Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 11 months ago

Friends and Fiction with JT Ellison & Hank Phillippi Ryan

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The incredible pair of thriller writers and Emmy Award winning television hosts JT Ellison & Hank Phillippi Ryan join the Fab Five to talk about work/life balance, their fascinating back stories, the interesting stories behnd both of their new books, and their mentors. https://hankphillippiryan.com/ https://www.jtellison.com/

Welcome to Friends and fiction. Fivebest selling authors Endless Stories, Friends and Fiction is a podcast withfive bestselling novelist whose common love of reading, writing an independentbookstores found them together with chats, author interviews andfascinating insider talk about publishing and writing. Thes friendsdiscuss the books they've written, the books they're reading now and the artof storytelling. If you love books and you're curious about the writing world,you're in the right place. Bestselling novelist Mary Kay Andrews, ChristineHarmel, Christie Woodson, Harvey Patty Callahan, Henry and Mary Alice Munroare five longtime friends with more than 80 published books. To theircredit at the Start of the Pandemic, they gottogether for a virtual happy hour to talk about their books, their favoritebookstores writing, reading and publishing in this new, unchartedterritory. They're still talking, and they've added fascinating discussionswith other bestselling novelists, so join them live on their friends andfiction Facebook Group page every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern, or listenand view later at your leisure. Hi, everyone and welcome Hi, Welcome toFrance and Fiction, our weekly Facebook live show featuring author checks insupport of independent bookstores were so happier here for this really specialshow. We have so much tonight and we cannot wait to just jump right in. I'mhosting tonight and I am Patty Callahan Henry, and my next book is survivingSavannah out on March Night on Hello, I'm Mary Alice Munro and my upcomingbook is May 11th, and it's called The Summer of Lost and Found. I'm Mary KayAndrews and the newcomers will be out May 4th. Hi, I'm Kristen Harmel, and mynext book is the Forest of Vanishing Stars. Coming July 6th. I'm ChristiWoodson Harvey, and my next book is Under the Southern Sky, releasing April20th. And this is friends and fiction. Welcome. Not only do we have oneamazing guest tonight, but to I don't know how we got double lucky, but wedid, and so did you. But before we talk about our guests and then talk to ourguests, we get to do one of our very favorite things that friends andfiction one of our own has a cover reveal. Truth is, we've seen it alreadybecause we made for Show us now, Kristin, do not keep it from everyoneelse. for one more second ready way. E love it too. So I'm so excited aboutthis one. I'm I pitched it, as were the products saying Meets Rapunzel. Set inWorld War Two. It sounds kind of nuts, but basically it's based on the truestory of Jews and Poland to escape the Nazis by disappearing deep into thedark forests. Um, the story centers on a young woman named Jonah who waskidnapped by a crazy old woman when she was just a baby and raised alone in thewilderness in total isolation. But after the woman dies in 1942 this oldkidnapper, um, Yona soon encounters a family of fleeing Jewish refugeeschanging her life forever. But soon she learns that you can't run from yourpast. So I seriously cannot wait to share this book with all of you. And ofcourse, you can pre order it. Now if you're interested from wherever booksare sold, including our Bookstore of the Week Parnassus Books and anyone whopre orders from Parnassus by Saturday night will receive one of these awesomefriends and fiction Coups ease. The link is under announcements. So thereyou go, friends and fiction e o the...

Forrester vanishing E o. So we havelistened to Christian talk about this book as she sprinted to the end of it.And I have to tell you her immaculate research on the synchronicity is thathappened to her that turned this book idea into a powerful novel. Y'all arey'all We cannot wait, but wait. Speaking of Christian E Hello, Finalistfor the good reads historical fiction category. Oh, proud You haven't voted.Go vote. Thank you. Know, everyone's tired of voting, but go vote. Thank youso much. And if you voted one of the previous rounds, you can vote again soyou can vote each round. But this is the last one. So thank you. We want youto win with would be awesome to kind of bring it home for friends and fixingthings when you're really counts. Thank you, guys. Thank you. Okay, enough,Kristen. Thank you. Think never. Enough, Christian. Very proud. It kind of likewe feel like it's where it's a win for all of us. Way are all true. The a teamand truly sisters. And so that means a lot. Thank you were proud. Okay, So nowlet me tell you about our bookstore for the week. As you know, one of ourfounding principles was to support indie booksellers, and tonight we'respotlight spotlighting. That's a tongue twister spotlight spotlighting,spotlighting Parnassus Bookstore. It is one of my favorite places to visit, andParnassus is located in Nashville, Tennessee, and founded and run by thebeloved author and patch it. This week they're offering a 10% discount onbooks by our guests, as well as the five of us with the code friendsFiction 10. There's no and in there just friends Fiction 10 and also, asChristine mentioned, anyone who pre orders from Parnassus gets one of thoselittle coups ease, and Kristen will send that to you. And Parnassusactually has a separate page set up for Kristin. So we'll put it on the friendsand victim page. Um, finally, you let me tell you about our guests tonight.JT Ellison and Hank Phillippi Ryan. We are so happy to have them. We have beenlooking forward to this for so long. They are both huge, best sellingauthors of thrillers, and this is crazy, but they're both Emmy Award winnersalso, and they're both kind and smart and interesting. Yes, they're both allof those things. So talking about their bios would leave no time to talk tothem. So I'm going to make this really quick. Jakey Ellison is The New YorkTimes in use, a today bestselling author of more than 20 acclaimed novels,including Tear Me Apart, Lie to Me and All the Pretty Girls. She also coauthored the huge blockbusters with Catherine Culture. Ah, Brit in the FBI.She is Yet, as I mentioned, Emmy Award winning co host of the televisionSiri's Ah, Word Onwards in Nashville, Tennessee, with millions of books inprint, Ellison's work has been published in 27 countries and 15languages. She was once in a point to eat and worked in the White House. Iasked her questions about that all the time and for several defense andaerospace contractors. After moving to Nashville, Ellison began to researchher hidden passions, forensics and crime and was compelled to beginwriting her stories. JTS interest go way beyond writing books. She alsopublishes them. In 2015, Ellison founded her own indie publishing houseto Tales Press. She lives with her husband and twin kittens in Nashville,where she enjoys fine line and good notebooks. Her new novel, Her Dark Lies,is coming out next year on the same pub...

