Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 6 months ago

Friends & Fiction with Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

We are so pleased to welcome Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney whose 2016 debut novel THE NEST has been translated into more than 28 languages and is in development with Amazon Studios as a limited series. The Nest spent more than six months on the New York Times bestseller list, was a B&N Discover pick, a Goodreads Choice Award finalist, and a best book of the year pick by People, the Washington Post, NPR, and Amazon among others. Cynthia joins us to discuss her latest novel, GOOD COMPANY, which was an instant New York Times bestseller and A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick when it was released in April 2021.

Welcome to friends and fiction for New York Times. Bestselling authors. Endless stories Novelists Mary Kay Andrews, Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson Harvey and Patti Callahan Henry Are four long time friends with more than 70 published books between them. Together, they host friends and fiction with author interviews and fascinating insider talk about publishing and writing to highlight and support independent bookstores. They discussed the books they've written, the books they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books and you're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Hello, everyone. It is Wednesday night, and that means it is time for friends and fiction. It is the happiest night of the week, and tonight we're so excited to introduce you to Cynthia Dupri Sweeney. I am Patti Callahan, Henry. I'm Mary Kay Andrews. I'm Kristin Harmel and I'm Kristy Woodson Harvey, and this is friends and fiction for New York Times. Bestselling authors, endless stories to support independent bookstores. Our guest for the evening is Cynthia Dupri Sweeney, the author of The Nest and most recently, Good Company, and I cannot wait for you to meet her and talk about this extraordinary book. We'll talk about theater, changing careers in midlife and all of her inspiration for this creative book. As you know, we encourage you to support independent booksellers when and where you can, and one way you can do that is to visit our own friends and fiction bookshop dot org page, where you can find Cynthia's books and books by the four of us and our past guests at a discount, of course, the bookshop dot org portion of each sale through the Friends and Fiction Shop goes to support independent bookstores, and it also helps support our show. So if you enjoy watching, this is a great way to support guests, independent bookstores and friends and fiction all at the same time. Have you heard about our exciting partner this month? Butterball Turkey. We are especially excited about this because it means we get to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the famed Turkey talk line all month long. We talked about in November. We're talking about it in December, and the talk line is open both months, which is great so you can call them now if you have a question about how to cook your turkey. Wait, wait, really really interesting. But after the Yeah, there you go make sure to join us on our talk in Turkey with butter ball after show. Tonight, we'll be chatting about the history of the turkey talk line, and we'll be mentioning some of our favorite Turkey recipes before we get rolling tonight. We want to make sure you know about Wait, did I jump the gun? Christie. Before we get rolling tonight, we want to make sure you know about our divine 12 authors of Christmas extravaganza, and that is not overstating it. We've invited eight amazing author guests to be part of our special Christmas Party episode On Wednesday, December 15, which is, by the way, next week. I know next week that doesn't that isn't I can't, um, together with the four of us, were giving all of you a shot at winning all 12 of our books this holiday season. The entry deadline is midnight on Thursday, December 16. One lucky winner will be chosen at random and announced on Friday, December 17. That winner will receive a series of 12 different book packages in the mail, one personally sent from each author. Be sure to tune into our live show next Wednesday night at seven on the friends and Fiction Facebook group page and on our YouTube channel. And you can find the entry form on our Facebook page. So...

...don't forget you can't win it unless you're in it like you're in it. I think that made a new hashtag. Really? That was a Georgia lottery commercial. I hate to break it. I will give you credit. We really liked it. Um, Also super exciting news you guys have been asking and we are indeed going to have a spring friends and fiction box. So, um, it's going to include my the wedding veil, which releases on March 29, and Mary Kay Andrews, the home records, which releases in May. It will come with a snazzy free gift to be announced. It's gonna be a big surprise that will blow your mind as soon as we pick it. Um, and also, if you order before December 24, not only will you get your free fun surprise in your box with the wedding veil, but you will also get this really great seasons readings ornament that you can see here in the corner of your screen, Which is super cute. So that and your other free gift, if you order before December 24 will come in your first box with the wedding veil. Um, and if you order after December 24, we'll still get your fun surprise. And best of all our looks, we're excited. Hey, um, you can order from Oxford Exchange and we will have a link on our Facebook page. I'm so excited. I know so many people have been asking, So this is great. Alright, yeah, We want to introduce you to our guest New York Times Best selling author Cynthia Dupri, Sweetie. Cynthia's debut novel, The Nest, spent more than six months of The New York Times bestseller list. It's been translated into more than 27 languages, an option for film by Amazon Studios. I wonder she'll tell us any of the movie secrets about it exciting. The novel was also named one of the best books of 2016 by people The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Amazon and Refinery 29. Additionally, her second novel, Good Company, was a read with Jenna Pick for April of this year. Wow! Previously, she worked as a copywriter in New York City for more than two decades, writing copy for a variety of clients. Cynthia holds an M f. A from the Bennington writing seminars, and she now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and sons. Awesome. Sean, will you bring Cynthia on to join us? Hi, Cynthia. Hi, everyone. Hi, Cynthia. In L. A. We're so happy to have you here. I have to tell you, I loved this book so much. It made me miss the theater even more than I already do. Uh, wow. The peek behind the curtain. See what I did there. A theater and television was amazing as well as all the characters who I just felt like I knew I wrote to Cynthia and told her I wanted to have a glass of wine or some coffee with the main character Flora in New York City. So tell us a little bit about good company before we take a much deeper dive into its origins and themes and that kind of thing. Sure. So good Company is the story of two married couples who have been friends for a very long time, and three of the four of them are in the theatre television world. And, um, one of the characters Flora Panty wants to have a drink with, uh, you will read it. Uh, I would like to have a drink with, uh and she goes after her garage one morning and is looking for something. And she finds an old wedding ring of her husband that he supposedly lost many years ago when he was swimming. And it should be sitting in the bottom of a pond somewhere. And it's not. It's...

