends with more than 80 published books to their creditIn 2020 they created friends and fiction to provide author interviewsand fascinating insider. Talk about publishing and writing and to highlightindependent bookstores. These friends discuss the books, they've written thebooks they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books andyou're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Helloeveryone, we are happy to be here because it is Wednesday night and it isseven p.m. Eastern time and that means it's time for Friends and fiction.Welcome to our show. We have so much to look forward tonight I am patty ElianeHenri and I'm mary Kay Andrews and Kristen Harbel and I'm Kristie Woodson,Harvey Yeah and this is friends and fiction, new york times, bestsellingauthors, endless stories to support independent booksellers. Tonight you'llmeet Christina baker klein and we are going to talk about her new book justout in paperback called the Exiles. We'll be hearing about her incredibleresearch, the inspiration or I should say the inspirations plural. And ofcourse we will not let her get away without a writing tip. Her personalhistory that found its way into this novel is extraordinary. And in support of our and in ourcontinuing support of indie bookstores, which you know, we love tonight, ourbookstore the week is watching booksellers, a vibrant independentcommunity bookstore located in the heart of Montclair, New Jersey. We'llbe telling you more about that in a little bit. And of course, you knowthat every week we partner with Parade magazine online, we streamed from theirfacebook page and we have an original essay in their online magazine everyweek. So this week, Christie wrote about how it takes a village to raise achild. You can find that s a linked on our facebook page and on our instagramon our instagram page two. But meanwhile Christie, can you tell us alittle bit about what you wrote about? I sure can. Um, so when Will was a tinybaby? When I got my first book deal and all of a sudden it was like, oh my gosh,I'm going to have to, you know, I can't do this all the time full time bymyself. Um, so we were really lucky to find, um, some like family friends inour neighborhood who um, wanted to keep him for me a couple afternoons a week.And um, what the essay is really about is just how they became our family andwill surrogate grandparents and um, just all the things they taught meabout being a mother and um they're a really amazing couple and um, jerry,who is the um the husband passed away really suddenly from a heart attack. UmGosh, like a couple of days before, under the southern sky came out and umit was just, it was really unexpected and it was really, really sad of course,and you know, he's one of my son's favorite people in the whole world. Soum it was just a reflection on, you know, everything they've been to us andum and and all the people that, you know, help us raise our Children and soI was just interested from you guys, you know, is there anyone that, Youknow, maybe it was a part of your villas kind of unexpected. Yeah. Youknow when Noah was a baby, I took the first three months totally off, whichyou know that was such a weird feeling. So I had him a little bit later. I hadhim when I was almost 37. And I've been writing, I've been writing books for somany years at that point that I felt so adrift. It was such a loss of myidentity. So I started having, I mean it was really, it was very difficulttime for me. So when he was, I think, I can't remember if he was three monthsor six months, he must have been six months. We started having a babysittercome and nanny just eight hours a week. And I felt so I mean I was in the housewith her the whole time, but it was that feeling of oh my gosh, I can'tbelieve I'm handing him off even for a small amount of time to somebody else.She has become a part of our family. She still is. She was here today. I dida speaking engagement today. Um, she was in college at the time and nowshe's an elementary school teacher and Noah is starting kindergarten in acouple weeks and she's been with us all summer and not only has she been doingjust regular, you know, playing with him stuff, but she's helped get themready for school, like not just the school work stuff, but the, um, talkingto him about how exciting school is and how he's really going to make friendsand, you know, the ins and outs of the classroom. So I really don't know whatwe would have done without her. She's...

...phenomenal and that was unexpected. Ithought I was hiring someone to spend a little bit of time with him for a shortperiod of time and she'll be in our lives forever. Yeah, it's amazing howthat happens. I mean it's just yeah that's exactly exactly how I felt. Wehad a neighbor, we've lived in the same neighborhood for 37 years. We're in ourthird house in this neighborhood in Atlanta in town Atlanta neighborhood.And when I first started going on book tour, my kids were um eight and four and you know I've been writing at home,but going out on book tour was a whole different thing. And my husband worked,his job was about 45 minutes away on a good day, on a bad day, an hour and ahalf. So I recruited um a neighbor's grandmother, nanny and she was livingwith her son and daughter in law and helping raise her granddaughter who wasa year older than my Katie and the kids went to the same parochial school andwe knew nanny. And um so one day I asked her, I said nan, do you think I'mgetting ready to go out on book tour and I need somebody that could pick thekids up uh you know at school and maybe take Andy to little league practice andyou know get supper ready um tom could cook, but since he didn't get home tillseven some nights do you think you do that? And she just hemmed and hawed andsaid oh I I don't think so, I think that's too much for me, you know Andywas pretty rambunctious, he was four and but her son Billy came up to me atthe neighborhood pool not long after that and he said mama told me that youasked her if she would help keep the kids and I think you ought to ask heragain because I think she really wants to do it, so she wants to be wanted.And so I did. And for years, yeah, nanny, uh her nanny, our nanny was herand she was great and she was so funny. She told me this amazing story abouther own life and about her husband basically leaving and taking everythingand I used the, the inspiration for that ended up in my novel, um littlebitty lies, wow, I love it. You just never know what's gonna happen. She's99 now, wow. I mean, there's just no way we can do it alone. There's just, Iremember when Um Megan who is now 29 and and Thomas was one and I went tothe gym because the gym had a babysitter. Yes, it was, I reallywanted to work out, I just had one hour and this sweet girl, Catherine basilcame up to me and said, you know, I babysit because she fell in love withthomas and just like y'all, she ended up part of our family, my dad who's apastor did her wedding, her kids were, you know my kids were in her wedding. Imean it's just and we're still really close. My kids think about her and texther and talk to her all the time. So you know, there's so many instanceswhere people come alongside of us and I mean it's just like this show, right,we can't, there's no way when one of us can't do it, somebody comes alongside.It's no different than with our kids if we're lucky. So, and I know Christinehas had the same experience, we're going to talk to her in a minutebecause I have heard that even her three boys have sang a sea shanty forevents. No, no. And so that was what I should havegotten a recording of that for the show tonight last year, Last year to post it.So now let's talk about her incredible guest, Christina baker client. She is anumber one new york times, best selling author of eight novels, including theexiles Orphan train and a piece of the world. Christina is published in atleast 40 countries probably more by now and her novels have received so manyprizes that it would take up half the show. But I wouldn't say that nightjust hit the new york times again. Her essays, articles and reviews haveappeared in publications such as the new york times, the new york Times,Book review, the boston globe, the san Francisco chronicle lit hub psychologytoday and slight Christina was born in Cambridge, England and raised there aswell as in the american south and main. She is a graduate of Yale Cambridge andthe University of Virginia where she was a Henry Hoynes fellow in fictionwriting. She lives in new york city in southwest Harbor Maine with her husband,David Klein. We heard it's her anniversary tonight. So everybody happyanniversary, years anniversary. Anyway, um they are not to sing on the show. Imean that thing yeah. David are the parents of three sons, Hayden Will andEli, who as patty mentioned have been...