...date as surviving Savannah March 9th,and it is page turning Glorious. Hank Phillippi Ryan is the Use, a todaybestselling author of 12 thrillers. Her newest book is The First Toe Lie andcame out like the rest of our books. In The Middle of the Pandemic, HankPhillippi Ryan is the use. A Today bestselling author, she has wonmultiple awards for her thrillers five Agatha's for Anthony's, The DaphneTouma Cavities and the company Mary Higgins Clark Award. She is also Oh myGosh, the on air investigative reporter for Boston's TV. She has won 37 Emmys,14 more awards and dozens of other honors. National Book Reviews havecalled Hank a master, crafting suspenseful stories and a superb andgifted storyteller for 2019. Book is the acclaimed standalone psychologicalthriller The Murder List, which just won that Anthony Award. Her newest bookis The First Toe Lie, a chilling psychological stand alone. She lives inBoston, Massachusetts. So without further ado, let's bring the ladiesfrom the green room E J Away the appetizers e from her, You know, whenshe hit the Champaign. So we finally shared. I made her give me an advancecopy of her dark lives Because I want 10 word description of that bookbecause it is the best idea I have ever heard. We're gonna make her tell us.It's amazing. I know. Okay, So, welcome, y'all, what a few weeks this has been.I mean, let's be honest what a year it's been, um, this week for ournewsletter, I wrote an essay called The Flim Flam Hustle Myth and talked about.Are we pushing too hard? Sometimes. Where do we find balance when thecreative ideas air flowing? Do we want to do everything all at once? On one ofmy favorite comments that I don't know who to attribute it to is you can beanything but you can't be everything. So how do we choose so, J t. Hank, Whenwe look at your body of work, it is obvious that you hustle. But you havefull and beautiful lives at the same time. So tell me how you choose. How doyou do anything, although you can do everything, jt Oh, I suffer from thatexact thing trying to decide. What am I going to do? What's important, what iswhat is vital. Um, my rule is to try to keep it 90% writing and 10% business,and I can always tell when I start getting out of balance. When I startgetting into 50 50 or even like this week, it's been completely swap. Ihaven't written a word, but I've done a ton of business. That's when I have tostep back and say, Nope, definitely going Thio. Try to fix this and and getback to the work because that's the only thing that really matters for whatwe're doing as creative as writers. That's that's our That's our job is towrite, and I don't think there's an editor on the planet. There's gonna becalling you saying, Hey, you didn't spend enough time on Twitter today. Ididn't see that post for you. You know that, Zo, That's I always try toremember that when I start getting out of balance that my job is here writerand and that's the priority, and that helps so J t I think your microphone isThere you go. There's, like a weird, staticky thing. Yeah, much better Magic.But that was amazing advice. The 90 10 rule. I haven't heard that. I've neverbeen able to match that zip. Amazing.

Now you can't now we can't hear you itall. But hey, hey, how do you do anything? Although you can doeverything we know you can We just read your awards because I would used to try.I used to be a really multitasker and I wouldn't a little bit of this and do alittle bit of this. And I think I could talk on the phone and do my email atthe same time and think about stuff and take notes. And I have realized thatthe thing, the way to have one way toe handle my life is to just do one thingat a time to focus on one thing. So I'm so organized. I have lists of lists Ihave. I can't use the calendar because there's not much, not enough room. So Ihave a notebook that says Tuesday the 19th or whatever day it is because whoknows what day it is, anyway, who knows? And I list the things that I have todio and I cross them off. I do one thing at a time. I'm fully present inthe thing that I'm doing, and I don't worry about that. I'm not doing thisand I'm not doing that. I think about them doing the task that I am doing. Iwill complete the task that I have, um designed to do that I've assignedmyself to do and then I'll go on to the next one. It's just like a little kid.It's terrible sometimes that I'm writing. You know, I car about the timefor my writing and I protect that, you know, from 2 to 5 or 2 to 6. Those aremy on writing times, and I and I and I don't let anything interfere with that.That's my promise that I've made to myself. You know, when we're in ourriel jobs, other jobs and we have a boss and we're trying to please theboss. Well, I'm the boss now on my writing now, and I do what pleasesmyself. But as I said, it's like a little kid. I I actually, I'll tell youthis. I actually set a timer and I stayed to myself. I'm going to It'sreally 34 minute increments. I write for 34 minute increments and I do notcheck the email I do not want and see if any mail has arrived. I don't do thelaundry. I don't allow anything else except for right. And when the belldings, I'm often so deeply into the manuscript at that point, um, that Ijust said it again and go again. But it's a question of focus. That's my isto focus. Okay, I'm taking that home with me. How about you, ladies? How doyou do anything although that you could do ever just it. Okay, I think when Igo to bed at night, the last thing I try to think about is what I'm gonna doin the morning. And, uh, and for the past, uh, eight or nine months, whatI'm gonna do in the morning is right. First thing before anything elsehappens. And then I think about well, what has to happen today. I've gotta,you know, run errands or do something with the house, or, you know, respondto emails or all that kind of stuff. I never feel like I have it figured outthat. Yeah. How about you, Mary? Alice? How do you do anything? How do youdecide which to do when you could do everything? Well, I'm listening to allof you. First of all, I think in the last week I have turned off the news. IThat's helpful. It's been a time suck. And so I also read in our if anyonehasn't subscribed to our newsletter, Um, it's a really great newsletter. Patty,you wrote a really wonderful essay in a line that I really loved. It was whatmakes us happy isn't doing mawr, but doing what matters. Andi, I thinkthat's really becoming key, you know, especially now that the news is off. Wecan all get back to our normal lives a little bit. Doing what matters? Is thisgoing to keep us productive? Keeps it out? Yeah. Oh, thank you, Mary. Alice.So how about you, Kristen? Well, you...

