Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year ago

Friends & Fiction: Writing for Children with guests Sy Montgomery and Anglea May to celebrate Mary Alice Monroe's The Islanders

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

It's a special night as the Fab Five discuss the art of writing for children and celebrate the launch of Mary Alice Monroe’s new middle grade book THE ISLANDERS. They are joined by Mary Alice’s co-author, Angela May, and their special guest, famed naturalist and award-winning, bestselling author Sy Montgomery the author of THE HUMMINGBIRD’S GIFT, THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS and THE GOOD GOOD PIG. http://symontgomery.com/ 

Welcome to Friends and Fiction. Five best selling authors and the stories. Novelists, mary Kay andrews, Christine Harmel, Christie Woodson harvey patty Callahan, Henry and mary Alice Munro are five longtime friends with more than 80 published books to their credit In 2020 they created friends and fiction to provide author interviews and fascinating insider. Talk about publishing and writing and to highlight independent bookstores. These friends discuss the books, they've written the books they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books and you're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Hello everyone. Welcome to friends and fiction. Time new york times, Bestselling authors, list stories. This is a very special night for us because we're thrilled to be celebrating the launch of mary Alice's first ever middle grade book, The Islanders so special guest, her co co author Angela nay an author, natural naturalist and explorer. Sy Montgomery. I'm your host, Christie Woodson harvey and I loved how the Islanders explores the healing power of nature. I'm patty Callahan, Henry and I adored the idea of Children unplugging in this modern chaos. I'm mary Kay andrews and I love the idea of Children exploring a discovering secrets. Uh I'm Christine Harmel and I loved the fact that this book is partially about friendship and it was written by two friends. Our very own mary Alice and her friend Angela May, uh thanks everyone and I'm mary Alice Monroe and I'm the author of the Islanders. So before we get started, I hope you guys have a lot of champagne tonight because we have a lot to celebrate. First of all, um our patties surviving savannah just hit the USa Today bestseller list appears um and christians, the Book of Lost Names is on the new york times paperback list for the third week. Hetero amazing so much to celebrate so much. So you know, in addition to this being the launch night for the Islanders were expanding um this launch party to explore the fascinating world of Children's books. So we'll be talking about what is middle grade fiction, How does it differ from young adults and things like that? And this is Children's fiction with a twist. So both mary Alice and Sy Montgomery write novels that are inspired by nature. Their books capture the awe and wonder of nature for Children of all ages. Speaking of awe. I am in a incredible partner, Mama Geraldine's is bras and cookies. Hang on, let me get my I had to pre game tonight. I got my mama G's right, you go hungry whenever I'm on book tour I always have a box or two with me in case of you know I need a road snack, a roadie. Remember thank you. Get 20% off your order at Mama Geraldine's dot com with the code. Fab five. Fab five. I'm left with the other tongue twister because we're excited to remind you that this is the summer of story point on France and fiction. Each week the after show would be called sip and stay with story Point after show and will be sponsored by a Story Point wine a Now this week as you know, we partner with Parade magazine and it is online on their website and it is also on their facebook page and our christian wrote the most beautiful essay for parade this week. You don't want to miss it. I got definitely a little teary eyed. She hit the nose. Oh, you're so sweet. Well yeah, it was actually this is gonna sound weird after you just said I get teary. I wrote about our couch. No, it was sort of the couches metaphor though. How I'm trying not to see it for myself through other people's eyes. And how sometimes embracing our imperfections can lead us to a better, happier life. So I was wondering is there something that each of you has learned to embrace about yourselves this last year? Mm Well if some of you guys know I have a blog called design chic with my mom and we write about home decor. And so my house is really important to me and it is just a total disaster. We've been a construction for literally years. And so I like Elsa have just had to let it go. Could you have saying dress? Let it...

...go a couple more weeks to you guys. It's time. Oh I've learned that I used to blame the fact that I didn't have enough time on my hands for not getting things done. But even with the extra time on my hands during the pandemic, I still did not clean out the attic. And so I accept my shortcomings with humble acknowledgment. Well, I have to say for me it's if you look behind the books it's filing. I mean, I don't know, it's sort of like those trick candles that you try and blow out and it keeps popping back up. I try and file and it just keeps piling up. So it's just like I'm kind of giving up. So for me it's filing, it's the funniest, I think I've learned to lean into my chaos brain. There you go. What does that mean? You know, I am disorganized to a fault. I um have a hard time keeping all the balls in the air that I'm juggling. And I think with the pandemic, I just said, you know, chaos Brain is also creative Brain. So I'm going to lean into hoping that he that creative brain makes up for Chaos Brain. Oh that's lovely, I like that very much so. Before we move on to the rest of the show, one more announcement. Um Mary Alice has had quite a spring reunion beach came out in april the summer of Lost and Found in May. We're launching the Islanders tonight and we're also releasing the paperback of last summer's best selling on Ocean boulevard today. I mean I mean what were they thinking, paperback if you haven't read on Ocean boulevard? No, it's in paperback, so it's an embarrassment of riches as well, that's always a good thing. So you all know Mary Alice but you have never read her quite like this. And her first ever middle grade book, The Islanders, it is not her first foray into Children's literature. She's the new york Times best selling author of 28 books and two of them are picture books. She's also achieved loads of lists and numerous awards for her adult novels, but she also won the A S. P. C. A Henry Bergh Award for Children's Fiction for Turtle Summer and her novel, a Low country christmas had a 10 year old protagonist. And that book won the prestigious 2017 Southern Prize for Fiction and then there's the fun stuff she gets to do, mary Alice, she's all about the turtle, she works closely with them as a permitted member of south Carolina's Department of Natural Resources. She had rehabilitated sea turtles at the south Carolina aquarium and she's on the board, other leatherback trust, where she works with the world's largest sea turtles in Costa rica. Hey, mary Alice, my dad lives in Costa rica. We're gonna, we're gonna meet over the turtles. Exactly. Your brother back. All right. So mary Alice has also rehabilitated, trained and cared for atlantic bottlenose dolphins. She raises monarch butterflies and has chased them across the country as they migrated to the mountains of Mexico. How cool! She has also rehabilitated birds of prey, pelicans and shorebirds. Currently she's studying whales. Honestly, I have to say working with wildlife is the best part. I mean it's it's inspiration for all my stories. But now enough about me, let's move on to my, I'm a little gushing over the next guest, my guest sy Montgomery. I'm so honored and so thrilled that she's agreed to come on friends and fiction when we talk about middle grade fiction. So let's talk about sai size 28 books for both adults and Children have garnered many honors. The soul of an octopus was a 2015 finalists for the National Book Award. She's the winner of the New England Independent Booksellers Association nonfiction Award, the Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award and she to one, the Henry Bergh Award for nonfiction size work, has also gone on to film her work with the man eating tigers. Who works with man eating tigers. I'm english side, I'm like hi dolphins. Anyway, her work with the man eating tigers, which is the subject of her book spell of the tiger was made into a National Geographic television documentary. Also for nat Geo, she developed and scripted Mother bear man and wanna chris award. Now she gets to do so I get to do some fun stuff to um I don't know how much fun this is to her. She oh, she paced...