...known to sing at Christina's events.You know I follow her on social media and I love seeing the clips during thepandemic that she shared her sunny lies singing performance as it was so great.Her new book, the exiles is out now in paperback and it's a target pick aCostco pick and of ours, enable pick that's like a hat trick or somethinglike a trifecta or what does it want? A horse? Triple crown, triple crowntrifecta. We were going to get there. So this novel is so deeply atmosphericAnd Christina's prose is so descriptive and evocative and the exiles makes herthird foray into the genre. Her other to the orphan train and a piece of theworld were grounded in American history. But the exiles takes us to Australiaand beyond and spotlights a 19th century injustice that I was hardlyaware of. So, but I'll let her tell you about the book. So sean, could youbring Christina on? We could just talk about you. Yeah,I'll just talk about you the rest of the night. I now want to be on thisshow every day because we do have some fun. So we're so glad you're here. Thelast time I saw you was at a restaurant in new york city with Paula McLain overa very fine glass of wine. So until we can do that again. This is the bestwe've got. This is fantastic. And honestly the Combinator, your chemistry,all of your chemistry together, it's just so infectious. It's thank you.Thank you. We don't want to hear the word in that, you know, that is what mywhen I do voice to text and I'm trying to say friends and Friends and fiction,it's always next infection does not mean it is for me to Yeah, so if so ifthat's what you mean by infectious Christina, you would be granted ourphones agree. So, Christina, in such a pleasure to meet you before we take adeep dive into the inspirations and origins of this story, Can you give usa quick description of this beautiful, atmospheric novel? Sure, so, um, firstof all, thank you so much for having me on. So much fun. Um, okay, so theexiles is the story of the convict women who transformed Australia and thenative people, the aboriginal people whose way of life was utterly changed.Um, you might say destroyed when british colonists landed on theirshores. And the whole thing takes place in the mid 19th century. So around the1840s. Um, and it's really based on a very true story that not many peopleknow about. So that's the, that's the story. That's awesome. It is awesome.And you're right, because I didn't know very much of this story. I think I'veheard whispers about convict ships, but never thought about it being women andnever thought about the actual impact on Australia. So, before we dive in,y'all, everyone out there listening, put your questions in the comments onfacebook and Youtube and we will try to grab as many as we can. So Christina,my favorite subject, one of his origins, what I call origin stories. And in yourauthor note, you say, attempting to identify the genesis of a novel can bea fool's errand. So here I am on a fool's errand. I've been on a lot offool's errands, but here I am on another. And I've heard you talk a bitabout your tingle, what what we all all of us often call spidey sense And aboutthe origins of this novel coming from three separate streams that flowed intothe novel this river of a novel. Can you talk a little bit about that? A lotof it about that? I think something that might be interesting to people whoare starting out. I mean, I always talk about this when I teach is that I'velearned to trust what you just satisfied the sense we all talk about.I've learned to trust this feeling, which often um is something I want toresist because oftentimes it's a it's an ambitious idea that feels dauntingto me, that feels big maybe. Um I don't know enough about it. There are a lotof reasons to say no to a big idea. And orphan Train was the first novel Iwrote, where I was so terrified for legitimate reasons of the story that Ijust it took me. I actually thought...

...about that book over eight years. Iwrote to other novels, I published a book and I just eventually couldn'tescape in this story. But the reason orphan Train was scary to me is that, Imean, there were so many, but one is that I, yeah, I don't know if you guyshave experienced this but I stumbled on this story and it's not my story. Myhusband's grandfather was nobody knew on an orphan train essentially. He wasfeatured in an article, an orphan train riders. He was orphaned and sent on atrain to Jamestown North Dakota. He died and my mother in law read thisnewspaper article. We were all there when she discovered this after hevanished. And wow, you've never known any of it. And so I knew immediately Igot that feeling that we were just talking about immediately what was thiscrazy idea. And especially because even in the article that said that hundredsof thousands of Children went on these trains. My husband was a history majorin college. He had never heard of it. My father is a historian, I know noneof us had heard anything about it. And the fact that the daughter of a trainwriter knew nothing about it too, which by the way, no, no, it's not uncommon.So, but my fear then was that it wasn't my story to tell, as I said. And alsowriting about the past was not something I'd really done before, andit took me a long time to realize that no one else was really writing thisstory. And then, like, you know, eight years later, we're still not a novelwritten about this. So, um, I just plunged in and it kind of gave me theconfidence with my subsequent books to do the same thing. So in different,completely different areas. So with the exiles, I read a little piece. So my itwas again, it was probably a decade ago when this first came up for me. I reada little article in the new york times, there was a column called Mother loadthat was about parenting, lisa Belkin used to edit this column, which by theway, would no longer be called Mother Lode, I don't think it would, you know,parenting, so parents exactly. Um but weirdly one week she had a piece onthese convict women and their Children on the boat, on the ships, on theserepurposed slaving ships, I think her point was, we don't have it so bad now.Um, but I was captivated and I didn't really know why, and I started fromthere to look into it and I only know now, having finished my novel thatthere are three different ways that that three different reasons that itappealed to me. one I taught in women's prisons, I was teaching in a women'sprison when I read that piece and I was really interested in incarceration,What it does to people also, how women, you know, maintain their sanity, havetheir identities in prison and what the criminal justice system does to peopleas well. So that was one big interest. Another latent interest is that I hadgone to Australia as a rotary fellow in my 20's and I've been obsessed with it.And I did this huge, fantastic book that I would still recommend. And it'sstill in print called The Fatal Shore by robert Hughes Is This wonderfuldinner. Um, and it was it's a 700 page book almost. And he he devoted onechapter to convict women and aboriginal people together, one chapter togetherin this enormous, but wow, that was the chapter that interested me most. But Ihad never really followed up on it. And then the third is that I wrote a bookwith my Mom, a nonfiction book on mothers and daughters of the women'smovement, meaning People. Either the mother or the daughter had been quiteinvolved in the 70s and 80s and in the sort of second wave of the women'smovement. And the question that we post was how do you rebel against a rebeland is feminism passed from one generation to the next? And if you know,in other words, is that one of those things that people that kids will tossto the side because they don't want to be like their parents. And we foundthat yeah, so we found that there were the ways that many of the daughtersrebelled against their feminist mothers was to be stay at home mothers. Thatwas interesting, wow, why don't we swing these pencils? So interesting,Wow, feminist mothers raised feminist daughters, which was kind ofinteresting. But the point to me, what I realized that I had been sointerested in is that we interviewed 60 mothers and daughters and had all thesewomen's stories. And that was that project was so pivotal in my life,because it made me realize the value of...

