Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year ago

Friends & Fiction with Jodi Picoult

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The Fab Five sit down with literary legend Jodi Picoult. The discuss Jodi's more than two dozen novels (including her latest The Book of Two Ways), her intensive research process, and how she does not shy away from tackling difficult topics in her writing. THy also chat about Jodi's forthcoming musical, BREATHE, premiering vrtually in May 2021. https://www.jodipicoult.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. Yeah. Uh drink wine. Oh this is my favorite screenshot ever. Okay, someone takes a picture of this. Okay it is Wednesday night and it is not just any Wednesday night, it is friends and fiction night and it is not just Friends and fiction night, it is our one year birthday party. Welcome, I am paddy Callaghan Henry and I'm mary Alice Munro and I'm mary Kay and she doesn't know where she is. I can't let myself with the glasses. I'm Christine Harmel and I'm Kristie Whitson Harvey and this is Friends and Fiction. Five bestselling authors, endless stories to support indie bookstores tonight we are thrilled to welcome the indomitable and number one new york times best selling author jodi PICO. Tonight we'll be hearing about the Deep Research Jodi does for her best sellers including her latest book. The book of two ways will visit Egypt and talk about her inspirations for her work. We'll talk about what women's fiction really might mean. And of course we won't let her get away without a writing tip. Yeah. Oh does that mean it's our birthday month? And even though it's our birthday, we are giving you the presence every week. Susie McMahon is the lucky winner in last week's barn, light, electric reading lamp giveaway. And this week our gift to one lucky winner is a cake from my favorite cake company Caroline's cakes. The winner you the winner gets to choose any of the delicious signature Caroline cakes shipping included. My favorite right here is the coconut Levon though they're famous for the seven layer caramel cake. I think that's mary. Kay's favorite plus some lucky winner will get a gift set from charleston coffee roasters including a mug and a bag of the beach house blend coffee, which was inspired by my Beach House series. And there's more could go with your delicious cake and coffee. You can pick any fab five book. Who will be the winner of this sweet cake and coffee giveaway. Find the entry form link on our facebook and instagram and in our newsletter and enter before sunday and eat cake. Be happy. Oh, so tonight, after the after show will be more than our usual after show. It will be a birthday party. So we have a video to show and make sure you stick around because it will be at the after show. And who wants to miss the party? No one not me. No one. But before we dive into the rest of this stuff, let's take a minute to thank. Our sponsors are Partners, Mama Geraldine's and page one book subscriptions. We adore them both. And the code Fab five named after the five of us will get you a discount on both websites. We'll be telling you and more about them later on in the show. We will also be telling you about our featured independent bookseller of the week, Still North Books and bar in downtown Hanover. New Hampshire. The link is above the video and it is also posted under announcements on our facebook page. But before we welcome jodi and really get started. We have something really again, really special for you tonight. Our very own mary Kay andrews. It is here with her trailer for the newcomer Which comes out May four, which is appropriate because when we first started friends in fiction a year ago tonight, it was mary Kay who said let's get together on a zoom and well you know what happened after that because you're here. So sean roll the trailer.

Thanks john. Um, the newcomer will be out May 4th. It's the mystery of some romance. It said on the florida gulf coast, which happens to be my hometown. And so what I want to tell you all is that if you preorder uh the newcomer which comes out may 4th and I already say that um from our bookstore of the week um the bookstore of the week is still north, Still north books and buyer. Thank you. Um I am going to send you one of these cool motel, old school motel key fobs. It says can you come around this side and then friends and fixed on the other side. So I pre ordered your book from um Still north books and I'll send you the key fob and an autographed book plate. Stay tuned for lots more details about my upcoming tour. I'm so excited. All right. So usually this is where we talk about our parade essay. But tonight we'll be chatting about that in our big after party show because it connects directly to our mission here at Friends in fiction. So you won't want to miss any of the fun we have in store for you tonight. So make sure you stick around. And now let's talk about our incredible guest jodi PICO. And remember if you have questions for her please just put them in, the comments will be pulling a few during the show, jodi is the number one new york times best selling author of 25 internationally bestselling novels, her most recent novel, the Book of Two Ways, published on september 22nd 2018, it was her 11th consecutive number one New York Times Bestseller. I know, wow, it is about the choices that altered the course of her lives In an instant. And pickles books have been translated into 34 languages in 35 countries. Small great things has been option, promotion, picture adaptation by Amblin Entertainment and is set to star Viola Davis and Julia roberts. Now that's whoever heard those. Yeah, exactly Julia robert Davis, I don't know. Yeah. Oh that's amazing. Right? Yeah. It is, I think, yeah, yeah. So jodi's written to young adult novels between the lines and off the page with her daughter Samantha van Leer. She is also the recipient of many awards and holds an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Dartmouth College degrees from the Dartmouth, Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven, wow. He lives in New Hampshire with, they have three Children. So let's bring Jody on and welcome her welcome, jodi I guys, happy birthday. Okay, I have to take it off because I can't breathe. I know, popping welcome we are. So I think for me it's so nice to be here. Thank you. I also, I can tell all of you guys are Southern because you have three names, Most of you. I'm the only non Southern their lives in Orlando, which is not really the self were thrilled you're here for one year anniversary because the one year anniversary is paper. So Oh, cool. That's really done my mix. Yeah, that's great. That's awesome. Well, it's a lovely, lovely day to be here. I want to thank you because I got a ton of swag and I never get good swag, but I mean I am decked out. I've got my cake. Okay. Champagne and my friends and fiction class, so I'm very delighted to be here. Thank you for having me. Well Jody, we're so happy you're here and we are dying to hear about the Book of Two ways. So can you tell us about sort of the elevator pitch because we are going to deep dive into it and just a minute sure I'm going to try because I think I've forgotten it all. Um No way. Yeah, it's the story of a woman named Don and when you meet her um she is on a plane and it's going down and instead of thinking about her husband and her daughter who was a teenager, she brings to mind uh this memory of a life that she gave up when she was an Egyptology grad student and she was working on a dig with a guy that she wound up falling in love with. And she hasn't thought of this person in 15 years. And um when she actually survives this crash, she is given a ticket anywhere she wants to go. Because that's the way it works when you survive a crash and write. And and at that point the book...