...know, doing what matters is such animportant thing to think about it. So that was such a great point. Mary Alice.And for me, I think my biggest struggle has been trying to figure out what arethe things that matter because I can't do it all. I mean, I think I think noneof us can. We would love to do it all, but there aren't enough hours in theday. And so I was thinking about this today, and I think I've really startedasking myself the question is this thing that I'm going to do somethingthat will make a better future for, like, for me, my family, for my work.And, you know, that doesn't mean that I can't sit on the couch for an hour andwatch the crown, because you know what? That's gonna make me a little happier,which makes better. But, you know, I think, um I think just asking whatmakes for a better future, which includes playing with my son as much asI can dio Oh, I love that. How about you, Christie? Um, I feel like I'mprobably not the only person in this group who could say this, but I reallyhave toe think more about, you know, the the having fun and the letting go,because, I mean, I am a massive workaholic, I think Way e like to beworking. I feel like I'm good when I'm working. You know, I feel like that'skind of like the the easy stuff. So I mean, I think my major things are justreally trying. I can't do it every day because, you know, there's a lot goingon, but I really do try to be the person that fixed well up from schooland have the afternoons with him, and that's really important. Um e Also, Ijust started playing tennis again during covert, and I'm so proud ofmyself because for years and years and years and years, I've been like I'mgonna start playing tennis again. And then I was like, I don't have time, Idon't have time. So I found this group of ladies that wants to play for onehour twice a week, and I'm like if I cannot play tennis for one hour twice aweek, I don't have a life like I'm at a ballot like I need you to do this, andit isn't so great every time I do it. I'm like, Oh my gosh, I feel like Ijust did something So amazing. And I'm free. Yeah, so great. That's awesome.So five of us the week before this all got to see each other, but we didn'tget to see each other this week, But we did get to hang out together this weekat a two day extravaganza on reading with Robin. So if you shoot over to herFacebook page, you get to see that. No. J. T. And Hank, we want about yournewest books. J t tell us about good girls. Lie a page turning, plottwisting heck of a read. Tell us about it. Let's make sure you can hear makinghear me. Okay, You fixed? It s oh, good girls. Lie is It's the book that Iwasn't supposed to write. I was supposed to be actually taking a break.I was exhausted. I had written a number of books very quickly and I just wantedto break. And I sat down at dinner with my publisher and my editor and toldthem I was going to take four months off, to which they were thrilled tohere that news. I'm sure e walked out of that and I was like, That didn't goso Well, e need to not take a break on DWhite. Could I do fast? Because I was.I was. I had a very short deadline. If I was going to write a book, I neededto write something that I could spit out really quickly. And that meant nota lot of research and good girls. Lie is set in an all girls private boardingschool. And I went to a private boarding college, all women. And so Iknew the setting very, very intimately. I had a number of very weird, creepystories. The place was haunted. All these fun things e figured. Okay, I'vegot three quarters of it. I've got a setting. I know all the research. Ijust need some characters and a plot. And just that, just like that. So I wasI was actually we were flying to England and I was reading Yoga journal,and there was a whole story about this woman, and her best friend's name wasAshland. And I went, Oh, Ash, I like...

...that name. And the next page was aboutBelinda Carlisle, the go go's singer who is now a Yogi, which is awesome.And I'm like ash Carlisle. I've got a character. Okay. And then we were inOxford in a coffee shop in a teashop. And I'm like, OK, well, maybe she comesfrom Oxford, and and then I had the character at the time I got back. Sothis is about a week and a half later from when I told them I wasn't going todo a book. About a week and a half later, I had pulled together. Ah, wholestory about Ash Carlyle. Who is this young woman from Oxford who's just losther parents in a terrible murder suicide on Before they died? They hadarranged for her to go to the good school in March. Berg, Virginia. Andshe doesn't want, you know, she's got nothing. She has nowhere to go. So shehas to go to this school. She just wants to fit in. She just wants to liveher life. And everything is going pretty well until students start to die. Wait. So, Hank, tell us about the for Ilove the book of you have the word lie. Good girls lie And the first to lie wayThought you were having a scene. It's the lying Emmy award winning bestselling thing. It has a really interesting origin story, so tell usabout it well, quickly. I've been a television reporter for 43 years, whichis so crazy to think about, and I wired myself with hidden cameras andconfronted corrupt politicians and gone undercover and in disguise. And it wasone of the stories that I went undercover for, that that really wasthe germ of this novel. I went undercover to a doctor's office. Youwould not have recognized me with my hair on top of my head and makeup andbig glasses, and I wore, like, three sweatshirts so I wouldn't knowdifferent body shape. And over one of this over the sweatshirt was a workshirt, and in the button of the work shirt was in the buttonhole of a workshirt. Was not Ah, button. It was a camera lens. A hidden camera on snakeddown under the sweatshirt was the wire of the hidden camera, which wasattached to the guts of the camera in a fanny pack. I was glamorously one well,my producer and I, who was a man at the time, posed as a woman who wanted toget pregnant and her husband, he didn't have to dress up because he just lookslike Chris. Uh, if doctors would tell us the truth about their malpracticehistories and long story short, they did not. And I got it all on camera onDwell Big Story about how doctors were lying about them, their malpracticehistories and of new law was passed in Massachusetts as a result of that tomake those histories be in their public record. So that's really good. But oh,I want to read that a story. A story came the first ally, and here's what Itwaas Oh wow. He allied to me for himself for selfish reasons to get meto be a patient. Onda, that's bad. But I lied to him, too, didn't I? Lied tohim. I didn't say, Hey, Phillipe Ryan from Channel seven. I'm seeing ifyou're going to tell me the truth, right? No, I lied, but I lied for agood reason. I became someone else to get what I want. And that was the partpartial key of the book. What if being someone else could get you what youwant so really quickly? You know it's impossible to talk about a book, athriller without giving it away, although J. T. Did a pretty greatfabulous glob of it. But somebody said to me, Tell me about your book andforwards and I said Betrayal,...