...women's stories and also raise thathave not been told in history enough. Right. So what what am I trying to do?I'm trying to tell stories that have that most people don't know a lot aboutbecause they haven't been included in our typical history books. So, so thosewere that's sort of the genesis of this book. That makes me beg the question,Kristina, you've got three sons you raised, have you raised feminist sons?I have raised feminist sons. I don't know them would say that they werefeminist. No, I think they would. I think they would, but I but you know,yes, I mean, they have certainly seen me, you know, uh, working and they'reall sort of cheering, cheering on. Um, but I will say it's kind of ironic andfunny to me that I'm one of four girls and I've read about women and I didthis fuck on feminism with my mother. And I have three boys, and three of mysisters have three boys, which is Hillary. That's bizarre. We weresneakily rebelling your DNA rebelling. I don't know. Okay, so Christina. Youtalked about how you came to this novel and kind of all these forces that cametogether and told you, okay, this is this is the story for you. This is kindof the path we're going down. But once you have that inspiration and thatgenesis, you need to build that world and you did that so powerfully here. SoI would love to hear you talk about well, you know, and I know you've kindof said that to there's a great quote from you where you have said in wayslarge and small, the task of a novelist who writes about the past is to make itcome to life to find the singular details that make the story breathe,which is such a great quote. I mean, I I write history too, and I 100% agreewith you. Can you talk to us a little bit about the research you did for thisnovel and how you did how you use that to bring it all to life? Yeah, I mean,I did so much research for this book and for the other two historical books.I mean, I even I mean, I know we all do research when we write contemporarybooks as well, or at least I do because I have a memory like a sieve. Um, but Iof course did a ton and it was terrifying to be writing about a period.Um I know Christie read Christie to write about the most Christian, rightabout the most amazing, um, you know, long ago periods. I've never reallywritten about any time before 1920. The orphan trade story begins there. And mybook about Kristina Olson and Andrew Wyatt begins there. This is 18 fortieswhich felt like people is an entirely different things. It's an eternity,never lived in, you know, so that just felt so my way in. So I did a touch ofresearch. I always befriend, I always have been really lucky with these threebooks to befriend a woman usually in her seventies, who's an expert on thesubject and who knows everything and is really interested at this point in herlife, perhaps in sharing it. So I had such a person for with orphan train andwith a piece of the world, this wonderful tour guide, Um who kneweverything about the Wyatts. And uh and then for this book, I was doingresearch online and I discovered this professor named Allison Alexander, whois in her 70s, who has written 35 books on the history of the convict women.She herself is descended from convict. Uh, and she was just, just give me twobumps. Yeah, so amazing. So I discovered her website, I realized thatmost of her books weren't available in the United States. So I emailed her andI sort of stalked her and forced her to then to do research. And we becamereally good friends. And if you go to my website you can see pictures of ustogether and stuff. I just adored her. And I I I think she enjoyed sharing herknowledge. And so, I mean who I'm reading all her books, you know, askingher questions about them. Um, and I found that she was just this conduit tothis world. In addition to all the research I did of other books and the,you know, going to the places and all of that, which I find a prettyimportant part of the process. But I will say, yeah, um, that to me, themost important thing is I want uh I want the reader to feel absolutelypresent in the story. So I do everything I can once I've done allthat research to get rid of every detail that doesn't matter directly. Sothat's so hard. It is so hard. Your I'm a good girl and I want to show my work,you know, like wanting to prove that...