...splits into two different um two different alternating chapters, One that shows you her life in boston with her husband and her daughter and one that shows you her life in Egypt if she continues to go there and to to speak to this guy Wyatt who meant so much to her and to finish the life that she didn't get to finish because of life circumstances that change that. So, it's really a book about, you know, who would you be if you weren't, who you are right now? Which is I think a question ironically, that we've all been asking ourselves, we've all kind of wondered this past year, what if this year hadn't happened, what would I be doing, where would I be? I mean, I never planned to publish a book during the pandemic. None of us did. But you know, and thinking about it, this felt like a very resonant book because I think a lot of us have had those questions. Great, so I love that idea. Who would you be if you want now? Like just take a hook, Koeman. Done. Nearly every single person here or listening has thought about that. Why in the road about an alternate about life? Not chosen. One of my favorite quotes about that is by Cheryl straight. You know, who wrote Wild? She has that great book about dear Sugar and somebody wrote a letter and her advice was I'm going to read it. I'll never know and neither will you of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. I love, I love that. Yeah, I kept thinking about that when I was, I listened to it and I kept thinking what was the spark for the book of Two ways? Was it this idea of a wine life? I'm dying here about the sparks that Set the origin story of this book? Well, the origin story of this book is a weird one, um weirder the better. So that's what we're all about. So I have, I have three kids and my oldest is 29 and when he was at Yale, he was his major was Egyptology. He's one of the, you know, 10 people in the world who can read middle Egyptian and so he very cool. Right. So he came home one day and he was translating a book, you know, during a vacation. It was an assignment and it was called the Book of Two Ways. And I said, well what's that? And he said, it's an ancient Egyptian funerary text. And many of us have heard about the Book of the Dead um which is actually called in Egyptian, the Book of Going Forth by day. Well, this is kind of a precursor to that. It's from a little bit older in the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. And um it was basically found in a certain place in Egypt, the middle Egypt um in the bottoms of cedar coffins of nobles and uh, and their wives and their families. And it was basically how to guide of how to get once your dad to the afterlife, How do you get to the next world? And in the book of two ways, what they posed is that you could go on a land route or you could take a water route and there were all kinds of obstacles that you would face, but no matter which one you took, you would wind up at the same place. And it's called the Field of offerings. It's the ancient Egyptian version of heaven. And so, um I loved that concept. I was like, wow, The Book of Two Ways. It's a great title for a novel. that was literally as far as I got at that moment. And I always thought I wanted to write a book like that. I wanted to write a story where I could mirror the book of the actual literal book of two ways in the text. And I wanted to go to Egypt and I wanted to do research and I booked a trip for my family and that was the summer of arab spring and no one in America was going to Egypt. So we canceled the trip and years later my son got married and his former thesis advisor came to the wedding and I said to her, you know, I really still want to write this book and she said, well I'll take you. And so a few months later I got a very private, very academic tour with one of the foremost egyptologists in this country, Doctor Colin Darnell Way. And the really cool thing was that, you know, if you go to Egypt now as an american, they're going to take you to certain places, you're going to go to Cairo, you're going to go to Luxor, you're you know, you're going to see the sights, but you're gonna skip entirely over middle Egypt because there have been a lot of terrorists, things that have happened there. And so americans don't usually go there and we had to get permission. We had to go with an armed guard. We had people with a really old machine guns driving us in a jeep. We had to have, you know, security with us at all times, the government had to give us permission. And I got to see these rock cut tombs, which are exactly what my character, Dawn and her former love interest. Wyatt would have been studying back when she was an...