...by an angry silverback gorilla in Zaire, bitten by a vampire bat in Costa rica. Not going there. Worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba and handled a wild tarantula in french Guiana. She's been definitely undressed by an Iraqi attack in Borneo, hunted by a tiger in India and she swamped swamped with peronnas, electric eels and dolphins in the amazon. You're making this up. Okay, So mary Alice 1st May I have a dinner invitation to the next time the two of you get together? As long as it's not in like a snake pit in Manitoba, That's okay. I don't just make pits. That's all ok, You all right? All right. So, you must have a lot to talk about. But what is most intriguing to me is, well, aside from, you know, snake pits and man eating tigers, is that both sigh and mary Alice right to inspire both adults and Children to take care of our shared planet. Let's bring inside Oh, hi, welcome. We're so glad that you're here. And as a mother of a boy in the middle grade fiction age group, I'm so excited to have these two amazing authors books to add to his summer reading list. And I'm thrilled by all the extra lessons that I know he'll learn while he's doing this fun reading. So let's begin tonight's discussion by digging into what exactly is middle grade fiction. There's still a lot of confusion in the industry and among parents who are buying these books for their Children. So mary Alice, can you tell us a little bit about what middle grade fiction means? Right? Um, and I'm glad this is such an important question. Middle grade fiction refers to the books, it's really age related. Written for readers between about 8 to 12 and these kids are still Children, but they're just developmentally on the cusp of reaching adolescence. So young adult fiction refers to Children usually between 12 and 18 and so again, these terms are not about genre, but pretty much age specific. And it applies to all genres of fiction, whether science fiction, mystery coming of age, everything. So the reading level of Children varies wildly from child to child. So here's an important point. If you have a younger child who's reading at an advanced level, that doesn't mean you want that child to read a young adult book. And that's because the content varies wildly in middle grade, you have a wide range of reading levels, but to put it quite simply in middle grade, you're not gonna get sex and rock and roll the content of first, you know? So I think the best example is to take this series of harry potter because it's so popular. The first books of harry potter are really rooted firmly into middle grade books. But as they move on and the Children get older, they have a darker material and little sexual overtones in it. And that clearly moves those books into young adult for the libraries and schools and for general reading level. What so interesting. I've never given it that much. I know it's, I mean really it is clearly defined and it's pretty much age specific side. You have anything to add to that. I feel like mary Alice kind of covered it, but just in case. Well, mary Alice is the expert on that. I gosh, in 1999 my book in the Snake Pit, first in the series of nonfiction books for kids in grades four through eight and that was called scientists in the field. And with photographer Nick Bishop, we would go into the field and describe What was going on on our expedition. And the very first one, not only had 18,000 snakes, but what were they doing in the pit was they were having sex. So 18,006 my mother wouldn't even have the book, a puppies and bunnies. Right? And I'm like, no, it's gonna be 18 1000 snakes in a, what are they doing? They're copulating. Okay, well, I just have a question for you guy, who whose job was it to count the snakes? It was it was bob mason who was, who was the scientist in the field, who we were highlighting and who is still my friend today who I saw my last book tour back when we were all much younger and we had booked tours. Um, uh, there was a mathematical formula that you can figure out how many snakes are there. But he also was able to figure out that the snakes in each kit, there were several of them and they hibernated or ruminated in those pits in the winter.

They were stacked like like logs, you know, in, in, in your, you were going to have a nightmare, their blood not as thick as mayonnaise. And then in the spring they all woke up and the males would come up first and they wait around and then the ladies would wake up and then it was like the worst frat party you've ever been. All the males would gang the female and they use mating balls of like 100 guys and one female and bob mason is also the guy who figured out, how do they know which one is the female? Because every snake looks like a tube. So how do you figure, how do you figure this whole thing out? And he still haven't figured it out. They have ceremonies like insects path. He was the first to figure out that reptiles have pheromones that they used to signal. You know, I'm the one you want to mate with. But there were also she males who pretended that they were females so that all the males would gang them. And that's a hole in the, well it is five months. There you go. I'm thinking that's not middle grade. Oh my God, Probably. So when you're thinking of choosing a middle grade book, you will remember size snake story. I say that's amazing. So both of you do research with wildlife and clearly you both completely love what you do. But there is a difference. Um Mary Alice doesn't go into snake pits. Um, but there's also another different side. You write nonfiction and Mariel's writes fiction. I want to know why each of you chose the path you chose. You sigh first in nonfiction to bring awareness. Or was that your reason for writing about these species? Well, yeah, that I reckon you know kids, they say the leaders of tomorrow, but really there's the leaders of today as a writer. I mean the reason that I draw breath really the reason that I don't just jump off a cliff tomorrow. Um is I really, I do love this natural world. I love the creatures in and I know that they love their lives as we love ours. And Children have a natural connection to that if we don't wreck it. You know, and I love writing for adults to and you get to use a lot of words and big ones and you know, as a writer that is that is enjoyable to and humans of all ages can change the world. But I think of all of my readers, the Children are the ones that are going to do most from the animals that I write about. And I write non fiction because I'm not smart enough to write fiction. No, you hit the nail on the head side. It's that the kids get it and it's instinctive and they don't have um they doubt and the naysaying hasn't hit them yet. And I think for me, you know, I have written the same message for adults in fiction. For me it was always going to be fiction. I'm a storyteller. So I wanted to use the power of fiction in a different way. You catch people differently with fiction than you do with nonfiction. They it's a more emotional response. But with kids you hit the nail on the head with these kids believe in themselves. They believe they can save the world. And I was saying earlier, you know, if I talked to an audience of adults and I talk about all the plastic that's in the ocean, a good example would be that many adults will just, uh, it's too big, it's too late. What can I do? You talk to a bunch of little kids 8 to 12 and they're like, let's get out there and clean it up. What can we do? You know, I believe we have what and they absolutely believe that it can be changed. And so that plus their natural predilection for just loving animals, they just, they have that instinct that they haven't grown out of yet. I think it's still there with adults. When I'm on the beach with adults. I see that interesting curiosity and you know, especially on the beach with turtles. You know, what's going on? They are. And that's what you try to elicit when you write a fiction. Is that that caring because if they care, then I always say they'll take care. You're absolutely right. And I also, I love fiction because, you know, it has a beginning, a middle and narrative of course, comes from the word river and it carries you from one place to another. And even though I'm writing nonfiction, I'm borrowing that from fiction because in my books, um, the expedition has a beginning a middle and an end. And frequently there's some, I mean, not infrequently. In fact, it's...