I've done all this research. I don'teven realize I'm doing it. But of course I am doing so with every draft.I just have to be more and more ruthless. There's this great quote from,I think norman Mailer did a damning review of Gore Vidal. He wrote GoreVidal wrote a historical novel. And norman Mailer said something like nobutton, no bobble. No ribbon goes unremarked. Can we make it a goal thatwe never get that review? Thinking about some editing I need to do rightnow. It's not a question of like, is it in service to the story? And onequestion I got recently then set me off on a tangent, but it's along theselines is um, is there anything that you did a lot of research about that youhad to cut? And I I was I became slightly obsessed with these bushrangers. These guys, they're often runaway convicts or ex convicts who gointo the bush and set up these settlements and live like crazy.They're like bad cowboys, that's how they lived. You know, they weremarauding, they would steal things, but they lived in this camp encampments andeverybody knew about them and they were really kind of terrifying. And I had awhole thing where I'm writing about them and then I realized none of mycharacters would have been there or seeing it or experienced it. Really, Ihad to cut, I had to cut off. I was at hearst. No, it was such a more, youknow, but you know, I also feel like the more you you fall into that worldand the more excited you get about learning about it, the more it kind ofshapes your narrative and shapes your story, even if those things don'tdirectly go into it. Do you find that too? Oh my gosh, so completely true.And you know, for me, I don't know how you guys feel about going to places andtrying to be in the places you're writing friends, you have no interestto write novels, you know, or just can't be bothered whatever. Don't wantto deal with the travel. Of course, during Covid, it's hard and I didn'tget to do some of the travel for my next book, but I will, but but I'lltell you, I'll give you an example of something that I would never have known.And there are a million things like this, This is small, but it's in thebook. So, um my sister's often my travel companion, Cynthia. And we werein this fabulous little echo farmhouse in Hobart Tasmania, five miles outsideof town and we're standing, it's this modern building and the woman, theAirbnb woman had left us, you know, goats, yogurt, whatever, all this stuffis lovely, you know, basket of stuff, a bottle of their organic wine and wineon the porch at, you know, as that sort of sunset. And all of a sudden on thehill, right there was a sheep's meadow in front of us. It was very bucolic andgorgeous. If anyone wants to go there, I can tell you where it is. And um onthe, on the hill we saw this movement kind of like a rippling and as we lookcloser we realized it was hundreds of Wallabies which are honey kangaroos,they're like little kangaroos and being huge other on the hillside at dusk. Andthen in the novel, I describe it as like falls tumbling out of a basket.They all one starts hopping and they all hopped down the mountain friend.It's long undulating natural scene, that's only five miles from thisbustling, you know, capital city, whatever town. And it was just such adramatic moment of seeing nature. And so I have it in the novel. There are alot of things like that that when I was there, I just took notes about and wewent to a wildlife preserve and solve these kangaroos were lounging with thekangaroo. So that was really fun. And just all those layers, you know, ofexperience, work their way in in small ways. Well, really what here's to pullback? The point was that I wanted to show that for these english women,these british english, irish, Scottish, welsh women, this was so mind blowing.And in the novel, I have the Tempest as a kind of counterpoint. As a, as a text,there are the one one woman is reading. It, passes it along to the next to thenext. And uh, and I saw this as a Tempest like experience, because thesewomen go to this island and it is unlike anything they've ever seen. Andit feels like magic in some ways, even though they're convicts and they'regoing into this women's prison. The world itself is so vastly differentthan anything they've ever experienced, that it is like a whole there on it.It's like they're on the moon almost.

And so I wanted to convey that andgoing there and being able to see how different it is from the topography ofBritain and of course our own was really important and useful. Absolutely,yeah. I can only imagine what that would have been like. I had a, mygrandparents on my father's side were irish immigrants. And the only thing weknow about my grandfather is that he had a brother and when my grandfathercame to United States, his brother went to Australia. And as far as we know,was never heard, never heard from again. So there's this whole maybe bring tothe family that we don't know anything about in Australia. No. Well you shouldfind a good trip. It's really just anecdotal. Nobody else in the familyknows anything. That's so I think we need a trip to find a we have asolution. Anyway. One of the similarities with orphan train and thisnovel, the exiles is um, so many descendants of train riders are doingmassive amounts of genealogical research to try to find out. Or yousaid your family's from Ireland. So many train right from Ireland. I'msorry. Never from the book. Yeah. And so many of the descendants of theseconvicts are also trying to find out, you know where their ancestors camefrom and what they went through. And it's a big it's a sort of big world ofthat kind of work and research. Yeah, well it's a definitely a rabbit hole.You can fall down or call down. Yeah, your own novels that it's just all arabbit hole and you have to be really careful like. Yeah, yeah. Uh sayexample Bushman who live in the uh you know uh the Christine of the threewomen characters are two british convicts and I'm not I'm not convincedthat my great uncle maybe didn't have something going on. But anyway,evangeline and hazel and an orphan daughter of an aboriginal chief. Do youpronounce that? Athena? Yes, they're also they're also verydifferent and unique. But you have a dozen real life, half a dozen real life characters thatshow up in the novel. Would you talk to us about that, about the delicate artawaiting the real in with the fictional and how you came to? I don't know, itseems like you must have lived in the world of some of these characters. Yeah.Well first of all, can I just say I never intended to write a novel set inthe past. In fact, I remember, I don't know if you guys remember the writer, Imean she's still alive. She writes still her name is Catherine Harrisonbut she wrote memoir and then she wrote a novel about like foot binding. I meanshe wrote a novel set in the past and I remember thinking what a bizarre choicelike why would you she's a contemporary novelist, she's a memoir, she's got itgoing on. Why would she do makeup stuff set in some time period she doesn'tlive in. I really did not understand. Uh, and um, so it's not like I set outto do it, it kind of was a slippery slope. Only a third of orphan tearing was setin the past and it was sort of the dutiful I had to tell the story of thetrain. Two thirds of it was set in the present day, which I was much morecomfortable with. And then the next novel was the same period as orphantrain. It was the twenties to the forties of Night of the 19th 20thcentury. And that did not seem like the past so much to me, but this one Isquarely went way deep into the past and that was a whole a whole differentthing. Um but the so to your point, I never imagined that I'd be writingabout real people and mixing them with fictional characters. That would haveseemed so bizarre to me and and false. How can you ever do that? But but whenI wrote, I kind of had this trial by fire or immersion, this terribleexperience writing a piece of the world because every character in that bookreally lived and some are still alive. It was oh wow, It was such, I love thatbook. I just have to interject and say that I just love that book when youstarted talking about it was just all these little pieces of things that havestayed with me. Sorry, no, thank you, Christine. I mean, I it was my mosthard one book and the most terrifying and Goliath Family is so litigious thatit was terrifying. So Andrew you know, foundation and his family are veryprotective and I couldn't use the cover...

