Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year ago

Friends & Fiction Launch Party for Kristin Harmel's The Forest of Vanishing Stars

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The Fab Five celebrate the launch of Kristin Harmel's The Forest of Vanishing Stars by putting on a short, stirring, and emotional Broadway-style mini-musical (with a gravitas that honors the subject matter) written and composed by the uber-talented Kristin Harmel. Special musical guests include Broadway actress Christina Sivrich Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Stephen Kellogg, and F&F’s behind-the-scenes A/V whiz Shaun Hettinger, composer of TV theme songs and the lead singer of the band MEMORYY. Later in the episode, the authors are joined by bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips along with Brenda & Lisa of the The F&F Official Book Club who each present an original cocktail recipe inspired by Kristin's book.

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. Hi everyone and welcome such an incredibly special night of friends addiction. It's the final summer launch for one of our novels. But tonight we are so thrilled to be celebrating the launch of the Forests of Vanishing Stars by our very own Christine Harmel. A story of survival and hope and love set deep in the forest of Eastern europe during World War Two. In an honoring of this astounding book based on a very real piece of World War Two history, Kristen has accomplished an amazing feat of creativity. We have all tried to launch our spring and summer books with imaginative episodes and it's been amazing. But for tonight, not only has Kristen written this powerful book, but now she has written a stirring and emotional 15 minutes, many musical that tells a bit of the story of the forest of vanishing stars. Or while it is also an honoring of the real life refugees whose resilience and bravery is an inspiration to all of us. So yes, you heard that, right? We're staging a dramatic musical. So without further ado, I'm Patty Callahan and I loved the beautiful question at the Heart of the Forest Vanishing Stars, which is how do we figure out who we are? How do we come to become who we are meant to be? And can we go beyond the definitions that have been placed upon us by other people? Hi, I'm mary Alice Monroe and I loved the really vibrant descriptions of nature that radiate from the page from the forest itself, which was a meaningful part of the refugee survival. Yeah, I'm mary Kay andrews and I was transfixed by the twists and turns of this pot, which takes us from a kidnapping in a german city, to underground bunkers in the polish woods, to a church hiding secrets in a Nazi occupied town. I'm Christi Woodson harvey and I loved the characters who are realistic and conflicted and torn between love, hate, regret and hope. I'm Christine Harmel and I'm the author of The Forest, Vanishing Stars And this is friends and fiction, five New York Times, bestselling authors, endless stories, questionable ability to harmonize, which is why tonight it will be spot on that one. Why tonight we will be welcoming a few special guests who will be taking over most of the singing duties. But you will hear us sing a few lines and as you know, it's so important to all of us to support our local independent bookstores. And tonight, Kristen has chosen writer's block in Orlando is her launch partner, which is a favorite of all of ours. That only will every copy of the Forest Vanishing Stars come signed by Kristin. But the 1st 50 orders will also come with one of these wish bracelets that I have. You know where the beautiful beautiful bracelet and it's so comfy. I'm like about when it falls off my wish to come true. So and a five by seven art print. You can order any of our new releases from writer's block at 10% off the code preordered 2021. If you order by tomorrow at noon Eastern, that's thursday july 8th at noon. You can also ask the store to have christian personalize your copy of the Forest Vanishing Stars for you. Just put your personalization request in the comments. That's beautiful. And don't forget to stick around for the after show tonight For us here at Friends and Fiction. This is the summer of Story Point and we are celebrating with in...