...never been that there wasn't some real drama. Is this going to work? Um, in in one of the books that I wrote for young readers, three days from when we were going to leave, it really looked like we might get eaten by lions and hyenas. You know, you go, that would be an unfortunate ending. Yeah, well, that wasn't gonna be too bad. But we got what, we broke down in the middle of a, in the middle of nowhere and we could, you know, we could hear lions and we knew there were hyenas and uh, there was no cell phone and there was no one coming. And um, basically two of the people we were with managed to manufacture car pieces out of scotch tape and dog. So we got a, you're such an adventurer that indiana jones, you are like, you're amazing. She's, she's a hero of so many of us. Yeah, wow. Well, um gosh, I don't even know how to segue past that. That's so amazing. I'm just gonna not transition at all and say that we have another exciting guests to welcome onto the show tonight. Um, so mary Alice wrote The Islanders with Angela May and she is going to be here to talk about the book and we all love Angela. She's a former television news journalist, another journalism major. Um She has been working with Mary Alice as her right hand assistant and as a publicist and you know, we all kind of wish we had an Angela and in our lives I think she does so much behind the scenes. So the Islanders is their very first book together and Angela lives with her family in Mount Pleasant south Carolina. Her family consists of her two Children and her husband and her husband's an assistant principal, which I'm sure was pretty helpful in writing a middle grade book. So we're so excited because this is Angela's debut novel. We're so excited. Let's welcome debut novelist Angela May, who? Angela, I can't believe I'm finally a part of you know, the brady bunch screen. Wonderful. Thank you all. So, no, Angela, it's you're dead, your novel. How does it feel is like opening night? Uh, it's been emotional. I have had to say probably a dozen times to myself. Don't burst into tears of happiness. Don't First for Happiness. It's just it's a really special and busy time right now because it's not only did our book debut this week, but then I also watched my fifth grader on livestream today walk across the stage for his moving on up ceremony. And I mean, and my Children are in this category that we're writing for that age group. And so it's all so very meaningful. So I'm I'm on cloud nine. So great. Well, were you? We're so excited for you. Well, mary Alice and Angela, y'all chose our bookstore, charleston's blue bicycle books. So, um mary Alice, will you tell us a little bit about what the story means to you? I will. And I think many of you have been to events with blue bicycle here in Charleston. So, Jonathan Sanchez, I've known him for a long time since he bought boomers books. And that was back in 2007 and it became blue bicycle books. And in addition to owning the bookstore, this is really big, Y'all. Jonathan is the founder of the Y'all fest and is charleston's young adult middle grade festival, which draws in the top audio authors in the industry. 12,000 fans to charleston, the second week of november. It's huge, Angela, what about you? Um I have had the pleasure of knowing Jonathan since before he owned blue bicycle books. Um and I love the fact that he hosts really great events. He makes everything look easy because of his laid back personality, but he does in store events, events around town and it's always so fun to work with him. Um but he doesn't just carry current books, but he also has antique books and I know that my Children have enjoyed going in his store in the past because he also has like a Children's book area. He caters really nicely to that audience as well. So we just love him, we love his family and he had our hearts full when he shared the news with us that his daughter Who is 12 or 13, I can't remember Mary Alice that she not only read an arc copy of the Islanders, but she read it three times over the course of the right, I mean for a kid to read your book from start to finish is a compliment we read. It is the ultimate compliment. We love her.

