Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 3 weeks ago

Friends & Fiction with Sarah MacLean

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

F&F is so pleased to welcome New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestselling author, Sarah MacLean as our guest on our final show of the year! Sarah is the author of many popular historical romance novels, which have been translated into more than twenty-five languages. A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, a leading advocate for the romance genre, and a co-host of the weekly romance podcast Fated Mates, Sarah is also a columnist for the New York Times, the Washington Post and Bustle. She joins us to discuss her latest, BOMBSHELL, the first in a bold, blazingly sexy, unapologetically feminist new series.

Welcome to Friends and fiction, Fournew york times, bestselling authors, endless stories, novelists, mary Kayandrews. Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson harvey and Patti Callahan, Henry arefour long time friends with more than 70 published books between themtogether, they host friends and fiction with author interviews and fascinatinginsider talk about publishing and writing to highlight and supportindependent bookstores. They discussed the books, they've written the booksthey're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books andyou're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Hi everybody, it's Wednesday night andthat means it's time for friends and fiction. The happiest night of the weekand tonight we're especially excited to introduce you to Sarah Maclean. I'mmary Kay Andrews, I'm Kristin Harmel, I'm Kristy Woodson Harvey, I'm PattiCallahan Henry and this is Friends and fiction for new york times. Bestsellingauthors, endless stories to support indie bookstores now. Our guest tonightis Sarah Maclean and I think she is the perfect author for a chilly decembernight because her regency romances are steamy and dreamy. I can't wait for youto meet her steamy and dreamy should be her hashtag we can we can suggest thatwhen she played a steamy and dreamy with SarahMclean. I have a feeling Sarah doesn't need our help with what she seems to bedoing okay. But as all of you know out there we continue to encourage you tosupport independent booksellers. It's the holiday season and you're buyinggifts and don't take the easy way out and click use your independentbooksellers when and where you can. And one way to do that is to support ourown friends and fiction bookshop dot org page where you can find Sara'sbooks and books by the four of us and by all of our past guests at a discountof course at bookshop dot org. A portion of each sale through thefriends and fiction shop goes to support indie bookstores, but it alsosupports this show. So if you enjoy watching this is a great way to comelike wind beneath our wings to support our guests, independent bookstores andthe friends and fiction group itself, All in one shot. You know what's as good as wind beneathour wings, Turkey and our bellies, Turkey and our bellies behind the ball. So we wanted to giveyou one more reminder. We wanted to give you one more reminder about butterballs. Turkey talk line, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary andwhich is open to take your calls through the end of december. We haveloved partnering with butter ball and I have to admit, I'm a bit ashamed toknow that even they have a Tiktok page when I, as we all know, I'm not coolenough to have a Tiktok so I don't even know, I don't even know how to talk man,but butter ball is cool enough to be on Tiktok. So make sure to join us on ourtalking Turkey with butter ball after show tonight for more on ourpartnership with butter ball and just to hear us talk turkey in general. Anddon't forget that our spring box is now available for order from our friends atOxford exchange order now and receive my new book, the wedding veil in Marchmary. Kay's, The home wreckers in May and a special friends and fictionnotebook complete with sticky flags from March for marking all yourfavorite pages. Plus if you order before December 24, you will alsoreceive a season's readings ornament in...

...your first shipment. Okay, now, if everybody's ready, Yeah,there it is. Love it. We are ready. Oh, there you go. So cute. We're going tointroduce our guest new york times Washington post and usa todaybestseller Sarah Maclean Sarah is the author of numerous, many lots ofpopular historical romance novels which have been translated into more than 25languages. She is a leading advocate for the romance genre and we're goingto talk about that and a co host of the weekly romance podcast. I love thistitle. Fated mates. I love that too. In fact,her work in support of romance and those who read it are in to replace onjezebel dot com. She Rose List and lead Entertainment Weekly to call her theelegantly fuming, utterly intoxicating queen of historical romance. I mean Ilove, oh my gosh! I love that so much. She definitely does not need our steamyand dreamy help. That's yeah, it is, that's true. She is also acolumnist for the new york times, the Washington post and bustle. She is agraduate of smith college and Harvard University and she now lives in newyork city. Okay. All sean bring in sarah. I got soexcited about that butterball turkey line. I only know about it from like numerouswatching of the West Wing, I don't know if any of you were West Wing fans, butmy very favorite West Wing thanksgiving episode involves the president callingthe butterball line and being recognized and it was great. So I didnot know that. I know that google, it's martin sheen, you should google itbecause I'm sure you can find it on youtube and it's martin Sheenpretending to be not the president of the United States to know, to learnmore about stuffing and it's terrific. Oh, I'm gonna have to watch the amazingand we have to put that on the page or at least on the Show. Like I almostwanted to stop the show right now, so we can all have five minutes to gogoogle that, but it's really terrific. He's still christian. Thank you. Well,Sarah, I think we've probably birth met at one of those random boozy um are w aharper avon events over the years, but I still remember the hilarious lunch weshared with our mutual crazy friends Susan Elizabeth phillips in Chicagoseveral years ago. And just so you know, I have yes, just so you know I've beenplotting to get you on friends and fiction for almost two years now, sogive us a taste of bombshell if you would, bombshell bombshell is my mostrecent book, it's the first in a series called Hell's Bells which is about avictorian era girl gang. Um and the conceit of it was that I was writing itduring 2020 and I was you know locked in my housein new york city feeling really sad about not being able to see all myfriends and hang out with them and um have boozy brunches with SusanElizabeth phillips and you okay and so I wrote my like dreams for the yearinto this book. I just sort of wrote on the on a post it note on my wall youcan see this year in my office right now. Um I posted it on my wall that Iyou know it just said make it fun and that was the goal um and also make itsexy and so it tells the story of Cecily Talbot who is a bombshell. UmThe bombshell of the crew, the Hell's Bells are the girl gang um and they arethe bombshell, the thief, the...

