Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 11 months ago

Friends and Fiction with Elizabeth Berg

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Elizabeth Berg joins the Friends & Fiction authors to discuss her novels, including the beloved Authur Truluv series, and her latest memoir, I'll Be Seeing You. http://www.elizabeth-berg.net

Welcome to Friends and fiction. Fivebest selling authors Endless Stories, Friends and Fiction is a podcast withfive bestselling novelist whose common love of reading, writing an independentbookstores found them together with jets, author interviews and fascinatinginsider talk about publishing and writing. Thes friends discuss the booksthey'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 theright place. Bestselling novelist Mary Kay Andrews, Christine Harmel, ChristieWoodson, Harvey Patty Callahan, Henry and Mary Alice Munro are five longtimefriends with more than 80 published books. To their credit at the Start of the Pandemic, they gottogether for a virtual happy hour to talk about their books, their favoritebookstores writing, reading and publishing in this new, unchartedterritory. They're still talking, and they've added fascinating discussionswith other bestselling novelists, so join them live on their friends andfiction. Facebook Group page every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern, or listenand view later at your leisure. Hello and welcome Lover. I'm Mary AliceMunro and my latest book. He was on Ocean Boulevard. I'm Mary Kay Andrewsand my latest is Hello, Summer Caramel. My latest is the book of last names I'mChristi Woodson Harvey and my latest book, It's Feels Like Falling. And lastbut Not least, I Am Paddy Callaghan, Henry and my latest is becoming MrsLewis, and this is friends and fiction. So tonight I'm especially thrilled towelcome to our program and author. I've never missed a book for I've loved herfor years, and like many of you, I found her voice, her unique wit andwisdom. Unlike any others, Elizabeth is a prolific writer. This is ElizabethBerg, by the way, and she's a prolific writer. She is the New York Timesbestselling author off many novels, including Durable Goods. Which one? TheAmerican Library Association Book of the Year award. The Dream Lover, whichwas named one of the 10 Best books of the year by U. S. A. Today An OpenHouse, was an Oprah Book Club pick, which is pretty big. I loved her recentMason Missouri trilogy. We were just talking about that in the Green Room.It's the story of Arthur True Love, Night of Miracles and the ConfessionClub, and we all found that the message there are. There are good people outthere is so relevant today, her most recent work. I'll be seeing you. Ithink it's there. It is right up there. I'll be Seeing You is a deeply personalmemoir charting the emotional waters of a daughter's efforts to guide herparents move from our own. They really love to a care facility as theystruggle with Alzheimer's disease. We are so fortunate to have Elizabethtonight because the book is released October 27th. So we are all getting anearly peek at, Well, what will be her next best seller, Elizabeth Berg'sbooks haven't published in 30 countries, and three of her books have beenadapted into movies for television, and the Pull of the Moon was adapted into aplay in 2018. She received the Illinois Literary Heritage Award from theIllinois Center for the book, and although Berg's plots vary, there arecertain constants to be found that appeal toe. All readers love, loss,hope, compassion and humor are in all her narratives. So despite reading herbooks for decades, I only just recently met Elizabeth some five years ago inSavannah, at a book Festival and I was with Patty and Mary Kay and we all fellin love with her. And there's where we are. That was our very first dinnertogether, that Marine Benedict was with us that night to that zone. You have toget on the show. We love her, too. That was fun night and we all fell in lovewith her. So tonight, everybody, let's all welcome Elizabeth Berg. Thank youthinking I've got to read this author A But that's the point. Anyone out therewho has not read this author, Elizabeth Bird, you will by the end of tonight.Who's who hasn't. That's what I say. Who hasn't? Yeah, so all right, wealways like to begin with the warm up questions, So fall is the time that Iam. Most people love to cuddle up and...

...read a book. So Elizabeth, you I have aquote from you that you said, I try not to read like a writer, and I find thatmy editorial self is intruding more often than I would like it, too. But Iwant to read like a reader. I want to get lost in a book. So here's myquestion, and that's for all of us. First of all, Elizabeth, how is thatgoing for you? I'm able to read like a reader, Or are you still reading like awriter? You know, I'm sorry to say that it's both, but if a book is really fineand I can get lost in it, then it's less likely that I'm that I'm readinglike a writer just pops up up every now and then. Maybe this is true for allwriters that that I'm reading along and thinking her editor made her do that.Yeah, I do that, too. That's funny. Eso It happens. It happens. The better thebook is, the less it happens. E think that's true. Who else wants to answer?I think I feel that saying, How about anybody else? Well, when I was tryingto get I'm sorry, Fatty, it's like that's the way you go ahead, you know,I think when I was trying to get published, I did that MAWR because Iwould be like E that was good is that trying to get published? But now Ithink I'm more able to kind of every now and then I'll think something like,I can't believe her editor didn't make her do that. Our our editor did makeher do that or whatever it may be. But for the most part, I think I'm sort ofableto like Just relax and get lost in the book, which is absolutely wonderful.I don't ever I don't think I really read like an editor because I'm not areally good editor. But you don't feel like some that one thing that'shappened through the years is I give I'll stop. I won't make myself finish abook if it's not grabbing me where I used almost feel guilty, I have. If Istarted it, I have to finish it on. I don't I don't do that anymore. And evenwhen I'm reading for a blurb, I think all y'all will agree. Even then, I'mnot. I don't really read it like an editor, but, um, but I have put downbooks. Elizabeth, just like you said and said, Oh, they went back and madeher at that or boy the editor. But she must have been late because I've beenreading a lot of early copies for blurbs lately, so it's copies thataren't all the way through copy editing yet, I think Andi, I have found I tendto be hyper attuned to the things I do wrong. So word repetitions jump out atme because that's something I always do in, like sex 3rd and 4th drafts andthat, and I'm mortified when I realized they've slipped through. So I thinkthat's something I tend to notice about other people, books. But that that saysmore about me than the books. I think, yeah, I think what I have found overthe course of my career is an author. Is that sometimes authors that I lovedearlier in my career? Now just there's maybe one or two When I read them now,I think to myself they you know, they took the easy way out or, you know,they pulled. They used. They used that. They've used that trick before. And Iwould I didn't notice it. True e true. Yeah, but T shirt e When an authorpulls off a great story, then I'm completely, um, Gaga E. And I try tomake myself stop and send them like a fangirl email saying that was terrific,that z e. I think you know, You know yourself. It means a lot when you hearfrom an author. You know that someone like your book. Uh, there was a book Iloved last year. Heavy Drake starts over E Love that book so much and Istopped after I was done. I sent her. I sent her fangirl note on said, You know,thanks. That was such a wonderful, you know, great. It hit every note I wantedit to hit. So sometimes I'm tougher on on authors who I think I don't everthink an author's phoning it in because we all know how hard we work. No authoris literally phoning it in make. Sometimes the book doesn't Sometimes abook doesn't succeed in what we'd hoped it would do. But I really, truly don'tbelieve any offers literally phone it in. Yeah, I agree. Well, I think aboutto write a letter to at least one other author this week. Great idea. Everybodyon this. I love your books. It's nice...