...the after show the sip and stay with story point and I hope you and your friends have a tumbler like we did. Yeah. This week's Friends and Fiction parade? S a pray dot com essay was written by Kristin who talked about resilience and letting the hard times make us stronger. Yeah. I talked a bit about my interview with 94 year old holocaust survivor erin Bielski who I talked to as part of my research for the Forest Vanishing Stars. There were several things he said that stuck with me but one in particular I think is really applicable to this tough last year and a half. We've all been through hardship. He said teaches a person life. How about all of you can you share one thing you learned from the last year that will teach you how to live a better life going forward. I think I learned that I'm a lot more flexible than I thought I was and that's something I can access any time. Like no matter what's going on, no matter if it's just like a silly deadline thing or if it's you know a huge pandemic, like that's something that's available and you know, I can get it any time I need it. That's awesome for me. It's this cliche I've heard my whole life which is you know this too shall pass and you'd never believe it when you're in the middle of something. But I think what this year has taught us is that it's a cliche because it's true. This too shall pass. Okay for me. It's what I've been saying. It's to live each day to the fullest can't plan for the future. You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, so enjoy the here and now. Yeah, I think the lesson I learned was that we really are stronger together. Um you know, we really are the sum of our parts and I think of course when we started friends in fiction, um we hope that was true, but I think we've really discovered it through the 15 or 16 months that we've been doing so stronger better together. Absoluteing. 100% yes, you heard me right at the intro. Tonight is a many musical written by and I am not kidding you? Written and composed by our uber talented Christine Harmel. We have a few guests tonight who are actual professional singers. But the five of us will be chiming in and when I was in the church choir as a kid, they gave me the talking parts. So you are all right. So I have to give you a little bit of explanation. Of course, The Forest Vanishing Stars is about very serious subject matter refugees who survived in the forests of Eastern europe during World War Two. And we created this mini musical accordingly. So it's basically a short broadway style, dramatic and emotional retelling of the book which came out yesterday. As I mentioned, The Forest add Vanishing Stars is rooted in the real life stories of jewish refugees in eastern europe who fled into the forests to escape the Nazis and actually lived through the war. That way. The true stories of groups like those led by the Bielski brothers and by a partisan named Zoran are incredible. And the research into those groups and others like them form the backbone of this novel which centers around an extraordinary young woman named Yona. So without further ado, I hope you all enjoy The Forest of Vanishing Stars. The musical patty Take it away. Okay, here goes The Forest of Vanishing Stars opens with our main character, Yona being stolen from the home of her german parents on her second birthday, her kidnapper, an old woman named Jerusha believes she has been called by the forest itself to give the girl a different future and a different fate. But what she gives Yona instead is a life of isolation in which the owner knows all the survival skills she'll need in the forest, but almost none of the skills she'll need if she ever ventures outside the safety of the trees alone in the woods, I find my way the life I once knew feels so far away to talk to the birds. I talk to the trees. I'm all alone alone. Just me. Oh my goodness, introducing my dear friend, Christina, Sieve Rich, who's broadway credits include Greece and the wedding singer. She is also toured with broadway across America. Production's been in multiple regional productions...

...and starred in shows for Disney Cruise lines and walt. Disney world. Most recently, she played Dory in Finding nemo, the musical at Disney's Animal kingdom. But tonight she'll be playing the role of Yona in the Forest, Vanishing Stars, the musical. How lucky are we out here? The world feels so small. The trees stretch forever to nowhere at all. I long for a world just out of my grasp. Maybe one day I'll find it at last. At least Jonah had Jerusha who is never a mother, never a friend, but at least he's company. Another person to talk to. Then in 1942, Jerusalem dies leaving Yona with a terrible secret and a revelation. I'm someone else's daughter, someone's lost child. My life was meant for something else. A life across the miles, the U. Turners, she said, the users of Berlin, but you mustn't ever seek them. There's evil within. Alone in the woods, Jonah wanders lonelier than she's ever been trying to piece together. The things Teresa told her after all, she has memories, faces that come to her sometimes in her dreams, the face of a father and a mother, a warm bed, fresh milk. She thought those fleeting images were just wisps of imagination. But there were glimpses of the life she should have had. And then one day the life she does have changes forever. She's wandering her familiar woods when she hears a sound and into the clearing stumbles a lost child. I watch for a moment, paralyzed by fear were far from the village. Is what is she doing here? She's crying, she's hurt, she seems to be alone. She's wearing a star and she's very far from home. Yona has no choice but to help the child. And when she does saving her life, she learns that there are horrible, unimaginable things happening outside the safety of her forest. The Germans have arrived and they're rounding up the jews, locking them into terrible ghettos if executing some at random, deporting others to their deaths. And once the owner knows, she realizes she cannot turn away, she has to do something to help. She feels a calling that she can't explain. Soon Yona meets another group of refugees. This one is larger and even more in need of her help. Slowly, reluctantly, she emerges from the woods. Who are these souls who've wandered so far? They must be lost. They must be scared. Do they know where they are? And that one, there's something about him that draws me right in. I'm frightened, but I have to help. I have to go to him. Yeah. Who is this woman emerging from the trees? I'm lost and I'm scared. I cannot lead these refugees, but I promised I'd save them. I promised they'd be free. So why am I so frozen as she slowly approaches me. Ladies and gentlemen, I am thrilled to introduce you to my friend, singer songwriter Stephen Kellogg, who gives incredibly inspiring ted talks, writes songs that receive Grammy nominations, tours the world and is the recipient of the Armed Forces entertainer of the Year award. Yep, he's amazing! And tonight he'll be playing the role of alexander, A young man leading a small group of jewish refugees fleeing the mere ghetto just outside the forest that Yona calls home, Welcome Stephen, great to be here. Alexander is a good man, but he's a conflicted 12 Yona is drawn to him from the start and soon she becomes a part of his group, but it's terrifying leaving behind her life of solitude Jerusha always taught her that the only way to survive was to stay steadfastly alone, but johanna realizes that she has a responsibility Without her Alexander and his group,...