...explosives expert because every girlgang needs an explosives expert and the kind of mastermind who brings it alltogether and they spend there were time hanging out and smashing patriarchy andalso falling in love. So Cecily tell that my bombshell is the first here andshe falls for an american tavern owner with a big secret. And um yeah, that'sbombshell. That's so exciting. Don't you? Kristen would be our explosivesexpert in our game. You should all decide who you are. I don't, you know,I can cook so maybe that means I could be poison, I don't know you now I knowyou know I have you have you know in an emergency, you know how to poisonsomeone. So what other skills are in the gang that we can be assigned?Cecily has a knife, right? Vasily uh has a knife that's strapped to herthigh, but she's also okay. She's a and then Adelaide who is the next bookthat comes out in the summer, It's called Heartbreaker. Um and she is amaster thief. I want to be useful, useful in a pinch. Okay. And Imogen isthe explosive explosives expert and the mastermind is called the duchess andyou don't know very much about her, but I know a lot about her. So I want to bethe knife one. Like I'm pretty sure that gets to be the duchess. I like it. Youand your very regal. I'm the oldest anyway. Alright Sarah bombshell is thefirst, like you said in a new series called Hell's Bells and I kind of in aminute, I want to hear about how you came up with that name. but the premiseis so I'm just gonna say it if I get beeped, I get beeped, it's so badass.It's early in the victorian era and a group of four aristocratic women whoyou just sort of went through form a gang whose secret mission is to rightwrongs against women. I love this sort of a superhero's mash up like theoffenders. But with women, I want to know, I always want to know where doyou think the spark was for this? Besides covid and fun and blow thingsup Like I'm gonna, yeah, besides my like absoluteadoration of beautiful people blowing things up as like a theme in my, inmedia consumption for me. Um, the, I have written many romance novels. Um, Istarted out writing regencies that for those of you who are historical readers,you know, would probably be more on the ballroom side of things, lots of titles,lots of balls, lots of beautiful dresses. Um, and I sort of slowly overthe course of the last few years have moved, had moved into, you know, Iwrote a series about criminals and then um, who spent a lot of time likerunning over rooftops and smuggling things. Um, and as I was doing that. Um,and watching a lot of people blinders and watching a lot of heist movies, Istarted thinking about, you know, what would it look like if um, I flipped thescript and I made them all women and then I discovered that uh they were inreal, there was there was a real life model for this. Um And that is thecoolest thing. I mean some of you have written historical um you know thatit's pretty hard to come up with an idea historically that you can't provelike that you can't find in history, which is something that I think a lotof readers are surprised by like...

...they're basically if you come up withanything um as an idea, there's something in history that can proveprove it out or bear it out. Um and I discovered the 40 elephants, which isThe large, continues to be the largest shoplifting ring ever in the UnitedKingdom. It ran from the 1860s to the 1960s and it was run and peopledentirely by women. And they and they were massive and they shoplifted fromevery major department store, they created specialty skirts um that theywould wear specialty clothing that they would wear. So they could walk in likethe main door of a department store and like fill their skirts with stolengoods and then walk out the side door and offload all their stolen goods to awide web of of other members of the gang. They were run by Queens. Um andthe final queen of the 40 elephants died in 1960s and was buried in a$5,000 dress stolen from Harrods. I'm like wow! So I started reading aboutthese, this gang and I was like, well it exists like everything that I wouldwant to do with my gang with my group of women who are not shoplifters. Idon't, I'm not here endorsing shoplifting as a lifestyle, but I am here in Orson smashing thepatriarchy has a lifestyle. And so when you, you know when I sort of had thisconcept, I realized that whatever I had these women do, there was there werewomen in history who were real and his shoulders, they could stand on wherethe name came come from Hell's Bells. Um you know, I don't know that. I canremember where I was when I thought of it, I was with a group of friendsincluding Sophie Jordan's who I think probably some of you know, um we wereat a writing retreat in Kiawah Island and I was, I was talking through thisidea that I wanted to write a girl gang and it just like popped into my headand that was it. Hell's Bells is just such a fun, obvious name, but theyactually are not called the Hell's Bells in book one. Book one is theorigin story of the name being given to them. So you'll learn about how thathappens when you read it. You know, first of all I'm thinking I need to getmy hands on one of these, hands on one of these skirts, not for shopliftingpurposes, I promise, but because how convenient would that be. I'm alwayscarrying around like the world's biggest purse stuffed with likeeverything from candy canes to markers to like stickers and whatever you needwith a five year old. Right? What if I could just put it in a million pocketsand offload them when necessary? Amazing Sarah, you're just opening mymind to all of these new possibilities, new business idea. We could develop, wecould design them here. She could help and well designed. It could be like ournew friends and fiction endeavor with Sarah. I love it. It's fantastic Friends and fiction clothing, pocketed skirts. It's steamy. Thesteamy and dreamy skirt disclaimer? Not for shoplifting. Sarah tracks a littleyou've become away from our shoplifting endeavors that were planning, uh, we'lldo that, we'll do that later offline. We'll do that off there. Exactly. Sothere's no evidence, Sarah, you've become known as a romance writer whochampions diversity through your podcast, through your networkingthrough social media. That's such an important element of what you do also.And you know, we talk a lot on this show about being good, positive membersof this overall rating community and that is certainly something you'redoing. Can you talk a little bit about why that's so important to you.