...on the book which we had originallyplanned to use you know the painting, you know the world on the cover of thatbook. Anyway, long story short, we're fine with it. I even did an event withJamie Wyatt who's a the artist, son of the guy I read about. So that was allfine. But I learned how to write about real people I guess and also how tosort of extrapolate and I've got I gained confidence and to your pointmary Kay I I I learned that that Elizabeth fry for example a Quakerreformer who wanted to help the women at the same time that she was quitejudgmental about them. Um was she was a teeny bit passive aggressive just alittle. She was like you got yourself knocked up, here, you are, you know, alittle and she was, but she was, she was also the only person who treatedthem like human beings. So you take the good with the bad and there were andand then Sir john Franklin, who is famous as a polar explorer, as anarctic explorer. He um there was actually a miniseries called The Terrorthat came out last year, two years ago and it was about him and his crewgetting lost in the arctic because they disappeared and never were seen againeventually, but when he was slightly younger, he was actually sent toAustralia and was in charge of this whole settlement and all these convicts.And so that was pretty fun to write about two, so that it's become a kindof, it's actually become kind of fun to do. And my new novel sadly um alsoinvolves real people I think away from it. I know it feels like why am I whatam I doing to myself? Why do we make our life so hard? Real people are hardthese days. I'm going to write a very novel again. And yeah, yeah, realpeople will call you up and threaten you and and and and worse take theirlawyers on you. Exactly. Nobody wants nobody wants to see a lawyer letterhead,that's every novelist nightmare. But it's totally terrifying to it's totallyterrified. You know, we uh Mhm. We did a podcast with jean hamm correlatesabout what what am I really got? I wish she would just thank you for doing. AndI join us having palpitations ready to wear ties every every novelist othernight here is being accused of plagiarism. Subscribe to our podcast.Well, I for one second because she so jean has bet has been a pretty midlistwriter for her career and it's been frustrating as hell. We were justtalking about that and she is such a great writer. She's always been awriter. And it's just that question of like why did this book not? You know?And and she's had two of her books become movies, even a no and admission,um she's she's just a wonderful writer. And so it was always that question. Soanyway, at the beginning of like two months after Covid, she was like oh Iwrote this novel during Covid and she sent it to me on like as an attachmentand by the way, I don't read anything online because we're all online all thetime and I have online. But I read the first two pages Mary Kay and I was likeOh my God this now. and I knew right away and I just read the whole thinglike in one night and I called her up and said this is insane, you are goingto this is it, this is it and it is, it's so fun to see the success of theplot. It's such a, isn't it just it's the plot of that novel that's soincredible and the writing is beautiful of course, so propulsive. Yeah andterrifying as to anyone who makes a living writing. It's it's yeah, yeah,but it's fun to see it take off and jimmy Fallon just selected it, you knowwe're gonna Yeah. How cool is that? It's so awesome. Well speaking of kindof that journey from you know where you begin to to what ends up being your bigbreak out. Um I'm really interested just kind of like moving back a littlebit, you know, you were born in England, you've traveled to Australia, lived inthe american, south, the northeast. So I'm interested in how this has allbrought you into being the writer that you are today and backing up evenfurther. How did you get into fiction to begin with? It's a really sort of two questions. Sofirst of all, I think I don't know about you all and I'm not going topresume anything, but in my experience, writers often emerge out of tumultuousfamilies or backgrounds in one way or...

...another, and it's not always true, butin my case my parents are southern, my mother's great, great grandmother wasthe first Woman to graduate from college in North Carolina. And myfather this first person in his entire extended family, not only to graduatefrom college, but to finish 8th grade. So this come of a Georgia boy whoseparents were mill workers and who had grown up on a mountain with no runningwater. And my mother who came from a very educated, her father was a schoolprincipal, her mother was a librarian and you know, all of her relatives hadbeen teachers, etcetera and everyone had gone to college. Very interestingcombination and then add to that the volatile mix they met at furman, whichis the Southern College or my fabulous. Yeah, my mother was valedictorian. Mydad was a big football star and um and but he went off and did a PhD inbritish labour history at Cambridge University. He was super smart, he wassupposed to be a minister, he went to Wake Forest and he had a littlescholarship to study for a summer and ended up changing everyone's lives. Sothey went off to England where I was born and I was born and raised thereover nine years off and on back and forth. And they ended up in Maine wherethey became total hippies through over there, southern baptist childhoods. Andum, I had a really kind of creative but also volatile childhood and uh, youknow, my parents loved each other, But we're pretty different as I'vedescribed and uh, you know, so a lot a lot of, and I think I wrote as a way tokind of make sense of my life. My parents, my dad has published 12 books,all you know, with university presses and everything. Uh, one of whichactually was a big book about jesse Owens and it became a miniseries andstuff. That was his, wow, but none of them. So, but but I want to step backand just say one further thing for any parents of young Children, but alsowriters. Um when people ask me, you know, when did you know you wanted tobe a writer? Or how did you know, when did you start writing? I always think,you know, all Children are born creative, every child samples and singsand draws and you know, plays through and right, every kid is our and thequestion is in a weird way, is not like, why did I continue? But why do kidsstart to other people stop? Please love that. You know? And so I kind of thinkthat I just didn't stop. And I also, just by the my personality, I think Itell my own own kids this all the time. You know, people are going to be sayingno to you in a million different ways, always throughout your life. And I hadan impulse to just follow the yes, the like small. Yes, I came along. I lovethat. Give you an example. So I was in the fifth grade and my teacher was mrsKerry and she was lovely and she wore wigs I remember. And she gave us anassignment to write a short little story or something. And we handed themin on a friday. And on monday morning we came in and this is back when thedesks were lined up in rows, you know, and she walked down the road, she puteach person's story down and said something to them and moved to the next.And when she got to me and she put the story down and she said, um, I have totell you, I really liked your story and in fact, I read it out loud to myhusband this week and he liked it too. And that was all she said. So first ofall, she had a husband blew my mind the fact that package you can sleep at theschool, she like school and had a different life, but she didn't say sheloved my story. She said she liked my story and that her husband liked it too.And I swear that was enough to keep me going for the next decade. I was like,well now I'm a writer because Mrs Kerry liked my story and I'm sure she said itto every single person she was walking down the aisle and talking to. But itreally did. It was the smallest encouragement. And again, for teachersout there, like the smallest encouragement for a great kid makes ahuge difference. And so I felt that, you know, and I had I took that with mea little bit and uh and that was how it started. I'm just impressed that yourfifth grade self could tell she wore wigs because like, I I'm really bad atthat. Well, even now, got that later. I...