Egyptology student. And in the book, Wyatt has gone on to have the career. She didn't and is now the head of this, this uh uh university um Egyptology program. And he basically took a discovery that they Uncovered together 15 years earlier and has now brought it to its final point. And so it was really fun to see it first hand. And the things that surprised me the most about being in Egypt were that I always think about Egypt is dusty and old. And when you go into these tombs, the paint is vibrant and it's like yesterday, it's like the bottom of my hair, it's so bright, you know, and you just aren't expecting that. Um I just I thought it was so beautiful and uh and it was really fun to be able to To see it from an academic point of view and also to learn how a dig has changed in 15 years because technology has completely revised the way Egyptologists do their work now. So I got to write about both of those in the book, which was super fun. It's kind of like indiana jones, you know, with a modern day indiana jones. But I feel like when you said that's a great book title, Vivian Universe said, I'm not giving up on you, I'm gonna spend this thesis advisor to the way. Because you and now you're doing it. Yeah. And your patience paid off. What? Yeah, I mean, I'm sure you guys have had that too. Don't you have books that just ideas that just stick in your head like, you know, like a fish bone in your throat. It's not a good feeling. You've got to somehow get it out of you. And I you never know, you never say never. You heard I have heard you talk about the annoyance and I think that's probably an understatement of having your books categorized as women's fiction. And I'm in that same category. You said, I think this is in part due to this very arbitrary distinction between women about what women's fiction is. A book that examines the relationships between people or families. It's called women's fiction. It's written by a woman author and if it's written by a man, it's called ground brief. I thought provoking. Yeah, we don't have enough time in this little podcast. I don't have enough champagne. You know, we can send you more, darling. You know, I've been very vocal about this for a really, really long time. And when people look first, let me say women's fiction is awesome, right? I mean, it's great. All fiction reason women read and romance is fantastic and mystery is fantastic and every genre is great. But when people call the book, women's fiction, what they're really saying is a woman wrote that book, not who's reading it, but a woman wrote that book. There is no way on earth that Nicholas Sparks doesn't write women's fiction. But even he will describe it as love tragedy. I don't know what that is. But you know, that's his thing and tragedy. I'm not making this up. And honestly, that that really upsets me that women tend to get pigeonholed because of the things they write as if it is, you know, incredibly ground. No, like I don't know why it's a major miracle for a male writer to have both male genitalia and a heart. But apparently it is. And I don't think that women are the only ones who read my books. And in fact I was so tired of being called a women's fiction author because I knew it wasn't true. I tracked my fan mail for three months and 51% of my fan mail comes from men and they all start right there. Like I'm sure I'm the only man reading your books and I'm like, it's okay honey, you're not, you know, but it's not even that. I mean there's some books. Yeah. I mean there are some books I write where I wonder why how on earth you could consider my book chick lit or you know, a B tree because like small great things is a great example of that when they call that a B tree. And I was like, wow, worst vacation ever. You know, because if you're picking up a book that's about racism in America, you know, it's not a walk in the park and there's nothing, but there's not even a kiss in that book. And you know, I'm amazed at how, um, how easily pigeonholed women are. And I don't think that's right. I don't know why we assume that women should read both men and women, but we allow men to say, well I only read male authors. That's ridiculous. Said I look at my husband's library on his reading device And it's 99.5 male unless he accidentally read um, an author with initial, you know, Yeah. Past you there. Yeah. We support an indie bookstore and this week you've chosen still north books and hand over. Tell us about that store and why it's...

...special to you. So it's in my hometown. But what it's really special to me is because it's brand new. Uh, I mean they opened months before the pandemic. Yes. And amazingly. Um Allie Levey who is the one who opened it has managed to keep it going to have you know books that people order and they put them in little bags so they're waiting for you. And I just really I hope she sticks around for a while. So I wanted to do the absolute best that I could to support her. We hope. Yeah, that's Great. So the link for still north books is above. And remember you get 10 off with the code f f 04-1. It is so important to keep supporting these locally owned stores. We talked about this every week. You guys. So now Jody, I know you are a meticulous researcher. You talked a little bit about that earlier in the show. Um so I have read that you have met with everyone from Nasa experts to a man who spent a year alone in the woods with wolves. You've gone ghost hunting, You've spent time in an Arizona jail. You've even been to death row. This is amazing. So I'm dying to know a little bit more about the research that you did for the book of Lost Lost Ways. Kind of some of the things you experience when you were walking through those areas you talked about and I would also love to know do you research and write at the same time or are they separate for you? Yeah. So, um I try to do, I front load my research and you know, I think the reason for that is because while I'm doing the research I can filter through my head. I'm going to use this. I'm not going to use this or this is going to change the direction of the book in a way I'm writing. I'm pre writing in my head while I'm doing the research. So um you know, I told you a little bit about what I saw when I was in middle Egypt and it was it was fascinating and it was like, the thing about the thing about uh about doing the research is that it put together for me a lot of ancient Egyptian lore that I kind of knew about but didn't really understand. So for example, you all know that the Egyptians had mummies, right? You probably do not know why. So the whole point of getting to the afterlife, if you were in ancient Egyptian is that your boss soul would be able to leave your body and go hang out with Ray, the sun God and party all day long and helped pull the sun across the sky. And then at the end of the day when the sun set, Ray reunites with his corpse. The corpse is another Egyptian god called oh Cyrus, he is the lord of the Netherworld. He's the guy who you know kind of like Hades but Egyptian and um the reason that's important is because the whole tomb and the body act like a battery. Ray cannot power himself up for another day across pulling the sun if he doesn't charge up at