...motherhood, obsession and revenge onthen in five phrases, it's, um, a devastating childhood betrayal. Anundercover reporter who's into deep, a beautiful sailboat on the ChesapeakeBay. Uh, and powerful family and an ice pick that is not used for ice. So tofacing off in a high stakes psychological cat and mouse game to getrevenge for a childhood betrayal. But which woman is the cat and which womanis the mouths? Awesome with anything. So Christie Woodson, Harvey, I knowthat you have a question for them. I do. So this is actually for both Hank and J.T. So both of you had amazing jobs before you started writing novels. J tyou worked in the White House. And Hank, you were and still are a TV anchor. Esowhat made you finally take pin to paper? JT, do you want to start? Yeah, I was the White House. Thepolitical stuff was the second career. I thought I was going to be a writerand I got a degree in writing and thought I was going to go and get my MF A and and all of that. And my thesis advisor told me I wasn't good enough toget published. Oh, no writing. She was very adamant. It wasn't. It wasn'tincentivized her to go and try harder. She was very, very serious. She wastrying to save me a lot of heartache. And so I went the political route andgot my master's in political management and worked in the White House and allover the hill and all of those things, Uh, it was it was wonderful and it wasa lot of fun. I was a glorified team maker. I mean, you know, come on. I was21 but it was very fun. And it, you know, it teaches you a lot of things.But then I was never happy. I never liked it. I chafed. You know, everytime somebody told me to do something, I chafed every time I got in troublebecause I got in trouble all the time because I didn't like what I was doing.You know, it just was very difficult for me. I don't play well with others,especially authority figures. Um, and eventually it became very clear that Iwas not destined for a life where the boss and I didn't really have much of achoice but to try being a writer again. And and I did. And it was eight yearslater and I typed that first paragraph and I just burst into tears because Iwas home after all that time, I was finally home. And, you know, it's youknow, at the time I probably wasn't good enough to get published. E reallylike who of us a 21 was ready to, like, write a great book. You know, e youhave to practice a little bit. It's not like day one. I mean, I'm sure thatthere are people who are Yeah, but, you know, for a lot of us, it takes morethan your ceases. Yeah, which was, you know? Yeah, well, they were trying totrain me to write a certain way on eso you are literally have a paper here inmy filing cabinet that the note says reads too much like B grade detectivefiction e was writing crime fiction. It's crime fiction then And they didn'twant crime fiction. E just honestly think some people, including professors,think that the critique means you have to make a critical negative college on.And that's how they that's so naive and so wrong. E yeah, that's awful. Well,Hank, what about? But you made it. You got the last laugh. Yeah, e 10 years.So whatever, does she know you're...

...published? E? I have no idea. I have.No. I looked up e my first book and saw she didn't get tenure, and I figuredkarma took care of it. E u Oh, gosh. You know, I I grew up in really ruralIndiana so rural that you couldn't see another house from our house. And mysister and I used to write our ponies to the library to get books, and we'dread up in the hayloft off the barn behind our house. I got that. Soundsromantic. Well, well, you know what it was, though. It was lonely. It was Iwas such a loner. Such a geeky little, bookish little girl. Then I was votedin my middle school. Most individual which spent, like, weirdest. They putmy picture in the school. You're upside down because I e because I was so weirdand so unpopular and so friendless. And I was so upset by that. And I promiseyou, this has a point. I'm so imagine Marma You imagine doing that? I mean,if I was sobbing, I went home and I was so upset. I'm, like, 14. Upset is onlya 14 year old girl could be like they can't do this to me. Um, And I and mymom said, You know, I was saying the world isn't fair, the world isn't fairon. My mom said, Listen, kiddo, you're gonna have to get over this, and you'regonna have to learn that the world isn't fair. And I decided then thatwhen I grew up, I was going to do something to make the world more fair,you know, to stand up for the little guy and make a difference and have mylife have some meaning. So I went to the biggest after working in politicsfor a couple of years, actually, like j t. But no candidate I ever worked for,actually one thing is not my career through radio station in Indianapolis,and I said, I'm here to apply for a job. Um, this was 1970 I was 20. And thenews director says, Have you ever worked in radio before? And long storyshort. I had worked. No television, no radio, no magazine. Know anything. Ihadn't done anything. So he said finally says, Can you give me one goodreason why I should hire you? And I said, Well, your license is up forrenewal at the Federal Communications Commission right now, and you don'thave any women working here. Oh, wow. Oh, my first job in broadcasting. Sohere's the thing, though. That was brave that day. I walked into that. Youknow, I walked into that. Let me put it this way. Threatening a potential bosswith the lawsuit during the job of them in a way to go. I do not recommend this,but I took a chance and I found my calling, You know, e thought out of thebox and you gave an answer that implied you could do investigative journalism.Well, do you think Mary Ellis, I Yeah, maybe so, But I was brave, you know? Iwas naive, you know, in super confident 20. We think we could do anything. AndI always think about that. How brave I waas to take a chance like that. Andthat's sort of why. How? I started writing at age 55. I had a good ideafor a book, and I just thought, I'm doing this. I'm doing that. Zm e Well,we have right now. You look about 30. So that's a little confine. It'sperplexing. So, Mary Alice, I know you had a question for both of them. I dioboth of you write thrillers and our TV host. So I think with that backgroundbeing similar, I'm curious. This is a question. We ask all our guests everyweek. And so, with your similar backgrounds, even in politics I wantedthe answers will be saying we're different. What with the values aroundreading and writing in your house growing up. And how do you think itaffected the books that you write today?...