And we hope that from Blue bicycle tonight, you will not only order mary Allison Angela's hot off the press the Islanders, but also signed Montgomery's Wild Adventures in Nature and all of these books for your child or your grandchild. Because tonight is book launch night. And if you order Mary Alice and Angela's book tonight, your book will be signed by them and your child will receive a packet of fun. The young islander. Yeah, that's right. I love this freebie pack. That blue bicycle book is going to send to everyone. You have a nature journal cover. It's like an adhesive on the back side and your Children get to color it, personalize it the way they want and you can't see it right now, but they can even put their name on it. But you'll see once you read the book why this nature journal cover is so important to us. And then that um book cover is actually an author postcards. So after you or your young reader reads the book, you can let us know your thoughts. I think that's a good old fashioned way of reader connecting with writer to bookmarks and exclusive made stickers um shout out to my hubby for $0 for me. I'm like, could you make me stickers? I'd really appreciate it. And you did a great job. So cute. It's great to have handy husbands. Of course, as usual, you can get 10% off the purchases of the friends and fiction authors. Books too as well as Simon gum Aries books and of course The Islanders with the Code Friends. Mm I know will's gonna want those freebies that's there. So cool. So let's begin our questions to our authors. And remember if you have a question tonight for Cy or Mary Alice or Angela, you can put them in the chat and we will hopefully be selecting some live questions soon if we have time. All right, cy back to you because I've got some questions for you and your wildlife. So you have written about so many different animals for me, the octopus one is probably the most interesting and at least terrifying. So, I want to know, I'm really curious how you approach your books. Are you inspired? Is the story come from the animal or do you start with the animal or is it based on conversation with scientists or experts? How do you pick how you're going to approach which animal? Well, it varies. Each book is, each book is a different gift. And the first thing I ever did was an homage in honor of three of my heroines growing up, jane, Goodall Diane fossey and brutal gal, because I did called Walking with the Great Apes and I felt like my first book needed to say thank you to these incredible women and what I wrote it wasn't a triple biography, but it was a biography of their relationships with their study animals, which is how, by establishing relationships with those animals, that was key to their new understanding of these creatures, they understood these creatures in a way nobody had before they spent longer um entwined with these animals lives and that was because they loved them. They were not study subjects. Who's that? I hear it, I'm sorry. But uh so how'd you pick your animals after that? Which I mean the next, the next one, I was very interested in human relationships with animals because this is what's driving the extinctions of animals today are lousy relationships with them. So that was when I did the book on man eating tigers and I told my husband, you know, don't worry honey, they're man eaters and in fact they did eat men and not women because the women tended to stay home where they could be my crocodiles. They literally eight men because the men were the ones who went into the Tiger reserves where they were not supposed to go. So um I picked that animal to write about because our relationship with tigers is causing their extinction. And I found that there was one place in the world where people were not eradicating the tigers, but where The only place in the world where healthy Tigers will swim out into the ocean waves afterward boat and get on board and eat you. And there's about 500 tigers that live in this 10,000 square kilometer mangrove swamp between India and Bangladesh. And I wanted to know like one, what is it that the people in that area know about the tigers that causes them not to kill them? And to why were the tigers killing the people that they did...

...normally eating you is something that really irritates humans and makes them want to kill the animals more. Yet in this place the people actually worship the tiger. So it was a mystery I wanted to solve so and so on and so on. I mean after after that I wrote about other animals, I saw pink dolphins um in the Ganges River, there's Pink River dolphins in the Ganges and how can you not want to follow a dolphin everywhere. So I just, there were pink dolphins in the amazon River and they are very storied animals. There's wonderful stories about them. So I did I did a book called Journey of the Pink Dolphins and one book led to another led to another and the more relationships that I that I had with both people and animals. Um That now there's books, I mean I'm sure you all feel this way. You feel like you're more ideas and their planes coming at Logan. You know, you just hope, you know, you want to eat your vitamins and live forever so that you get writing. Yeah. The curiosity that keeps you going, it really is. How about you mary Alice, do you decide the animal first? The story first, what inspires its except for this last one which was about the pandemic, which was, as we talked about before, kind of a world and it's always the animal species that that sparks. And I don't have a I have a lot of possible ideas of animals I'm interested in, but it's usually something very instinctive that it's time to write about this animal now. And I've seen over the course of my career that it's it's very prescient in a sense. And I think we all have this ability where if I wrote about I wrote about the monarch c and the book came out right when the population crashed. So I think it's true that if we are in tune with nature and what's around us, we can almost anticipate. So I usually choose the species, and then I have to do the academic and research and talk to experts to see if there's enough there for a book. And it almost always is because you fall in love with the species, the more you learn about them. And then I work with the animals. And it's only through working with the animals that I pull parallels out to create a novel. So the species First, Species First, um Angela, your background is in journalism, like a couple of us here. Um what shifted your focus to writing Children's literature? And will you keep doing that? Well, when I first met my husband, you know, when you're newly in love and you ask each other 1000 questions late at night. I remember he had asked me as I was working in a newsroom if money didn't matter what's the one thing that you would want to do? And I said I want to write Children's books. And when I decided to leave my career in journalism because I didn't know exactly what I was going to do next, but I just knew intuitively that it was time that that chapter of my life was done. Um as soon as I left my job, my husband let me know that he saw a special course open up at the citadel and it was an evening class on Children's writing and publishing. And so I took the course and learned a lot and then one thing led to another where I um connected with Mary Alice, but all of that was just this kind of secret desire to write Children's books and I've dabbled with it, but I never took any of that seriously. Um so, but now now that I'm on this journey with Mary Alice and I had this chance to do this, I am so excited to write for middle grade fiction. I know that it wasn't Children's picture books, which I had originally thought this is, it's this category, This is the one that really connects with me and it reminds me of how I felt when I fell in love with reading and would devour books. I'm sure you guys feel the same way when you think back to your childhood. So I hope to have the opportunity to continue to work hard and right now sigh so happy why kids? You've written a library of adult novels. What drew you to write Children's books? Well, I always thought I wanted to write for kids because they're the ones that are going to change the world. Um, they're the ones that are going to hear about the plastic and they're going to start the beach cleanup and they're also going to go home and tell their parents, you know what? No more straws, No more plastic stuff. I don't care. I'm gonna be, I'm gonna be the one that's gonna make the whole family like vegetarian and guess what? We're going to buy a hybrid car and Children really drive a lot of you love that. But it was, it was shit who came up to me at a conference at which I thought I had...