Sure. I think that, um, I think whenyou talk about romance, it's sort of hard not to talk about the fact thatJoy, romance, the cornerstone of romance novels is about is Joy right?And Happiness and um the Happily Ever After, which is what so many peoplecriticized about the genre, but what so many of us love about the genre, and Ithink that when you look at romance and you think about happily ever after,it's hard not to think of it as being um really transformative and powerfuland in many ways subversive um Happiness as an end game, Living yourtruth and living your happiness and living your best possible life is thebest way to stick it to. Yeah, powerful people and a society that maybe umdoesn't treat you the way that you should be treated or treat you withequity. And so for me it's not about sort of a it's not about supportingdiversity so much as it is about supporting um happily ever after in allof its different forms and acknowledging that Happily ever aftercomes with so much power and gives so much power to people who are too oftenstripped of that power, especially in media, especially in literature. Um youknow, women people of color queer people oftentimes in other areas ofliterature are put on the page to experience trauma. Um and in my opinion,the best way to to write our stories. Our our our collective stories is toput us on the page and let us live in Triumph. So, okay, I love that, what a great answer. It'sa really great answer, that's a really great answer, it kind of reminds me of,I think it was brit Bennett who said something really similar to that, ormaybe it was Jasmine Guillory who said, you know, we see all these stories thatyou know, do put people in these, you know, bad spots and she's like, I justwant to write like normal stories like where you know, we we're not havinglike trauma and anyway, that was a great episode. But yeah, it's truebecause it feels like um in whenever you see online people say, oh what's,you know, what's the what are the 10 best romance novels of all time? Andit's always like Lolita and Warren piece um something and from the moment where you're like umall of these people die, like literally all these women die, I don't want it. So yeah, I mean Ithink that's that's the key and Jasmine is so great about it. So yeah, yeah, Iknow she was a great guest to um and such a great writer. You've also becomea sort of romance ambassador with your own girl gang, you review romance forthe Washington Post and you're fairly fearless about taking on critics whotrivialize the genre, We would love to hear you talk about that. I mean Ithink I have said a lot of it already, but I it just feels like when we talkabout romance, it's when we think about romance as a genre, it really is theonly genre that as a matter of course like centers um women and othermarginalized people at at the and centers their gaze and centers themhappily. And so when we talk about romance is being derivative orreductive or you know too simplistic or you know, setting unrealisticexpectations for these poor said readers who are you know, off in theircorners or women who you know, just have cats and no men in their lives. Umthe truth is that um it's just so ridiculous. It's a ridiculous concept.It's it's it isn't itself derivative...

...and reductive. And I think the coolthing about romance is that it really does give us all an opportunity to wakeup in the morning and live the life we dream of living in its best possibleway. Um and so I say if these give if romance novels give people highexpectations or unrealistic expectations, um we're doing somethingwrong as a culture and as a world because we should all want love and weshould want partnership and parity and equity and all the things that arecoded into the genre for us. Um and then on top of it we should we shouldbe able to as women discuss, acknowledge ourselves and our bodies aslike sexual experiences and have our sexual identities not be again slutshamed or or criticized in some way. Um and romance gives us and gives readersan opportunity to do all of that exploration and have private fantasiesand public conversations altogether. Yeah, I think, you know, um readingyour books, I've had a couple of of things that I was, I found fairlyremarkable. You know, the women in bombshell are pretty unapologetic abouttheir sexuality. There are no fainting virgins in this book. No. But the otherthing, the other thing I thought I was noticing was that you moved fromregency in this too early victorian. And there are several references toqueen victoria and bombshell. And the people are discussing the difference inhaving a woman on the throne. And I wonder if you did that. And forinstance, one thing I noticed was there are women of color in this story, whichis pretty cool women in business like Maggie. Oh, turn in, who was a blackirish woman who come to London and opens a woman friendly tavern calledThe place. Does writing setting a novel in early victoria versus regency. Doesit give you more opportunities to do more with your plot and characters? That's a good question. I think, um,certainly it doesn't diverse diversity of people in London in in, you know,all over the world was not uncommon. I think one of the things that historicalromance has done poorly since its inception. And I we're still we'restill a long way to go is people in the world's Um with historical accuracy.Right? So 60% of London dock workers, for example, in the Victorian era werepeople of color because the boats were going all over the world and they wentboth ways, right? Like they were picking up people all over the worldand bringing them back to London. Um so I think that victoria's what Viktoriaand victoria's reign gives, gives me as a writer is more access to the rest ofthe world and more access to different cultures, different people at differenttimes, different experiences. Um but also from my personal, my my core story as a writer, right?Which is women blowing stuff up metaphorically and now physically to umthe, the idea of victoria's on the throne did make things more powerfulfor me as a writer because you would think that having a queen would make iteasier for women to own business, hold power, get the vote, you know, be ableto um do the work that they wanted to do, make their money and keep it thosekinds of things. But in fact, and we are seeing this, we see this in our ownworld too often when somebody gains power, um or in this case, victoriabecame queen, suddenly things became...