Go ahead, JT. I was gonna say thank you.Get to go first this time. Okay? Just repeat. I can repeat E got it. No, Igot it. I, uh My parents are huge readers e I think they're watching highI So I said I send them the link so they would watch, uh, they are. They'reobviously big fans of my work too, which is great. But the rule in thehouse was if I could reach it on the bookshelf, I could read it on. I was areally talking about which helped. So I read things I probably shouldn't haveread. When I was very, very young. I was very precocious reader. I read fast.They encouraged that they took me to the library. We made a deal with thelibrary in because we lived out in the woods. So going to the library was waskind of a chore. And so we made a deal with the librarians that I could checkout more books. Then everybody else could, because I read so fast, whichwas fantastic. So it truly comes from my family and my parents absolutelylove and encouragement when it comes to books and bookshelves and, you know,it's it's fantastic. I still I share an account with my dad and my mom onKindle so that I could buy books for them that we could both read at thesame time and then talk about it and, you know, got book in a month. We, youknow, my mom's always calling. Okay. Which book are you getting? Okay. I'mgonna get this one. You get this, My flop. I mean, it's it's really theirmid eighties, and and it's fantastic that we still have this readingrelationship. It's never changed. It's wonderful. Probably. Thanks. Mom andDad miss my mom. Oh, she was so happy when I you know, she I'm so happy thatshe was alive long enough to see that. You know, I think she was. She was theone who she was the person in my life who would say I would say, I got an AAnd she'd say Not in a plus. Eso writing a book was a big deal for us. Icouldn't. I was allowed to read anything in the house. I mean, it waasthat my parents library was full of books. Um, they had they did not carewhat I read. There were more upset that I read Mad magazine. Then they willthat I read Marjorie Morningstar you know it was that. But that's aninteresting cap it. Yeah, but you know, the Mushroom Planet and Trixie Belden.And you know, all James Thurber. Short stories and fables. And, you know,every you know, all the books about smart girls that were powerful and thattook control. I really loved. I really loved those books. And I remembertearing through books like JT reading as fast as I possibly could until I gotto Black Beauty. And I don't remember how old I was. Nine. Could that be? AndI remember I closed the book and usually I would close the book and thenread something else real fast. And I closed the book and I got ready to pickup another book, and I thought, Wait, I don't think this is only about a horse.You know, there's more to this book than that. And at that age, I haddiscovered theme my I guess that more to a book than just the story. I mean,I just got remembering that and way all have to be readers to be writers, right?This is what us in life. Uh huh. E Remember that moment for me? like Iremember that being like, Oh, wait, you know? Yeah, it's bigger than may. Yeah,E. That's what happens in writing to...

...when you're when we're writing ourbooks. And we think we're writing a story on then at some point, we think,Oh, this is about a thing. You know, thinking somebody said it was likedropping a drop of iodine into a glass of clear water. When you get the theme,a whole just s Oh, wow. Yeah, that's a great image. A some Wow. Yeah, You'regetting a lot of cat love on the Facebook right now. You want to, youknow, like that you should dio e. I know you have a question for J T whileshe's showing the kitty to all of us. Yeah, JT, Patty mentioned to me thatevery book you write has a line that actually defines the book. A singlesentence sort of encapsulates the story such as the line they thought having ababy would fix everything in lie to me or there are truths and there are lies.And there is everything in between, which is where you and I will meet. Ilove that line. Girls lie. What a great line. So I love that idea. Can you tellus a little bit about that? Does the line come first? Do you put it inafterwards? Once you have a sense of the story and is a part of your wholeprocess, it's definitely part of the process. It's something that you know.A line like that will sit with me for 23 books sometimes until I couldfinally have that moment that it it's like, Oh, that's what this story isabout, that they thought having a baby would fix everything. He thought havinga baby would fix everything that from lie to me that was with me for probablyfive years before I actually had the story for it. Um, good girls lie,though that one happened as I was writing it. So sometimes they are outthere waiting for me to start a story, and sometimes the story comes from theline. It just depends, but I have found dramatically with all of my standalone's. There is that line that really kind of encapsulate. It's not the logline, it's not, you know, it's just mawr. What? The story is what Thenarrative is to me as a writer, and that's what I hang my hat on. And onceI have that, then you know, I know I've got something. It becomes riel and thelines always in the book like it's not just something that you're thinkingthrough, like it actually always appears in the book. Yeah, and a lot oftimes title related. You know, it'll it'll have something to do with thetitle. I liked the title before I start the story, and I have now you know,this money books and learned that you know, title is is not something that isnecessarily going to stay. So having that thematic line in there that thechances of that sticking around are a lot awesome. I've never heard thatbefore. What a great way to do that like a starter isn't e think about it.You have that e tell you what the line is and every single book I've written Ez e c. You know, when we were joking earlier about y'all giving the writingtips for us that it's the truth because I've never thought of that. Yeah, likewhat? Your genius way should go through and go through our new books and findwhat that one line is posted way. Yeah, thinking they came. Mary Kay. I'm theline of the motivation for your protagonist. Um, and what is the onelines? You should be able to point to it that your character once in thefirst couple of chapters, you know, it's funny. You should get your readersto read your books and have them. You're not even better because theycan't figure it out. You know, with me...