...which includes three small Children, may not survive the winter. Mhm. So she stays and she helps them to learn to forage for food and how to find shelter when they're deep in the woods, all alone. But she's learning vital lessons to lessons about love and loss and betrayal that will change her world forever. The winter comes in with it more dangerous than they know. They were fleeing from the Germans. But the new threat is the snow under blankets of ice. They must eat, they must survive. Perhaps I'm meant to be here, keeping them alive. Inevitably, Yona falls in love with alexander, which changes everything for the first time since she was stolen as a baby, she belongs to someone really belongs as he does to her. But as the balance of their relationship shifts and a Jonah comes more into her own as a woman and a leader cracks began to form just as they do in the icy streams surrounding them. I want so much to love her for she's everything to me. But I was taught that to be a man. I should take the lead. She leads us through the forest and she knows more than I. But I matter to you know, we're not seeing eye to eye still. They keep each other warm at night. And Yona who loves alexander deeply is learning what it means to give and take, not just in terms of love, but in terms of the dynamics of a relationship. The things that have brought us to where we are at this point in time, in the dead of that first winter with alexander and his group, Yona is leading an expedition through the woods one day when suddenly they're confronted by a man with a gun. At first she thinks he's a threat, but then she realizes he's leading a group of jewish refugees to and there's something about her that stops him in his tracks. Who is this woman? I'm so brave and so strong and who are these people following along? I've led my group from the ghetto and we're living in fear. We've prayed for a miracle. Could this be it right here? Oh my gosh, you guys. It has been a great excitement but I reintroduce you to Sean heading er are behind the scenes audio video in Tech Wiz who also releases music as memory spelled with two wise memories. Next single I love You. Maybe drops this friday july 9th on all music platforms. Sean also happens to be the composer of many of the songs you hear on tv including the theme music for the Chelsea handler show. But tonight he is Zeus who has led a group of refugees from the lead a ghetto into the woods, but is afraid that in the deepest part of winter he won't be able to keep his people alive. Yona invites him back to the camp where her group is sheltering for the winter. But alexander isn't pleased she's putting at us at risk for these people. She doesn't know there's not room for all of us beneath the blanket of snow. I wish things were different. But we're surviving to. We'll all work together. Just tell us what to do. We can't turn our backs on them. We must give all we can give. You're not the only ones who deserve a chance to live. How easily you talk as if you're not one of us. I thought that you loved me. Did I misplace my trust, you're everything I want, my love. But we can't do this alone. We must help them survive. We must give them a home, forgive the intrusion. I don't mean to make you fight. It's just that here in the darkness I hope we could find a light and Jonah is the light. The light in the darkness. A woman who, despite all the odds, was born to be extraordinary. But here, deep in the forests of eastern europe, here, in the depths of a long, hard winter here where men, women and Children are being pursued. There's also a great threat from within. Yeah, I don't understand all the piece of my new life. I thought...