night with his physical body. Okay, so they have to unite and Ray and Cyrus are like flip sides of the same coin. It's very much like father son Holy Ghost. It's like one big package. So the whole point of a human death is that you wanted your soul to hang out with the gods and that meant that your soul every night had to power up with your body. How do you make sure your body survives eternity? You modify it? That's fascinating. I didn't so, I feel like I know a lot about Egypt and I did not. I mean, like, that stuff was super, super cool, but that was only half the research, and actually more like a third of the research. Okay. I also wound up doing research about quantum physics because my life wasn't hard enough. And I yeah, that was really, really hard for me because I, you know, I'm like, I'm not a math person. And so, to be able to explain quantum physics and schrodinger's cat to people who might not know anything about physics required me to understand it. And since Dawn, my main character is married to a quantum physicist and he studies parallel universes and the idea of multiple lives, which of course were very beautifully in with the idea of um, the way I structured, you know, this book is to Lives. Um, and then the last bit of research I had to do was really fascinating. And it involved Dawn's work when she is, when she leaves Egypt, she winds up coming home to boston and she becomes a death doula. And a lot of people know what a birth doula is. You know, it's somebody who kind of helps you deliver baby and takes care of the mom. Is that transition is happening? A death doula is the opposite. They help people leave this world, they do exist. It's a real thing. And I met people who were death doulas and I spent a week shadowing hospice hospice chaplain and it was amazing, it was such a privilege to be at the end of somebody's life when they don't have a lot of time to realize that they're sharing it with you. And what I realized was that a couple of things nobody wants to be remembered for the way they are at the end when they're sick or frail or old, they want to be remembered for who they used to be. And what they really want is to give you a story, you know, so that you keep it in your hands and your...

...heart and as long as your story is kept alive, of course, you know, you're still here. Um, they also are just literally the same things the Egyptians worried about that you see all over their tombs and in the higher cliffs and in the Book of Two ways is How do you have a good death? That's a question that we're still asking today and remarkably, 4000 years later, the answer is still the same and it to have a good life, figure out for yourself what is a good life? And again, you know, I don't want to drag us back to the year 2020. But I think we've all learned a little bit about what matters. That's so true. And you know, I love that idea that you put so much into the research into the facts of it. But it leads you to these core observations. Get the heart of who we all are. And I think that's what I don't know. That's really what makes your books stand out. It's very, just interesting to your process. Yeah, it's really fun. It's fun to do it. And I always learn a ton when I'm researching. And it's funny because um when I was writing during this past year, I was doing as much research as I could on zoom like everybody else, Right? Because that's what we were doing. And the one thing I had to do live was learned how to be a beekeeper. And I was like, all right, how am I going to pull this off in the middle of a pandemic? And I found this guy who you know is a beekeeper was willing to teach me from six ft away. I had a mask on under my veil, you know? And that was how I spent a season with him learning about bees. That is so cool. Yeah. You know, for me it's it's really, I love being able to do it. It's the most fun part I think of writing. Yes. Yes. Well judy. I've read that you say it takes you nine months to write a book. Almost exactly the same every time. So was it the same for this book? And also do you have a routine that keeps you to that time or does it just work out that way? So it's um when I say nine months, that's to the end of the first draft. And even when I added up, it usually still winds up being about nine months. There are times that it's different. This book. Um This book was I don't know if it took exactly nine months because I had to I had to go to Egypt at a time when this academic could go to Egypt. So I had to like pause everything and do this chunk of research for three weeks. And then I went to texas actually and I was doing research with hospice people. And so I had like my research was in Clots, you know, and I was forming everything else around it. Um but uh there are some books just don't take very long and some books feel like they take forever. And when I added up, it still seems to be nine months. I don't think it's it's driven by anything except, you know, kind of my writing schedule, my touring schedule and my production schedule. Yeah, yeah. But there is something very gestational about it. You're certain you have, you like to write the most your office, you're in my office. Yeah. Nice. Yeah. I'm here in the past year or so. Love our offices. Okay. I'm going to move over to another one of your accomplishments and that's all right. I mean we'll just pick them off as we go through the night, but This one really blew me away and that's that. You've written not one but two musicals and the new musical breathe, everybody breathe is going to have its virtual world premiere on May 14. So y'all, you can order your tickets on jodi's website right now. Yeah, that's exciting. And you wrote with Samantha's Your Daughter Between the lines, Tell us about the musicals first of all. And yeah, it was like a to write a musical but also to write with your daughter. Yeah. Well, so those are two different questions right with my daughter to create that Y a serious was really interesting. Um It started when Sammy was 13 years old. She is 25 now. So it started when she was 13 and I was on a book tour. And I remember exactly where I was, I was in traffic in L. A. And she called me up and she said, I think I have a really good idea for a book. And I was like, okay hit me up. And she said, well what if every time you close the book, the characters inside it had lives of personalities different from who they were in the book, And what if there was a teenage girl who was like, really kind of like, quiet and had a really crappy home life, and she was obsessed with the kids fairy tale because the prince who was illustrated and it was really attractive and she felt like his circumstances really spoke to her, and then one day so did he And he wanted out of his story as much as she wanted out of hers, and I was like, wow, I have a genius child, because you know, like, how many of us are still waiting for Mr darcy, We're all in love. Yes. Right. And so I said, you know, we're going to work on this together and she was a kid, she had a day job which was school, so we wrote it on the summers when she was at home. We wrote, right here. She hadn't shared, like mine and we would take turns typing. And um, we spoke every word out...