...more restrictive for women. Um you know,victoria was also, yeah, she wasn't hugely in favor. She was notoriouslyagainst women having the vote. Um and so I think there's this reallyinteresting push pull. Um we don't think of the regency because of, youknow, how historical romance has always been as being free for women, but inmany ways it was more free. So me being able to write in the, in the victorianera allows me to kind of tighten all the strings a little bit and women areable to own business or to, you know, go to a women only club or do anynumber of things, but the rules outside are becoming tighter that the circle isclosing for women. Um and that's really, it adds conflict and it makes it morefun for me. I wonder why that's true. I wonder whywith a woman on the throne it would constrict instead of expand with therespect that he was given, you know? Yeah, I mean, I think that it's not ahugely, I mean, I don't know, maybe it's again maybe it's reductive, but Ithink men were afraid right? Like once you, once a woman can be queen, whatelse can they do? Yeah, what else do you want? Yeah. What else are you goingto take from us? Like you've now you've taken, it's hard to fight. Um it's hardto fight. You know, the laws of prima janitor, right? She was born, Sheinherited the throne. But um we can certainly keep women from, you know,claiming from getting uppity and taking things any more than Yeah, wellspeaking of women who take space. Um Cecily Talbot, the protagonist ofbombshell, is a very intriguing character. Um one of Five sisters,she's called Sexily by the Mayfair set and we just need to know more about herand especially this nice, we're taking notes on the nice part. Um Cecilyactually comes from an older sister is one of those situations where, and I'msure you've all had this um I wrote a series of romances called scandal andscoundrel about Five Sisters and it was three books long and over the course ofthe three books before the sisters got married. Um and Sicily was was inventedwas sort of essential from throughout the series of comic relief. Right? Umshe was she was never intended to be her own heroine because she was funnyand kind of wild and um you know in comedy writing, there's this concept ofwriting a dog onto onto the page, meaning like for those of you who arefriends, fans like Joey, tribbiani is a dog, like you can always set him downin a scene and whatever he does. Um viewers will just go with it. Kramerfrom Seinfeld was a dog, is a dog and so Cecily was my dog in that series. Umso I you know, she was just, she could always do anything, she could doanything wild, she had access to everything and readers loved her andkept sending me emails about her, you know, when it's actually going to gether man and she got it. Finally, I did a whole another series. And then I,when I came up with Hell's Bells, I thought, well who is the right heroin?You know, to lead us into Hell's Bells. And it was just obvious that it wouldbe Sicily because she has so much she is established as a character whodoesn't care about what society thinks of her, She's rich, she's beautiful.She has four siblings who are all married off to powerful men. Um, and soin her mind, she, you know, she doesn't...

...have to follow any of these rules. Soshe made sense as that character, but she is a bombshell from the firstmoment you meet her, you know, four books or six books earlier. Um, so itwas clear that she would be economic Patel and it would be it was clear thatwhen I conceived of the gang, that she would be willing to kind of use thosethat skill to advance their cause. And she has like strapped to her thigh,which is yeah, add that to every teacher outfit.I mean, but maybe just maybe not, maybe not here at the elementary school cancome standard with our pockets skirt. Yes, pocket skirt with a knife. I thinkyou have to have a handbag, but says knife, not included on the skirt, rap for it. You know, Sarah, I wasthinking as you were talking earlier, I was I was thinking about how, over thecourse of my career, I feel like I've I thought about things with each noveland the things that I explore have changed me at the core and somesometimes in small ways, sometimes in big ways, but you know, diving intothese worlds I think makes a difference for the writer to as you were talkingabout the things before that means something to you about the romancegenre. I was wondering how do you think you've changed as a person or grown asa person as a result of writing these worlds and exploring these topics thatyou explore that are really about about empowerment to find joy and happinessin our own lives. That's such a good question because Ifeel like and it feels so woo woo to say it, but you're all writers, youknow how it works. Um but you know, you have you learned from every bookobviously, but I've learned a lot from my heroines, you know, I I think at the,I think I've always written an aspirational heroin for myself, like Iwish, you know, I put I put a little bit of myself and every heroine butit's always, you know, in service of writing a heroine who like I wouldreally like to hang out with or I would really like to in many cases have thecourage that they have or have the, you know, the opinion, the willingness tostep up that they have um to you know, throw caution to the wind the way theydo. Um so I think um for me, writing from the start has always beenaspirational. It's been about again writing the dream writing the hope andwriting, you know, writing your your hope for for partnership and parity andequity and love and happiness and joy and all the things that romance alwaysalways guarantees. Um and for me it's also about um you know, writingespecially with romance gives you a chance to I think um explore the deeplows too. Because if you think of a romance or any book that ends with ahappily ever after as a matter of course, as a roller coaster of emotions,the covenant that we have with our readers as writers is that we willdeliver you safe and happy at the end. And so like you're willing to exploreevery emotion that you can get access to in a way that really makes itfreeing and fun. Um I think over the years I have, I tried really hard tolearn from other writers too who have taught me to really be fearless when Iyou know, I'm sure you all feel this way when you're reading a book andyou're like the choices she has made our Bananas, I would never make thosechoices because I would be afraid I'd get stuck in the next chapter or youknow, 10 chapters forward, but um I love fearless Writers and I feel like Iam um indebted to so many fearless...