...think I like, okay, I realized, oh,that very black hair on that rather old woman that was always perfectly Brushedand in place. Sometimes the part was here, sometimes it was twisted 45°. Iwe should do a story, we should do it. So, talking about teachers who reallyinspired or encouraged us, I had, I'll never forget. I had 1/6 grade teacher,we had written some kind of a story. We've been asked to write some kind ofa story and I was in the bathroom and my sixth grade teacher, Mrs Allen camein and of course it was hugely embarrassing that your teacher was inthe bathroom when you were in the bathroom, human. Yeah. Uh and she waslaughing, she was just like, uh I'm washing my hands and she came out, shegoes, Kathy, I read your story and I just can't quit laughing. Oh my gosh!Um everything, so I think the fact that she went to the bathroom just wasstunning to me, literally get married your bathroom, remember, like, youwould run into a teacher at the grocery store and you'd be like, oh my God,what are you doing here, celebrity? I know what it's like, oh my gosh, stayaway. Uh you know, oh sorry, I was going to say I have a, kind of book endto that story, which is um when I was in college then this is another thingthat was well, so, I was in college, I got into this college seminar that wasvery uh potentially damaging. I'm shockedthat I still am. I became a writer because it was with writers who are nowfamous, like names you would know and the teacher was a who had just theteacher was a woman who had just won the national Book Award and she was shetaught me everything I need to know about what not to do as a teacher. Shewas a terrible teacher and she was so awful in that she pitted us againsteach other in this creative anymore. Yeah, she was awful and she was veryintimidating, but also like really uninterested and you never even couldtell if she'd read your work, you know, that kind of thing. And she just waslazy and horrible and she wore scarves to very pretentious. And anyway, theweird thing, one she without telling or asking or even telling me, handed mystay Like the two the only two short stories I've ever written in my lifereally to her agency and they signed me on and I was 20 years old and that wasa shock. First of all she gave me an a minus, like she didn't even like me umAnd but suddenly I had an agent at the age of 20 which never happens and itwas in a moment, I'm sick world, but it was at a moment when like readyAnalysis and Jay, McInerney and Donna Tartt, we're all getting huge contractsat like the age of 20. So you know how agents are often like lemmings and theysort of follow the trends and so I think that there was a trend that youngwriters which did not happen with me, but but I that gave me even though thatwas a really weird experience of that class having this young junior agent inthis agency who was interested in my work and would call every four monthsand say, what are you thinking? Are you writing a novel yet? I think that had aprofound influence influence on me, you know, having just having someone whowas waiting for something. And so even though not everybody has thatexperience of getting an agent at that age, I always I always tell my ownstudents to have someone who's waiting for it. Like the exchange work with afriend had someone who's for to whom you're accountable that whom yourespect. Um Because I think that makes a difference. That's great advice. Yeah,for sure. Um Well, Christina, can you tell us a little bit about why youchose our bookstore of the week? Oh my gosh, yes. Watching books in MontclairNew Jersey for 20 years. I lived in this wonderful wonderful town. Um weleft this is it Watching books and here's something they do that I'venever seen it. Another bookstore and I love it. They have stenciled on thewalls of the bookstore names of famous writers who are long dead and alive.You know everyone from say um you know uh I don't know Charles dickens toAlice walker but then they also stencil the names of local writers. And ifyou've published um a book you have your name or I think you have to havepublished two books. You have your name...

...stenciled on the wall and it's justsuch a really sweet and encouraging thing. They're amazing to their localwriters in town and they host book parties and all kinds of creativeevents and they have a great Children's section and Margo the owner is justfantastic. So I can't say more good things about them. They're great.That's okay. Road trip bookstore. Yeah, if we go will they will they put ournames on the wall? Yeah, I I have to move to montclair. Okay,marker patty. They can't stop me harry sharpies with us. There's no stoppingus. Okay, since you have already given us so many writing tips, we're going toskip right over to if there is a book that you're reading that you would loveto recommend. Well actually I'm reading a more tolls new book to read that book.It's coming out um or is just such a delightful human being. Well, you know,I live in new york now and uh we've done a bunch of events together andhe's been, he's super savvy about the writing. You should, I should have himon, he's so fun and so we would love it, we're working. But uh it's called theLincoln highway and it's this sort of epic story about the highway thatcrosses from new york all the way across America and it's um, it's justbeautiful and, and, and immediately immersive and fun. I managed to get myhands on a more smoke that's coming out in, I think either end of september,beginning of october the new cloud cuckoo um the uh Tony door, Anthonydoors, new book also, 100 pages and Jonathan franzen's new book, Crossroads.Oh my goodness. It's a big foam. They're all 600 pages. There areenormous, wow. And I just, I just pray that all of them don't drop on my pubday. Okay, please tell me they're not on october 19. Yeah. Right, okay, Okay.Back uh alright, Cristina and everyone else please stick around because wehave one more thing to talk to Christina about. But first we want toremind all of you to check out our friends in fiction, writer's blockpodcast. We have a brand new one every single friday along with the shows andthis past week Ron and Christie talked to Vitti and Howard and this week, thisfriday, we were just talking about Ron and mary Kay talked to Jean HampCorlett about the Blockbuster book, the plot that was just chosen for thetonight show Book Club pick. So awesome and um in case you guys haven't heardpatty mary Kay and I all have winter books coming out and we have a winterwonderland subscription box that we've partnered with Nantucket Book Partnersum to all of you and we're so excited about it. So if you, if you purchasethis box from Nantucket book partners, you can also get it off our website ora facebook page, you'll get each of our three winter books and an exclusivespecial friends and fiction coffee mug and hot chocolate. So we're reallyexcited and we hit the, you'll sign up. I just left out those parts togetherand how they look so great. You know, every time you guys showed that picture,I'm like, I should have worked harder last year. I should have a few thingsgoing on I think just blacker. Uh really, really like tied up with a bowtogether in bookstores, you can just like have a fiance tim Well, when we'reall like, we can't live and we haven't bought anyone's gifts, you'll be like,I'm finishing my wrapping Exactly. All right. So if you are not hanging outwith us yet in the Friends and Fiction official Book Club, you are missing out.We tell you that every week. So the group which is separate from us and isrun by our friends, lisa Harrison and Brenda Gardner is now more than 7000strong. Um they just celebrated their one year anniversary. They had to putoff their one year anniversary official celebration that will be coming inanother week or two, but on august 8th will be hosting a happy hour with ourDear Ron Block, our Writer's block podcast host. And then on August 16,which is a Monday, I will be joining them to discuss the forest of vanishingstars, my brand new novel, um which you know, didn't come out in the winter. SoI'm clearly the odd man out, but they have plenty more fun events in store.So make sure to join them. Now, if you have into the Friends and FictionOfficial Book Club and next week join...