...loud. We wrote the entire first book Re toured three continents when she was 16. She is the only person in my family who knows what a book tour is like. And she was like, I'm done, I'm done. I was like, no, you're not. Well, we wrote a cliffhanger and she's like, no, I'm really done. And went up to college and she calls me up that september and she's like, so I've been thinking about the sequel and I'm like, so, right. So she, she and I actually wrote the sequel From 10 am to midnight. That was the only time she had free via speakerphone. And um, yeah. And so we toured, you know, again, we went on tour for that and I will say that she is a teacher now she's 1/4 grade teacher, but she, she went to Vassar, she wrote a creative thesis and she's actually taking a year off to write. And so I have every expectation that you can have her on your show next year after, when we finished between the Lions, I really felt like it's saying, it felt like a story that sang. And I started to look to figure out, how do you turn that into a broadway bound musical? And I was fortunate enough to connect with a woman named Daryl Roth, who was a very famous broadway producer. She did kinky boots. She's won over a dozen Tony's and um, she loved the book and she wanted to pull together a team to do this and she wanted to teach me how to write a musical. And um I found the songwriters who uh were brand new, just out of something called B. M. I, which is um kind of like a crucible for musical theater, songwriters. And on the strength of the music they wrote for between the lines, they were actually hired by Disney. So I was like, okay, I pick good people, and really? And then she brought in a book writer. The book writer is the one who writes the libretto, the script, and this is a guy named Tim, Mcdonald. And um tim was great because tim was like, I would love for you to help me. And he didn't have to do that. He literally could have said by it's mine now. And because of that, working with him, I learned how to write a musical and not only that, but I also learned that he's kind of the brother I never had and that we were just like that. And so um we loved working together so much that we actually said, what else are we going to do next? And so not to correct you mary Alice, but we have three musicals. So we then wrote I wanted to I wanted to write something to adapt something that I had written the source material for. So we got the rights to the book thief by Markus Zusak. No you did not. And that is um that was supposed to debut this year in the U. K. But we pushed to the year because of Covid. So you'll see that next year in the UK. And then during this entire pandemic right away tim and I start with tim and I talk all the time. So I said, you know, someone's got to tell this story, someone has to make sense of this pandemic. And it felt right to start with theater because what is theater other than being in an individual seat and having the same emotion as the person next to you, because of what you're seeing. That's how we all felt in lockdown. We were all feeling the same thing, but we were all very isolated and we decided to come up with with five different vignettes that were um that looked at different couples and how they affects the impact of the virus on their lives, their families, their health, um on the nation. Uh you know, and they range from a rom com and from things that are funny to things that are devastatingly heartbreaking to um to the story of the racial unrest in this country. Um they, what it's like to have to homeschool your kids. I mean, they range all over the place and what we wanted to do was to involve as many musical theater writers as humanly possible because nobody was working. So we collaborated with five different songwriting teams. Each of them worked on a different than yet and they're all interconnected. And then we hired five different directors and a supervising director and we knew that we couldn't perform this live because we're not allowed to do that yet. So what we chose to do was to film it quite beautifully in a theater, an empty theater with the empty audience. Like it's basically, you know, a character. And we're showing you the last reading basically for the authors. And because of Covid, this is a beautiful thing. Our cast is insane. We have kelli o hara and brian Stokes Mitchell and matt Doyle and max Clayton and Daniel. You would from Hamilton and T Oliver reed. And it's like it's an a list of amazing people and the music is phenomenal. And I promise that when you, when you finish watching it, what you're going to feel is hope, which is what we all need right now. I do hope that people, no tickets are available. Go to Jordan is available now May 14. Yeah. You don't have to watch it on the 14th. You can you buy a ticket and you stream at any time in the next two months. Well, that, but I have one quick question. We...