...horribly bombed. It was I was on a panel and all the panelists except for me were men and they were all answering all the questions. That wasn't a moderator in telling you what the question saying? What about Children's books? Sigh? I've never written a Children's book. It was like my ovaries are going to write this lot. Well it was, it was, I just felt terrible. But then nick Bishop comes up to me looking like he had just woken up under a pile of leaves and I knew he was like my kind of guy, fantastic photographer and he had also written Children's books, but he really wanted to take photographs instead of instead of write them and you know, it could have been an axe murder, but I asked him if he would send me pictures of animals that he had taken because when you look in the face of an animal, you can tell whether they're being pursued by the paparazzi and particularly small animals like reptiles. You can look at the face of the reptile or insect and tell if they have been refrigerated because this is something that a lot of photographers, due to calm, calm down, make your animals not move. So you can see and Children can see this to a lot of adults just don't pay attention, but you can see it. And I looked at his photographs of insects and reptiles and it was clear to me that the animal was literally frozen, It wasn't hypothermic, it wasn't dead. There's a lot of pictures of dead bugs that are supposedly you know live books and Children's books and I could see that the animal was showing its true self that he had taken his time with these animals so that they were showing themselves as a you know, calm creature, not like freaking out. And so I said yeah I'll work with you. And that's when we we found that the scientists in the field series for that's great, How cool your amazing. All right. So I want to go back to Angela for a second, Angela and you know this is also coming in as a question from some of our readers wondering what was the process? How did you do this together? But I'm really curious. So we we have one from Susan God asking just that question. Um but she is curious about the process of collaboration as am I so first of all, how did you, how did you do this together with Mary Alice and as a new author? What are the advantages to writing collaboratively? Um and is that something you think you'll do in the future? Okay, Well it was a really interesting process because even though she is a senior writer, she's been doing this for decades and I'm, you know, a new writer on this side, it was new to both of us to collaborate together. So we did have to feel our way through it, wouldn't you say mary Alice? Like we really didn't know what to do. So we started with the basics which was talking about the things that excited us most, about the setting, which is dewees island south Carolina in a place that's captured our hearts and then we had the outline who are these characters and and what's going to happen. And then from there we would just pass it back and forth. I would take some time and write a big long chunk and work on that in between our regular job. And then I would send it back to Mary Allison. She would do all of her revisions, send it back to me and it would just chunk by chunk. We slowly got it done. And as we were saying tonight we talked to Ron last night and I think what came out was that it really involves a lot of trust that you can't to collaborate with someone. You have to know that your your ideas of where you're going and what you want to do matches up and you trust that you're gonna do the best. You can not just for your own work but for the book and for each other. Right, That's true. Yeah. Sorry, go ahead. Angela. Yeah, I was there and I think that one of the things that I felt personally that worked really well, I always felt reenergized mary Alice every time we stepped away from our office spaces to go back to the island and just slink the laptops at home and immerse ourselves there and then to be with our friends on the island. Um, most notably judy Fairchild who is a resident and a naturalist. Don't talk about her too much weight. Right, right. You know, she was just able to share all these things with us because I mean I look at things and I'm like, well, what's that, what's that mean bird? What's that tree? You know, and she's able to explain and we would walk away just like buzzing with energy just ready to write again. So I, I loved returning to the set image. Great and how nice to have that partner to kind of bounce that energy off of two. I think that must have been a really cool part of the process. Um, see how about...

...you, can you talk us a little bit through the, your process of collaborations? Yes. Well for a lot of the books, there wasn't a whole lot of collaboration with creating the book that there would be work with the scientist um, with the scientists in the fields stuff. Um, well, I mean Nick literally saved my life a couple of times. Um, in papa new guinea, I had hypothermia and altitude sickness, but of course you don't know and it was pouring rain and I felt sick and I wandered away from camp and because it was pouring rain, no one could have told me, No one could have heard me call, no one could have found me. But nick noticed that I was missing and I suppose he didn't wanna have to right And photograph the book. So he ran after it. Got me help me not fall off a mountain at 10,000 feet. Okay. That's really good collaboration. Yeah, mary Alice, you're going to stop it up. Like you're just but Angela be ready to save my life. I'm hold on adventurous. But you know, that takes it to a whole another level. That's right at all. But you still had to share ideas and all that with him, right? Oh yeah, it was so great because with the photos, you know, um scientists and field series is half photos and a half text. So we had to be physically together during this. A lot of a lot of books with photographs, nonfiction, animal books with photographs, the photographer and the author never go into the field at all. And but when I would write I knew what photos he had because I saw he was photograph and this has continued. I worked with a couple. I've worked with a couple of other photographers since then on projects that he did not want to do one. Um Some involves scuba diving and he's not a diver. Another one I worked with um T. A strong beck who photographed California condors and that was exciting. I I got bitten by a condor. A giant vulture. Yeah totally survived a lot of things. So you need a T. V. Show. You write a piece for radio. Unfortunately your stories actually the science that the scientists series is so great for kids. It really is. I absolutely love it Avalon, thank you. Haven't been a new crocodile hunter exactly what we wanted to do. The crocodile scientists, but our scientists stopped going into the field. We're waiting for her to come back. Wow, wow. There are so many men on television who are survivalists and adventurous. I mean, wouldn't it be awesome to see a woman lighting? I've watched that show. Okay, well, uh you are beautiful inside and out. You're amazing. Yeah. We want to watch you side. We want to hear your stories. We want to know where else. Maybe you and I should a size typing only. I don't know about the snakes, but I'll go for those tigers. Oh, I know you would. You totally would. And the gorilla signed me up with that gorilla. Yeah. All right, Well, I think we're ready for some live questions. Yeah. And there are a lot of them. Everybody wants to know sy what is the animal? Is there an animal you would not want to come in contact or one you did come in contact with that? You regret it? Yes. And that was the mosquito that gave me dengue fever in Borneo. I mean it's always say you know what's the most dangerous animal in the world and you know could it be the crocodile or is it the great white shark? And I dive with great white sharks and they're not going to bother you particularly if you're in a big steel cage, you know tigers and lions and bears and No, it's the mosquito mosquitoes have killed more people in the world than any other animal just by transmitting disease. Wow. Great answer. Yeah. Well the other animal that I could do without was bleach is because I have had a lot of contact with leeches and hold off a few leeches. Oh my God if you look like you've been shot they because of their drool Of course I said anticoagulants you believe like a stuck pig. It's terrible. And I didn't even know I'd been bitten the first time and my friends came to pick me up in this parking lot and I saw their faces just freeze when they saw me and I thought oh is my bra strap showing or something? I look like I've been shot in the...