...all we had to do was learn to survive. But it's more than that, don't you see? And though my love runs true, I'm used to being in charge here and now that leader is you, She is with him and he with her. Then I'm broken, anyhow. So why am I feeling lost like this? It's too late to turn back now. The betrayals run fast and deep from the places you least expect. And when I'm forced to flee the woods, who knows what will happen next? Well, we know what happens next. But if you want to find out, you'll have to read the book which wraps the fictional story of Yona around a story of survival as real as the forest itself. In the midst of World War two, thousands of jews fled into the woods of eastern europe and survived their living off the land. For more than two years. These incredible survivors vanished as Yona does into the depths of the forest. And when the war ended, they emerged into a world they could not recognize anymore. Kristen captures all of that and more in this intensely research novel. Okay, and now we'd like to close out the musical portion of the show with a little message from us into the woods. We vanish at last. There's light, there's hope, there's magic as we explore the past here in these pages, you'll find a story lost of faith and perseverance. Whatever the cost, you'll find hope in the darkness, a story of light, of the beauty of nature and the stars out at night with love and understanding. You know, we'll find her away. She'll be right for others as they survived the days. I hope you will find yourself wherever you are in the story, the surrounding us, in the Forest of Vanishing Stars. Oh my gosh! Christina's steven Sean, all of you. Oh my gosh, I cannot thank you enough! Oh my gosh! And to all of you out there, I lost where I was so excited. We have plenty more coming up later in the show, including a drop in from author, Susan Elizabeth phillips. But I cannot let these guys go without asking Stephen to sing a quick song for us. He is absolutely incredible. You guys, as you know, I just cannot believe we just put on, Oh, that's a big deal. That's my first musical since high school. So, oh, that was, that was thrilling. Oh my gosh, you are so good steven. You were so good, Christina, Sean, You guys were amazing. If you still doing that, you don't Seriously? Oh my gosh, So you guys, Stephen is going to play a song for us now, I'll let him tell you why. But I also wanted to share with you that he's going to be on tour for the next few months, including a whole bunch of dates with the band, Toad, The Wet Sprocket of Walk On the Ocean Fame, especially, I think in september and october, I think that's when you're going to be on the road with them. Yeah, so I hope, I hope that all of you out there will consider catching him on the road and telling him that you heard him here. So, Stephen, would you do us the honor of playing for us? I would love to, and I just want to say, well, I have the opportunity, you know, thank you kristen for writing these books that you write that are beautiful, uh, and entertaining novels, but they also they have so much poignancy and you learn so much reading. So we appreciate all that you're giving to the world here. Thank you steven, Thank you so much. Okay, so yeah, so this is a song that I felt I had quite a few parallels. It's it's I wrote it a few years ago, um and it's a song about about how uh when you're feeling hopeless and desperate, you know, and you kind of look up at that big sky and realize that that sky up above you, you just realize how very small you are and that can, that can be, that can flattening or it can be comforting. So I'll let you decide this song is called Orion O brien. I can see you looking down small houses that were built into the...

...ground at a distance, You can't see what's falling down if you're up close, you can almost hear the sound of some, remember we'll pack our things into the car though we never got too far. It's a wonder to discover ways Winter finds its way to spring. The young man, everything in the way constellations are you laughing at? And so we rage as we watch our heroes fall if they're up there. Remember them to me like my grandpa on the beach of Normandy in the summer. We remember Ryan Sword is burning out lovers long forgotten now there were mothers who discovered how the winter finds his way to spring. Parents don't know everything in some whoa, the stars are still the same. They see all of our pay. No, they can't do anything and slowly they explode the o brien it to be young and insecure. It's the trade off. It's the cost of wanting more every summer. Remember to pack your things into the car and if you never get too far, take a number, discover you'll be doing what your parents did. Don't you dare forget a kid in the summer. I remember little Ryan Sword is burning out or will be forgotten now in someone. Okay. Yeah. Whoa. Oh my God, I'm so emotional, I'm not going to make a difference for this. Oh, Stephen, that was amazing. You're amazing. Oh my God, steven steven, thank you so much for giving us the beautiful gift of that song and of your talent tonight. Um that was incredible. And also, I should say thank you to Alison Hammer, who has been our guest in the past. She wrote little pieces of me. She's a very good friend of steven's and she's the reason I know, Stephen, so thank you Alison for putting us together. Um so all of you out there, I hope you'll check out steven Kellogg dot com and in fact, I'm gonna give you a reason to do just that today. Just so happens to be the one year anniversary of the launch of steven's first book, objects in the mirror, thoughts on a perfect life from an imperfect person, which is just an incredible collection of essays. So to celebrate, it's so good. It's so good to celebrate. I know, I mean can you just tell he's just the most amazing, overwhelmed. I know I'm overwhelmed to not myself right now. You guys were going to be giving away four signed copies of his book sent straight from the Kellogg family store. So to enter, I'm going to put a post under announcements as soon as the show's over tonight, it'll give you the link...