...to get a word. Er, you know that's notIt is look in your mailbox. It's a solicitation for pork chops. It's nice.It's the nicest thing. And it amazes me how many people still like Take thetime to write a letter like that. Z When a fan writes an email or puts iton your own or something that's really moving thio way do read them, you know?Well, all right, let's Since we're talking about books we love, let's dobook recommendations now, Elizabeth, I think you had a couple of books youwanted to recommend that you loved you very plainly told me to book. So I haveon, uh and I have two novels. But this is essays. And look at the jacket. Imean, isn't it so great? It's called Act Like You're Having a Good Time.Thes are essays. She's so smart and she's so funny and she's so wise andsometimes she's so angry. And she's very honest in these essays, and youcan read one a night like, you know, like a chocolate on. There are the twonovels, um, our donkey vain. I'm getting all mixed up here, left andright, left, right up, down vein. Douglas Stewart. So I read a review ofthis novel. It's a nice fat 12 I read a review of it and I thought, Boy, thatsounds like my kind of book. And it sure, waas I mean, from page one to thevery end, it is astonishingly good, and I don't say that very often. So I hadhim Come on, my little writer author, Siri's. And it's a good thing I did itearly because he's now shortlisted for the Booker and for the national wow inthe universe. And honestly, he deserves to win every single one of them. Astory that takes place in, um, Scotland. And the dialogue is so is the kind ofagain you want to read it again? Finally, you guys are not gonna haveany time. Uh oh. McCorkell It is amazing is what a feat. What a feet.It's like sliding. You just have, I think, sometimes as writers, we alllook and say, How did she do that? You don't? Yes, this it's magic. It's soaffecting. So s so utterly believable and transporting as it says on thecover Spectacular. What? You sold me e want to revote e love getting done withsomething and thinking. God, I wish I had written that. Yes, yes. Absolutely.Yeah. Makes you want to be a better writer. Yeah, E you have a book to?Yeah, you know, we always love to talk about debuts on our show. Um, and thisone, which comes out about a month. December 8. The Mermaid from Jeju It'llbe out December 8th is just beautiful. It's a debut novel from a KoreanAmerican writer named Sumi Han. She now splits time between Korea and NewZealand. The book is set in post World War two Korea, and it follows the storyof a deep sea diver whose family is torn apart after a tragedy. So it'spart magic, kind of like a fairy tale fable sort of thing, part Koreanhistory. And it's incredible. Eso added to your list now, and I will add it tothe Facebook page, the friends and Fiction page. Well, thank you, and wewill everybody put these recommendations up on our friends andfiction Facebook page. So if you missed them, don't worry. We'll put them allup. And speaking of books, As you all know, we are passionate supporters ofindependent booksellers, and tonight Elizabeth chose her local indie, thebook table in Oak Park, Illinois, and I met Jason years ago. When I came out tospeak and Elizabeth you came to that crowded room was standing for Holy. Itwas in the library, and this is in Oak Park, and everyone loves to come toeapart to see the Frank Lloyd Wright's. It's an absolutely wonderful city, butit is the only independent bookstore there, and Jason said they'll doeverything they can that's legal to make your book experience memorable on.They're offering you the 10% discount with the code friends and thick F I Cand that link and everything you need to know be on our Facebook page. Buthere's the extra bonus. Elizabeth said she'd walk on over to the book tableand signed copies of I'll Be Seeing You, her new book and any of her books thatare ordered through the book table. So...