...us right here again at seven p.m.Eastern to meet Lauren Willig who wrote the historical fiction novel Band ofsisters along with our and our first special guest co host, Christine andMark McMorris will be stepping in. She'll be my stand in while I'mvacationing on Cape Cod. And um, yeah, I'm I'm going on vacation. All I haveto write every morning, so I'm going to be accountable to all of you. Yeah.What goes around comes around. That's all I can say. Yeah, exactly. And ifyou're, I love her. She's and if you are, yeah, okay. If you're everwondering about our schedule, it's always on our Friends and fictionwebsite as well as a sidebar that has events on our friends in fictionfacebook page. And if you haven't signed up for our newsletter, please dothat. Because every week we send out a newsletter, Christina answered somegreat questions on our newsletter this week about what her idea of a great dayis. I think it's going to Australia. I'm not sure. So don't forget you cankeep up with us um, on that friends and fiction newsletter. So, Christina. Sohere's the one final question, we promise. So we usually ask our guestswhat the influences around reading and writing in their childhoods were. Butyou already kind of touched on that. So, I would love to ask you about the bookyou wrote with your mom. The conversation begins, Mother anddaughters talk about living feminism. So you've said that this led to apowerful lesson in the value of women telling the truth about their lives.Can you talk a little bit about how that shaped your writing going forward? Yeah. So the second wave of the women'smovement was in the 1970s, um and it was women who the first wave was sortof the suffragettes, right, and the suffragists, whichever you want to callthem, um and getting the vote and all of that. And then the second wave wasabout um equal work for equal pay, and, you know, birth control, and sort ofwomen's issues that were people galvanized around, um and wanted tosort of make the world a better place, especially for mothers and for womengoing working, etcetera, etcetera. And um but a lot of those stories, again,as I've been saying about my own novel, set in the past, weren't necessarilystories that we were reading about in school. And so interviewing even, youknow, my kids going to school didn't know much about the second wave of thewomen's movement, and my mom and I were really interested in looking at how andif feminism has passed from one generation to the next. Um and so wewanted to sort of explore the idea of how You rebel against a rebel as I said.And um and so we interviewed all these women and um what I learned through thenarratives was just that many of these people had been a part of pivotalmoments in american history. And, you know, recently there's been someminiseries actually with, like, Cate Blanchett. There's one uh there's agreat one, Gosh, I'm trying to it was about Phyllis schlafly, I believe in umthere just have been some terrific sort of revisiting of that period, butgetting to talk to women who lived through it was really important. And Ithink it shaped my interest in writing fiction, which is as I think I've said,writing about little known pieces of history and writing about corners thatpeople don't necessarily know about, that might have big reverberations. AndI think the second wave of the women's movement has had huge reverberationsand that we're all we're all we can all now take things for granted as a resultof them. Um and so yeah, so that has been that book. It was really importantfor me and also crazy to write a book with my mother. I mean we were veryintimately engaged for a couple of years working on the book and uh youknow before that I was sometimes a bratty teenager and we didn't alwaysget along, but somehow doing that project together where she was incharge of the interviews for the mothers and I was in charge of theinterviews for the daughters. But we were we did it them together and wewere present with them and we edited back and forth was a really specialkind of a special thing experience. That's awesome. How lucky are you twohave gotten to do that? I know I'm thinking my mom and I writing a book.My daughter and I writing a book. None of its jelling, but anyway, none ofit's clicking but to no back quickly to Dorothy event and frank she and herdaughter, you know, uh they wrote teddy spaghetti together. So to all of youout there, we encourage you to grab...

Christina's novel, the excess exiles,the explode the exiles. And how could you not with everything that you justheard from her and hopefully from our bookseller the week watching books, I'mprobably saying it wrong because that's my superpower. So Christina. We are sohappy to have you here. It was so much fun and thank you for being so open andsharing about your inspiration and your life and your mom and all of the thingsthat flowed into this story and sharing your wisdom. This has been a reallywonderful night. Thank you. Thank you all so much. What a joy! What aprivilege to be here. Thank you. It was our pleasure. Thanks for theanniversary. Yeah, happy and thank you for spending part of your anniversarywith us. Now go spend the rest of it with that cute guy. Tell your husband.Thank you. Yeah, thank you for learning you to us. So everyone out there, youare such an amazing book loving community and we will see you a minuteat our story point after show this up and stay after show and come back nextweek. Same time. Same place as we welcome Laura Willig with our specialguest host, Christina McMorris. Meanwhile, to keep you busy. Check outour podcast, our winter Wonderland subscription and all of the fun goingon on our facebook page and our book group and our podcast. Goodnight y'all. Hi guys, wow, great. I'm totallyintimidated. I'm just gonna go hide my head why she's so amazing as published.How much but she, she reminds us well first, y'all welcome to our sip andstay story point after show. We're going to break down the night. Um, anddon't forget for those of you who are watching, we want to show the power ofour amazing community. So pop over to instagram, look up story Point wine andfollow them. Let's see how many we can get in one night and impress them. Yeah.And I think they have a website in a newsletter to, right, so you can signup, you can sign up for that. It's just they fit so well with us because Ithink they're they're all about story. I mean that's kind of the story behindtheir brand is that they have a story and that's that's really the part thatfits especially well with stories and wine. It's no wonder it's the whinerfriends infection. Uh huh. Uh So intimidating and not only that, but sheshe reminds us again and again what we all talk about if we're not terrified,why bother? You know what I actually had to say? Um So I met her I mean alot of books ago so I mean it was years ago and I was like terrified to meether because yeah it was like right when the orphan train was um had just beenso massively successful. And um part of this guy is that her next book wascalled that I loved so much, was talking about a piece of this guy, thisguy. It was a few years ago. So I mean my memory is not that great, but it wassuch a great book, but I was so terrified like to meet her and it wasso intimidated and she is one of the most approachable, like, kindest,warmest people and she just, and she gets as terrified as we do, right? Yeah.Like if I bit off more than I can chew, how am I going to find the research?How much of my research do I put in there, even though I want to put it allin there, because guess what? I spent a month researching that, right? Well,and I also always appreciate hearing from someone who wasn't an overnightsuccess. I mean, that's wonderful in its own way, but it's great to seesomeone like her who really worked her way into this and learned and pushedherself and became better and I mean she's phenomenal. She's at the top ofher game. She's doing an amazing job. I remember when the orphan train firstcame out, I had gone to a writer's workshop in Antioch Ohio, I've beengoing for a few years and had some friends actually was part of a bookclub there and I told one of my friends, you know, the orphan train wasn't anovernight success. Yeah, I think if I remember correctly that book was a slowbuild and it was a bookseller and a librarian hand sell like word. That'smy memory. I could, I could be wrong. Well have you know, maybe we'll ask,Christina will text her and say, hey, is that the case? But it was this hugeslow build people saying, wow, what an amazing story. And you know what elsestruck me as she said both about the orphan train and about this, Itreminded me of Vanessa Riley last week. They go said the story had been brewingfor a decade. Both of them said that...