...to steven Kellogg dot com and here's what I want you to do. I want you to tell us in the comments. One thing you're excited about on his site, it could be that he has an upcoming toward eight near you or that his ted talk sounds really cool. It is. Or that his merch store is loaded with really cool extras, whatever it is, whatever you like, share it in the comments and this sunday we're going to draw four winners for autographed books. So again, that's going to be under announcements on our facebook page right right after the show. Yeah, awesome. Oh, I also hope that you will follow Christina who I had the joy and pleasure of meeting in person when Kristen and Meg and I were down in Orlando. Um, Cristina can be found on instagram and X T I N A S I V. That's the letter X. Tina sieve where she will lift you and inspire you and keep you updated on all her project. She's also on Tiktok with the same handle. Oh good. Thank you Sean Eckstine excessive. If you like quotes and fun videos, you will love her post. And of course how could you not love that beautiful voice. Oh my God, you guys, she's I'm just overwhelmed. I don't even have words tonight, so I'm so excited for you all to get to know her since she's a very good friend of mine, Christina and I have known each other for years. I'm just so happy. She's a part of this tonight and of course our very own Sean can be found here with us every Wednesday and memory music dot com. That's memory with two eyes where you can learn more about our super impressive man behind the scenes. So don't forget to mark your calendars for this friday july 9th when Shawn's brand new single, I love you. Maybe will be available for download wherever you get your music. So just search for his band Memory with two eyes on any of those platforms. I love you guys so much. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. I'm so honored. Thank you for having It was amazing. Thank you So, so incredible. Thank you all very thank you guys look just wonderful feminizing. Oh my gosh, it was so gorgeous. It really was, wow, beautiful. Heartfelt, extremely heartfelt Christina. Had me crying. I have to say Christina's voice. Yeah, I am so glad you had them singing rather than Oh yeah, well, I mean my gosh, I would scare you. Why were they was so talented? I love his voice. We we we we we we we talented. I think he's going to be playing network video on I believe. Okay, okay, super cool. I love it. A talented, we want to remind you about the talented bookseller at Writer's Block who are offering a 10% discount on all of our neorealist releases, including the brand new Forest of Vanishing Stars with coupon code. Preorder 2021 Preorder all caps. Remember every cop copy of Forest that you order from writer's block come sign. And if you order by saturday using that coupon code refers 50 orders also come with a gift from Kristen to you, a bracelet edified by seven art print. And if you order by tomorrow thursday july 8th by noon, you can also ask for your book to be personalized by Kristen who will be doing a live event in Orlando with writer's block tomorrow night. So if you are one of these people like so many of us are you don't want just a signed book, you want to sign personalized book, definitely go onto that writer's block page and order your book to be personalized by tomorrow at noon. Absolutely! All right now, you've heard you've all heard about the plot of Force of Vanishing Stars and Kristen has made us sing. So now it's only fair we get to ask for some tough questions about the novel. Are you ready, Kristen? I'll start us off. Okay. Actually, it's going to be so much fun for such a great novel. And all those of you watching tonight. If you have a question for christian,...