...you get it autographed book 10% off andyou're supporting a local independent bookseller. So without further ado,Elizabeth now we'd love to hear you talk about give us a glimpse off yourmemoir. I'll be seeing you. Yeah, well, this is a very different book for me,as you as you might all No, I usually write fiction, But when my dad begangetting Alzheimer's disease and soon it became clear that my parents would haveto leave the home that they lived in for 45 years, it was a journey of suchconfusion, frustration, anguish, full of missteps, full of things that I didthat I wish I hadn't done. I felt a little lost at sea as to how best tohelp. Um, and what helped me most was hearing stories from other people aboutwhat they had gone through. So this book is a very personal, incrediblyhonest and frank diary of the decline of my parents. Sounds like a fun romp,huh? But I think I think why it z good to read something like this is is weare all If our parents live long enough going to be faced with something likethis, we ourselves if we live long enough, maybe foisting things on to ourChildren. And the best news about this book is that although it does outlineall the all the sad and angry and confusing things that happened, it alsotalks about the humor and the grace, and that, indeed is how It ends with agreat deal of hope and grace. It is at the heart. Ah, love story. My dad wasbesotted with my mom. All all my life. I saw the evidence and that they kissedin the morning. They kissed at night. He adored her. And so when he began, ashe said, losing it and she got angry about that, he didn'tknow why. He didn't know. What was he doing? That this woman that he loved somuch was treating in this way. So, um uh, I think if you're interested, dothe old flip test. No, you could read the prologue. Um, online. You could Ifyou go to a bookstore, it comes out the 27th. You can flip through it. That'swhat I do when I want to read a book. It has to pass the flip test. It hasthio everywhere I flip to. It has to be something that I find engaging. Sothat's it? That's what it's about. Well, I have to say, as someone, I took careof my mother before she passed and she lived with us, and I remember needingto find a book toe. Help me just to read. Not I didn't need a doctortherapy. I needed a book, and I found one really did help. And my father inlaw had Alzheimer's two and watching some of the things that your books havesuch detail. And I remember the scene where he would watch her wherever shewas in the room and he would follow her like a puppy, almost. And that reallyrang true for me because this dependence, that person with Alzheimerhas so strong and it's hard to watch and again in your father's case,because of the love. So you're you're telling this beautiful and verypersonal story, and I really got into it, and I found it very comforting.Actually, it helped me remember what happened in my own life. So thequestion I have, though, is writing fiction as you have written so manynovels is one thing. But a memoir is completely different, and I've neverridden one, So I imagine it took some courage to start. But how do youapproach writing a memoir? And how different is it to prepare for writinga memoir than writing a fictional novel? You know, from the time I was nineyears old. I've written by the seat of my pants, and I don't really preparefor anything. When I write a novel, I don't use a plot. I just start withsome sort of feeling or a vision of some character. Let's say Arthur, Truelove. For example, with that book, I saw a kind of vision of an older man ina cemetery. I saw his little stick out ears. I saw the hat he was wearing. Isaw how he was sitting beside a grave, and I wanted to know what he was doing.So I started writing about him. So for me, writing is a novel. Is the novelrevealing itself, telling the story it wants to tell with a memoir whereyou're telling the truth. I didn't set...

...out to publish this. I wrote about itbecause I had to write about it, because when I come to understandthings, that's how I process things on. And after, Uh, the thing was all over.I thought I this could really help people on. And so I sent the manuscriptto my sister, who is the one who lived in Minnesota, where my parents did anddid most of the heavy lifting. And of course, she's in this book all over theplace. And I reveal Ah lot in this book about about not only my missteps but mymother's missteps. And I mean, one day when Bill and I went to visit them, mydad and Bill were sitting in the kitchen having lunch and pleasantconversation, and my sister, my mother and I were screaming at each other inthe back room, and this went on for about 40 minutes. Luckily, my daddoesn't hear well, when it was all over, my bill said, I gotta go to thebathroom. But anyway, um, I sent it to my sister with all this stuff, you know?And I said, What do you think? If there's anything you object you ifthere's any reason not only because of things I said about you or about Mom orabout Dad, But if there's any anything that bothers you, tell me what willpublish it. So she read it and she sent me an email, all in caps. Two wordspublished This, uh, saying that so I really do believe that that but it canhelp people um, it z important to me when I read a memoir that it really behonest that it really be honest and part of the part of a good part about writing whenyou are not intending for anyone else to read it is that kind of honest andbe honest on. And then when it was gonna be published, I thought, Well,okay, but you know, I have to say the to me reading it. The most courageouspart was the mother, because she your mother had a hard time, and you sparedher. You didn't. You did not spare her. You were completely honest about whatshe went through and how she reacted to it. And your your reaction as thedaughter, That mother daughter, I thought that was really strong. Yeah.And And I have to tell you that one of the reasons I put there's so many partsof the book and that makes me out Not not to be great, you know, is that wedo make missteps in this journey. And we do things that we regret on. We dothings that we wish we've done differently. I believe that my motherand I came to a wonderful accommodation after my father died. And certainly atthe end of her life, Um, but I don't know, off a prescribed right way to dothis kind of thing. I think you fumble your way through it. I do believe thatis difficult as it is. And you'll know this from having read the book. Thathonesty comes with a price, but it also helps. And that sometimes, you know, Imean, anyone in a relationship knows that sometimes you have these horriblefights, and if you don't, then I don't want to know you right on. And and itclears the error sometimes that's that's what happened here. Um, well,that was Thank you. That was Thank you for that. That was hearing you talkabout was beautiful. Alright, I know we have other questions. Christie, I thinkyou have s o. I said this to you backstage. Elizabeth and Mary Kay isgoing to ask you a little bit more about it. But I absolutely loved thestory of Arthur True love. I sat down on Sunday and I did not get up until Ifinish the whole book, which I was not anticipating. doing, but it justabsolutely captured me. And it was so heartwarming. It was so wonderful onThis is not what my question is about. And I'm going to kind of, um,paraphrase a little bit. But I just saw this when I was going through my bookand I highlighted it. And I have to read it because it's so perfect for ourshow. So if you haven't read this, you guys, this just struck me. So everybodywants to be a writer, Arthur says. But what we need our readers. Where wouldwriters be without readers? See, that's what I dio. I am the audience. I am thewitness. I am the great appreciator. That's what I dio. And that's all Iwant to dio e. I thought it was so...