...in the palm of her hands. So that sort of kicks off the story of the ring and what really happened to it and how it impacts the lives of these four people. So good. So you mentioned the ring. So that's the inciting incident. It's not a spy. You just said, you know what happens, like on the first page? It happens on the first page, and I mean, the opening line is I wasn't looking for the ring when I found it. It's so great. Um, it made my stomach flip over when I read that because it meant that everything you thought true might not be true, right? Right. It flips the world upside down. So I know sometimes we can't say Cynthia, but can you point to a moment for the original spark or the origin of the story? Or where it the little seed that began it? Yeah. I mean, the little seed that began it, um, started before I even finished the nest. I was on vacation and there was a copy of the vacation house, William Stegner's Crossing to Safety, which is a book I love, and I reread it and I thought, Why don't people write more books about adult friendship? Because it's such a rich, complicated territory, and that was like that was like the little spark of the book. And I also knew that I wanted to write about My husband has been a television writer producer for many years. I've sort of been adjacent to that world. I have had friends who have become very famous, and I've I've sort of had a front seat to all of that, and I wanted to write about that, and, um, and then I was having a really hard time starting the book. I I sort of couldn't find my way in, and I was on a business trip with my husband, and I did something I've never done in my entire life. Which was I left my engagement and wedding ring in the hotel room, and I never got them back. And a really terrible thing about it was that the wedding ring I had been wearing was my grandmother's. So it was also, like, worthless. It was just a tiny little band of white gold and, um, but obviously priceless to me. And, um, I couldn't I couldn't stop talking about it. I told everyone, and so many people had a story in return of losing. Um, you know, a piece of jewelry. Often it was a ring. Often it was from a grandparent who, you know, that meant something to them. And I just thought, Oh, maybe that's maybe that's how it starts. Maybe Flora finds a ring. And as soon as I started writing that opening scene like that, I knew it was going to work. Isn't it crazy how we can have this idea of what we want to write about? But we can't find the door into it. I think the moral of the story is go on vacation. I put your jewelry in the safe. I had a friend who who thought she'd lost the diamond and pearl earrings that her husband gave her big girl jewelry, and she didn't want to tell him. And she found it. Like a year later, in the most bizarre place she'd been, she been on vacation, and she put it somewhere just bizarre, like in a powder compact or something, right? Yeah, but for a year, she just did not want to tell him. Oh, my God. I you know, these diamond and pearl earrings you had made for me I can't find now it's a really sickening feeling to lose something valuable, but especially when it has, You know, that...

...extra layer of emotional attachment, you know, like, I didn't want to tell my parents. Yeah, of course. 60 years old was, like, afraid to tell them. And this is actually a great story, because my, um I lost them. Um, we were at a hotel on the Sea of Galilee, and I told my mom the whole story and she said, Where did you lose them? And I said at this hotel at the Sea of Galilee, and she said Oh, that would have made Grandma so happy because my grandmother was a very religious person and, um and then my dad said, um, you know, the only person who never would have cared about that is your grandmother. Every time somebody had something stolen from them, she would always say, Well, they needed it more than you did so well and you know something because of that? It's almost like your grandmother gave you a book. She gave you the door. It's No, I know. I mean, believe me, her picture beautiful. Here she is. Oh, here I go. Oh, cool backwards stuff. I mean, I have pictures of her all over my office, but yes, uh, I feel like she like her ring is living in the book, so that makes absolutely should be. Yeah, it'll last even longer that way. Yeah, that's awesome. Okay, Cynthia, The milieu of theater and TV shows was so immersive. Flora's husband starts a theater company called Good Company and they met in dramatic fashion during a play at Shakespeare in the park. Her best friend, Margot, is a TV star on an E R type show called Cedar Flora herself is in the business, but she's doing voiceovers. Obviously, you have just told us that you have some background. But would you? I mean, we know your husband was is, you know, in the television business. But did you have a background in theater? Um, not unless you count high school. I Okay, well, then, Yes, I love it. I love theater. Um, as may be evident in the book, I, um I love Broadway. I, um I you know any chance I get whenever I go back to New York, it's how many shows can I fit in? And, um and so that was just a real joy. I have a lot of friends who sort of straddle the world between theater and television or theater and film. And I bought a lot of people lunch and ask them questions, and that was really it was so much fun. I I just loved writing all of that stuff because I cared about it so much. And and, you know, I went to New York 11 weekend when I was sort of in the middle of the book, and I took a workshop one Saturday with the woman who was the director of Hades town. And, um and that was really fun, because it was just soaking up the atmosphere of all these young people. And I was in a rehearsal studio space, which I had never been in before. Excuse me. And And I went to Shakespeare in the park that night, and someone in the audience got sick and so, you know, distinct ding ding. Like all those little things that you do, um, that you never know if they're going to be really helpful. But of course, they are always helpful in pulling details. And, um, you know, having inspiration just walking around the park at night. We're sitting there in the audience and listening to the noises around me and all of that stuff. So it was all that stuff that went into the book was was really fun and joyful too. Right? Okay. I have to ask you, Do you have a favorite play? A play? Oh, man. That is really hard to answer. I mean, I'm a huge Stephen Sondheim fan...