...a little anxiety. Hang, You don't wantthat. Um, the title for the first two lie, as a matter of fact, came from mybook, the murder list, Which is which is hilarious because in the murder list,one of the main characters is talking to a police officer about somebody whowas arrested, and the police officer says, Well, you know, the first to talkis the first to walk. Meaning, you know, the first to rat out the first one toget the lighter sentence. And my character in the book says, Yeah, butwhat about the first toe lie? And then I thought, Oh, there it isn s my titlecame from a fictional character who I wrote that so lucky that happened. EMary Kay. You had a question for Hank to I do. Hank, I know that you wereclose friends with the late, amazing Sue Grafton and, you know, soon meant alot to me early in my career as a mystery writer, too. I went thio when Iwas still a newspaper reporter. I went to a writers workshop where she wasteaching, and she was amazingly encouraging to me. And I wondered ifyou would talk a little bit about that friendship and what it meant to you.Not just your career, but personally. Over the years, I think about two everyday. I can I tell you what you know. I have to say what a class act. What acharming, hilarious, authentic, genuine, friendly, hardworking, determined,Hilarious. I mean, if I reach around my computer right now, let me see if Icould do this by reach around my computer right now. This is This is thebottle of wine she gave me. Uh, with M is with e. M. Is for murder tag on iton, guy. And of course I didn't drink it. I just say that and I use it justas a Z inspiration. We met because I asked her. Oh my golly, this is sofunny. Talk about J. T. And me together this way couldn't have more connections.I used to dio the author. Interviews show for Channel seven on Dyear isbefore years before I started writing, Sue Grafton was one of the guests thatI interviewed, and I had not written a book. I had not written a word, and Isaid to her in this interview, You know, I've always wanted to write a mystery.You know, since I was a little girl, I wanted to write a mystery and she says,Well, you know, when you read it, you just send it to me and I will look atit So you know, because of course I'm That's never gonna happen. So nineyears later, I wrote her this letter and I said, Um, this is your good deeds.Come back to haunt you million years ago when you said if I wrote a book,you could read it well, here it iss Andi, she wrote back, and she said,I'll read your book But if I don't like it, you'll never hear from me again. Sodon't write to me anymore. And maybe a month later can letter from Sue, whichis on my wall behind me, framed with the blurb for the book. We were dearfriends. Since then I mean laughing and one of the best pictures, one of myfavorite pictures and her is And I'll tell you one more thing about it is hercoming up to me. Somebody snapped a picture of her coming up to me with mybook and asking me, Decide my book, tow her, and I just i e o amazing. That'show wonderful. That's how wonderful she waas you know, she was so genuine, shewould not, she would not fake. It s had...

...not been the real thing e thank you.And I both know she would have been She would have been polite and said, Honey,stick to T v e Interesting. Is that that she told me Just if you don't hearfrom me, it's not a mistake. Don't know. Wow about that. Just a really goodanswer. E Just remember things workshop I took with her. She read my manuscriptshe read. You could get a manuscript critique for, I don't know, 50 bucks.It was unbelievable on. And if you read my first manuscript and she said Okay,what have you you know, you could get published. What are you doing? Uh, andafter that book, I wrote it, and my publisher, Harper Collins, said, Well,we're gonna ask so and so and so. And soda Barb it as a favor to you. And Isaid, Well, I thought I would ask Sue Grafton and they said, Oh, no, honey,you're not We're not asking Sue Grafton, And I said, but you know what? After Igot home from this workshop, I wrote her a note and thanked her for all herhelp. When she wrote me back and I said, How about if I asked her and she didyou two, That's who she wasif. You had the woods, you know. He believed in you.She she would. And, you know, whenever she came to Atlanta, we would try toget together. What a role model. Right? And you just throw back her head andlaugh. I mean, she was so famous, but, you know, she enjoyed it. And shethought life was fun and she braced it. I think that the idea that she didn'tget to Z with the book is about the most profoundly beautiful thing thatthey're, you know, that the universe just left it as it was, just left thatdoor open, you know, just brings tears to my eyes to think about think about,you know, shows you that there is some wisdom in the universe. Somehow wedon't really understand it. Wow. You guys make me wish I had met her. Shewas amazing. Yeah. Okay. Mary Kay, give us a quick reminder about our bookstoreof the week. You know, one of our founding principles was to support anybookstores like Parnassus, one of my favorite places to visit in Nashville,founded and run by our beloved author and patch it. This week they'reoffering 10% discount on books by our guests as well as by the five of the FN F host authors. The code is friends Fiction 10. Also for anybody whopreorders the Forest of Vanishing Stars, Kristen's forthcoming book fromParnassus. Now, in this Saturday, the 21st, Kristen will send you a friendsand fiction. Cuzzi Parnassus has a special page set up on their site andwe will have it on our website to accept your pre orders. Awesome. That'sawesome. Okay, cover that is quite just a okay. Because we have been suchchatty Cathy's. Not just you, Kathy Trocheck, but all of us, we're gonnaWe're gonna skip right on down to the writing tips so that we don't run outof time. But I need to tell you, Hank and J. T you have loads of questions onthe Facebook page. So if you have time just run over there this week andthey're asking about your daily beast story hang, which I'm dying to hearabout their asking about your friendship, they're asking about yourname where he came from, so we'd all love all those answers. But what wereally want right now is your writing tips. So, Hank, we talk a lot on hereabout writing Pips, supporting other writers. And you're an amazing exampleof an author who's doing that. I know...

