Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year ago

Friends & Fiction with Kristan Higgins & Colleen Oakley

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The Fab Five welcome two guests—Colleen Oakley and Kristan Higgins. Colleen Oakley is the USA Today bestselling author of four novels which have twice been longlisted for the Southern Book Prize, have been translated into 21 languages, and optioned for film. Her latest is this summer’s hot sensationTHE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLAND. Kristan Higgins is the New York Times bestselling author of 19 novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages and sold millions of copies worldwide. Her latest novel PACK UP THE MOON was released on June 8th and was met with the rare trifecta of starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Library Journal. https://colleenoakley.com/ https://www.kristanhiggins.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. Well hi everybody, it's Wednesday night and we're back live again after a week away. I hope you missed us. We miss you tonight on Friends in Fiction. We've got two great guest authors whose new books I'm so eager to share with you. Oh by the way, I'm mary Kay andrews, I'm Kristin Harville, I'm Christie Woodson, Harvey, I'm patty kelly and henri. I'm mary Alice Munro and this is Friends in fiction, Five new york times, bestselling authors, endless stories to support indie bookstores. Tonight we are so thrilled to welcome to best selling authors Kristen Higgins and Colleen Oakley and I have to tell you all. I get a little bit weepy thinking of their beautiful new novels, both of which have powerful evocations of grief and Joy Morning and the promise of hope. Christians pack up the moon. Yeah, yes, christians pack up the moon and Colleen's The Invisible has been a freak island and these books are going to stay with you long after you turn the first, the last page, the first page, the last page. You'll love all the pages, all the pages you might remember, you might remember that last week mary Alice mary Kay and I along with our fearless Leader, meg and right hand podcast Chief Ron block were invited by our Christie to visit her home in beautiful beaufort north Carolina for a series of fun events in support of their historic homes tour. And guess what Kristen was there too? We made sure because we missed christian so much that she was with us and she probably couldn't have even made us laugh as hard as she didn't have been there. I agree it was. Are you going to kick me off the show in favor of a cardboard? What have you been here tonight to tell me you provided endless entertainment and guess what? Class. Yeah. And guess what else Christie make sure that all the homes were fully stocked with our favorite mama Geraldine's cheese straws for those late night snack attacks of which we had many. I was so sad I couldn't make it being there in cardboard spirit was simply not the same. And I'm going to tell you as someone who is not that well endowed. I'm getting a little offended by all the references to flat kristen. I'm just telling you. But okay, so you guys, I have to tell you, I was so sad that I wasn't there and you know what I do when I'm sad, I stress eat. So do you know what I stressed ate a lot of last week mama. It's mama chilton you too for your stress eating needs. Should you ever have such a need can get mama cheese, delicious cheese, straws and cookies for 20% off with the code. Fab five there. Even delicious when you're not stress eating, they're just incredible. So it's a woman owned business. We all support and you know that every week here at Friends and Fiction, we partnered with Parade magazine online. Not only do we stream live to their facebook page, but we also write life lessons, life lessons essays for their magazine this week, Christie's essay was a really beautiful love letter to the sweet days of summer. Well, this will make you guys laugh. So a couple of weeks ago I was recording with all of our favorites, the Satellite Sisters and one of them asked me, have your books ever influenced anyone to move to the north Carolina coast and I thought about that for a minute and I was like, yes, me mr me to move to the north Carolina kids. So, um, I tell a little bit about how that came to be in my essay this week and just about why I love summertime so much. I mean, I'm so fun for will to be home with me all the time and just just feel that sense of freedom that, um, I guess we just find in childhood and it just...

...sticks with us. It's amazing. Yeah, some of us. Uh no. Hey ladies, do you wanna give us all an insight into your favorite moment of summertime? I will tell you mine since you didn't ask. I think my favorite moment happens on this quiet summer evening when my husband and I sit on our front steps sipping an adult beverage. We look out at the garden and we hope to see a hummingbird at the feeder. And then we have a really exciting competition to see who can find the first firefly flickering in the treetops or any at all. Right. I know. Well we do have, we do have fireflies so that makes us officially old and sad and boring. No, it doesn't. For me it is just this year delight of longer days and just this kind of general sense that people have slowed down a little bit and they're enjoying being outside or family time and watermelon always watermelon and tomatoes fresh from the vine and strawberries and popsicles, all those things are what impeaches. Oh my gosh, the peaches, peaches. Yeah. Um you guys, I'm going to be like Debbie Downer here because this is what summer looks like for me. My books usually come out in the summer, so I'm running around like a mad woman. Um My husband's biggest component of his job is running a summer program, so he's crazy and stressed all summer long. Um and especially this last year when noah didn't go back to school, like it's just the year has bled into the summer. So only difference for us this year is it's just hot, it's just, it's a hot summer. You guys, you some are so much better than me. I'm going to have to learn from you all next year come up. You can just, you can just, you can just read my article over and over again. It honestly, I think a lot of us, you know, we get it because you know, we all had books out spring and even though it's just beginning to be summer, you know, I'm just glad to be home I to book tours back to back and it's just, it's just uh can sleep a little later. But do I really have to do something next yet? It's a really busy time for us on the island because I'm a total lady and this is the time of the nest. So now that I'm home, the team gave me a few days off for a couple of weeks off, but I've got to go back on duty and even though I do, my favorite time of summer really is sitting at the beach at night waiting for the sand to move. You know, you hope I hatchling comes out but it's such a beautiful time of night, late at night, no one's on the beach. Usually it's just me and Barb sitting there waiting for a hatchling and the air is cooler. It's just the time to recharge your batteries. So I look forward to that. Yeah, question. Oh, it's time for me to tell you about our guests. Hey, we need to yes, I am so excited tonight. We have got Kristen Higgins and calling Oakley with us. Kristen Higgins is the New York Times USA Today and Wall Street Journal best selling author of 19 novels which have been translated into more than two dozen languages and sold millions of copies. Kristen is also a co host along with her friend and fellow novelist, josh day of the crappy friends podcast, which discusses, I love that right, which discusses the complex dynamics of female friendships. She lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband and her official bio says that she is the mother of entertaining long lashed Children. I love yes, Colleen. Oakley is the USA Today bestselling author of four other novels, including her newest, The Invisible Husband of freak Island, her novel, her novels have twice been shortlisted for the prestigious Southern Prize for Fiction. A proud journalism school graduate, I'm not saying this part. Superior University of Georgia down a hard for her to do fiction journalism school graduate of the University of Georgia coupling was an editor at Marie claire and Women's Health and fitness magazines. Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous publications. She currently lives in Atlanta Georgia with her husband and her four kids, four chickens and two guinea pigs, jealous of the chickens. I gotta be honest, they've always okay sean bring those...