...and and so probably my favorite, um, my favorite work of his company, which I've never seen. I know. I had tickets for the revival on March 17, But we know how that worked out Going to see next week. We're going, I'm going in the spring. So I'm but, um and then in terms of, uh, I'm trying to think, I mean, I've seen, you know, I loved Wendy Wasserstein's plays when she was alive. Um, I am trying to think if there's, um, a specific show that I've really loved. No, I just I just love the whole experience of being in the audience, and it's always so moving to me. Whenever whenever a show starts, I always get a little weepy. Um, when the over, Yes. Yeah, I just It's not a Sad one. You can just like really going at it. I mean, for me, I think it's about these people who go on stage every night and make themselves so vulnerable, you know, in the name of making something and then do it again the next night and do it again the next night. It's just, you know, it's I have so much admiration for it. I always think about how many years and how much of their life they've dreamed of that moment. And like how hard it is to be that very, very few that make it to that place. So I agree. I think the last place I saw was mean girls and which, like clearly, there's no sad about mean girls. But even still, you just have that feeling of like, Wow, that might have been the last one. I saw Christine really. The last one I saw was Dear Evan Hansen, and I was like in that one, the world shut down. That was Girls was right before the world shut down like two weeks. There's something just special about being in a theater audience, too, I think, because it's just this collective energy of, you know, we're here because we're ready to believe what you're what you're telling us and what you're performing. And it's a different energy than you find in a movie theater. I think, which is a casual viewer experience. It feels very intimate. There's I don't know, I love it Well, it's gonna change emotionally change like you're part of the show. You know, every audience is different and brings something else to the show. And so you know when that and when that happens, Um I'm thinking of seeing three women a few years ago and just like that, um, you know, when an audience is sort of wrapped like that in the in the face of these amazing performers, you can feel it. You can just feel the energy in the room and there's I don't think there's anything like it. I think Meg has reminded me that I was wrong. The last show I saw was with Meg. We went to see come from away and right, Right. Got it? Yeah, I just walked out of there. Just boo hooing. Oh, yeah, that's one. Absolutely. Alright. So, Cynthia back to talking about your book for a minute. So Flora tells most of the story, and we meet her first, but there are a few shifting points of view. So the best friend Margot and a few surprising other people also kind of have a chance to give us the story from their perspective, right? Give us their viewpoints. So I loved hearing the other voices because my opinion changed with each narrative, and I think that's I like books that do that. I like that, uh, books that deal with the shift in perspective because I think that has so much to do with real life, right where we have, where we have enough empathy to listen to someone. And our views might change a little bit as we find out about someone else's hurts and motivations. So my question is, did you...

...always plan to do this shifting perspective or did happen as you came to know all the characters and sort of realized they all had different things to bring to the table? I always felt from the beginning, like this book was going to need that because you had a secret being revealed that there was more than one person complicit in the secret. And so I felt like you were going to have to hear Excuse me, You're going to have to hear from at least a few different people. Um, that just seemed like essential to getting it right. Was there a narrator in that mix that you liked best or that was most interesting? Yeah. I mean, I the daughter Ruby was she's so great. I'm sorry. My allergies have been so bad. I'm going to have a little frog in my throat. Uh, I loved writing Ruby. She was the easiest to write. I don't have this experience very often, but whenever I had to write her, it was like she just came and sat down in my office and started talking. And it was, um Yeah, it was so much. It was so much fun to write her. And, um and I and I still I still think about her. So, um yeah, I know. There's always a little hard for me to play. I have to revisit Ruby at some point in time. Maybe I do. I don't know. But she Yeah, she's sort of still nags at me a little bit. That was just fun. Um, my friend Ruman alum who wrote Leave the World behind finished the book and he texted me, and he said, I feel like you wrote yourself the daughter you never had. Oh, trusting. Yeah, I was like, Yeah, I'm pretty sure my daughter wouldn't be that cool, but sure. Awesome. That's fantastic. Um, well, I think one of the things that interests all of us so much and probably will interest a lot of our viewers as well is that you made this really amazing mid life career change to fiction writing. So you're working in marketing and branding. You got your MFA. Um, and then 50 moved across the country. So can you tell us about that journey and what that was like for you? Well, the first thing that happened was when we moved to Los Angeles. And, um, my kids were getting older and I didn't like the work. I was doing very much, and it was also changing a lot. And I felt like I had to figure out what I wanted. Like what I wanted to do what I wanted to how I wanted to spend my time when I wanted to work at, and I I started tiptoed into writing fiction. I had tried in my 20's. I didn't stick with it, Um, and after doing it a little bit, because I've been a writer for so long and written so many different kinds of things, I knew that I wasn't getting it right. And I knew that someone could teach me basic craft stuff that I wasn't quite understanding. So I decided to do the M F A program then and that was really great. I really wanted to put that pressure on myself to produce a lot of work in a short period of time because I felt like if I don't like it or if I can't do it, I really don't have a lot of tough to figure out what the next thing is going to be. So that ended up being, um I mean, life changing. I started the nest at the very end of that program. And, um, I could never have imagined what what would happen when when I published the nest, it was nuts, but I'm really grateful for it. Mm. Did you do a remote program or did you go back to It's a low residency program, which I did at Bennington. So you do go back and forth. So I remember the first residency getting there and realizing...