...you're involved with the website careerauthors dot com with one of my favorite people. Dana Isaacson is amazing. Isn'the amazing? okay. He's an editor. Y'all, He's an editor, and he is a genius. Uh,CNN he called the story whisperer is amazing. And so that you all have awebsite called career authors dot com, which offers amazing articles. Writingprompts all kinds of things. So tell me, what are writing? Tip is from you. Well,Mary Kay brought up Sue Grafton. So let's go, What with what I learned fromSue Grafton, We want to keep it going. Keep the history going. Um, Sue taughtme two things. One is, um, to every day, if you're writing, set your intent forthe day that this is what you intend to accomplish, Accomplish in the wordsthat your writing and that's sort of a road map for you to get that littlechunk of, you know, is it the happily ever after ending is when there's a bigclue is set. Is that the big reversal? It's when the emotional hook is set.What is it that you're doing? So, you know, uh, taught me and this is socrazy. And I thought it was a terrible idea, and he also taught me to keep awriting diary. Yeah, every day at the beginning of when I write, I write downNot long. I'm not I'm not even talking about a paragraph like a couple lines.Just how I feel and to say those And I have to tell you they have saved mylife because when when I started writing the book that I'm writing rightnow which is due like tomorrow E wrote in my in my writing diary on page WhatRight. Pay day one. I have no idea. E I have no idea. I e yes, writing diary.And it said day one, I have no idea. And I thought, Oh, well, this is how Ialways feel This'll is the only time that i e I have no idea what I'm doing.This is my process. This is my emotional process of fear Coming firstand then I turned I keep you know, turn the page of the old during the pages ofthe old diary and there is Oh, I have a good idea. Oh, I think this is gonnawork. Oh, crossing fingers have that. My progress is there. And my favoriteline that I ever wrote in one of those diaries is um every New York Timesbestselling novel started with one word. So just write one word. Love it. That'sgreat. Yang, bring it in. Yeah, bringing it home Your home. But youbrought it. You took it all the way. You're for J. T, my friend. You havebeen part of my pandemic survival team. You are constant. I'm gonna get kind ofchoked up. You are constantly sending out inspiring notes and articles andtips. And I wish everybody could see everything you've been sending out forthe past six months. It's It's really been astounding. But can you share justone of your tips with our viewers? I think the most important thing, especially for female writers, is torespect your time. If you don't respect your writing time, nobody else willrespect it either. And if that means you have Teoh, you have to leave thehouse. If you have to go the library. If you've got a door that you can shutand say this is my writing time, if you will respect your writing time, youwill learn that the people around you start to respect it as well. And thenthat gives you the ability to do the thing that is the real writing tip,which is You've got to touch your manuscript every day. You don't have towrite 1000 words a day. That's sometimes impossible. It's great goal,but it's hard to do, right. I mean, it's a hard, hard thing, but it's veryeasy to open your manuscript and a t...

...least read what you wrote the daybefore. At least type a few lines. Just try something. Touch it every day. Ifyou can't open the manuscript, open a notebook. If you can't do that, sitwith it and and think about it and just touch it every day. No matter whatyou're doing, when you're building it and when you're writing it and and thatjust keeps you in it, it keeps you focused, and it makes it a lot easierwhen you sit down. You know, Tiu that page. I have no idea what this is, butif you touched it the day before, you have a little bit of an idea. I mean,if you don't know, you sort of dio eso that that would be my big thing,respect your time and then touch the manuscript every day. That's amazing.That's amazing. All right, we have a few announcements Were going to kind oftry to pop through them. So, Mary Kay, could you give us the first piece ofhuge news? Yes, we friends and fiction. We are now on instagram uh, easy tofind this. Under friends and fiction, we're gonna pose writing tips andquestions and first looks at covers And, of course, the inside scoop about ourguests. Um, last night I posted pictures of me with my first ofadvanced reader's copy. Super exciting. So make sure you go ahead and follow uson Instagram at Friends and Fiction. And Christie, um just a reminder to goahead and preorder the forest of banishing banishing stars. Hey, E, wewent through a lot of titles. Way you guys were like my title brainstormingteam. So thank you. They also and I was like, Wait, that doesn't have a singlelike dark. And I was like, No, we decided, not dark vanishing. It'sbeautiful. I love it way u u s a mish with preorder at Parnassus Andi also,you're definitely gonna want to pick up our amazing guests books from themtonight is Well, Yeah. Mary Alice. Well, next week we're very excited to hostSue Monk Kidd and I've known for a long time. She's a wonderful woman. And herbook, The Book of Longings, is on everyone's t B R list, and we're reallylooking forward to it. So join us next Wednesday. And my dear Christian So Iknow we have been teasing you all with merchandise, and we wanna thank you fortiming in on our poll. So, more news to come really, really soon. We promise.We know you're waiting for it. Andan the meantime, very soon, even soonerthan the merchandise news. I think we're gonna have some excitingannouncements about being able to join a signed first editions club for thefive friends and fiction authors. So we'll have that to you, I think, withinthe next few days. Yep. So, J T and Hank, y'all are simply amazing. Wecould talk to you for another two hours. Your advice, your stories? Um, e no,there's e o. We're gonna have to dio, uh, back story like a second one behindthe scenes. Um, you both are amazing. Thank you so much for coming with us.Thank you. Thank you, Thank you. Thank you, Thank you. So bye, guys. So that'sa wrap for this Wednesday night, and we will see you all next week for Sue MonkKidd's. That's a wrap. Thank you. That was awesome. E information. And we got through it, eI was sweating E. That was really good.