...stomach. I just gushing blood everywhere I came out I came out of the leeches were still on me. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. An aesthetic. So often you don't feel it. And at the end of the day in Borneo we would peel off her clothes and you know the fact that we just dropping out of your underwear? It's horrible. You have to do a body check yet subject subject. Okay. Alright. That I write fiction about you know actually. Mr come on, it's so cold. It is right. Oh my gosh, okay, so mary Alice, this comes from Becky on Youtube. So someone tuning in on Youtube. Yeah. She's wondering how do you transition from writing for adults to writing Children's books? Right. It's a big difference. Anyone who thinks writing for kids is easier has never tried it. It's a it's a myth. Writing for Children is a complete transition. It's a it's a difference in sensitivity. It's a difference in vocabulary and difference in pacing. But the what the mistake is thinking that you'd be writing for Children, it's it's simpler subjects, the depth of writing for kids. It's just as profound as writing for adults in fiction, you just handle it differently. So it's a completely different approach. Yeah, that makes sense. So cy there's a woman named Jill celeste and I just love this question. She says, what's one that says this question is for cy, what's one thing we can do is humans to make the planet a better place for animals. But a nice question. That's great. Thank you so much for asking that um boy, there's so there's so many. But one that is easy and it's in our hands is plastic. Don't buy it. And the whole idea about plastic recycling, it does not really get recycled. Really. Just number one milk jugs is about the only plastic that gets recycled. The rest of it is not recycled. So don't buy it, don't use it and lobby the company's your local leaders to ban single use plastic items is so poisonous. And as you know, by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Oh, that's separate consequences of that. It's hideous. And I mean we love, there's all five species of sea turtles are endangered and they see that gross plastic blob floating there and it looks exactly like a jellyfish. And I asked by a follow up question to the plastics comment. So in your own life sigh, how do you try to what are some things that you do to really avoid plastics? Because I feel like when I have to go shopping for my family at the grocery store, at target, there's so many things that are wrapped in plastic and there's not an alternative. Yeah, it's really true. Well, start of course by don't use single use plastic bags. Bring your own cloth or recycled whatever bag. And that is just real easy to do. A lot of, a lot of the places I totally hear you because you know so many of the items that you buy yogurt, lot of yogurt is in nothing but plastic. There are some kinds that aren't theirs. We owe you, I yogurt that glass. Um There's so many drinks that are in plastic but many of them are in L. A. Medium cans and those are recyclable and they do get recycled if you change change the way you cook and if you can change the way you shop. I joined the C. S. A. And I get the most beautiful vegetables and I take them I put them in my own bag and take them home and they're better for us and they support local farmers. So at every turn I really make an effort. And many of the many of the items that we buy that are prepackaged, they're not that hard to make it yourself. Um HMOs tons of GMOs, it's real easy to make in the blender. You open a can of garbanzo beans and you throw in the blender with some lemon juice and some garlic or something else. If you want to make it taste better, there's, there's not a bunch of stuff that you can that you can do and it's fun to think of with a kid to sit down kid and say, listen, let's figure this up and they'll see all. I love that, wow! Well that is so great and wow, that I feel like I'm going to recommit to was really, really good about that pre pandemic and then we couldn't use all our bins and stuff and I got a little bit worse about it. So thank you. Uh on my, on my facebook...

...page, there's a group and I started it two years ago. It's called light one candle. So please jump in and give some of those suggestions. It's a way for it's called light one candle. And it's a way how you with all the barrage, what one thing can you do in your life? And it's all of us. There's a couple 1000 people on there now where we all just try and come up with ideas of what we can do to make a difference in our personal life. So what? Please join us on that? That's great. Thank you so much as well as you know on friends in fiction. We love our surprises. And so mary Alice has another special guest tonight, mary Alice, would you like to tell us about her? I know I'm really excited when Angela and I were researching for the Islanders, we went into recess Island, which is this small, remote island right off isle of palms and I'll go to a person was judy do Fairchild who's a naturalist of wonder and you'll have to watch your show. It's on instagram. It's called, it's a little series called nature walks with judy and we're going to show you a clip of it in just a minute. But first let's bring on judy to Fairchild. Who is, who is the number one fan of Time on hungry? I love you judy. You're not wearing your adventure shirts and things. You're all, you're not pretty good for this. Uh a bug shirt on. Yes. So we are so thrilled to have you. And can you tell us a little bit about Teresa and why you think that how you helped us with the Islanders? What you think about it? Sure. So it's a small island right off the coast of charleston. There are, the entire island is in a conservation easement. So when you build your house you can only disturb a small footprint. You can't plant non native plants in the ground. You have to um use like sustainable building materials. Everything comes to the island by boat, every bit of trash leaves the island by boat. So you work hard at you know using those C. S. A. Vegetables and composting what you aren't you don't need to put into the landfill kind of thing. Um And it's a it's a really interesting community. It's a little different and like you know all utopian communities. We have our little challenges but it's um it's a really it's a really it's not that fire from charleston. Um You know I was in charleston for lunch today, I was in for a cool exciting conservation announcement last night so we can come and go pretty easily. And yet when you're out here there are no cars on the island. Use golf carts or bicycles to get around. And so it's very quiet. Um There are no lawns and so it's got this sort of, I don't know, it's like the barrier islands of your childhood that you remember that don't have any, there's no commercial activities. You know, strip malls. Now if you run out of something you ask your neighbor. Um and it's, you know, people say, well if you ran out of wine and like will stand in the red with a glass, somebody is likely to drive by. How closely did we come to talk about the island is and how we wrote about it. Did you hit the nail on the head you That's one of the things I like best about it because you know, it's like you get us and and the ability for my Children to grow up and know, you know where the owl nests and when the sea turtles emerge from their little eggs and make it out to sea and how that is part of the day to day rhythm and understanding how the tides affect you and what the bird calls in the forest are and having that freedom um to, to really explore nature in a way that is very hard to come by these days. And so we do have kind of free range kids, which is really, really fun. And also, you know, it's, you can lie on the dock for 2.5 hours and watch fiddler crabs fight with their, their big claws. And, and you can hear the sounds of snapping shrimp in the marsh and that's pretty much all you here, which is she's really amazing. But judy did a really wonderful thing. She took lines of the book and she she showed us Dewey's Sean. Can you show that video? It's really amazing.