...writers who have read as a reader namedsome of them Sarah and we would love for you to name some of the women whoare not just women but writers whose choices, you know, kind of inspired youand gave you permission to to try stuff. Yeah, I mean, I think for me as aromance writer, the the person who I believe like is one of the mostfearless of us is lisa Kleypas. Um I think she when she gets to that whenshe gets deep into the emotions of a book, she will drop you, you know,several flights of stairs and you will just be broken there for awhile untilshe brings you back and it is um really powerful. It's it's powerful work. Um Ihave a deep love of Kennedy Ryan who writes these like epic, Almost DanielleSteel's style like Sega's um that are again really exploring the like darkcorners of what it is to be a person in the world who has emotions and feelingsand falls in love her All The King's Men trilogy is fantastic and and one ofmy favorite rereads. Um and then you mentioned my podcast but the podcastcame to be because I am a huge Kressley Cold Man and Presley writes her normalromances um which I was never into and then somebody said, oh you have torequest li like she's she's the best there is and she's written 18 booksseries and we actually started the podcast as a read along for that seriesbecause I felt again, like I said, she made so many fearless choices. Um and Icould go on and on. I mean Lorraine heath does that with her historic als,I mean there are so many brilliant writers writing today and making thesekind of big, taking big swings swinging right for the fences. Um and as awriter, there is something to really admire about that and I love it even ifit doesn't work right? I just love watching a writer swing and you know,I'll come back for the next book even if they fail. So it's so inspiring to hear you talk likethis, thank you all for your swing. Do youthink as you become more fearless on the page, it's made you more fearlessoff the page too? Like in life, like in life choices or decisions you seeyourself making or ways you you feel like you're living. That's a good question, I don't knowwhich comes first, that's like a chicken or egg convert question. Ithink there's no question that over the last you know, four or 5 books, I havebecome more fearless in both places or at least more how about it's less aboutfearlessness and more about being willing to like claim space again, likesay I'm not trying to make myself smaller. I'm not trying to make mybooks smaller and cheaper. Yeah, because it's scary, right? It's scaryto take up space because we're all taught to take up to just be small,like take these little spaces you can. Um and I think, I don't know if writingbig heroines has made me feel that way or if it's just living in a world whereI refuse to like play that game anymore because I'm getting older and have lessum care for other people's opinions, get it on the internet or you know, themillennium, I don't know what it is, but it's something and, and I just, ifI could just ask for readers to get one thing out of my books, it would be thatlike take claim your space, don't make your um, one, I think one more question foryou actually, we're gonna ask a couple more, We're gonna go away for a minute,then we'll come back and ask you for a...

...writing tip. But did this book changeduring the editing process from the start when you started drafting ituntil you handed it in And, and you had the finished bombshells, did your ideaof what the book would be, did that change during the process? Um, I think, yes, I think when Iconceived of the idea, it was the, the idea would be that it would be um Morealways more romance than than the rest of the stuff and um as I was writing it,like I said, as I was kind of writing my opening a vein and pouring my ownlike hopes for 2020 onto the page. It felt like um it became, it became aromance between, you know, obviously there Cecily and Caleb and they are theromance and if you're a romance reader you will, I hope really love it. Butit's also a romance between friends. It's about finding your gang, findingyour people and um having people stand with you and get and hold your, youknow, hold your hopes with you and then also have your back when you arelaunching yourself into literal fire. And um it was a real joy to write thisbook and yeah, there were definitely like major things that shifted becauseum you know, I have an editor who says things like you do too much. I can'tbelieve she thinks something was too much that surprises me. She doesn'tthink it's, she never, she would never say it's too much. There's always likea kind of like quiet question mark in the margins and we've been together for12 years. So now I know what that means. Um um but also, you know, this there'sa moment, I don't want to spoil too much about this book for people whohaven't read it, but there was a moment where there's a dead body on the, onthe page and um you know it's there? Uh and I think it's I hope it's kind offunny the whole bit. Um but it actually was originally the cold open of thebook was this dead body. Um And my my editor was like I think maybe startingwith the dead body sends the wrong message. So you know there's a lot ofsort of shifting of thing we'd like to know we're not the only ones mypandemic book. Right. Right. Exactly. I think You know 10 years, 20 years downthe line, I wonder if um there'll be a category called pandemic fiction. Right.Yeah. I wonder there are some real things I'm noticing like um for examplein romance, a lot of heroines of the pandemic have chosen not to haveChildren and I think that's really fascinating. I think it's speak to usall sitting in our house with our kids running around, not that I don't lovemy eight year old, but I can definitely see why choosing not to have one wouldwould be a good choice for some people. Um So I think they're really we're justyou know, romance moves so quickly, everybody in the genre right? So fast.Not me, but many of us. Um And I think we're just now starting to see likewhat the pandemic is delivering. Okay well you know you've touched onsome of this stuff but we love to ask our guests for a writing tip. So howabout sharing a writing tips, sarah. Um well in your, would you like one? Imean I gave you the Fearlessness one which you know is really hard to do.But my, my thought on that is always um that if you are at a point in yourmanuscript where there are two options like, oh they could do this thing orthey could do that thing, choose the thing. That is most scary to you. Likewell if they did that, I don't know how the book would go. Um because I feellike that's how you, that's how I keep...