...know not writing a novel and we always talk about how writing a script. So yes, yeah. Is writing a musical that kind of different. Yeah. So the difference between writing, as you probably would say, writing a book and writing a script or writing a screenplay is the difference between taxidermy and paleontology, right? Because a screenplay is creating a skeleton that everyone's going to layer over, and your layers of the director and the set designer and the actors when you write a book, you have to create everything in three days. So I always approach any kind of libretto like that. The other difference though is that music takes the place of words often. Um music is not very good for getting information across, but it's really good for getting feeling across. And so it's a very collaborative effort very often will write a scene and then the songwriters to go, oh, that's excellent, going to steal all those, we're going to put them in the lyrics, Thanks so much, you know, and they do that all the time, or vice versa. Um so it's really fun because it's a give and take, and it feels like you have five brains working instead of one, which I really love because as you know, we have very solitary lives as novelist. So the collaborative element is what I really love about making theater and and it does require you to think in a different way. And for me, you know, when you're a novelist, you kind of want to show off, you want to use a phrase that makes someone go, it's beautiful when you are a librettist, you want to go away if you do your work. Well, the songs are seamless and nobody even notices that you're the one who organized them or who created the structure. So it's a very different kind of writing, that kind of thing, that it's enlightening. Thank you. Okay, Jody, we have this amazing community who are pouring in their questions, right? Yeah. Well, you asked one of the ones that came in already. I will and I'm sorry to my sister in law who wants to so badly ask you a question, but I can't find it. This one is from Lynn processor Coomer who says what book or author has had the most impact on your life And how is that influenced your writing? That's a great question. And the answer is Alice Hoffman. Oh, Alice. Um, was the first book that I remember reading outside of college that I wasn't assigned. You know, when I got to be a reader again instead of a student and I loved her writing because she makes writing looks so effortless and so easy and dreamy and um, and all the magical realism and it's just so beautiful. Her writing is so beautiful. And for years I was like her number one, you know, stalker fan. And then I got asked to do an event on Cape Cod and she was going to be at the event. Yes, yes. You know, and and I went and you know, I met her, I tried to play it really cool and she could not have been lovelier. You know what? You know, when you meet like an author and you're like, oh my God, they're just as nice as I wanted them to know, right? And and you know, I have to say that one of the high points in my career is that Alice and I are, we're friends now and like what I like about being on friends and I, yeah, I mean, it's real though, the friendships that we make with certain writers because we have experience that other people don't have. I think they're really, really important. And I love Alice, she's just a wonderful human being and an incredible writer obviously. So she's the one for me. So Christina palmer says Jody, I love your twitter account and I do, do I follow you on twitter? You kept me saying during the last four years, um twitter keep you saying to, I don't think twitter gives anybody saying, oh my God, twitter is like the cesspool of social media, but I don't know about you guys, I find that I use my social media in very different ways, you know, so my, my instagram, I don't even know, usually it's my dogs or something on my instagram. My facebook page is mostly run by the publisher and it's really about book stuff and twitter is where I maintain my twitter and I'm very political and I'm very outspoken and in fact very oddly, I spent the entire day trying to explain to the state of new Hampshire that I don't want to run for governor because I'm being recruited. I am not kidding you. If you go to my twitter, just run, run, we want your help. I will be able to write if I'm a governor. Um you know, it has been a very strange day, that's all I'm going to say. So, I shouldn't have to say that. But apparently I do. I will not be running for governor of New Hampshire. Well, Diana kun Mcgoldrick wants to know if your son is. I'm sorry, because I yeah, yeah, but uh her son has read your book and if so, what did he think? Yes. Um so you're talking...

...about my son, the Egyptologist. I'm short and uh and yeah, governor, get that screenshot up on twitter. So yeah, Kyle has read the book, in fact, to Kyle's great chagrin, Kyle had to read the book before it was published to make sure I wasn't messing up on any of the spellings and translations of the higher cliffs. So um, I think he was not thrilled that he was roped into that. But uh, you know, what can I say? It's, I guess the caveat to be my mom. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. What a great built in fact checker, that's wonderful. Uh, runs a parent would like to know, she says you attack some pretty heavy life events in your books. Are you ever nervous how they will be received? So I I just don't have a lot of chefs left to give, I just have to remember that one say that I don't, I've got to an age where I'm like, you know, take it or leave it. And I honestly, I do write about really challenging things and I, what I hope I do in my books and what I strive to do in my books is to make sure that if I'm writing about a particularly contentious situation, I will always give you both sides of the story. I'm not going to tell you what to think. I'm gonna let you examine your own beliefs and decide why your beliefs are what they are, you know? Um, but I'm very I think I'm very equal handed in that. And to the point where, for example, um when I when I did spark of light which was about abortion rights in this country, uh I have been asked multiple times, are you pro life where you pro choice? I can't tell. And I am 100 happy to tell you, you know what I am and I happen to be pro choice. But I also recognize this is a really fraught issue and nothing is black and white women's lives are thousands of shades of gray. And that was the point of the book. And you know, that's why I don't believe that we should be legislating those rights. So I made sure to include all sides of that in the book. And to that end, I will always tell you my point of view, but I promise you that in my books, I will always let you have both sides of the story that said there's some people who just do not happy. And um a really good example of that is I know someone had mentioned earlier before we got on that. I recently did a chat with nancy johnson, amazing author. First time author of the book is called the kinda Still I love Her and yeah, yeah, right. So I one of the things that I I take very seriously is trying to do what I can to dismantle racism as a white woman and part of having a platform means being able to use that. So I try to do talks about race with people like nancy, johnson or nick stone or really anyone who will talk to me about it. And um I went, I had posted on facebook that cuyahoga library was basically doing this song and I said it's free, you know, oh my God, oh my stuff, you got right, but what you saw that? And so I was like, all I said was free event America, we need to talk about race. And literally I had 1000 comments, how dare you call me a racist? It's like I'm sorry, did I call you racist? You know, it was me thinks the lady doth protest too much moment and it got into a lot of white guilt and um you know, all this stuff that is very hard to attack. And unfortunately, I mean I have very strong feelings about racism and about the work that white people have to do to dismantle it. I'm not going to shut up about that because I really think it's important that we talk about it and I'm not going to tell you you're a racist and I'm not going to say feel guilty for being white. And I didn't ask to be born this color, but if I am this color, what am I going to do with that privilege? That's the real question. So I engaged with a lot of those haters that weekend, you know, Oh yeah, I mean, I always will, but I just, some people aren't ready to hear it and some people don't want to hear it and I hear on a daily basis I am never reading your books again. I'm burning your books, I'm throwing them in the trash. And you know, I say, I always say, well I hope you'll give them to a library instead. But sometimes they don't. That's a great answer. Yeah, jodi every week on a totally different subject, one of our favorite parts of the show is receiving a writing tip, so we're gonna pretend this is for our viewers. But okay, we want to know one of the things that I've talked a lot about is I don't believe in writer's block. I don't believe in it because when I started writing I had three Children under the age of four and I did not have, I didn't have time for writer's block. Yeah. So probably like you, I would write any time they were napping um I would take my laptop to swim practice. I would have it on my car dashboard when I was picking up a...