I want to ask you a question, though.That has to do with JT's writing tip. So when she's talking about touchingyour manuscript every day, So, like, I'm editing right now, So I am notdealing with, like all I'm doing is editing. I'm not my other manuscript.So, like when you guys are, like, editing one book, are you also writinganother one or you just know you're touching your manuscript right now?Yeah. One thing that I can't I can't do it a time. Yeah, some people can. I Ijust I don't want to. I think it makes for ah, confusion in your head, butwhere you're focused. Yeah, Just making sure e you have a question about yourname Hank? Someone said we should ask about. Does anyone know the answerabout the name ANC? we'll have to find out the answers it out. Yeah, Christie,I just I think if you're working on your manuscript, you're working on yourmanuscript, and some days you're going back and you're doing revisions, andsome days you're doing copy at it that's working on That's touching yourE. I am not one of these people who can work on two different writing projectsat the same time. I know there are writers who do that, and they cancompartmentalize their books. But when I'm in a book, my brain, it my money, Iam in the world of that book and for me toe to try toe, go to another project.I feel like Who are those people? I can't I don't know those people yet. Ican do it when I'm in copy at it because I think copy it. It's like youdon't need to be. You don't need to be creating anymore You. You almost haveto take a step back from the book and stop looking at the characters and lookmore at the details at that point. And I think that's when I could moveforward to the next one, but not before then. Yeah, eso Speaking of our guests,JT, like I said, was part of my pandemic survival teams on one of thebooks she told me about that just saved me. Was this book called Deep Work byCowl Newton cow? But it talks about that exactly. Christie, which is thisidea that way have only so much deep work Weaken dio right? And if we'retrying to scatter it around, none of it gets done. Well, so I try to rememberthat. And I think I talked about it tonight like I do this and then I dothis and then I do this. We can't die deep if we're like Bing Bing, Bing,Bing Bing. So I talked about the writing intent. Like to sit downBecause I know what I could have to do that day. But intent is a little more.Yeah. No. Yeah. When I took that writing workshop with Sue Grafton, shewas so generous, she shared. I mean, she was super organized, so she sharedpages from her daily writing journal. Wow, It would be She was very organized.And, um, so she would get up in the morning and she would meditate. Andthen she would, in her journal, talk about what do I need to do today with abook who? And she would say what happens? I need Thio Kinsey Milton withher protagonist. Well, Kinsey needs thio. You know, meet the suspect. Or,um, this needs to happen, and that needs needs to happen. And, um, Ilearned some that workshop. I can't even tell you how valuable it was to me,but she talked about that. And so, like, I have my my little composition bookand lots of time start hurting Our happens today. What happens in theworld of the today and sometimes it z simple. It's saying, Well, um, I vetalked to the real estate agent,...

...and sometimes it's more complicated,like I have to get. You know, this person has to die today, and thensometimes it's a simple Aziz. Well, I need to do some research because Idon't know. Yeah, what happened? You know, when there's a car fire, whatever,and, um and then gold setting she was Sue isbig on goal setting what? Her individual days not just know she wouldtalk about What is your one year goal e. She was she was teaching a beginningwriters workshop. So it would be like, What is your one work? One is your oneyear? Well, for most of it, it was finishing a book. What is your two yeargoals like? Maybe it's getting your book public. And five years and and somewhere I I've got to dig that up.I have the notebook where I wrote my goals out. E O. I do that every year,and it's really and I do it every month. But I do it every year, and it's reallyfun to go back and look at, like, 2013 and see like because, you know,sometimes you forget like where you were and where you are in such a shortamount of time. And I mean, I could look back, and in 2013, I was startingto write my first manuscript, you know, so it's anything to think like how itseems like it's been a long time, but it really hasn't. But I love the ideaof that, but especially with your writing, I've never thought aboutsitting down and thinking like, What's my goal today with my writing. I don'tdo that. E feel like we started this because we were all you know, Like,what are we going to dio? And I'm learning so much from these otherauthors what J t and Hank just talked about I've never heard said in that way.I mean, I scribble in my notebook every morning, but because I believe inmorning pages artist way, But I've never thought about using it. Or whatabout my story? So how I thought it was amazing? E o really good on notspeaking of writing, I have hours to go before I sleep on my e Don't know howyou work at night e She works 20 hours a day for amazing i e o ther e o I'mgonna go eat my soup. This sounds delicious. Oh, by guy, you've been listening to the friendsand fiction podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the friends and fictionpodcast wherever you listen. And if you're enjoying it, leave a review. Youcan find the friends and fiction authors at w w w dot friends andfiction dot com a swell. As on the Facebook group page. Friends andfiction come back soon. Okay? There are still lots of books, writing tips,interviews, publishing news and bookstores to chat about goodbye.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (121)