That was co kind it was amazing. It really is an idyllic little place if you want to see the whole thing. She really you can see big al the alligator come to. Um either nature, it's making box with nature walks with three D. Dot com has a page for the Islanders and also just one little mini, you know my pandemic pivot was like you and sigh where you want to get people to love the nature that's around us because they won't protect it if they don't know it and love it. And so you know I do like the haiku of you know one minute. Um but the idea is just to get people to love what's in their own backyards and I have an easy one to film. But it's it's also you know, everybody can do this and it's really great judy has this way of making you realize, oh, that's really a cool critter. I want to know more about that quitter and that's, that's the whole thing. It's also on my website. So judy. Thank you for coming. Thank you for having me. That was beautiful. I'm great. All right. That was so cool. So now it is time for one of our favorite parts of the show. The writing tip. So cy do you have a writing tip? You can give us tonight. I'm so interested to hear what you have to say. Well, I mean for me I just need, I need quiet. So I don't look at my email in the morning. I don't answer my phone. I let the machine get it. That's awesome. What we should do that. That's a really, really, really good tips. I like that. So um, everybody please stick around because we have some announcements but we also have one more question and it's one of our favorites. So patty announcement, yep. First of all we want to remind you to check out our podcast y'all, they are just getting better and better and there's so much fun. I got to interview chris Whitaker today of, we begin at the end and I have been floating around on air. He was astounding but we will always post links under announcements each time a new one goes out and superstar librarian Ron block is now the captain of our podcast ship because I'm going to keep talking about ships. And this your USA today bestseller that you've got to talk about. The shift body. The ship number 38 Look in the entire nation. Yeah, so there you go. So this coming friday, june 18th, Ron will be interviewing Stephen Rally PJ vernon and Virginia Wills for Pride week. Last week's episode where Christie and Ron interviewed Viola Shipman and the Lady Elena friedland is up now and of course do not forget to join the Friends and fiction official book club hosted by her friends, lisa Harrison and Brenda Gartner. So this coming monday june 21st mary Kay will be joining them to discuss her summer bestseller, the newcomer. Um so that would be a great opportunity to dig in with her. And next up in july is mary Alice's best seller this summer of Lost and Found and she might even give you some insights into the Islanders to So if you pick up the Islanders today, that would be a great opportunity to chat about that. And don't forget what's a book club without snacks, get 20% off your orders on Mama Geraldine's dot com with the Code Fab five. And speaking of snacks, the thing what goes with him, nothing better than wine. So don't forget your story. Point wine. Sit and stay after show tonight. And next week right here on our sunday bonus at five p.m. We're talking to the witty, warm and wonderful and Garvin Usa today, bestselling author and founder of Tall Poppies. You're not gonna want to miss that sunday episode. Then next week on Wednesday at seven p.m. We will be joined by our friend Marie Benedict and speaking of collaboration, she wrote her newest novel with victoria Christopher Murphy. It is called the personal librarian. So we can't wait. So good. Mhm. Now, back to our one last question for our guests, one of our favorite site. Could you tell us about the values about reading around reading and writing in your childhood? That influenced you to be the author that you are today? Well, when I was growing up, there were two institutions that no matter where we moved, my folks were military. I always found the library and I always found the church library. Yeah. Oh my...

...gosh. I I loved uh I loved reading and always got out books about animals and plants. And often the librarian would know, you know, would see you coming and and and have a suggestion for you. The librarians are my heroes are still. That is the lovely it's amazing how many authors will say librarians library. Absolutely! All right. So to all of you out there, we encourage you to grab the new book. Just launched the Islanders for your child, your grandchild or yourself and of course, any of size wonderful books to um I think I'm gonna be picking up becoming a good creature Uh for my son. No, I think that's gonna be a great winter. Yes. Yes. Well is a little older. So he'll definitely be getting the Islanders and we live on an island. So I know the story about a boy discovering how special island living is will appeal to him. And do not forget that you can get 10% off all of our books with the code friends. All caps. At tonight's highlighted blue bicycle books and your little one will love the packet of treats he or she will get if you order the Islanders. Well, this has been the most special night. The middle grade book islander is launched. So here's some story point wine toast for Thank you and sai you get to the world is the hummingbirds gift that just released in May. All really, if you're a hummingbird lover and who isn't? This is a must read. I want to thank all of you for helping to launch Angela. Thank you so much. I know you're sticking around all of you. Thank you so much. So I it was such an honor. I'm looking forward to talking to you again. I'm sure sure hope our paths are gonna cross maybe with some alligators. Actually. My, the next middle grade book, it's interesting. Okay, my next middle grade book is focusing on alligators and your next book is on turtles, turtles. So we are set. That's uh, thanks. I was so wonderful meeting you. Thank you for having me join your group. This is fabulous. We're looking forward to the show. We're putting that out. We want that tv show starring starring SaiPan recovery All right, well, Friends, that is our show for tonight but don't leave stick around for our sip and stay with Story Point after show where we will be chatting laura with debut author Angela May welcome everyone. Welcome to our friends and fiction, sip and stay with one point after show. As we mentioned earlier, we are so happy to be partnering with Story Point wines is the official sponsor of our after show all summer long. It will be the summer of story points here on Friends and fiction. Story point comes in three varietals chardonnay. You know, that's my favorite, what peanut noir and cabernet, my personal favorite of course is the short name. My husband loves the cab 19. I like them all have to be honest, as they say at story point many great stories and ideas unfold over a shared bottle of wine and who knows that better than us ladies here at friends and Fictions. That's true. So keep sticking around for the friends and fiction after So to sit and stay with story points. Well that was a fun show. Let me just say Christie. There was a lot to unpack. You did so well thank you for taking the ship as patio and say thank you guys. It was absolutely wonderful. And um tonight we wanted to sit and stay with Angela for a little bit and do a really classy lightning round about what it's like to be a debut author. So Angela, you were officially in the hot seat. Now we all have a question for you. All right, Angela, I'm kicking things off. Can you tell us briefly about when you knew you wanted to be an author? Gosh! Um I guess I would say when I was in elementary school because after devouring tons of books, that was anybody who knows me now would be shocked to know this. But I was extremely quiet as a child. I mean like cried if my mom would try to make me go and just, you know, talk to the sales clerk at the store. Um so I was always reading and then you know when you're you guys all did this as kids? Probably where we tried to emulate a story that you love. Right? Fifth grade, I worked so hard in my little notebook and wrote this big mystery about a portal in a basement behind the washing machine or...