...that I was going to spend almost two weeks just reading my talking about fiction and going to craft sessions and lectures, and I just thought I have landed in heaven. I could not. I could not believe how exciting it felt well, and that's such an interesting perspective, too, because I'm sure you know it changes when you are a little bit older. And, you know, this is something I really want to do, I think, Yeah, cherish those experiences a little bit more. As opposed to being 22 being like, Oh, my gosh, I have more homework, right? No, absolutely. I I was I was very I took it very seriously. I worked very hard. I, um you know, part of the Bennington program is that you read quite a lot, and I would I remember just sitting here in my office, and I can't believe my job is to read all day like this is, you know, this is amazing. This is amazing. So I love that. Well, do you have any advice for people who I mean, maybe don't necessarily want to be writers, but who are kind of approaching that point where they think I've been in this job for a long time. I don't know if I want to change. Like, how did you get the courage to do that? And what would you say to other people who wanted to do the same? Well, you know, I started very small. I am, uh it really started when a friend of mine wanted to start a writing group, and I thought, I can't write fiction, but I can write nonfiction and I gave her something that I had written and she said, I think you should write this as a short story And I just like, What do you mean? Like, I don't I don't write fiction. And she was like, Well, you just take this and you add things to it that aren't true. Great perspective, Yeah, And so, you know, I started in a small group with a small group of friends. I think, you know, being the people who are trying to do the same thing and getting feedback is crucial. That was also I don't think anyone needs an M f A to be a writer. I think it was right for me at that point in my life, and one of the main reasons was because I was getting regular feedback on what I was doing. And, um, and the first thing I did was take, um, take some evening classes at the U. C. L A writers extension. And so, you know, it felt very it felt very low stakes like I could I could sort of weight in I could. I could gauge myself against other people. I could get teacher feedback. I you know, it was it was just I do think it's if you just try and do it all by yourself. It's gonna It feels very overwhelming and hard. Yeah, that's great advice. But there are so many places, especially now, um, with the Internet and especially now that we've gotten so good looking at each other on the Internet, you know, there were so many writers groups and small community centers that offer, You know, that kind of support. I think it's I think it's pretty easy to find. Oh my gosh, did you see this comment that just came in? Teddy McMahon Pruitt just finished my first novel at 73. Steady. That is a realist. I mean, I think all of us, it's been a second career, um, so noble writing. So it's always fascinating to hear you know, the transitions to it. Um, so I want to talk about the ending for a minute. We're not going to give it away. I will not give away the ending. But I have to say that I could see many, many endings coming. And as with the best endings, the ending was also a beginning. Um, so from the first draft to the last, did the ending change or did you always know where you were headed? I didn't know where I was headed. Okay. And I will tell you, I put off writing the ending literally until the minute I had to, I was reading. And I was like, How...

...is she going to get there to get me to a year and a half wondering how I was. Yeah. I always knew, um, I knew that I was going to have this scene that took place up in the summer artistic colony. Yeah, I was very worried about writing it, and, um so I really and I switched editors in the middle of the book, so I ended up sort of revising the first two thirds of the book. And then the book is due and quarantine hit and everything shut down. And I was like, All right, Cynthia, sit yourself down and write that scene. And so I really I didn't write it until I had until I had revised pretty much the book up until that point. And then I wrote it, and then I And then I wrote it very. I wrote it very quickly and because I've been thinking about it for so long and, um yeah, so that it's like I said, It's one of the It's a fantastic ending And like I said, it was also a beginning and rounded itself out. And it felt like you had had given it some really deep thought. And I could Yeah, some might say too much thought, but never too much as long as you actually finish right. Like not true, Cynthia. There's also again, without giving anything away. I noticed that there is kind of a heart motif throughout, starting with Marcus husband, who is a pediatric cardiac surgeon. Was that on purpose? Did you start with that, or was it something? Well, you know, it's one of those things where, um, like I knew Margo played a doctor on T V. And then I just thought, Oh, her husband should be a doctor in real life like that will be fun to play with, and and then I I made him. I think you'll find out pretty early in the book that he had had a stroke at at some point, and so I wanted him. I wanted the work he did to sort of relate to what happened to him because, as I was researching strokes, you know, it's like there's all these coincidences in life that sometimes are too neat to even put in the book. But But I just kept reading again and again about this particular condition that sometimes doctors have who treat stroke patients. So anyway, that's sort of how that all happened and then, um and yeah, and then I just I I found Sometimes I would just be researching things and a little like a little heart, something would pop up. And I would think, Oh, I have to use it. So I try not to be heavy handed with it, but it was kind of fun. It was beautiful. It was hidden there. They were little little little secrets tucked away. Yeah, it was Maybe that was your grandma, right? Like who gave you She kept popping up with these little hearts along. Yeah, I love that. Yeah, that's amazing. So we have a really active community, and we're right now on Facebook and YouTube. and they're tossing questions in and comments. So, Mary Kay, we grab one. Yes. Well, one comment I really liked was, um Bonnie Mae said her husband was in high, lost his high school ring in Vietnam, washing his hands in his helmet out in the field. Wow. Unbelievable. Yeah. I mean, you could do a whole throat about Just say I Sure.

Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. How about you, Kristen? Sure. Yes. Susan Schwarz Seligman would like to know. Cynthia, were you a reader growing up in which authors and books inspires you as a child? Yes. I was a voracious reader. Growing up, um, I had to be yelled at to go outside and get some sun. Yes. And, um, I loved the Anne of Green Gables books. Um, we would, uh I grew up in Rochester, New York, and we would go to Toronto on vacation and the first, like the first couple of animal Green Gables books you could find anywhere, but it was much harder than to find the rest of them. There's like, I don't know, seven. Maybe. And so, every year we would get there and I would just bug my mother to go to Eaton's and we go to the bookstore and I buy the next one. And I would sit in the in the hotel like gym locker room, you know, reading it. So I loved, you know, I love that I loved. I loved, um, the secret Garden I loved, you know, Laura Laura Ingalls Wilder. I like I loved every I loved most books that most Kids Love, but I would read anything I would literally read anything from, you know, I pushed myself. My parents would let me read anything. So there was a picture of me, and I'm probably 12 years old sitting at a little cabin in Maine Um, reading Philip Roth's The Great American Novel. So my dad had read they would let me read anything I wanted to read, and and so that was great. Oh, that's amazing. How about you, Christine? Uh, well, this is such a nice comment. I wanted to read it to you. Marlene Water said Cynthia is just so down to earth and personable. I'm so happy to be watching this program completely agree. Um, and I should not have done that because I lost my question. A Armstrong wanted to know. I love this one. What was the most exciting part of being a read with Jenna Pick? I want to know. Well, we're being told that your religion, I think it's a pretty good day. It's a pretty good not bad day, right? Pretty good day in a pandemic when you're freaking out that no one's going to buy your book. So I mean, the whole experience was great and and the thing I think I enjoyed the most was after you're on the show in the morning, you do an Instagram live with Jenna, and I think we talked for almost an hour and she is a real She is a real reader and she loves books. And she's so thoughtful. Um, you know, she just had She goes deep on every book. This is not a vanity project for her. It is a passion. And so it was just a really wonderful experience that I am so incredibly grateful for. I am. I watched when they interviewed you on the show part, not the I'm on the show part, and they just always do such a good job getting to the heart of what the story. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, they're terrific. You're, like, cool as a cucumber. I would've been like, I don't know, You would not have. You know, when we see you out there, Patty, you're going to be cool. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Like, what do you guys want? I'm on this show, like, first of the high. Like what? It's much easier when you have to worry about what you're wearing from here up. It's true. Exactly. All right. Debbie Kuperman...

...phone wants to know. Do you plot or do you free? Right? Do you outline? Do you go for it? No, I am. I'm just sort of I just sort of go. Although this book, the new the new book I'm working on, I, um I didn't event with Elizabeth Stroud a few weeks ago for her new book, and she said that her writing practice is, uh, thinking about all the scenes that have to take place, and she writes them all down, and then she starts writing the scenes, and then she starts thinking about how they're going to connect. And I thought that sounds kind of interesting. Maybe I'll try that. So I've been I've been kind of trying that Just trying to think about scenes. Um, instead of just starting to write and sort of groping my way through the dark so we'll see if it will see if it works. I started. I started trying that with a book that I'm revising right now. And, um and I'm a total pan, sir. Uh, but I usually write in a very linear way. And what happened to me was I couldn't remember what happened when, so I had a subtitled I had to give subtitles to the chapters, which I'd never done before. That kind of that kind of help, I think. I mean, I think right in good company was so difficult because I went back and forth and time with all these different characters, and it was it was torture. And I have such a desire to impose some kind of structure on this new book before I start writing it. Just so I'm not in that place again for 2.5 years. I don't want to do it that way again. Um but we'll see. We'll see what happens. It Isn't interesting. I've heard people tell me they make a list that they don't even start writing until they have a list of 40 scenes. Oh, very screenwriter. You way to do it? I just literally don't know until I start writing. I can't even make myself come up with it because I just don't know, like it's really bizarre and like I wouldn't want one scene is predicated on the one that came before somebody right thing and then I don't know. I don't know, All right, I know writing is hard. Writing is hard speaking apart. Cynthia. One of our favorite parts of the show is the segment where we get to ask you for a writing tip. So do you have one you can share with everyone? Well, I think one that people sometimes don't think about, especially beginning writers or early writers. And that is so much fun and so interesting is doing research. So, um, I you get so much from it, I am. I'm working on a new book that I think it's going to take place in the late 70s. So I've been watching old Phil Donahue episodes. That's awesome, but I mean, it's fantastic. I you just you just come you come out of those sessions with a bunch of ideas. Obviously, they don't all stick, but it really helps, especially at the beginning of a book, to sort of get, you know, to get the wheels turning and and it's so easy to do now. And so, um, research and I also I've never written a book that's not contemporary. So I reached out to, uh, some of my peers and said, What kind of research do you like to do? What really helps? Um, the Phil Donahue show was Liu Bei yards tips. So, um so, yeah. So, um, you know, ask for ideas and and And just do research. I mean, for good company. I listen to podcasts. I read books. Um, I watch documentaries. You know, all that stuff almost feels like you're cheating, but it does really sort of help you build that world, you...