...appropriate for our friends and fictiongroup because, um, they were the most amazing readers, and we love them somuch, and we're all readers, too, so we're all appreciating in some ways,but I think my favorite part of the story is that you create this reallynon traditional sort of family in these pages. But it is, ah, family all thesame. So I wanted to ask you a little bit about your family. And we alwaysask this question. We have guests on our show, but what were the valuesaround reading and writing in your home when you were growing up? And how didthat influence you later on in your life to become a writer or if it did itall? Uh, no, actually, my mother wanted to be a writer, and it didn't happenfor her. My father said to me at one point you got her job and, um, I thinkI got my own job, but okay, She was an avid reader. She modeled the value ofreading like nobody's business. I was raised an army brat, so we moved every10 minutes, and the first thing my mom did wherever we landed was even beforethe boxes were impact was to go into her library card on Do you take mealong with her? From the time I was really little. And I remember wantingto be a library in so that I would have like, command Post and also thatexcellent. Stamper, That was part work. I wanted to do that too. Yeah, And youcould wear red lipstick and high heels. Maybe I was mixing up dominatrix andlighter, but she modeled it. She always had a big stack of books by her bedsidethat she'd gotten from the library she read every night. She read everythingshe read mystery crime thrillers, romance, how liver fiction. She readeverything and she appreciated everything. So that was That was areally good way for me to understand how important books and reading were,and I was. I was kind of heartbroken and very happy to give her my own booksbecause I knew that's what she would have wanted to do. But she was verygracious about it. And when she moved, you know, in the in the I'll be seeingyou she moves into a It's an independent living facility and she sheyou know, people talk about their Children, she said. My daughter's umand author and the woman kind of looked down her nose at her and asked about me,and she said, Yeah, she's a New York Times was selling, and the woman didn'tbelieve her how she went down in the library of the facility and there itwaas how proud she must have been of you. How proud. I mean, that's a cool achild to feel that you made your parents proud. Yeah, it was. Well, thisis Dr, you know, all my dirty laundry. This is documented in the book to, butmy dad and I was scared of my dad my whole life. He was terrifying figure,and we had really big fine. Not when he was compromised in this way, but yearsbefore, um, something happened that facilitated an argument between myfather and me that blew up all out of proportion. And I told him I have beenafraid of you all my life. You have never told me you loved me. You havenever told me you're proud of me. And I went on with this litany of things andsee it went on to heal us. It really did. You know, he didn't know that Iwas afraid of him. Mm. And he said, I'm so proud of you. I missed. All right.Um, I'm that's that. That's the value. I guess sometimes and just putting itall on the long people be honesty. Yeah. I'm gonna start a fight with somebody.Oh, Who's ready. I'm writing a letter to an author that you love, and then gostart a fight with me. Oh, you list now. Way. You have a question, please? Oh,Elizabeth, I've been just sitting here listening to you like online e. Justask you something. I'm like leaving e have loved listening to you for so long,and I have loved reading you for so long. Um, I know I told you this story.I told it to you the day I costed you at the Savannah Book Festival, and Itold it on my social media this week, but I'll tell it really quickly. Butwhen I first started writing, um, I was...

...keeping it a secret. I was writing insecret, and I told Mary Kay Andrews because I knew her outside the writingworld. But nobody really knew what I was doing. And I read your writing book.I have a very battered copy of it marked up line. I'm not at home rightnow or I show it to you because it's beautifully marked up. Her, um yourit's called escaping into the open. And you were coming to speak at theMargaret Mitchell House in Atlanta when I lived in Atlanta and I went to hearyou and I went alone because I didn't tell anybody what I was doing. And Isat in the back row and I asked a question. I was so nervous, and I don'tremember what the question was, and I don't remember what the answer was, butI do know that you looked right at me and you saw right through me and yousaid, Are you a writer? And I said, I'm really trying and you said, If you'rewriting your writer on and I held on to that for so long and I loved thatwriting book and you have so many lines in there that make me say yes out loud.But when you talk about answering an insistent call to transfer what'sinside outside, I love that because we talk all the time on here aboutanswering that call. So I want to know why you wanted to write that book aboutwriting, because it's probably your only other nonfiction book besides thememoir, right? Um, no. The first book I ever did was a nonfiction book thatsomeone asked me to write and I thought, Well, I'll never do a book I might aswell do. This is called traditions, and it's the only book of mind this out ofprint. And it has my first paper, how to make a hard boiled egg just sayingso you know, I wanted to know why you write it, wrote it and it came out in1999. Would you change or add anything now? Escaping into the open note Iwrote escaping into the open because people on, Do you all know there'speople tend to ask the same questions over and over about writing. And Ithought, Okay, I'm gonna put everything I know and believe about writing in oneplace. And then if anyone wants that question answered, there will be notonly that, I'm going to put exercises in their prompts and suggestions forthings to write. And and then as long as I was throwing things in, I put inrecipes put in recipes, run on. Yeah, so But that's why I did this becausepeople were asking, um, a lot of the same questions. So here with all is andyou wouldn't change anything about it now, no when I objected to the cover.And so they re issued it with another cover years later. And I added Mawrexercises because I don't know a letter from a guy saying, You know, you hadthis one prompt in there. You said used these three words in a story SnowmanPink and something else and he wrote it and it got published. And he wasthrilled. Well, then I was thrilled. Honestly, I really waas eso. He wroteme that letter and I thought, Well, I can do those all day long e all you outthere That book again is called Escaping Into the Open, and it's It's abook on writing, So I know we have a lot of people in the audience who areinterested in improving your writing stairs of becoming a writer. E. I wasjust gonna say it's encouraging that you were in person when I asked youabout it. It's the same tone you have in the book. It's if you're called towrite, and you and I were both nurses, so it's a second career for both of us.But if you're called to write, then answer the call. What's the big deal.Yeah, I know. It's It's so frustrating sometimes because someone could be sucha beautiful writer. And they're so shy. I bet you were this way, Patty, while Iknow you were this way, because you're writing is beautiful, but but they'rescared and they keep it inside and they're waiting for the PulitzerCommittee to come and knock at their door. We're here for your manuscript.Will just wait while you finish it. You know, you have to If you want to bepublished, if you want to write, you can write. And, you know, just do thatlike Paul Simon cysts up, find a quiet place and a humble pin. Um, but if youwant to be published, you have to take a room, and you have also and I thinkthis is in the book to and you have also to understand that if you arerejected, it may not have anything to...