...nursery school. Um If they weren't hitting each other over the head with sippy cups, I was trying to get into paragraph any spare moment I could I was writing and then of course a miracle happened public school and I had eight hours a day, right? And uh that was great but I still behaved the way I did when I had no time. And for people who think about writer's block, I want you to imagine being in college, how you couldn't write that paper and then miraculously the night before it was too you were able to write that paper. So you know, writer's block is really for people who have too much time on their hands. And what I what I become known for saying is that you can't edit a blank page, but you can edit a bad page. And so it's really important that what you do is put down on paper, anything, anything at all knowing that you can revise it. Because if you put nothing down, you have nothing to work on. And so just sit yourself down in that chair and make yourself start writing and then go back to it. But that's that's basically the way you work through writer's block. That's awesome. What a great, yeah. A empty page. Yeah. And I love that idea that the challenges that we face at the beginning of our writing career is kind of make us into the writers we are now. I mean, that that was a challenge to have to find that literally just had this talk. Yeah, Yeah. I really think so, because I was I was writing on a very tight schedule, a book in here. I have three kids. I was the primary caretaker. You know I mean I was I was doing everything that I could just meet my deadlines and I think that gave me a rigger now that I keep even though I don't need it. That's amazing job. Do you have a book you could recommend tonight? Yeah. I'm kind of excited about this. It's coming out next week so all of you could go and order it right now and it is by chris Bohjalian who like yeah you know what was coming? Yeah. He's coming. Yeah. Uh We know what an hour the Hour of the Witch and um here's why I love it. I mean he's kind of like he's the reverse of the question that mary kate was talking about when it was about women's fiction. He's a man who writes Women really, really well and really well and I don't think he is as well known as he should be. And I've always maintained that he's also lovely human being. I have to say just the nicest man. But but so the hour of the which is actually set in puritan New England, right in boston and is full of like, it's a total look at, you know, at what life was like for women back then and particularly what an abusive relationship looked like. And I was reading this and I was like, oh my God, I cannot believe this. I couldn't believe how much research you did. I was blown away by that. But also that so little has changed that an intelligent woman is a scary woman and that still has not changed. Her name's Yeah. Call her names. Um comment on her on her brain comment. What does she say? Her husband says you have white meat. White meat, your great she's or something. Yeah. No, it's white meat. It's like like she is now. Yeah and you know and that is so threatening to men, women who can think and um I like a lot of women and we think and we see you, I like the way you ended that we see you, thank you for recommending that because he's going to be our guest on the 28th. So I'm so glad you love him for that. And get the book. Now I have a book to recommend and it's an audiobook, everyone knows. I love audio books and this week I have Faith Far Away by Helen fisher and it's a really cool belt book. It's if you love the time traveler's life, a white you're gonna love Faith Far away. It's about a woman who travels back in time and she's reunited with the mother she lost as a child. She has decisions to make Talk about two ways. What I really love too is you have to have a good narrator, and Sophie roberts is a beautiful narrator and her voice takes you far away. That's awesome. It sounds great. I would like to recommend tonight. Little Pieces of Me, which just came out yesterday by Alison Hammer. Um She was actually on our show I think back in january when we were talking about debuts. This is her second novel. Um It is, I think even better than her first, which I would not have thought possible because I loved her first. Um it's beautiful, she's a gorgeous writer, it explores some fascinating issues. Um and I just so highly recommended. She's just such a good human being and that just it just comes through on every page in this book. Little pieces of me, Alison Hammer, I can't wait to read that. And Jody, I loved The Hour of the Witch so much a minute. I finished you were on the plane. I was texting all of them. Yeah, yeah, because he speaks from her point of view, the whole book and it's astounding. Um I would love to suggest everyone I know we've talked...