...myself entertained. And also I hope howuh how readers can stay entertained. Um but also I am absolutely terrible ataccountability. Like I don't write every day. I'm not, I'm very bad atsitting down at my computer and like actually doing the work and I actuallykeep A grid um where I count every 100 words. So my manuscripts are about 100and 10,000 words And I have to write 100 words 1100 times and then themanuscript is over. So I literally have a grid where I like colour in a box forevery 100 words. And uh that feels like it would work for you. That's how I getactual words on the page. That's a great idea. That's great. Do you have a book thatyou want to recommend that you're currently reading. What am I readingright now? Um That's a good question. Um I just finished um let me think fora second. I just, I'm asking, I'm thinking because I had a, we just readNalini Singh's caressed by ice for the podcast which was delicious. That'salso a paranormal romance. If you're interested in paranormal. Um but the,my friend Adriana Herrera has a new book coming um you can preorder it now.It's coming in May but she has a victorian, a victorian historicalcalled the Caribbean Guide to paris. The Caribbean lady. A caribbean lady'sGuide to paris, sorry. And it's set in the 18 nineties and it's about a rumheiress from the Dominican republic. Um and a Scottish duke meet at the world'sfair in paris, wow, so sexy and you know, awesome latin max heroin and youshould all pre order it because it is delicious. That is awesome. Okay sarah.If you wouldn't mind sticking around for a few minutes, we're going to askone more question but we have some other business. We got to get out ofthe way. I'm here, out of the way. It's fun stuff, stuff to remind you of it.Okay, I get to go first and remind everybody out there about our podcastare writers Block podcast? We will always post links under announcements.It comes out every single friday with our rock star librarian Ron Block thispast week? Ron celebrated the holidays with all of us and you're gonna want tohear some of the stories that we told and this week Ron will be joined by ourvery own meg walker for the Buford special and I don't want to tell youany more than that, that's coming up alright. And if you are not hanging outwith us yet in the Friends and Fiction official Book Club, you are missing outthe group which is separate from us and is run run by our friends, lisaHarrison and Brenda Gardner is you guys? More than 10,000 strong. They have10,000 members. How amazing is that? They've had some Great conversations in2021, whatever year, we're in I had to stop and think for a minute and Andthey have so much fun coming up in 2022. Which Gosh, can you believe? 2022 isjust a few days away. I can't believe it. You know, january, february march.They did So check out their schedule. It's amazing. Um They're reading booksby past friends and fiction guests and there's just a lot of fun over thereand Ron's over there too. He's everywhere. Ron Block is on the podcastin the book club, you can't escape Ron block but who would want to Ron isbasically friends in fiction now, I mean we're quietly taking us over,we're not really necessary anymore. But you know, you know you guys, he'sprobably already at a sewing machine making this skirt like he's gonnayou're probably right that's hilarious,...

...he's so good. Oh my gosh she's thegreatest. Well make sure that you join us for our next episode of Friends andFiction next Wednesday right here at seven p.m. Where we will welcome theamazing sally Hepworth and kelly rimmer. And then on january 12th we will hostJeffery Deaver. So if you're ever wondering about our schedule it isalways on our Friends and fiction website and don't miss an episode,we're always up to something usually no good. Right. Mhm. Um Let's see. Oh Iguess we're gonna ask um what are we gonna do now? We're gonna ask Sarahabout values. Around reading and writing when you were growing up, wereyou did you come from a big reading family? Yes. Um My reading, I mean myhouse was full of books that my current house is full of but I mean yes bookswere always around. Um my older sister who's 10 years older than me was mygateway to romance. She went away to college and under her bed were like 500harlequins and I just lost. Um and I actually have a funny story about thisbecause I think this um you said values and I think this is this is a goodexample of it. But um when I was far too young to be reading these books Iwas reading um Joanna Lyndsay and I was reading Gentle Rogue which is you knowabout a pirate. Um that's all you need to know, Fabio on the cover, there's apirate and and I left it in the bathroom, you know,it was just like on the, on the counter in the bathroom. And my dad who was anexclusive like bathroom mystery reader, like he would read mysteries in thebathroom in the middle of the night. Um must have finished his like latestnelson DeMille because he didn't have like his reading in there and he came,he picked out johanna lindsey's Gentle Rogue and it fell open to one of thosethemes and he took it to my mother and was like, do you know what she isreading? And my mother said without missing a beat, would you prefer shewas not reading? And I feel like that is a perfect example of you know whatthe reading value was in my house. That gave me chills. So many authors thatcome on this show say that that like their parents were like you canliterally read whatever you want to. Like I feel like we have so manyauthors that say that I think that's so interesting. I mean I just I think it'sI think reading is one to carry or my patty and I share an editor and one ofthe things that she always said about her her kid was that um she always feltlike um reading content that you wouldn't necessarily your child readingcontent is very different than your child seeing content. And I think thatthat's true. I think it's a lot easier to digest and kind of ease into some ofthe best and worst things about us as a as a as a world if you're reading itcomes with nuance, it comes with nuance which is so important. Some of theimages that you see don't necessarily. That's yeah and I think about some ofthe things that I read as a kid, I don't know if you all agree with thisbut like you know I'll go back and read something and be like oh my gosh but like because I I was doing a highschool um term paper on D. H. Lawrence. And um it was very it was very uh yeahso I was reading Women in Love and Sons and Lovers. But the library did nothave lady chatterley's lover because it was banned. So one of my classmatesstole it out of his mom's lingerie drawer and gave it to me. And so I'mreading it. My mother sees it and she goes lady chatterley's lover wasn'tthat book band. I said I don't know and...