...and I'm thinking once the story startsbrewing for me a decade is a long time. But guess what? It's not right ifthere's something that's been kind of back there tingling and it's been adecade, maybe it's time to do something about it. You know, I have one I wantto write and I guarantee it'll take me a decade to write it. Well, you knowwhat else writes at first, but in real time or a decade in Christie time,which is really which is, which is like carpool, pretty much she's like, Iprobably won't have it written until the middle of next week. So werehilarious patty patty and I were working, patty had already been workingfor quite a while and had a contract for um her book and I just sort of started out of nowhereand was writing it in secret and I finally shared it with with y'all andChristine. I mean christian basically goes, Christie basically goes, yeah, Ithink all right one and then the next day it was done it only today. That'sso true. How did I want christmas a day and a day? And what was I doing? It wascovid it was freezing cold outside. Every christmas thing was canceled.What else were you doing? You had nothing else on your plate. You didn'thave friends in fiction, you didn't have a child, You are moving out ofthat house. Yeah, thank you weren't singlehandedly running the Friends andfiction shipping depot. I mean it was really bags y'all? I had a nightmarelast night that all the coffee mugs came to me instead of God you know. Isn't there? Oh my Godthat is by oh okay. So you're going to Cape Cod tomorrow. We are yeah we havea 5 30 pick up to go to the airport and I have to finish packing. Um We'regonna go tom I great husband got us tickets. I said I want to go I'vealways wanted to go the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. So and I try togo online and buy tickets and they were like sold out. But I said call them andthrow just tell them some bullshit story about your wife. You know it'sdying and her last wishes to go to that museum. My my wife is a famous authorand she was like, you know, let your boats and leave. She'll let you takepictures with her. Yeah, that's gonna that's gonna float a lot of boats inboston. Anyway. Somebody, somebody took pity on him and gave, didn't give ustickets, but they found, I guess some people canceled. We're going to go to ared sox game. I don't know. I don't know if we're gonna wear our braves arebrave spirit, where or not? That's probably a bad move. And then friday,we take this very over to Nantucket and I'm gonna do signing at Mitchell'sbooks and, and um, I'm really excited about that. And then we're gonna go toCape Cod and see some very old friends and um, and I'll have to write everymorning. So I'll be on the text chain with you all. Okay, we're back on ourriding horses. I don't want to brag, but I get to see Patti next week. Soeverything be jealous. Uh yeah, meg says, see if I can solvethe art heist mystery or write a book about it or that I do love a good heist.I know that might be your next book. Yeah, Well I am in the mountains and itis crazy how just driving up here from Alabama, like every whatever Miles, itdropped one degree, one degree, one degree, one degree. So jealous. It's soweird because it's really cool here too. I mean, I guess it always is, but it'sbeen 82 for like Days on end and it was like 84 of the week before. Like wereally, I mean I'm knocking on all the wood because it'll probably be like 99tomorrow, but it's been like in the low, it's been so pleasant. I'm shocked. Notin Alabama, supposed to be 99 here tomorrow and it's rained every day forthe past two weeks. It's like living in a dishwasher. Are you a writer orsomething like hot and steamy? So there's this like little piece of paperin this like it was like across the street, that's all one of those likegroup bulletin boards and it said I want to know what it's like living innorth Carolina in the summer, take a shower, don't dry off, put all yourclothes on and walk around for a while...

...with a sprinkler hitting you with thesprinkler. No, it's nice to get out of the heat for a bit and get Christie. Ican't wait to get, we'll send we'll send you guys pictures and then holdflat flat kristen and MK like I still have flat christian and like I'm notsure what to do with her, like is there a protocol, like do you, do I just keepher forever or I mean you can't get rid of her. I know, I'm like I wouldrecommend a shrine, is that too much what we put on next week because Iwon't be home for the next week, I'm going to have her like hanging taped up,my expect some candles, maybe some wine offerings. Story, the story pointsacceptable. The story after the other night my parents were here and we'reall sitting around the dining room table and kristen is like it is here Iwhat are you there? I mean that's just where I left her. Did you put an emptywine glass in front of her? At least I buy a wine glass on either campaign, Iswear to you, this could be the start of a Stephen King novel, like wecarried around black kristen. Then we put a full wine glass in front of herand then somebody looks over and it's empty. So where several states away.I'm drunk. I And then there's nothing happening. There's a knocking at thedoor like in the bed. I maybe you could you do your special doorbell. I fired,sounded I have been fired. Like literally I've been fired. My husbandis cooking dinner downstairs and I can smell it. And I have another zoom and Ihave a virtual event at nine p.m. So I cry. We'll show up and ask youquestions. See meg even walker are managing director and you just wrote inthe private chat. No sound effects for patty. So yeah, sorry, I love you. Youhave a lot of strengths and that thing to focus on. So, all right, You have agreat trip. You, I miss you all next week. We'll missyou. You to send loads of pictures. Okay, well, fine. You guys, thank you for tuning in, join us everyweek on facebook or Youtube, where our live show airs every Wednesday night atseven p.m. Eastern time. And please subscribe to our podcast and follow uson instagram. We're so glad you're here.

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