...know, And I I find I think sometimes people think Well, if I'm doing the research, I'm not doing the writing. But you are because your brain is working on it. Your your characters are developing, and you're seeing story trajectories that weren't there before. So it is. I think it's a vital part of the writing process. I think that's a great tip. I know. But you know, Kristen, lots of times when we're doing our writing sprints in the morning, Kristin will say, Well, I'm not writing, I'm researching, and we have to say no, Your head is too So you can see that the student has learned You've said it to me now so many times I'm regurgitating it on screen. Yeah, like, really, I was writing that whole time. Exactly. Well, I used to have a little post it on my on my Baltimore behind my computer. That said, Thinking is writing because you're thinking is working because sometimes I just sit there and I always have, like, stick it, you know, post it. There's something up there and sometimes I'm just staring at them, waiting for something to come out, and I finish and think, Oh, I didn't get anything done today and like no, I did. Of course I did, like I moved that ball a little bit. It doesn't maybe it's not. The word count didn't change, but that doesn't mean I wasn't working. That is so true. Absolutely. Cynthia, do you have a book you'd like to recommend tonight something you've read recently? Yes, I'm going to recommend Elizabeth Strout's new book, William. So it's really it's really beautiful. It's part of a trilogy, So if you have read Lucy Barton, I don't remember the name of the middle one, but they all sort of stand alone. You don't have to have read the previous ones. It's great if you did, but this is also about marriage. And about, uh, it's about a woman who goes on a road trip with her ex husband looking for something, and it's just like all of her books. It's sad and funny and wise. And so that's That's, uh, one of my recent favorites. That's great. Good recommendation. I haven't read it, but I loved Lucy Barton. Yeah, yeah, one of my favorite lines comes out of that book where, she said, where the writing teacher tells her, Don't worry about what you're writing. We all only have one story, and we tell it over. It's about knowing what are one story about a line in her book all the time. I always hoped I could meet her and tell her that that line was like, yeah, I love that. You don't mind sticking around for a few more minutes. We have one question for you. A couple announcements. Alright, Yes. I want to tell you about remind you about our writer's block podcast. We'll always post links under announcements each time a new one drops. I just love saying that it sounds so show bizzy. I know, I know, I know. A new episode drops Each Friday, Ron and Patti talked with Kim Marie Martin about medical fiction, and this week Ron talks reality TV with Amy Phillips, and you know we remind you every week. But the Friends and Fiction official Book Club is so much fun. Mary Kay just joined them earlier this week to talk about the Santa suit. Kristy's joining them December 20th to talk about Christmas and Peachtree Bluff. Um, just so much fun. They're almost up to 10,000 members. As you know, it's run by Lisa Harrison and Brenda Gartner. It's a separate group from us, Um, but I think they just keep getting better and better. So join the book club. If you haven't already, they have some great pigs coming up, and I can say that now because they're picking books that are not just our books. Used to sound a little conceited before when we were like, Wow, they have Picks from four Granddaughters. But now they're branching out, which is wonderful. And...

...we also want to make sure that you join us next week right here at seven p.m. Where we will be celebrating the holidays with not one, not two, but eight guest authors. Apologies to Sean, who will have to be negotiating bringing them up. Enough realizing now I don't think I've mentioned to Sean yet that we're doing this. So Sean, buckle up. This is what we're doing next week. It was way worse than what I asked him earlier. I thought you were mad at me, Sean. I mean, we're not her. You already forgiven Christi done and dusted. There's also going to be a poem in a big giveaway. You will not want to miss this one. And then on December 22, just a few days before Christmas, we will host Maria Amparo Escandon. If you're ever wondering about our schedule, it's always on the fence and fiction website, and the fall schedule is on our Facebook banner and we're gonna be announcing some upcoming dates soon. Now, does anyone have anything worse to tell Sean? I just have to say I mean, I know this is preaching to the choir because everyone who is watching is here right now. But do not miss next week. Kristin has really outdone herself on this, and it's really something. It's probably the coolest thing we've done since the Forest Vanishing Stars the musical. I really I think so. I mean, it's different because forests vanishing stars the musical. It was a little more like Serious. This is a little funnier, but it's equally as amazing. She has such range as a theater writer and producer, Barbara said. Sean is busy next week. Barbara, shame on you. Well, Barbara is going to be filling in. I think that's what uh, nobody can fill in. There's just no way, No way. While you are on the Oxford Exchange website ordering the New Springboks, make sure that you add in one of our beautiful new reading journals for yourself or someone that you love. This blue linen cover this gorgeous gold embossing. The inside is incredible. It's like everything that you could possibly think to write down about a book and they make a great gift, and you should definitely get one for yourself to help with all of your 2022 reading goals are our Christmas bundle is also still available. That has, um, Patties Once upon a war drip. Mary Kay's The Santa Suit Y'all, I'm like forgetting Oliver book names. And what as well as the option to add Christians, the Forest, Vanishing Stars. It is a really incredible gift for someone that you love or for yourself. Because as we've established one for you, one for me is a good philosophy on this ship, and they do really pretty gift wrapping. To write like the packaging is really beautiful. So you need to ship a last minute holiday gift. It's a good spot. Okay, Cynthia, everybody on the thing is asking, Where can they get speaking of gifts, signed copies of your book or signed book plates? Where's the best place together? Gosh, that's a good question. I mean, a lot of the independent bookstores have them. Um, but if you want one and your local bookstore doesn't have one, if you reach out to me via my website. I will send you a book play. Wow, that's nice. And it's a great Christmas gift, too. So, usually right about now, we talk about the values of reading and writing, growing up in your childhood that you talked about them a little bit. But I want to know if you pass those on to your like, how have you raised them with reading and writing and story? I...