...something. That's all I remember of it. But I turned it into my fifth grade teacher, mrs Bartowski and asked her to grade it and she was like, I'm not going to grade your story. I'm like, no, please grade it so I can do a good job. I get better. And I still have her notes. And it was just all of encouragement. So, I guess your mentor. Yes. And so I guess that would probably be the actual time in my life where I knew I wanted to be a writer. But the funny thing is as a child, I never thought you could have a career as a writer, which I don't understand why. Because I read books written by female offers. I just never thought of that. Not until many years later in adulthood. Which goes back to what I had said that little quiet. Just, you know, wish that I had shared with my husband. And that was it. And then here we are today. Is there anything about the process of going to publication that really surprised you about the writing or the publication process? I knew it was hard by watching mary Alice because I've had the joy of sitting beside her just in the background, not helping at all with her books, but just being a friend to listen and what so I knew how hard it is and how joyful it is and how painful it can be sometimes, but to actually go through the motions. I mean, then I was like, okay, I get it now. But it was it was a great experience. You've seen every avenue of publication from your seat before your group was published. Yes, you're so right. I mean, I really have had like a I feel like a unique position and all of this, y'all for just working with you for over a decade now, just little by little. And I remember, like, the first time I went to new york with you for one of your business meetings, I mean I actually got to walk inside a Simon and Schuster and I mean Christie I think you shared a story one time about that feeling that standing right there and you're seeing that gold sign on. Yes, I used to walk down the street, this is not about me, but I just have to say that because you're so right. I used to walk down the street and I would look at that gold sign and Rockefeller Center and I'll be like, one day you can get to go in that building and that's a get a special room. The side with a special room on the port is the 14th floor before 94. Holy. And they have all those authors from over the decades frame remember being like, oh my God, it's treaty bloom. She's looking at me on the wall. So do you have any projects you're working on for the future, my friends. Yeah. Well mary Alex, can we talk about it? Go right ahead. Sure. Friends. I mean as you might notice here's a clue to anybody who gets our book. So the Islanders on the front, but if you look right there on the sign, your oh awesome are working on a book too. Um what's the working title that you've declared right now? Um I like return to the island like that and I like it too. And I hear through the grapevine that Kristen's really good with book titles. Yeah, you just jump in here. You don't like it that we are outlining and having so much fun just thinking about what we're gonna do next. And You know, sea turtles were the big species in this book and there were lots of other wildlife in book one. But book to, you need one species to be prominent. And so we're going to make the American alligator be prominent. And Mary Alice, I'm really excited about that because you know, around here in the low country, all there's a lot of fear about, I mean you should see like, and this is no disk to anybody. But there is just this sense of when you see a gator, no matter how big or small it is, you think, gosh, it could, you know, my dog, my cat for a child. And that is absolutely a reality. But I've had the privilege of learning more about that species in my previous job as a journalist and needing someone who is nicknamed the game. Uh, Oh, all right. So what you're saying is...

...just gonna say that. Please tell us. Book three is sexy snakes. Oh my God. Actually I am not afraid of snakes. I mean they're not up close and personal kind of things, but just don't make really about palmetto bugs. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I'm sorry. Word. There's nothing redeeming about maybe to be gator bait. You always come up with good. I used to, what is the phrase about up to my alligators? Yeah, that's very, that's more of a young adult title patty. Okay. Remember about rock and roll here. My categories mixed up. Okay, I have a question for you. Angela. We just started doing book tours. How's it going so far? Amazing. Um, but a lot of nerves. I mean I've really been like a bag of jitters every right before every single well I'm so glad. Um, and I think it's because I don't want to disappoint anybody and especially you, because I know you've been doing this for so long and I want to make sure that I'm helping represent our special book in the best light possible. So my darling, there's no way you couldn't, but it's been really great, but every time each event, each new thing is done, I'm like okay, that threw that one. Okay girls, we've all done this, so, you know, we're going to litchfield on friday, we're gonna love it, they're gonna love you, she's gonna love it. I'm so excited. I got to talk to Olivia today for a minute or normal, it's okay, it's adorable. She's excited we are to, it's gonna be great, well there's a lot of great things going on, we're super proud of you guys. Um here's the owners, Thank you, mary Ellen, thank you for bringing on size. She was so interesting, so fascinating. She really is amongst environmentalists, really like an icon. She's right up there with fosse and incredible when she said yes, I was just tickled and and Nate judy who came on the show was like gushing. She was like fan girling because this is side Montgomery and you know, I I I love to write about wildlife, but I haven't done you know what I was thinking, You know, it would be really fun is to get her in Delia Owens talking about living in africa together. To me, those two would have a better conversation of what it was like to deal with the wild, but I was really touched by her. She truly is humble when it comes to talking about working with animals and wanting people to understand, you know that they have lives that matter and they have personalities. If we only take a moment to get to know them and it's easier to do that with the dolphin. I imagine it's a lot harder to do with the tarantula. Yeah, true. Or kind of snakes are mistakes. I will never get the image of Snakes 18. Thanks Nick. I'm really, I'm gonna have nightmares about. I'm gonna see that. Yeah, that's like Indiana Jones 19. That's the point in those movies when he goes in that and he goes snakes. That's the point when I go click exactly. You know, HDTV up for a while until the next a there's a real fear of reptiles. And I think it goes back to the bible to be honest with you or to their fangs. It might be their fans. It might be a deadly poison. I mean, I'm just throwing out some ideas. Yeah, I don't know. Maybe it's a poison makes the poison all right, you guys. That was Congratulations patty and Kristen. Congrats again on the congratulations. Everyone needs the Islanders. Goodnight. Thank you for tuning in, join us every week on facebook or Youtube, where our live show airs every Wednesday night at seven p.m. Eastern time and please...

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