...ladies on Welcome, commonly welcome. Thank you. Thank you guys. So happy to be here. We're happy to have you. Um, first of all I want you guys, if you guys, that's such a bad thing to say, I wish you all you ladies would each to give us the elevator pitch describing your newest novels. We're gonna start with Colleen. Sure, yeah. The invisible husband of Greek Island. It's about a young widow named island named Island. I'm now because it tonight I'm doing, it's about a young woman named piper who lives on frick Island, a very small, remote island off the coast of Maryland. Um she lost her husband in a boating accident and in her grief, she lives under the delusion that her husband is still alive with her walking him down to the docks, eating at the local restaurant with him and the entire town, in fact, has embraced this delusion and goes along with it, waving hello to her husband Tom as she walks him down to the docks. And this is all fine and well because they live on this very small island until reporter comes over from the mainland to cover a fluff piece on frick Island and instead finds the very intriguing story of an entire town interacting with a man who does not exist and he decides he wants to get to the bottom of this and begins unraveling the mysteries that the Islanders perhaps would have him not unravel. Great, okay, Kristen Higgins, you're up. It's really hard tonight, y'all because chris departmental instance kristen package number three. Yeah. Pack up the moon is a love story about a beautiful couple, josh and Lauren park when they have been married for one year, Lauren learns that she has a terminal diagnosis. And so in preparing for her all too soon death, she decides to write Joshua a letter for each month of his first year of widowhood. Giving him a job to do, to push him out into the world and connect with other people, which is not something he does very well on his own. So, as the year progresses, the jobs get a little deeper and harder. And um and and she tries to kind of walk him through this period of sorrow and bring him out on the other end. Mm hmm. And it's done. I have to say they're both such a great, great books. And there's this very readily apparent theme that runs through both calling and christians novels because they both deal with the untimely death of a young spouse. And the reader knows that from the very beginning of the stories. So, and unpack the Moon. We know that Lauren will die of a terminal illness and Colleen's invisible husband, freak island Ben, a crab fisherman appears actually. It's tom I got that mom, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, pardon me. It's on I'm sorry, I shouldn't have no better than that. Although we were just discussing before the show that we couldn't remember the names of our own characters, characters, much less other people's sorry Colleen. But I would just love to hear the challenge is that each of you faced, especially on the heels of a pandemic, dealing with readers that say they don't want to read anything sad. So, Kristen, can you address that a little bit? Yeah, sure. I was worried about that. I didn't plan to write a book about a terminal illness involving the lungs that came out right in your code. But yeah, but yeah, but I think that um that it's the right book to read right now because we've all been so locked down, you know, literally and figuratively in this pandemic, staying home, staying in our bubble, wearing masks limiting the outside world, um interactions that we have. And I think that this book is very emotional. Um you will definitely cry during it, but in a good way, in a sort of let it all up. We've been through this year and a half that no one ever wants to repeat. And um and I think overall it's a very joyful and uplifting story, but it does address, you know, a very sad subject. Um and it's it's difficult to handle them that way, but I have not had one person say I wish I hadn't read the story. Everyone is on the opposite side saying I'm so glad I read this. So the reason I have to say fantastic, I have to say that Lauren the character was so upbeat and charming and she she didn't let it get her down which kept the pace and the mood of the novel really positive. Yeah. And I think there's you know, there's enough funny scenes in there and I laughed out loud scenes. Yeah, carry you along right when you need...

...them the most, you know, there's something absurd or funny that happens. Which is kind of my trademark. I hope. Yeah, absolutely. What about you calling? Yeah. I mean I first want to say that I got to read Kristin's book during the pandemic. You know before, before it came out. I was very lucky in that and I did sob typically at the end, but I did laugh so hard. I mean I I was emailing her telling her some of the scenes that just had me rolling. Her characters are so, so charming. So it's definitely like that fine line between, you know, happiness and sadness, which is the kind of books that I love. Books I love to write to so freak island, you know, while it deals with the grief of a dead husband, which sounds sad. It is filled with quirky, funny characters. And I like to say that I find I try to find the hope and the light and the joy in the most of the grief and the Fullness, which I think kind of what we're all doing during Covid and Right, right, so true. I I also got to read an arc on advanced reading copy of frick Island and it is so quirky. And so you just want to move to the island and and we get the little restaurant and get to know all the fishermen. You have such a gift calling at making a sense of place and community. And I loved that. And I agree like the book is about a sad subject, but it's not a sad book. I keep kristen, I keep thinking about the scene where Lawrence, you know, she's got tubes in her nose and all these horrible things happen and she's giving her husband the loser, the forehead losers. I mean, that's what I love those moments in both of your books that you, um, I don't think your readers are drowning in sorrow. I think they're I think they're reaching for hope and you did that beautifully both of you. And it ultimately is about happiness ultimately. So, um, although there's sad things, but I want to talk about your research, which is sadly, and or kelly one of my favorite subjects. So you first Colleen your fictional and you just mentioned it, Kristen Higgins about the sense of place, your sense of place. Right? So it's a fictional island off the coast of Maryland. And I looked at some of the photos you had of you and your mom visiting a real island, you know, when you were doing your research. So I know it's kind of based or inspired on a real place, but you have the theme of climate change and global warming causing the seas to rise and it threatens the existence of frick Island. Did you do a lot of research on this? I mean, I know you went to the island, but I want to hear about your research with all of that. I did. Yeah. So Freak Island is based on and inspired by the real life Smith Island, which is a real island off the coast of Maryland, 12 miles off the coast. It takes 45 minutes in a boat to get there. Um and I first visited the island about 20 years ago with my grandparents. And it's one of those places, you know, the people that live there are american, but they live completely different existence than your eye. It's so, so isolated and in fact, one of the books that I read for research is called An Island out of Time. It's a memoir about a man who lived on smith island in the eighties with his family. And it's I mean that's what smith island feels like is a place that is completely out of time. Like you're stepping back in time when you go there and that's what I wanted frick Island um to feel like in the book. So yeah, I got to visit smith island a couple of times um in research while I was writing the book, read a few books about smith island and then definitely delved into the climate change, which is a real threat to the real smith island, they think and maybe the, Yeah, 200 years it won't be there. Which, which is really common with. I think a lot of our coastal because what, Yes, how did you first hear about smith island? Like did you know about it from visiting? Like how did it even bubble up to your consciousness? Yeah. So my grandparents lived in this very small town in Maryland when I was growing up and when I went to visit them, they said we're taking you to smith island and I said, what is that? That's cool. That's really cool. Yeah. I was wondering how I knew you did the research. I loved looking for anyone who's watching, Go check out Collins social media. She has pictures of visiting smith island. So, Kristen, can you talk about your research into idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which is a mouthful? Um So Lauren has it and she knows she has it and she knows it's terminal and she's a young bride. Surely you had to dive down the research hole for this, right, Joshua, calls it 12 syllables of doom. Um yeah. And it um you know, I I knew going into...