...mean, your husband being in TV stories, obviously a discussion, right? I mean, you know, reading was just hugely important, and I read to them every night. That was what we did before bedtime. And, um and, you know, it took a while for them to read on their own. And but as soon as they did, that was so I mean, there was an unlimited budget for books you could you could go into. You go into Barnes and Noble, and you couldn't buy a toy, But you could buy a book. And, um and you know, my my son, they're both huge readers, and my older son is a writer as well, and I told him in high school, I you know, I could have ruined the whole thing by uttering these words. I think you're a writer, but because he hated writing in high in high school. But But he's but he's a great writer and, you know, he wants to make movies. And and he, uh and and my other son is just an avid reader and you know, So it's a real joy. I mean, when we all in the four of us go away on vacation, we all just sort of go to our separate chairs and open a book. And that, to me, is like the perfect family. Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. Did they read your book? They do. Yes. Yeah, yes. And they're they're so supportive. Excuse me? They're so supportive and so excited for me. And that has been that that has been really fun. I love how it did. It didn't even occur to me to turn a light on in this office. You like watching the sunset in Los Angeles? But you had with my Yeah, with the best part is it just got slowly. I know. It's just like a very dramatic all right? The other thing, everyone's asking, and I we really want to know too, Because you've only hinted. What are you working on next up? Very, very early days. So I, um I mean, I wish I had more information for you. I think it's going to be a book about Families. That seems to be the book I write over and over again, um, in my hometown of Rochester, New York, in the late late 70s. So that's that's the plan. That's the plan. That yeah, that that'll change. I think people want to know what's going on with the Amazon series. Yeah, it's not. It is Mary Kay Andrews. Yeah, I want to know. The book was originally at Amazon as a future film. It was in development for a long time there. The option came up last February, and I took it back because the people who had sort of acquired it had all left, and I knew it was just a shelf there. Um, but AMC has option to. It is a limited series, and I just In fact, I just got the, um we hired a wonderful playwright from Manhattan that was very exciting to me to write the pilot, Adam. She just handed in what I think is the final outline for the pilot that will go to AMC, and we'll see what happens many, many, many miles to go before anyone gets paid. It's, um it's exciting. It's exciting. Yeah, it is exciting. It is exciting. And it's fun. And I'm involved exactly how I want to be, which is just giving notes for a change instead of taking them. So that's fantastic. What a great deal. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, It's fun. It's fun. It's been fun. Thank you so much for spending your evening with us and talking about theater and writing and midlife changes. And you're amazing.

Books were so thrilled that you joined us, Cynthia. Thank you. This has been great. Thank you guys for inviting me. I love that you do this. So happy to be here. All have beautiful holidays. Okay. Thank you. Thank you. You too. Holidays high by. Okay. Now to the rest of you, make sure you stay around for our talking turkey with butter ball after show. And don't forget that you can find all of our back episodes on YouTube. We are live there every week, just like we are on Facebook. And if you subscribe. You will never miss a single thing. Plus, you'll have access to short clips. We pull out some, we pull out the writing tips and some fun things that they say. And be sure to come back next week as we have as we make Sean crazy. All right. Good night. Hey, Kristin. Got under the butter balls. Okay? Yeah, it was really offensive. Okay. Thanks, Sean. I sure it was gonna be me. I was going to say I'm going to be mad at you, and we're so happy y'all are here for the talking turkey butter ball after show. We're talking turkey. Doesn't just show me food because we're about to talk about the show because she was amazing. It was great. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You want to go to a Broadway play with? I know I remember really distinctly going to Siva and getting an advanced copy of the nest and being like, this is so and like reading it and being like, Oh, my gosh, this is so great. So it's just it's really exciting to hear her story. And how she made that career switch is scary, you know? Yeah, we all did it but we didn't like pop off to M F A school. I think that's fascinating for her. Usually inspiring. Absolutely. Yeah And, you know, And I meant it. I meant it. And I know y'all do, too. But I miss theater and reading that book. There's, uh, you know, kind of behind the scenes of how they choose the actors and actresses. The difference between TV and live theater that, um and the show in the book called Cedar is kind of an e r playoff e r. And how people get attached to the characters. And what happens if one wants to quit? Do they kill them? Like, what do they do with them? You know, So I don't know. I think it's I love hearing behind the scenes of any job we learned something That's true. I agree. That's so interesting. It is interesting. Yeah, I think I'm going to New York next week. By the way you are. I think so. I think so. If I can get these revisions. Oh, fantastic. I'm hoping I'm gonna hook up with Ron and Jeff will be in. Oh, yeah. Um, you guys feel like they blame something behind our backs. Are you feeling like a T T? Let's just go get the bad thing. Is that, you know, I haven't been in New York like all of you. I'm sure I've been in almost two years. It was time. It's my most favorite place. Yeah, And so I went to look to make a book, a room at the place we usually stay at in Murray Hill. They closed it down, and now it's a homeless shelter way. So I'm not staying, Um, where I used to always stay. Did you find him? We're gonna go to a play, right? Yes, I hope to. I hope great. I might go see company. It's on. There's a revival on. Really? Yeah. I think Brian and Jeff are going...