...do with the quality of your writing.Maybe this editor just bought a book that's similar to yours or an articleor whatever it ISS. The person you have most to please is you that's importantto remind people that it's not just maybe, a book was rejected for reasonsother than he wrote a beautiful book it has and the publishing world budgets.They just bought a book like yours. There's a lot of things that peopledon't realize is it's out of their ability to change. So it's thatextended out again. But and maybe you'll agree with me about this to you.You are highly successful writers, and it's wonderful to be in New York Timesbestseller. It's wonderful when you give accolades or going over orwhatever that is. But the biggest joy for me is the feeling that, yes, I didit. It is from here where nothing matches that you've not been published.All you're just saying that or I don't know about that. I'm gonna feel prettyhappy if I get published and you and you will. But the greatest joy for meis in the act of writing, and I think a lot of us get really handsy. But we'renot writing because it's it's the drug of Yeah, it's not like a choice. It'sso true. You yelling at me. If I was just finishing a book and she's the mome think it's this deadline thing is your drug of choice. I agree with her ebuilt on her side. I e way can't go through that again. I've had epublished 28 or 29 I think, um, I'm is excited about finishing a book now as Iwas when I finished that first manuscript that never got published,the fact that never got published. It got nice rejection letters, but thefact that I finished it there, I still remember the thrill typing the end andyeah, and I had to read along the way. I talk to other writers and people saidto me, It's it's you know, it's a journey, and writing it in and ofitself is a huge accomplishment. Anything else that happens after that,that's gravy. But the fact that you set out to write a book and you wrote abook and you wrote the end that's age totally right? Well said they weregonna be fighting over that first manuscript. I think it's under a I mean,I don't know where it is. It's my juvenilia e to bring it out. We want tosee it way. Okay, well, you're already talking. Mary Kay. It's your turn for aquestion, please. Yeah, well, you know, I had this question I had thought aboutmyself. But so many people were asking on the friends and Fiction page aboutArthur. And it's fresh for me, too. As Christie, you know, I told you earlierI was watching Arthur. I was reading Arthur Sunday night, watching theBraves lose the world Siris on dso. I couldn't tell if I was crying aboutArthur or crying about the Braves blowing it. E was wondering, um, whenyou when you wrote Arthur, did you foresee a trilogy at that time or what?You know, what was the motivation? Um, to to write three books and turn itinto a trilogy? No, I had no intention of doing that at all. When I wrote thestory of Arthur True Loeb it was back in the old days when the only agonieswere were the kind of fractiousness and political parties we did. We were notdealing with Oh, let's say a pandemic. Just that And, um and I was very tiredof the arguments I was hearing and the instability with which people treatedeach other and on. I wanted to go somewhere where people were kind to oneanother. So I made up this town where I didn't shy away from the fact thatthere are troubles in the world. But I wanted to write about kind people. Andboy Arthur is is it when? When it comes to kindness. So after I finished thatbook, I it was still ugly in the world. Eso I wrote another mason on when Ifinished that one, it had gotten worse on I'm fiddling around with e also.Wait, wait, you are doing 1/4. I'm thinking about it. Yeah, I'm tweetingyour first i e. I've done a draft, and...

...usually when I write, I don't I don'tadded a whole lot, but this one, I probably will need to do some more workon Sometimes it's hard to work these days. E had another idea of doinganother sort of memoir. Eso We'll see. You know you have Thio, as they say,Answer. Whatever the the order Elizabeth, would you remind viewerswhat the order is in the Siri's? Sure, it's the story of Arthur True Love andthen Night of Miracles. And then the confession club. Right? E. Just want totell you it's kind of interesting, at least to me. Um, I got the idea for theconfession club by going to see a play about Emily Dickinson. Uh, she wasmaking black cake on stage. Told me that, uh oh, I think I can use this.Okay, great. Okay, So my question was a two parter. Even though I'm notsupposed to ask a two parter, there's nobody here to stop. May right s Theother part of the question is your books have, um I don't know. What wouldyou call it? Midwestern Nice. Your character is. As you said, Arthuris a deeply kind person. Your books have heart and warmth and humor, butthey're not saccharine. How do you How do you balance that from not makingthem? Um, Kool Aid? Sweet. You know, I was interviewed byPublishers Weekly for my second novel, Talk before sleep. And I said in that Ilove that book. To my lasting regret, I said, I am a rank sentimentalist, and Imake no apology for it. And then I learned how bad it is to be a ranksentimentalist. So? So I I admit that I am a sentimental person. I am someonewho cries at McDonald's commercials and who cries it, you know? I mean, I cansee a little kid do something. I cry. Um, so it leans that way sometimes. ButI hope it doesn't fall into the as you describe the Kool Aid sweetness. AndAnd I guess, um you know, writing for me is not intentional. So I'm kind ofnot watching out for anything when I do, and I just do it. I wish I could watchout a little bit better, but I guess I try toe to draw from that reservoirwithin that holds so many moments and so many emotions and so many feelingsthat I might not have dealt with at another time. But suddenly here's anopportunity. Like Matt, for instance, Mattie Mattie is a wounded kind offeral child, and I love when she tries to get Arthur to say the F word. Hey, eo s so mad. You know, I think Maddie is kind of the the leavening character. Um,anyway, that Okay, I'm done. That was my e. And I know you have a question.Yeah. Elizabeth for people who aren't familiar with you. And again, as wesaid earlier, I can't imagine who isn't right. You've done so much. But well,one of the things we wanted to share with people is what you're doing onyour Facebook page. You just have this beautiful, accessible style of writing,and it feels like a gift to stumble across one of your posts. Esopersonally, As a writer myself, I have trouble doing that, connecting that waywith readers through Facebook. I worry about editing. I worry that no one willcare what I have to say. I worry that I won't say it right, but you put it allout there fearlessly a gift to your fans, and hundreds of them respondevery single time. It's amazing. So So what does it mean to you to be able tointeract so directly and instantly with your readers that way? And when you sitdown to write one of these beautiful, introspective posts, how long does ittake you? What's going through your head? Are you editing? Are you goingthrough drafts of it or you just pouring it onto the page? Can you talkus through that whole process. Well, first of all, thank you, Andi, I I wasa writer who was pulled kicking and screaming onto Facebook. My publisherwanted, even though Facebook I wanted nothing to do with it. But I've come toreally love it because I think what happens is that you form communities oflike minded individuals who come to...