...this book that I wanted to write a story of a widower in his very immediate grief and kind of the path that he has to walk to find hope and happiness and and and promise again. So, you know, we writers are horrible people, We like to inflict pain on our character. So I need to find a terminal disease that is not cancer just because there's plenty of books about people with cancer. So I found um I. P. F. And then um doing my research, I found a website that had a young woman blogging and it was it's called underwear. So a young woman who has the same thing that Lauren has um who deals with the same things. Um the management of your day was kind of the most interesting boom. And I ended up dedicating the book to this woman, Charlene marshall, because she shared so much about her day to day life and also how lovely she was incredibly generous. And now we want to visit each other and um but um she also, you know, on the one hand, she's talking about, you know, have to judge if you really need to go up the stairs because that's going to exhaust you and your oxygen saturation drop on the other. She had this idea of like, look, my time is not going to be as long as I want, so what do I really want to do now? What kind of market I want to make on the world? And what are the things that are going to really fill my shorter, my shortened life with a lot of happiness and adventure and stuff? So the first time I wrote to her and said, like, would you be willing to talk to me? I have to warn you, you know, my character dies. And she's like, oh, I would love to talk about this, but I'm in Hawaii right now and I'm about to go snorkeling, wow, don't you love it, wow. He was seizing every moment and without romanticizing the illness. She said you you're not going to have as long as you want so you really do have to make the most of what you have. And that was always there lesson love. Such a lesson there. Right for all of us. What a beautiful mark. She's left through your book too though, I mean what a beautiful way to honor her. Absolutely, yeah. That's incredible. What was this quote from the Shawshank redemption that they kept talking about, Kristen get busy, busy living or get busy dying, you know that was that her mantra? Yeah, yeah, yeah and they think they do each other don't you Shawshank me? You know that red played by Morgan Freeman says and um I have seen that movie probably 35 times and I've seen a couple, he says that I burst into tears. Oh it's such a small sentence in such a profound statement. So yeah, and it fits the book perfectly to um you were talking about you know Lauren and then Joshua. I have a question about Joshua who I thought was a really inspired character. He was a first of all, he's brilliant, he's a biomedical engineer, not just he's a genius of sorts, but um I'm pretty sure you said he was high, super high functioning aspergers. Yeah. Which I thought was particularly inspired because it gave him that awkward inability to to communicate. He holds a lot inside and you knew that it would have been very hard for him to have found someone like Lauren in his life. So to lose Lauren, it was almost like that was it for him. And I thought I thought that was so brilliant. And also just the way he handled grief in social situations, he was awkward and by the way, the audio book to the fellow who read it and I wish I could think his name, He was very halting, very you know, his he seemed like he was, it was difficult for him to even speak. So I'm really curious because the grief magnified his asperger's aside functioning aspergers. Um could you talk about how Joshua's character arc would how you developed that arc following his death? Because that's not an easy story to tell. Right, Right. Um you know, in my mind uh Joshua is very content exactly as he is before he meets Lauren, he is working, he's you know saving lives and improving health care through his work as a medical device engineer, he has his very small circle of people. And then Lauren comes into his life and it's like in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door and it's full of color, you know, and she brings him to life in this way that he never expected to live. He never had any vision of being in love or, or having an extended family and you know, being such a part of a couple. And um, and then she has this diagnosis,...