...to go see it, so we'll see. Did y'all see a clip of that Lin manual reading from textile boom? I know it was from George George in the park, you know, the Sunday in the park. And he did it in central in Times Square right after he died, and he read from his book. And then there was a huge chorus behind him singing. You guys got to look it up. It's a YouTube. And then this huge chorus behind him, a famous Broadway stars. So a song from Sunday's With George Uh, yeah, that's awesome. I didn't see the whole thing, but it made me get a little bit weepy. Yeah, not only for New York, but for plays and for the emotion that they bring and for the talent that's lost when he leaves a sense one is with our publishers. I during Christmas, the window now kind of talking myself into going. I know well and like my best friend and I always take our kids and we go like, last week or this week every single year. And I'm not going this year and I'm really pumped out. And it's so funny because someone from my pump house emailed me and was like, I'm really sad. This is the week you normally come. And I was like, Yeah, like I don't like, but it's so fun. It gets me so pumped up, but actually kind of getting to be here and doing all our like, silly little small town. It's really Yeah, yeah, three days till I squeeze those, Uh, that's gonna be so great. So that'll make up for missing New York. But you'll have to send us loads of pictures. Is everybody ready for Christmas? Oh, heck, no. I was just freaking out about it today. Looking at the list of people, I still need to get things for that. I know what I want to get. It's just I don't have the time to sit down and actually do the ordering and the wrapping. And I've done nothing. Yeah, I haven't finished a book. Yeah, that's true. And it's revising it now. Well, Christmas and Peachtree Bluff like that. We're doing, like, a town takeover this weekend. Well, not this weekend. It started today and go for it. And so y'all follow me on Instagram because I'm gonna be posting all the pictures today, and we'll be following you. You know what's really funny, too? Is, um I started to get nervous because I was like, we're doing all these, um, bus tours around town. And what if it's freezing cold and like sleeping? I mean, you know, you don't know it's December, and it's going to be 72 on Saturday and 75 and thank you, Lord. So someone just asked and we already know the answer because we were going crazy with you on text. But they want to know how it felt to be the grand marshal of your town's parade Highlight of my life. It was fun, little, Well, read with me and we handed out candy, and, uh, it was just really fun. It's just so it's so great to live in a really tiny town who will, like, make a big deal out of your stuff. But, um, it's just really nice, like a lot of people are coming in for it and I don't know, it's just it's really cool. So I'm excited and there are lots of fun events going on, and I'm gonna be really tired on Sunday, but really happy. I kept thinking, you know, you wore that really great hat and I kept thinking how much fun it would have been if you would have worn a Cindy Lou who wig. I have one that I have a Sydney Ludwig and it's super like crazy. But I'd say something funny. So you know that hat it's actually a tree topper. Oh, really? Yes, and I've had it for a couple of years. And I was like, This is so cute. I wonder if it fit on my head and they're, like, perfectly fit on my head. I just think I asked you to be the grand marshal again. I want you to wear this, Cindy...

Lou who? I think it could be like a one and done type of situation that I'm not sure you get to do it twice. You know, anybody could do it twice. It would be you. Oh, thank you, Patti. Thank you. Thank you. Well, I cannot wait to see pictures of the babies. I'm so excited. They're coming and pictures of New York. And, gosh, this is gonna be like the best Christmas for No, I feel like this Christmas is so like he's such a good a good age. Yeah. Are you doing the Christmas Eve like, ride around on the monorail and look at the lights. So we're going to do it, Um, the weekend before. Okay. Yeah, we're excited about it. We are going to use the Polynesian as our home base. It's going to be excited with that. I mean, it's so far that I know because you live in Orlando and you have this past you go all the time. But yeah, it's crazy. Disney World for us is like this year long planning and tickets and plane planes. And I know it's so weird. It's so weird when you live here and it's like, intellectually, I know that. But to me, I'm just so used to like we didn't have anything to do on Sunday, so well, I mean, there are a million things to do, but we were right to do so We're like, Well, just pop over to Epcot for a couple hours And so we did that, But you know what I mean. It's just like a normal thing here. It was so funny, Like when I was there and I said to Kristen, like So how often do you go to the park? And she's like, you know, a few days a week after school, and I was just so I can't even imagine because, like you said, Patty, for us, it's like this massive planning and like, yeah, all right. Yeah, let's go get. Are we going to get what we're supposed to talk about? Turkey. Oh, you know what I made Like when you play you? Probably something today. Yeah, yeah, I made it. I actually made it today. I made it this morning because I knew like when we have the show at night, I usually don't make dinner on Wednesdays, but I was like, What if I made the dinner in the morning, photographed it and put it on online, right? And then we can just reheat it for dinner tonight. So that was perfect. It was like the perfect thing to do. But I made a French castle a and, like, absolutely a cheating version of it. Because a real French castle, it takes days to prepare. It's It's a really complex dish with beans and duck, cold feet and all sorts of things. But I made it featuring butter ball turkey sausage, which, which is so good I've actually made it that way before. We even before we were partnering with butter ball because I just liked the way that particular sausage works in the dish. Like it, it picks up the flavors without interfering with the flavors. Anyways, it's really good the recipes on my Facebook and my instagram, and it's easy. It's like a good winter dish and no one will eat Castle that that's a pretty sophisticated kid. He will. But you know, his favorite part of it is the turkey sausage. So he'll pick that out and complain about the rest. So So tonight I gave him, like a side with his castle, and that's exactly what he did. He just ate the sausage. I love that. Yeah, that's horrible. I mean, turkey tacos last night, and I'm gonna give you the leftovers of those right now. So a very sophisticated take on butter balls. I love turkey tacos. I am headed out to our Red Mountain Theater holiday extravaganza. It's a big theater production, and they have live animals. So I'm going to the theater. Squirrels nest to cut some more fat out of my manuscript. Oh, good for you. All right, but before we leave, all of you and see you next week just to reminder that butter ball is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Turkey talk line. And I hope you didn't call them in the middle of the show. And it started as just a talk line. But now they have a website and a Facebook page. They're on instagram and they are on Tiktok, which I'm scared to go near. You talk to talk turkey talk tiktok. Look how good that I did that Turkey talking top. Of course, we all know that we can call in, um, with any last minute questions or turkey questions.

And if you forget to write it down, you can just google it or go to butter ball dot com. And we have a little link running across the bottom right now. So good night, Y'all. Thank you. Tonight. Thank you for tuning in. You can join us every week on Facebook or YouTube, where our live show airs on Wednesday nights at seven p.m. eastern time. Also subscribe to our podcast and follow us on Instagram. We're so glad you're here.

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