...yourself because they feel the way youdo about things. They like the recipes they like when I have conversationswith my dogs, they Interestingly, the the biggest response has come from sortof thinking out loud about really important issues. And I This is a meat singly for a commercialopportunity for me. Oh, you're going a lot of people on Facebook said, Youneed to make a book out of these. And after the first person said that, Isaid, I'm not doing that. And then and then someone else has. And then someoneelse has. And then I thought, Well, maybe I should be. Someone said, I'mgetting tired of printing these out. I wanna A So I I asked my editor. Wouldyou Would you like to publish a collection of my Facebook post? Shesaid No I got him playing conveniently located right here, and my best frienddesigned the cover. This is make someone happy. That was the first one.And there are two more still happy and happy to be here. And the the reasonthey're the so called Happy Books is that they really do seem to lighten theload and to make people happy. Some people keep it at their bedside. Somepeople keep their bathroom. It's a snippet that you can read and bereminded of the worth of nature and Children on, um, all kinds of disparatethings. And there are recipes in their way. Need that today? I mean, you know,you could turn off the news and read Happy Happy book will all be muchhappier for it. Everyone who's listening we're going to have on ourFacebook page. Friends and fiction. We will put an email if you want to reachum to get a copy, you can find that on our we'll talk. You don't have to worryabout it now. It will all be on our Facebook page later, but I I loved thepost and and I love you. It's it's really beautiful. All right. We've hada chance to ask our questions. So on my foot more fully. Answer your question,though, because that was a very thoughtful question. And you ask Thioabout editing and drafting and so on. When I dio page post, I tried to getrid of the misspellings and, you know, the the grammatical errors and so on.But I don't really e don't really edit it. I really trust the people in myFacebook group. There's such a loving community, and if someone's havingtrouble with something, the others will chime in. It says that, you know, takecare of each other. I want to say one thing I have noticed in the last fewdays that some guys air showing up random guys. I think there's two orthree of them and they go under the reply thing and they say to that woman,How are you? I don't know what I'm looking for a date or what they'redoing, but I in a fury I'm going dilly dilly dilly e. What if they want tohear from these guys and somebody's gonna start a relationship? But anyway,I'm tryingto have my publisher look into that because it seems very funnyto me. Um, and I'm very protective of my people on Facebook. So if you twohave noticed that I'm I'm trying to fix it. That's fascinating. No, but I thinktoday we all have to be a little more careful. Yeah, um, e uh, That took meback to think that that happened. All right, The five of us had a chance toask. And now what we do is we love to pull questions from both our Facebookpage and from readers live. So I believe. Let me just read one thingfirst. Let's see, we have a comment which I thought you'd like to hear fromCarol Snyder. And she wrote, I'm so happy to have Elizabeth Berg with thefriends. Isn't that cute with the friends of friends? I like that she wasthe author that pulled me out of my inability to read after the death of myhusband. Wow. I e a high price and Patty. You have a question? Yeah. WhenI boasted my story about you on my facebook, a woman named Sylvia BridgeSiegel posted a question underneath it, and I love it. She asked who Did youreceive encouragement from when you began to written? No, that is a goodquestion. E here, Somebody's dog I love when they e love it his first indoorsand someone, but anyway, um eso the...