...so, you know, he starts to shut down again. Um he rises to the occasion, is a wonderful husband throughout her illness. And um, and then when she dies, you know, he goes back to that kind of gray lockdown life that he had. And so Lawrence letters, bring him to life again and, you know, lead him to that place where he can see a happy, colorful, vibrant future for himself. So I think for him, he had to realize how much he meant to people His own goodness, which Lauren saw immediately and believed in 1000 and to get to to accept that you know people weren't just there because he was Lawrence widow people were there because he was himself and they loved him and he had puddles puddles. Yeah I mean pebbles puddles not a good name for a dog, Pebbles better, but I thought that the dog actually wasn't a good device to get him to realize he had a responsibility because it was Lawrence dog and that caring which forced him out of his shell a little bit. Yes, I loved it. I loved that he had asperger's, it was very inspired. Thank you Mag you have a great choice. So Colleen I thought it was interesting that you decided to make Anders who comes to the island um a reporter at a struggling local newspaper and also a budding podcaster. Um and he kind of comes in, he uh immediately betrays the trust of the entire population of freak island. Exactly. First day. Yeah, exactly. So Colleen, I know you have a background in journalism as do I, as does mary. Kay as do a few of us. Was that any kind of a commentary on contemporary media or was it just kind of a tricky um conflict for Anders to navigate? Like a reason that he would feel compelled to have to do this. Yeah. I mean I think a little bit of both. I I certainly related to Anders and I went to journalism school and there's this go dogs, you went into wrong journalism school but I don't think you broke out in a warrior, a different schools going on here on this. I inadvertently took a side tonight. Yeah, christian graduated from U. N. C. As we all know, their football program really doesn't have a dog in this hunt. So we're just gonna go right back to journalism school is also, I'll give you that you can do that. Hello. So there are other journalists here on the can relate to that certain feeling of there's like an idealistic naivety when you graduate journalism school that you're going to go out and you're gonna cover war and politics and save the world, but you're also gonna win a million pulitzers while you do it and you're just wildly famous of course for your incredible writing. So, you know, I really related to an Anderson that feeling and he was kind of a joy to write. Um but also, you know, there's that line that every reporter has to figure out how to walk, which is covering a story. Like, you know, you have to weigh the benefit that your story is going to bring to, like the greater society, right? And and the harm that it could help people that you're covering. Um and I don't know that he necessarily gets it right. Um, certainly lessons to learn, but I think when you're that young, it's also a little bit more forgivable. Like if he was a 40 year old, kind of a little bit more, you know, seasoned reporter, I don't know that it would be as forgivable as it is for this, you know, fresh face, you know, idealistic reporter. Yeah, that absolutely makes sense. And, you know, I wrote for years for magazines and I remember being faced with questions like that, you know, and like you said, early in a career, because before you've kind of figured out your own moral compass or whether you put the job first. Yeah, I thought that was really interesting the way you did that Colleen. I you know, I had so many questions after I finished reading both these books, I saw so many common threads and so many divergent threads, but I think one of my favorite things um about both of your books calling and Kristen was that, you know, do you all agree that you write women's fiction? Okay, just wanna make sure that I don't want to step on your toes if you don't if you mean, what do I know? But anyway, I love that you both...

...had male protagonists who were not alpha males. And I told Colleen that Colleen and I did another event together and I loved Anders and I loved um I love Joshua, they're you know, they're awkward and they you know, they're not your they are not your um Harley can cover model types and I think that makes them so relatable to your readers. Um Christine, would you talk a little bit about that because Joshua is, you know, I thought it was interesting that everybody that Lauren keeps insisting he's hot and then her best friend also tells him he's hot but he doesn't think he's hot, he has no idea. And I think that's so appealing in a man, you know when he's not spending longer than you are in the bathroom. So you know um yeah he looks don't matter to him, I mean he thinks his wife is beautiful of course, but it's just such a tertiary consideration of how does he look? He dresses very badly. Oh my God, the scene is that um is it J. Crew? Yeah addressing Republic? Right. Oh God, what is in the banana Republic? Yeah so he uh yeah he uh he doesn't think about like how clothes make you look and Lauren really, you know, kind of shapes, whip them into shape and and and then later so does Bradley? Who is the banana Republic salesman who becomes his, his close friend. But yeah, I think because Joshua is, he's an only child of a single mom, He has a very small world, He doesn't really well too, other people right away social situations are hard for him. So I had to throw the poor guy of bone and make him smoking hot. But you know what I loved about that is that actually that rings true for asperger's syndrome to that self reflections, this is excuse. So he could be a gorgeous guy and have no clue. Yeah. Which is what made it so appealing. Right. Right. And then that awkwardness of not knowing how he appeals to people, you know, he's hit on in the bar with radley even know it had no idea, you know, and there's such an innocence about that that I thought was very true to his character and I think this name was true with Anders, you know, he's such an innocent, he's so he's so young and so ambitious, but also like such a dork in the best sense of the word. Yeah. Talk to us about Anders Colleen because I told you how much I loved him and I loved, again, I loved his character arc. Yeah, I mean, Anders is definitely not hot by any, but he's firming lee adorable, like, you know, like not unattractive, but you know, you kinda definitely have to get to know him and his quick witticisms to appreciate how good looking you can be. Uh and I think, you know, like those are the kind of guys that I'm attracted. Do I think that that's more real life than meeting like the strapping brawny, you know where God man, like that's fun to read about two. But um you know, I just think that that that to me is more interesting, like getting to know somebody and then they become very attractive. So it's I think what's great about both these characters is as part of their p character art. They finally figure it out how to tune into the women that whose lives they've come into because Anders is so clueless. I love when the sports writer in the newsroom is like trying to coach him on how to pick up chicks, which as we talked about before is very true to life if you've ever met a sportswriter hilarious. Yeah. You got all of you watching. I hope that you will um get these books, they're they're just delightful. They're funny and they'll break your heart and they'll patch them up again. And and like I said before, uh these books will not, these books will not leave you for a while, but let's talk about our weight. Do we have time for reader questions? And I think we have to do our bookseller, don't we? Who's our bookseller this week? Yeah, we do. Trying to look at what, you know what, let's take some reader questions,...