...she looked at me, she said should yoube reading that And I said it's for school. So she said okay by the way Idid not find it. I. D. H. Lawrence is not my cup of tea and may I just saynot my cup of tea at all. Okay Sara thank you so much for being with ustoday. We've loved having you. We hope everybody is going to go out and get acopy of bombshell and teach themselves high explosives wearing google searches for how to makebathtub gunpowder. I mean hopefully spending a lot of time watching everynow and then we'll text each other and say if I did take an end today can youplease tell them I was googling this to all of us for sure my michael, mygoogle search history for this past week in revisions. I thought oh my Godwhat if someone looks that up? You know they're gonna really think oh thiswoman needs to be put away and Sarah, what's the name of the next one outthat they can preorder? It's called Heartbreaker Heartbreaker. Everybody gopreorder Heartbreaker. Thanks again so much for being with us, Sarah, HappyNew Year, by the way, Happy Happy New Year. Thank you all so much for havingme a real treat. There is so much fun to talk to Sarah thank you Sarah. Okayeverybody stick around that's the show but you want to stick around for theaftershow talking turkey with butter ball and don't forget you can find allof our back episodes on youtube. We are live there every week like we're righthere on the facebook page and if you subscribe and we hope you will youwon't miss a thing. Plus you'll have access to special short clips and besure to come back next week. Same time. Same place as we welcome sally Hepworthand kelly rimmer. Hey, thanks for coming back and hangingout with us on the better ball twice on this show, Shawn good. That's accurate considering how muchfood I've concerned consumed over the holidays, accurate. So welcome. Welcometo the talking turkey butterball after show and you know, this year, turkey,talking turkey doesn't just mean food. It means all the things, all the thingsnow over the holidays. Did you all have any culinary triumphs or disasters? Hmm I made a charcuterie board shapedlike a christmas tree that was usually like a plate of food just looks likewhen I'm serving. It's like this plopped here and this plopped on top ofit. This one, like I put some work into it and I was like, this is why peoplestyle food. It was amazing. So, and now I'm like, picture, it was amazing. Itwas, you know, it was based on the charcuterie board. Someone, I think herhandle is eight too proud to meg, which I love, but she does these amazingcharcuterie boards and I'm obsessed. There's like something for everyoccasion. So, um, this is serving as your warning that the next time thefour of us all get together, there will be charcuterie and it will be beautiful.I think I might try and do it for New Year's Eve, maybe there's like a butmaybe like a star or yeah, bursting firecracker and then, yeah, I'm goingto try it. And if you mess up, you can just make it a circle and just say it'sthe ball that's dropping New Year's Eve ball y'all when she wastalking about getting larger like, you...

...know, becoming taking up space. Thesong from my childhood kept popping into my head. You remember all thatsong, y'all this little light of mine? No, Lordy this and hide it under abushel. No. Okay. Am I crazy? Do you know, I don't I don't I don't havepreacher kids songs. I have somebody I could write a song book. I didn't knowthe other. I didn't know the other lyrics. All I just knew was the firstabout Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I just kept thinking about that. Like when she'ssaying that what she means is like not dimming our light and I really likethat. Yeah, I love that. I love that she was really inspiring. She was, shewas and I think I've thought a lot too about how sometimes I am at thiscrossroads with my characters and I think it would be really cool if theywent this way, but I don't know my way out of that. And if they go this way, Iknow how to get I know how to get them out of that and like how interesting itwould be because especially because like I'm not a plotter at all. So totake them in that other road and see what happens. Yeah, I think I getscared. It means more. I'm not scared like hesitant because then I have to domore research and figure out if it's possible and it's just a little bitharder. Well, you're not doing something different though. I mean, youknow, it's a little bit different if you're writing something, although Iguess she's doing that. But writing something that story, it's just it'sjust you're making your life a little harder and you have to be willing to dothat I guess. Yeah. Yeah. But the payoff matters speaking of making yourlife harder. One more reminder about how you can make your life easier justto call the turkey talk line, which is open for just a couple more days. UmYou know, I know we think about them at thanksgiving time, right? When you'rethinking, oh my gosh, I have to put this turkey in the oven and who knowshow long it's gonna take or how I know it's going to be done. But there are alot of Turkey questions that they will answer for you and they are always openthroughout november throughout december, which is almost drawing to a close. Butafter that you can still find them on Facebook on Tiktok on Instagram. Theyare everywhere for all your Turkey inspiration. So it's been so funtalking about the Turkey talk line over the last couple of months and um justhow cool that it's their 40th anniversary. I think it's neat and nowwe know that they were on West Wing. I'm looking at literally, I don't know.Yes. Yes. For the, I don't, Did everybody hear that? Oh yeah, Sarahsaid that on the show. I was thinking that's exactly right. Yeah. I meanthat's so cool. I did not know that. So now we've got to go check that out forsure and I think this is a great time for Turkey because you know, we're allkind of starting to think about getting off that holiday weight and something alittle leaner. But man, I have tried so many different um turkey dishes overthe past few months, like just experimenting with different things andwhat's your favorite? You know, I, this is gonna sound, I think I said this umlast time. Well no, this is something different. So I actually did this umyesterday and it's so, so good. Um I made the zucchini boats and like youtake the zucchini and you cut in half and you kind of scoop the inside outand you put ground turkey inside it and then like you mix it with like taco mixand um put the turkey inside it and then do cheese on top and it's sodelicious. I should find the actual recipe and like share it with peoplebut it's so good and it's from like skinny taste or something like it'sreally um but having turkey is so good, it's so good and it's um it's just likea good combination of flavors and textures and all that. That's awesome.Tom made a you know because I've been crazy trying to finish this book. He'sbeen he took over in the kitchen and um you know I find recipes and I'm likeokay I'm gonna make that well last week...