...people who encouraged you were teachersand friends. I had a teacher. I remember distinctly. I was I was in, Iguess I was a junior in high school and, um, I found the catcher in the rye, andI didn't know that you could write like that, that you could just have thissort of almost like a stream of conscious. It was very exciting for meto read that book, and I wrote a response to it. I wrote back to HoldenCaulfield and I should my English teacher. But you're a really goodwriter, and I just sort of tuck that away. I really, really loved that. Hesaid that I will tell you that I started out not. I guess it wasn't a dream of mine to bea writer. I'm not sure I really knew what that meant. A liar. But I loved towrite and and I sent my first admission, and some of you know this when I wasnine. It was, Ah, horrible poem, even for a nine year old e. I thought I wasgoing to win the prize. The prize would be about $1 million. Yeah, I was gonnabuy him a Cadillac. Oh, that did, like, right away. I went up on my bed andwept, and I didn't submit for 25 years, so Wow. Well, they're Ugo five. Kristen,you have a question? Yeah. Our friend Christie Barrett, who runs a novel, Be,which is another great site for readers. They're celebrating their birthday thisweek. Um, she wants to know if you could be one of your characters for aday. Which one would you be and why? Oh, good question. That's a great question.And I'm just gonna answer by saying the first character who popped in Wait aminute. I got to get a simple martini. Uh, guys, there's water in case it's,you know, illegal. Oh, never. Never know a martini. Right? First characterpopped into my mind when you ask that question was Lucille who e on andbaking all the time and yeah, around is fabulous. And I want I would like to bestronger like Lucille is. I would like Thio care a little bit less about whatpeople say about me or think about me. She does not care, you know, and make.He was modeled by the way my best friend, who's incredibly out spoken anhonest, which is why I like her to read my book because I know I'm or my work,because I know she will never say what You will not have any problem anyway. Itold her that after I wrote true love, I said, You know, kind of modeled thecharacter of Lucille after you, and she said, I thought so. That's nice. Elovely feel all right, Let's get some live questions. Christie, can you pullup a couple of questions and then yes, absolutely. Eso Sheila Benue so sayswhen you get a bunch of ideas floating around, do you put them all down andthen pick one to develop or does an idea pop up and that's it? You startwriting. The answer is both. Mostly I If if anidea really takes hold, I start writing and I and I try to be monogamous, youknow, eh? So I stay with it, but sometimes not very often. Sometimesanother idea will come along and then I'll just write it down or jot somenotes or something. And put it aside, I don't work on two things at the sametime. Unless one is a novel and one is, let's say, an essay, right? Sure. AndMary Kay? Yeah. Lynn Nicholas, who is also an author, um says that in so manyof Elizabeth's books, her characters shared childhood memories in minutedetail, and she wants to know where these descriptions all pure fiction, orare some of them from your own childhood. And she's thinking aboutWe're all welcome here, among others. And she says, As one who can't recallmuch from early childhood, this in depth understanding or memory of thosepre grade school years amazes may. Well, two things. It's both were All welcomeHere, was was really made up, except that that idea I'm characteristicallyfor me was because a reader suggested...

...it to me and I don't like to take ideasfrom anyone because I have the need to please disease, and I don't want todisappoint them. So I I just like to play in my own corner of the sandbox.But she, uh this reader had a mother who was a nurse, and she got polio whenshe was nine months pregnant with the woman who wrote me. They got put in andshe got put in an iron lung. The mother, the baby was delivered there. Hermother emerged from the iron lung, unable to move anything from the neckdown. Oh, my God. Husband wanted to leave her. And, uh, well, her husbandwanted to adopt out the Children. There were three Children, and she said no.And her husband left her and she raised those Children on s o. I was inspiredby the story, but mostly by the photograph she sent to her mother, whowas in a wheelchair. Um, and despite her circumstances, had the mostmagnificent, beautiful, strong smile. So I wrote that book on Lee. I gave heronly one child on eso. Her childhood was was just I just made stuff up thatsaid, oftentimes I do remember things from my own childhood and I have apretty good memory for the past. Don't ask me where my brushes, but I e askedon whenever I hear people say, You know, I don't know how you remember thatstuff. I would invite you to listen to a song from 19 whatever it ISS thatwill evoke strong memories. You remember more than you think you dioremembering you remember more and more also, if you need help. If you wantThio get details, as they say Right when you're thinking about a certainyear, go to the library and look at the magazines from that time and you'llhave a rash of things. Come, come back. Well, I have to say the next segment ofour show. Elizabeth is usually when we asked for writing tip. But I alreadyfeel like you know what? You have written this wonderful book escapinginto the open, and so it's especially eager. We're all eager to hear what youhave to say for a writing tips. So do you mind sharing some? I'm wisdom to us.I don't mind it all. No. And I think to be succinct on do say,what's most important to me. Um, in terms of offering someone else. Adviceis, First of all, don't listen too much to other people's advice on Secondly,when you write. Don't try to sound like anybody else. Your own voice is sounique and so important and so needed. I think that any reader can get thisrush of excitement when you're reading an authentic voice. You know, we allrecognize that we all respond to it. We're all sort of jazzed up bysomething we've not seen before. On the other hand, when we see someone tryingto sound like someone else, and oftentimes you really can see that forpeople trying to write Thio a formula of some kind for me that that becomestiresome in a big hurry. So I think it's important that you take risks.Nobody has to see anything until you're ready for them to see it. So take allthe risks you want to when you're writing. You can always take things out,but you can't always put things in and also tell the truth. Even when you'rerunning fiction, if you know what I mean on by that, I do. I mean that youyou tell any emotional truth that you tried and tried to do that and alsodon't forget to have fun, because writing can really be so much fun.Thank you for that last bit. That's we have to all remember that. That is verybeautiful. Um, speaking. And speaking of books again, we are. We knoweveryone out there is just dying to order all Elizabeth books, especially.I'll be seeing you. So, Mary Kay, can you tell everyone about our bookstoreit again, waiting for It's the book table. It'sthe book table in Oak Park, Illinois, and, um, they're gonna They're sogenerously offering a 10% off on any of our books. And, of course, Elizabethbook especially. I'll be seeing you, which comes out, um, next week. And sothat code is friends and fictions. So you can go and you'll see the link tothe store right on front our our...