...don't you think? Absolutely. That's awesome. Yeah, let's do it. Um Somebody take a reader question. Gwen Adams says Colleen, I love following along with you and your family with four kids. How do you have time to write? Fred must be a great partner. Red is a great partner. He really is. I have to brag on him because you know obviously now that my kids are school age, I write for the six hours if they're going at school. Um, but there are many weekends and nights and early mornings and even full like three and four day retreats where I have to leave and bang out some words. And he holds down the fort, I mean he's got it, he's got it down. We joke that he's Captain von trapp and he's got his whistle live. Uh, he's a great dad and a great partner and I certainly could not do it without him. Well, I have to say there's a whole lot of comments. I'm looking for questions but comments from people who loved the book. So you should just, you should know that just lots of them. So Maria liu wanted said, I read Kristen Higgins who is different than Christine Harmel or Kristen Wilson harvey, she read your book life and other inconveniences and it was fantastic and she loved it. She wants to know if the dog on the cover is yours. I wish the dog on the cover was my I have a sloppy Drewry mud who sleeps 23 a half hours a day. Um clever for like mother inconvenience is a picture of a dog swimming underwater. And it's this wonderful photo. It's you know, there's so much emotion that you think like what is this dog going underwater. But there's a scene in the book where my, one of my narrative 85 year old woman and she goes for a swim out in Long Island Sound and she gets a little discombobulated and she starts to drown and she forgets where she is and then her dog comes out to kind of save her dog has jumped in the water to follow her and that's how she orients herself. So it's a very meaningful scene in the book. Um, Genevieve's moment of weakness and the dog rescuing her. Um, but alas, that, that beautiful golden retriever is not mine, not yours. I really justice is asking a question which I'm curious about and she's asking for both of you, what are you working on next? I'm not at liberty to say only because I tend to babble and sound like no, start in the middle and work my way back through subplots. Um, I'll say it's about two sisters and it's set on Cape Cod, which is um, to the southern ladies, the north banks of, of New England. It's the most beautiful beach area in the world and um, and a tiny little towns makeup. Should we have like a Smackdown about that? About like the Georgia florida auburn because I think we should visit each other and yeah, I think that's only responsible kristen I like that question. A lot of credit to. I'm headed to Cape Cod and uh, Nantucket at the end of july. Oh gosh, drop me a note. I went once to please one of the best. You got totally interrupted you. Okay. Two sisters, Cape Cod. That's it. That's all she loved. Okay, how about you Colleen? What are you working? I just finished the first draft for my next book and it's a few um, mostly true story of Tanner and Louise. Love your titles. Great, Great title. Thanks. Um, the very short elevator pitches that Louise is an 84 year old suspected international jewelry thief. Tanner is a 21 year old college dropout who takes care is Louise caretaker, even though that is absolutely not what she wants to be doing with her life. Um, they end up on the lam from the police and trying to figure out who Louise actually is that we've got so many other questions coming in. So maybe both you ladies will smoke, come on the friends and fiction facebook page after this and answer some of these questions. People have burning questions they want. And uh yeah, we've got to talk about our bookstore partner this week, which is R. J. Julia booksellers. My local indie. Yes, they are located on the shoreline in the shoreline town of Madison Connecticut. Um, I love this. They've been our bookstore before. There's such a great store, but Roxanne Cody named this store for her paternal grandmother and I just adore this. It's a bookstore where words matter, where...

...writer meets reader, where the ambience and book selection create a welcoming atmosphere and where Roxanne and her team are fiercely committed to putting the right book in the right hand. I just think that's magical. Talk about a mission statement But you can get 10% off at R. J. Julia with the code friends 10 on Colleen's new releases as well as our new releases. Now. Ladies every week, one of our favorite parts of the show is receiving a writing tip and we really want to hear one from you. If you'll give us one. So Colleen you want to get us started. Yeah. So mine is too. So um one of the, and I know I obviously can't remember. One of the famous writing tips is butt in chair. Right mine so I can put my butt in the chair. But then I will go down all these holes on the internet, the internet and not actually. Right. So my tip is butt in chair. open document. Yeah. You actually document even if you commit for 15 or 20 minutes a day. The point is getting back into your story so that even if you don't have six hours to commit to your writing, it's still fresh in your brain and your brain will be thinking about it working on it. So the next day when you come back to it you'll have even more to write. So butt in chair open document. You clean. I love it. And I thought you were gonna say button chair internet off. Yeah. It is good. It's just as good. How about you kristen um I actually often give the same tip that Colleen gave us. Just look at your document every day even if you can't work on it. But for the point of diversity, I'll say that when you get stuck on a plot point and you're not sure That something needs to happen, but you don't have any idea what, just make a list of 10 things. And it could be completely random like, you know, and she runs over a human or a bomb goes in the bakery, you know, or something like that. And even if they're absurd, don't get your mind thinking to that next point. I love that I was stuck today and certain mary Kay andrews said, you know what patty? Why don't you just get them into a crazy disagreement? Just have them get into a crazy disagreement and that's the same thing you're saying. Like just find something. I love that. I love that. Thank you. Yeah, that's a great that's a great writing. Especially for all the writers out there. Let's talk about book recommendations. You know what we find that um are members of friends in fiction. They are insatiable bibliophiles. So yeah, you guys have a do ladies have a book recommendation? I do. Um It's pam Jenoff uh less blaring. There we go. Um It's a beautiful story of friendship in the Warsaw ghetto during World War Two. So it's an incredibly intense story. You know, you'll read it in one sitting and it's just so beautifully told. It's such an unusual friendship situation and like most of her books, pam's and things have this little risk that will break you and heal you so that you're stronger. Yeah. Okay. Have you got one Colleen that you want to introduce? So I um as you ladies know, I'm on a big road trip and I ignored my entire family in the car today, reading seven days in june. It's a love story about this couple who, when they were teenagers, had a very intense and rocky Seven days together and fast forward 15 years later they run into each other. And it is really, really good way Christian. You've got one right. Yeah. And I think it's one that's a few of us have read and really liked Susan Elizabeth phillips. Um when stars collide, it just came out yesterday. It's part of her Chicago star series, but you don't have to have read the series. It's completely a stand alone. Um, but so if you have read the series, you know, you love her. If you haven't, this is a fantastic place to start. Um it's about a quarterback in an opera singer. Uh and it is just delightful and fantastic and fun and it's just Susan Elizabeth phillips and she's fantastic. And what we need is fantastic. And I wanted to remind everyone that lisa Windy who's been on the show as has pam Jenoff as has Susan...