...about it, but my dear friend Paula McLain's book came out yesterday when the Stars Go Dark and Paula, as you know, is the author of the paris Wife. But this is a genre switch for her. It's a thriller, it's Miss Founding. Okay, all right, Jody, please stick around. Don't go anywhere for the birthday party because we have one more question for you and it's one of our favorite questions. But first we have to take through a couple of things, we want to remind all of you out there to check out our podcast. We have a couple new ones that have just popped up, so go check those out and don't forget to join the Friends and Fiction Book Club. It's the official book club hosted by our friends, lisa Harrison and Brenda Gartner and Patty will be visiting on monday to talk about her book surviving savannah and go grab her Book club kid off her website and she'll see you there on monday. And next week they're going to be reading my new book Under the Southern Sky, which comes out next Tuesday. So that would be, he's from now, that be six days from now, you know, you're so good. I don't even have one with, you don't even have won the first event. It was so, so exciting. You order from your favorite independent bookstore, preferably or wherever books are sold. And we also want to give a big thank you to our amazing partner, Mom and Geraldine's who's g straws are out of this world and who my personal favorite cinema knees are. My favorite road trip snacks. So I have a ton of impact. I actually have the little mini bags for pretty much all of my tour event. So if you come see me on to where you're probably going to walk away with some mama, jeez, they are amazing. You can get 20% off of your orders on their website. Mama Geraldine's dot com with the code Fab five. And don't forget to, you know, as long as we're talking about pre ordering, you know, I've got to keep the own horn. I hope you will remember to preorder the real thing, The newcomer. I don't think the real. Um, and if you and I hope you'll do that tonight because we now know what Jody told us that we've got a new a new bookstore tonight and that new book stores, it's so hard up and running and to, you know, to to find their place in a community. Um and so uh you know of course I want you to pre order my book, but I want you to preorder everybody's book. And you know the great thing, the great, the only good thing about the pandemic just about is it's made us all aware that we can order books from anywhere we want. Um and and that's just an amazing thing. And um okay next week seven p.m. Eastern time we're going to have the big were just partying this now this is a parking great celebration launches under the southern sky. She's got big surprises in store for all of us. And then the next week guess what Chris Bohjalian as We talked to him about his stunning the hour of the witch. And I can't forget to thank our partner. Page one books where you can also use that same code that five to get 10 off your first subscription and that's what they do. They book subscriptions awesome. Handpicked personalized books subscriptions from an independent bookstore right to you. If you like to read you need this think about gift wrapped books mailed to your door each month. It's almost as good as chocolate arrived. I've sean is showing you the graphic for that and you can find more about page one books right there at page one books dot com. And I think they'll send you mama G's with your books. I think they are a rumor about love. It's not Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. All right. So Jody. It is so interesting not only to hear about your books but also about you. So one of the things we love to know about the authors who visit with us, it's a little bit about what shaped them into the writers they are today. So here's the question that we try to ask every week. What were the values around reading and writing in your childhood? Huge. So my mother actually I come from a long line of teachers and I've produced a bunch of teachers as well. And um and I was a teacher before I was a writer. I was in eighth grade english teacher. And so um yeah and when I was really little I started to read really young. I was reading when I was about 3.5, 4 years old and my mom told me that I could get a library card when I could sign my name. That was a really big deal to me. And so as soon as I could sign my name she took me with her to get a library card and twice a week we would go to the library and she would bring home a stack of books and I would bring home a stack of books and then I would go and you know which I love the library, I thought it was fascinating and um and that was it like we always read before bed and my mom 100% modeled reading for me. Um Then I...

...grew up and my first real job was as a page at a library which is a total self fulfilling prophecy, right? Yeah, it's so cool. Yeah, so I was there shelving all the books and doing like big displays in the Children's section. I loved it. And um and I really I love librarians. You know I think a lot of times people think books book writers don't love libraries because they don't buy books but we love them, we love them because they make reading accessible and you know it's just such an important institution in America. So we all love, our library is very very much and we love librarians for many years before there was an internet because I'm that old. I use librarians. Did you research with me? Right. And um you know so that that sense that reading was not just um it wasn't just a pastime, it was really part of our lives. I think that's that's what really made me a reader when I was growing up. And I just, I can't even imagine, I can't even imagine a world without reading. Yeah, yeah, absolutely, well thank you so much, jodi for being here with us and to all of you as well. Thank you. We would ask you to keep hanging out with us because we have our birthday party after show coming up and we strongly encourage You to grab this new book, book two ways, preferably from our book seller of the week, which is still north books and bars books and bar in downtown Hanover, New Hampshire and jodi thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you after party. Your thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Happy birthday. It's right now. Yes. Okay folks, we'll see you in a minute at the after party, come back next week, same time, same place as we celebrate our Christie Woodson harvey. I'm going to post it tomorrow. The which under the southern sky character for the party party party, we're going to find out if you're just dying and you can't wait to take the quiz. You can go to Christie Woodson harvey dot com and it's up right now and don't forget that you get to keep up if you order her book today, preordered from still north books and we'll see after party and about 30 seconds. 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 subscribe to our podcast and follow us on instagram. We're so glad you're here. Yeah.

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