Facebook page. And, uh, you know, it'sso important right now for us to support in booksellers. Um, you know, that other place cells,toilet paper and spark plugs and all kinds of stuff s so it won't hurt them,and it will incredibly help. I mean, they're building a they're colonizingspace. What do they care where you buy your book? It what matters? But you buya book from a, uh, in in the communities where we live and work andthey they employ our neighbors. And selfishly, I think all of us wouldagree they have. They've been wonderful to all of us and to our career. So, uh,we're a community readers and writers, and we want to support a community ofindie booksellers. And remember that you will get a 10% discount and anautograph book from book table. And we are so falling in love with all thefabulous run that are coming up. It's gonna be an incredible season. So,Christie, can you talk of your the house next week? Can you tell us? Yes.Coming. I'm so excited that we have a just US episode next week. We have alittle surprise. Are we telling you our surprise guest is Yeah, we know it'sCassandra. We dio e couldn't remember. She's on that new, but Okay, So,Cassandra King Conroy is going to be popping in for sort of a specialsurprise. So you guys, we're not gonna want to miss it. Make sure that you'rethere. And then on Sunday, one of my good friends and favorite authors, WadeRouse who writes his viola shipment is going to be here, and Wade is just toofunny for words. So you're not gonna want to miss that. It z always a goodtime with, um What is that, Christine? Let's don't forget to tell us. Whattime is it? Yeah. No. What is viola shipment gonna be with us on Sunday? Um,five o'clock on Sunday. It's like a week from Sunday, Not just a week fromSunday. Not this Sunday. This coming week is is Wednesday because we have abonus on Sunday. E a page. I think this is like a pop quiz. And it wasn't I gotnervous. I was like, Oh, my God. What? Honey e a going to get another demeritthis week. A gem. We love you and e want to tell you one thing as a person,just as a person, I am so renewed by nature, I always kind of find what I'mlooking for in nature and in walks and also as a writer is very helpful. Sobefore I came on your show of as kind of nervous So I took a walk and when Itook a walk and people have their Halloween decorations out. And I saw acircle of ghosts and, um, they appeared to me to be girl goes or women ghost.They had the long skirt and the belted thing. And I thought, you know, that'swhat you guys do is your this circle of support And I think we're all willinglike the ghosts, I think all feeling kind of pale and insubstantial. What wehold hands and we do this circle and we support each other with love andcommunity and friendship and love of books. So thank you to you all fordoing this every you do so much and it's It's It's so welcome And it's soappreciate it. I hope you know how much it even knows why we love God. Yeah,you're amazing. E thing was like, I feel like we just sat around in a roomand just had a girl talk. This was It was so fun. E No, thank you so much.And I guess with that lovely closing, that's our show for tonight. Thank youso much for joining us. Elizabeth. Everybody table personally autographed.Copy of I'll be seeing you and all of Elizabeth titles as well as our recentbooks and to all our viewers. Thank you so much for joining us. We'recelebrating. We reached 21,000 members. And if you're not a member of friendsand fiction, please join our Facebook page. And if you can't make the program,you're out doing something else. I don't know what you want to do otherthan watch is but you. We do have the friends and Fiction podcast and on ourwebsite. All our past episodes air there at www dot friends and fictiondot com. All are recommended books and everything. Where to get happy bookswill be on our Facebook page and that's a wrap. Good night, everybody. E O billfor us? Yes,...

...she became ill. He had to leave becauseshe is doing and that she has a dinner tonight. She's doing an event. She'stelling everyone she wasn't abandoning us. Oh, my God. I know you guys know Iwas telling everybody else. I just wanted to keep talking e fantastic. Shereally wasn't a good person. That voice of hers, the way she talks and makesyou smile and just feel good is in her writing that ISS absolutely is e feelgood after this hour. Oh, Debbie. And that's how you feel after reading herbooks. And Joel loved Arthur true love to I just thought that was that. Now Igotta go read the next to I'm getting so e Oh, my gosh. I know I'm not likeevery day like more books coming to mail, and it's like something to blurof something for friends and patient something, and it makes me so excited.But then also, I'm like, Oh, my gosh, e books, but it's e no, you will love it,really. But you know, it is true to that about the writing reading as awriter is that for a while there it took away the pleasure of reading. Itwas almost work, you know, And I do. You kind of think, Well, this is reallygreat, But there have been a couple of books from our guests this year that Ijust let go e I really great books, you know, after Charlene Harris was on lastweek, I read, um, the first in her new trilogy, Um, the Gunny Rose zero. Andthen I, um for some reason, I went and read the the Prelude or the prologue to thesecond book and then Siri's and I was so mad at myself. One. Now, I got toread that Fuck he suck you in so quickly that you have to know. And Ithink, you know, I was thinking about this. We should dio maybe it just asegment or we talk about reading across genres. Yeah, I'm guilty of not doingthat very often. And what I have discovered from this is, um, how whatan eye opener is and how good and enjoyable stuff is when you readoutside of genre stuff reading and And what what we're missing If we thinkthat we're just one kind of right, if you say Oh, yeah, I just readhistorical fiction. I don't read X y and Z like, Think of everything you'remissing out there Absolutely that would have a good book club because you dohave to choose a book and you have to read through. And that's what we'redoing on Trans and fiction. Yeah, yeah, lots of online book clubs. They'redoing cross reading genre challenges, you know? And I told myself that at thebeginning of last year. I said, Okay, you are going to read, you know, you'regonna do some other reading across genres. And then I sort of forgot aboutit, and then the they, you know, Cove it hit. And I was so panicked I reallycouldn't read or concentrate. You know, the first couple months, I just sort ofwalked around in circles myself. Yeah, e no roads. A phone call me. Okay?Exactly. Know exactly. Oh, go back. Have you gone back and look early videoE o out of the camera. E was a floating Had we've we've We've evolved instead,right? It's like going back and reading your old bugs and being like, Oh, Ican't believe I Geo. Alright, guys, I've got to get going. I've got a fouryear old thio e o. And I'm like, Why has he not showered yet? What were wegoing to scrape up some dinner on tidy where they roll up this time of year?They roll up the streets pretty early. E love the turtleneck. I'm kinda thankyou. I took myself into Relax, E girls, Let's see you tomorrow. Goodnight. Goodjob. So you've been listening to the friendsand Fiction podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the friends and fictionpodcast wherever you listen, and if you're enjoying it, leave a review. Youcan find the friends and fiction authors at w w, w dot friends andfiction dot com A swell As on the Facebook group page, friends andfiction come back soon. Okay? There are...

...still lots of books writing tips,interviews, publishing news and bookstores to chat about goodbye.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (121)