Elizabeth phillips. Her book. The Book of Lost Friends is out right now this week in paperback. So if you've waited now, if your time mary Alice, you're muted, mary Alice, you're to marry me. I see it. Thank you. I was, my dog was barking. I didn't want to bother everybody. Um, you know, I was, I'm on long car trips to and I was actually coming home from Beaufort and I had the most remarkable audio book and it was called The Indigo Girl. And it's not a new book, but it was new for me by Natasha Boyd. And what I loved about it being from south Carolina. It's body lizzo Lucas pinckney, a real woman who lived in 17 39 and she was a 16 year old girl and her father who was in the military basically left the running of his plantations in south Carolina to her. And it's because for a love for indigo that it became it really saved south Carolina. So it's a really wonderful book about the history of the time. And you know how I always say the narrator makes all the difference in the world. And this is the first time I heard her Saskia marla veld and she's done a lot. But was first time I heard her voice and she was charming. So I recommended I just have to chime in and say it's really funny that you recommended that book. I love this book too. I actually met Natasha in charleston, um, the weekend that she um she told me about this idea for this book and she actually was like at this conference where I was to pitch this idea to an agent that she really wanted to sign with. It's really funny that you but she is a really wonderful human being. Yes. Doesn't she had the most beautiful voice. Yes, yes, she does. She's english and I think we've all met her and she is, she's starting a delightful and so I am reading uh brand oh yeah, I heard fabulous new memoir called Fox and I and it is and it's called Fox and I an uncommon friendship by Catherine raven and she is a self described solitary woman. She's a biologist and she built a tiny cottage in a remote part of Montana and unexpectedly finds herself befriended by a wild fox. And we talk a little bit about that on the podcast that I've done with the new with the newly reinvigorated Spiegel and Grau. So if you love podcasts, give us a listen on friday, you can hear the founders of Spiegel and Grau talk about how this came to be the first book on their list. Yeah, I really only read that book. It sounds wonderful. Yeah, can't wait. Okay, so All right everybody, it's almost time to wait until you see what I have done with this work salad. We're gonna pack the moon and the invisible husband of frick Island, but not quite yet because we would love it if you would stick around. Not only for our story. Point sip and stay stay because we have one final question for Colleen and Kristen. But first we wanted to remind all of you out there to check our podcast, the friends and fiction writer's Block podcast with librarian Ron block. It is the same podcast, new name, new episodes, we've stiffed it up, we've gone pro um with new episodes every friday. A new episode drops wherever podcasts are found. Last week's episode is up now a series called Origin Stories where Patty and Ron interviewed Chris Whitaker about, we begin at the end and amy jo Burns about Shiner Shiner too. Big, big books this past year and of course I already told you this week I'm interviewing mary me, I'm interviewing um julie growl and Cindy Spiegel about launching their new independent publishing house, Spiegel and Grau and their first title, Fox and I, so I hope that you also know about our Book Club. Some of you may have heard of the Book Club, but you may not know, it's actually on a separate page. It's a separate facebook group, it's called the Friends and Fiction Official Book Club. It's headed up by Brenda Gartner and lisa Harrison and they have such an exciting schedule coming up this month. They are discussing Mary Alice's Summer of Lost and found that's going to be on july 19th and in august it will be the Forest Vanishing Stars with me. And then um they have informal chats and lots of lots of different ways to connect throughout the, throughout the year. It's pretty great, they're the best and I hope everyone knows that we have merch you asked for it and we delivered. So right now we have amazing t shirts, wine cups and water tumblers that are available from Oxford Exchange and on our website um and we have, I don't want to over sell our new product that we're getting ready to release, but it's, you can never sell it. It's...

...pretty epic. I think that the guys, Yeah, so stay tuned and because we love to tease and then not really tell you what it is, but don't forget about mama Gr partner and entertaining and I just like saying this. So I'm gonna do it, snack on y'all. Oh, that was so good. You next week join us right back here on our facebook page at seven p.m. For possibly these big long all book launches and certainly in the history of Friends and fiction as we celebrate the publication of christians, The Forest of Vanishing Stars. I for one have been working with my vocal coach for months in anticipation of my musical performance is broadway even ready for all this talent in one place, I don't know where is toast another christian just hanging up. No, no, no, you guys obviously I've officially lost my mind right? Like I'm up to my eyeballs and work and stress and I said, I know already to broadway style musical for Friends and fiction. Um, but once I get started I couldn't stop it. It's gonna be so much fun. Um It'll feature our friends, Christina, Sieve Rich who is a musical sensation with a broadway past and steven Kellogg who is an incredible Grammy nominated singer songwriter. Look him up right now if you have not heard his music yet and perhaps most importantly it will feature our very own Sean heading. Er are behind the scenes producer you guys all know and Love Sean, who we talk about all the time in the role of Zeus and Sean has a brand new single out next week. So we will tell you all about that too. You will not want to miss it. It's a big week. Yeah, I know, I know. I just thought up the name for what Sean should call his, his record label cabana Boy Records who like it. I love it. I don't know how he's going to, What do you think? I know what he's like. I got a for our upcoming schedule events. Please visit our website or check the sidebar on our facebook page. We're especially excited about our virtual friends in fiction debut. Yeah. We're going to even let flat Kristen Harmel join us at the Met with Ananta. I'm very sensitive. Okay? No, no, but joining us, she'll be joining us with our debut on the Nantucket Book Festival like 20th at seven p.m. Eastern. Our discussion is free and open to the public, but you will need to follow the link on on the thing there that there flashed us and our good Yeah, I know are good palate, Nantucket part book partners. Tim Ehrenberg will turn the tables on us putting us in the hot seat as the guest and I just wanted a little preview. Somebody promised that we would write a short story together. Why three says as to who would volunteer us to write one, continue a short story together. I don't know, maybe the musical writer. I mean I could choreograph a song and dance number if you guys would forever Well story story whenever you want, whatever you want, Kristen. Okay. And y'all, don't forget that if you miss an episode, you can find it on our Youtube channel. Okay, now, finally, for the final question, one of the questions we love and we asked so many of our guests is what about your childhood and your upbringing with your parents shaped you into the writers you are today. So also what was your favorite childhood book we kind of added onto it this week, Kristin, Let's start with you. Okay, my favorite childhood book was Mandy by julie Edwards. Also known as truly and is also known as Mary Poppins, wow. I don't know that beautiful story about a little girl who's an orphan and finds this little house in the woods that she starts to fix up. Um And what shaped me to become a writer I think is that my parents and my extended family, aunts and uncles everybody talks so much that there was no room for a child to talk. So I just eavesdropped, I became a listener and I think that's probably the greatest skill is to be able to listen to other people's stories. That's the first time I've heard that. That's actually very interesting. And you're right that listening power you know I always tell people you're never safe when I'm in the room because I'll use how about you colleague? Yeah. Oh did we lose Colleen? Oh no. She is beautiful. It's black. Colleen it. Well...