...he made this um lasagna soup with withthe ground turkey sausage and it was really good. You you break up lasagnanoodles and you use spinach, fresh spinach, baby spinach and vegetablesand chicken broth and some some tomato crushed tomatoes. So it was like adeacon, it was like a deconstructed lasagna soup and then after you serveit you put it in a bowl, then you put in a um you plop in some ricotta cheese andsome parmesan. Oh I love that. That sounds, it sounds hearty but healthy.It sounds really tasty. Really really good. I um I like using ground turkeyto make lettuce wraps, like the kind you can get you know similar to how youget things and they're really like they're just healthy and refreshing,you know you wrap it in the lettuce, hence the name right? But I thinkground turkey is kind of just the perfect the perfect meat to use inthose two, you know? Speaking of lettuce wraps. I mean this is notnearly as like involved in one of my new favorite things has been just totake like a slice of like deli meat, turkey that you don't even have to cookthat you're just buying and like take the lettuce and the turkey and stick apickle in it and like wrap it up and like it's like, it's so good, like it'slike crunchy and it's got protein just kind of filling and were now the cooking show show like this is not even when we werestarting to be talking about now. I'm like when you text me that, will youtext me that? Been reading? You know what I should, Ishould add that as our partner, part of our partnership with butter ball. Theyhaven't asked us to like go on and on about what we could do. They didn't ask us to talk about any ofthis and they're probably gonna be like, and enough you guys Turkey, Well I'm insouth Carolina for all of these holidays we've had and I went today andgot fresh shrimp. So I'm sitting here thinking how much fun it would be tocook them and cut them up and roll them in the lettuce wraps like that. Yeah.So I'm just expanding the cooking show a little bit. Yeah, just a differentlean like seafood category. Maybe we need a seafood partner for next. Sowhat's everybody doing for New Year's Eve? Oh gosh. I have a household with athree year old and a nine week old and family and we'll probably be wellasleep before that. But New Year's Eve is my daughter's birthday. She was bornon New Year's Day, just like our meg was born on christmas day. She was bornon New Year's Day. So if we make it till midnight, we sing auld lang syneand immediately move into happy Birthday. I love, I love that so much.We've got a we've got a family wedding, New Year's Eve. Oh that's nice. Yeah,it's um it's about an hour north of Atlanta. Our nephew is getting married.So um we'll have a big night out, we're staying in a hotel. I went to abeautiful wedding once in Salonika. Salonica. Is that, is that about? Yeah.Yeah. I remember being close to Atlanta anywhere near there. Yeah, it's about,it's about an hour north of here. It's a gold mine town actually. They minedgold there. Nice. Have a book festival to Yeah, they do. I was at that bookfestival years ago with Diana Gabaldon. Yeah, we're doing something kind ofdifferent. I think it's gonna be really fun. We were supposed to go to like abig band party that we go to every year, but just a little bit like, I'm notsure that, I don't know. So a few of us got together there like I think it'slike five or six couples and our kids are all friends and so um we're gonnado a dinner and it's like we're neighbors, we live like two housesapart so the kids can kind of run back...

...and forth because they're all like oldenough to have like, I mean they can't be like alone, but they can have like alittle, you know, so we just thought it'd be fun to do like a parent's houseand a kid's house and kind of go back and forth and have a little somethingthat's gonna be great fun. I think it'll be fun. That sounds so cool. Wehave our our next door neighbors have a grandson who's Noah's age and he's hereevery week and he's Noah's best friend. Um and I think we're going to spend NewYear's with them. Um The dad and the family Mark um used to work in therestaurant industry and so he always has such great ideas about food toprepare and I think we're going to do seafood, we're going to do oysters andcrab and peel and eat shrimp and all like I know I'm so excited about it, sowe're looking forward to that their neighbors would really love and it'llbe nice to ring in the new year with them. Well well if anyone needs um youknow, to ring in the new year with something exciting, a couple of thingsthat is something that we didn't really talk about. But just to remind everyone,do make sure that you follow along with our reading challenge this year. That'sgonna be so fun. We have a different category every month. We're not likesticking you with, Oh we're all reading this book. It's just like categories.And I will say, you know, all of our new releases will conveniently fit intothose categories. So if you're gonna read our book that month anyway, you'vealready like checked off your category and I don't know about everybody else.The four of us are going to be checking hours off and our friends and fiction,reading journals. So we're pretty pumped about that and we'll be tellingpeople what we chose for the category. Yeah. So okay guys, I um I think I needto go figure out what's for supper tonight. Sounds good. Y'all are awesome.Happy New Year. 2020 20, happy new year. Like we won't talk every 11 minutes gonna happen. Text. I don't know everybody sean and Happy New Year.Happy New Year Sean See You in 22. Thank you for tuning in. You can joinus every week on Facebook or YouTube where our live show airs on Wednesdaynights at seven PM eastern time. Also subscribe to our podcast and follow uson instagram. We're so glad you're here mm hmm.

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