...we'll have to do is get Colin to write it out and we'll put it on our facebook page so that everyone can read her answer. Okay so all of you out there while Colleen is frozen in time. I encourage you to pick up the invisible husband of frick Island and pack up the moon from our preferably from R. J. Julia the bookseller of the week. And the link is on our facebook page under announcements and thanks so much for being with us. Next up is our story point siblings day where you never know what could happen. But hang on because we've got one more important thing we want to tell you about christian. Thanks for joining me. Such a fan of all of you. It's been a great thank you. More fan of yours. You. Yes thank you. I do. Is this my moment? You want me to be here for all of you out there? You know, I love being here every week. But I, I just, I'm going to take a sabbatical a few months off and I'm not leaving. Just, I'll be back in the end of summer and I just want to get some research done. I have to get out and um, where I'll probably be where there is no internet. So I, I know. So I'll see you all in a couple of months. So if you're wondering where I am, I'll be popping in when I can, but I'm just taking what we call a little leave of absence to do some work. So I'll see you all soon. Wait. But you're still gonna be here next week for my lunch. Right ME, me, me, me, me, me. Yes, I will. So that that will kind of be like, like you're, you're on corresponds sites. Your son song literally is fun song right now, Colleen apparently came back. Where is she? All right. Yes. Let's esseker. Do we have a minute? Yes. Okay. Did you hear the question about what was it about? You? All right, You technical difficulties and yes, I'm so glad that I've got to get back because my two favorite books are freckle juice and from the mix of files of mrs O frank, I love Yes, yes. I love the chance to shout out my mom who was my biggest, um, you know, writing and reading inspiration because she went back to college when I was little, she got her masters in adult literacy. So reading always very important. And I love to tell the little funny story that every single night growing up, we always had reading time. Like I thought that everybody had brushed their teeth and had reading time. Everybody in the whole world and in my very first sleeper, you know, I packed my book and we won't do that. So I pull out my book when we're in bed and my friends like what are you doing? And I said it's reading time. No, realized that not everybody has read. Oh, everybody should go. That is the, that's the cutest story. Well like you even more now we put the slumber party and have reading everyone. Yes, we love having you. You're calling my small technical snag. I know you're a great time. Lucky ladies. Thank you so much. Thank you kelly. Right. That was so good. Perfect timing. Exactly. Alright, Okay folks, hang out for story points with my story point. Yes. And stay with stories. I have to get my blue mug though. I have to get my Friends in fiction. What you after the credits in a minute. Yeah. Okay. Everyone welcome to the Friends and fiction. Sit and stay with story Point, which I practice saying after that. It was beautiful and stay story point after show. We are so happy to be partnering with story point wines and I have to say there's just so yummy and all summer long. It will be the summer of story point here on friends and pictures. I'm going to pack it with me. When I go off researching with mama, jeez, you go, it's like the perfect on the road picnic basket with the wine that says things like indulgence stories told that not perfect for us or what their motto sounds like a book title. And and we all know about. Well, at least I know about wines and book titles. The winemakers, Wife, right? hashtag wife if the mon parsa, their female winemaker says what's wine without a story? And honestly, what...

...does anything without a story? So join us on our summer story point and watch out our uncorking the weekend videos. I think there's a very special one coming on friday. Yes, yes. All of you. And there's a story point interesting. Yeah, they were, yeah. Yeah, cheers, mary Alice. So tell us more about what you're going to be doing on your, on your sabbatical. What are you doing on your way? Well, right now, I mean right now I just want to pay all my bills and or clean off my desk and before I even think about it, I'm doing a couple of things. I'm going to an area in the a space in which is in south Carolina between Beaufort, Beaufort and charleston, 360,000 acres and where I'll be is in the middle of nowhere. I'm going to stay in a little cottage on a plantation that's just in the middle of nowhere and it's gonna live there for a couple of weeks. So that's part a I have to live on doing this for a week or two because we have to do the next in the Islanders series to finish that. And then I'm going off to Maine to do some research on whales. So I'm traveling a lot this summer and I'm not sure what I'm gonna be doing. Exactly, mains more exploratory. When I go in the winter, I'll be in in Mexico with whales in december. And I have some things lined up to do work with the whales because that's when they have and it's gonna be really cool. But it's just, I'll just be going places and researching and just kind of going under right. And then it'll be just hopefully I'll keep my health up, get rid of this cold before I take up. Uh huh. You know, I'm going to write about running away too, right? Um for my parade essay next like that. And I've done that since the very beginning of my writing career. So I don't want to say too much about that because I don't want to burn up all my good material. Have you know, I know we have to, pardon? Have you all We've all run away too. Right? Maybe not Kristen because she has this pesky little kid I have before. I mean, you know, I have to I moved to paris when I was before I wrote my first novel. That's where I wrote my first book. That's definitely running away to write, I think. Right? Yeah. But I never ever have ever like, not even for like a night or anything. So, but sometimes I'm like sometimes I think I'm gonna have to, but so far so far so good. I just have to know where the animals are. But I mean the space and is more habitat. So it's not really, but I just need to know what's living in those woods. But the whales. I, I mean actually how fun is that to be with whales. But I'm not sure what the story is yet, but that's, I just have to be there and it may take me two years before I figured that one out. Yeah, Yeah, definitely. You know, going away to writers, cabins, writers. Oh, you do that a lot. Yeah. So go up the mountain, that one of her, right? Yeah. Thanks for bringing that up. That's what her ankle. Yeah. Yeah. She was a miracle. There is nothing short of a miracle. If it had been me my phone wouldn't have worked. Y'all know how good I am with phones and I would have been dead on some cliff. Never felt sure phone worked. And that's you know like Yeah. Yeah I haven't hiked alone since then so I'm glad. Good plan. So what is everybody doing for the fourth of july weekend? My gosh, it's gonna be so fun. Why? Yeah. Story point. And I'm gonna go watch the fireworks. I have to say living on Allah palms is a great place for fourth of july because you don't want to ever have to get in a car because there's so many traffic. But we have a little parade, one of those golf cart parades you know that you dress it up in the 19 fifties like and then we go to the beach because you can walk and um if you start with the dusk on your right is Sullivan's Island and then the whole beach just turns around in their chairs and then there's a lot of watches. It's probably like the most fun week of the year here. I feel like everyone takes the week off and they're just like I feel like every minute of our next week is like booked solid which is really fun and there are people from all over the place and um it's fine we're gonna see lots of friends that are here for the summer or who only come down for this week or we haven't seen any year. It's really fun. So we're excited to have a lot of traffic traffic a problem for all the small roads or is it not too bad, it's not too bad. Although I've never, it's so busy this year. It's really, it's really, really busy. So I don't know. Um, this year might be really bad. I...

...don't know. We'll see. I'm just waiting on christian. Are you gonna get to do anything fun? Uh, well I have a full weekend planned of freaking out checking my numbers working. I'm not doing it. I keep telling, you don't know, waking up in the middle of the night wondering if I'm doing enough. Yeah, that kristen is gonna be having a really good time with me though. So I'm so excited for flat kristen because like slightly more shapely Kristen is probably not what we're going to be with you. We're going to be emotionally right there with you singing along the way. You're at Palmetto Bluff. I am so I'm in Bluffton and like you just said, kristen Kristy. It's one of the best weekends. Like the, there's something every hour. I'm like, stop, stop. But my husband's favorite is they have this little thing on the town green called Yappy hour for the dog with the dogs. Like all these little hates me, laugh. They've just been out all these pools and it is gonna love it. I know, but there's, you know, there's the little parade and we make my nieces do it every year now they're teenagers and we're like, we're not doing it. And we're like, yeah, also the family's coming in. So you have family, you're gonna be here. No choice. You have noticed. Well, the most exciting thing happening next week is the release of the forest Vanishing stars for sure. And you're gonna, are you doing, are you going to be on the road next week or not until the next week? I'm doing just florida events next week. So I'm doing vero beach, um Writer's block in Orlando, um copper fish in punta gorda, um Macintosh books in santa Bell and Oxford exchange in Tampa. That's next week. Yeah, so I'm excited. And then you're headed this way. I am headed that way. I'm the only one that wants to see you. I think, I know, I feel so sad about it, but you and I are doing a, a literary festival together and we are in real life that we have to do a virtual together on the 19th Ron Ron. Yes, yeah. And this is on your website, right, all of that. Yeah, thank you for asking. Yeah, thank you. But I think what, what, what, what are your big plans? I am not going down to timing because thankfully the houses are rented, which means they are generating income for the hole that we've dug ourselves into. So we're having we're having fourth of july in the Dail Avondale Estates. Um We're going to have, you know the traditional parade has been scaled way back and I think it's going to be a matter of golf carts, drunks on bikes and pick up trucks and um drunk song bikes that Uh huh My son and his girlfriend and her two boys will be here. Um We'll do a covered dish supper. I've scaled back my expectations of myself. I'm gonna border fried chicken from public. So I think yeah, that's good fried chicken. I have good fried chicken, I do brats and burgers pretty much, that's that's my thing. According to the cop tomatoes and then we'll go down to the lake and we'll watch the fireworks and that's about it, you know? But that's all we need, isn't it? Isn't that the best? Yeah, kind of decorate the front of the house with flags and stars and all the things and don't forget to keep your dogs and doors for the fireworks. Everybody out. We are, we have three english setters and um, ivy uh, is gun shy. And so, uh, we've got a thunder jacket for her, but I think we're gonna, I think we're going to get her some chill pills. The CBD ones work really well. I'll have some of those One for you when you heard me say the word dog. You think it's time to go start frying chicken for the 4th of July, we're going public and I don't get your voice training and while you're public, don't forget to pick up your story. I if you haven't preordered your forest vanishing stars like time you're going to want to be familiar with it by the time we staged the musical, right? You're going to want to be like, at least a few chapters in on Wednesday so that you're like, I know what's happening here. One of the reasons I have these dark circles under my eyes is I just have the damn every spare minute. I've been reading this wonderful book and I just can't. You...

...thought you were going to say you were practicing for the musical? I was like 30 right now. I'll do my bell, do my best. So catchy. Like it's truly, it's so catchy. Like when everyone, I mean it's like when you stuck. It's so good though. And I'm like, you know, like humming it and we'll put a little, well, what are you seeing mom? And I'm so like the hot, the earwig, the wig. But you listen to it. It was like, uh it's not, you were earwigs, that's a whole different thing. Sean no, I have to tell you, I'm just trying to worm, worm. It's in your room. But I have to say I was talking about it with Marcus because we had heard the word expression and my grandson was, who's six years old is horrified. He thought, is that a real thing? You can burn in your head. Oh no, no, no, no, no, no. Well, we'll tell me that if you chew gum, it gets out of your head. Uh He said he read that in one of those like National Geographic books of all the like random facts, I arrest you. I will tell you a bit of trivia that you don't want to know. So there was when I was a kid, twilight zone would come on everybody here except for materials and I are too young to remember twice. I was terrified of twilight zone, but there was an episode called The Earwig and it was like, yeah, don't Okay. Do you want to nasty official difference between earworm and earwig? Because I needed to do just to just to clear it up. The ear worm is the tune that is stuck in one's head, especially as repetitive while earwig is any various insects in the order of Dermot terra that have a body and they do have little large membrane ist wings folded under Nice short. You know, because I was already sleeping so well with worrying about just super helpful. Thank you. Way they're different the way our full service friendly way. You guys also have to come back next week though to hear to hear more about Shawn's new single, which I think is extremely important. We have to talk about that next week to release on cabana boy interests exactly the way our new sponsor way our next merch items. Hey, you know what, let's end with our first customer. There you go. To toast, toast to mary Alice going on. You know the way. And we have put out doing your swan song next week as part of the musical. So well, I'll be with you. I'll be watching if I can. If I get reception, I'll be watching. All right, I love you. Goodnight everyone christian. We can't wait for next week. 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.

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