...please just plug it into the comments below. And we'll be choosing a few to ask Kristen later in the show. All right, Kristen you wrote this book during the pandemic. So as far as I know, unless you secretly created a major international incident that was swept under the carpet, you didn't get off to eastern europe for research. So unless you did. How did you get the setting? So spot I was there. I mean, I was being a swamp and in the forest and right there. Thank you. Oh my gosh! Well, first of all, it wasn't the brightest thing in the world. You know, when I pitched this book, I fully intended to do that to go over there. But I hold the book in january and then we all know what happens in the spring of this year. Um and I was therefore unable to um I did months worth of reading about specifically about the forest and I found this wonderful book about the flora, fauna and human history of the forest. That was an academic book of that specific forest. It was an academic book that gave me so much of what I needed. But there was still more, I needed to put kind of the smells and the actual site. I mean just those things that you only really get from going there. Right, so I contacted the author of that book who happens to also, in addition to being a PhD in an author, he's an ecotourism guide who leads, who leads guided journeys into the forest. Um he became my go to for everything. Um I paid him by the hour because there's no way I could have just asked him these things and expected him to do it out of kindness. Um but I would send him 20 questions today, things like, well, okay, I understand that they made mud mud bricks to make their structures out of, but how are the mud bricks made? And he would send me photographs of molds, of mud bricks from the 19 forties that he found in the forest, Or how do you dig a shelter in the ground? And he would go out into the forest and send me pictures of, of shelters that had been there for 70 years. I really thought about that. I mean that's really the shelters. It was amazing. All of it was so interesting. But everything I needed to know he knew and if he didn't know what he'd find the answer. And if I didn't understand that he would go out in the forest and send me pictures of him doing the activity or so. I mean, what a great person. Godsend. And I could not have written this book without him. So through Vadim Fedorovich, I traveled to the Nahla baki forests and then some well done. We did not get to go virtually to the nah Labaki forest Kristen, but we were all with you as you wrote this book. In fact, one thing many people out there might not know is that all five of us wrote our books together over the last year by doing virtual writing sprints together every morning. So we all know a bit about your research. So many mornings, Kristen would have this lame excuse about, oh, I'm doing research. Yeah. But you spent the morning. Yeah, yeah. While the rest of us where some of us are making coffee, Kristen was interviewing people's in Poland. But you talked about getting forest. Right. How did you get the other stuff? But the actual refugees are going through. I mean, did people actually survived this way for years in the woods without the german finding them? You know, the real stories are incredible. And they did. There were thousands of people who survived the war that day. Which that way, which is which is mind blowing. I mean, to think about fleeing into a forest and staying on the move when you needed to, but also setting up a society. I mean, it was absolutely incredible. Um, so fortunately for me, there's been lots written about the largest group of those refugees, which is called the Bielski group. Um and in fact there is a 2000 and eight movie called defiance, which stars Daniel Craig. That is about the Bielski group. So that's a great starting point. If you're interested in finding out more, That was a great starting point for me. It's based on a nonfiction book of the same name. But there are memoirs, there survivor testimony. I mean there's just so much to go through. So I felt like I had accumulated all these details, but it all came together for me when I had the opportunity to interview a man named erin Bielski who was the youngest and the only surviving Bielski brother, he was one of the brothers who led this group of 1200 That survived the war. Um he was 14 when he fled into the forest. He's about to turn 94. So this was 80 years ago. He survived 80 years past when when the Germans came to take him away. He he he hidden a barn and escaped the Germans that way. His parents were executed. He survived and 80 years later he's still here. Um it just, it gave a beating heart to this collection of details that I had accumulated and it was, it was such an incredible gift to me. I remember that...

...day. That was so incredible. Oh my gosh, yes, I was, I was all right away. Yeah, it was like, what's so great. Well, I also love the story or maybe non story of where this book came from, parent with the discovery that you made midway through writing it. So, can you tell us about how you came up with the idea to write a book set in the polish wilderness? Yeah. You know, I wish I had a better answer for that, but it's kind of one of those situations where, where the pieces of the book just came to me as I was researching other things. So, like I said, I had seen the movie defiance back in probably 2009, right after it came out. So I kind of vaguely knew the story of the Bielski brothers and I have been very, very inspired by it. But when I started working on this book, I had no idea that the Jewish side of my own family, on my dad's side actually came from Poland, not that far from where the book takes place. So those were the actual harm Als in my family, it's where my last name comes from. Um, they were the harm als who brought the family name over to the United States just before the turn of the last century. They were my grandpa as grandparents. Uh, Rosie and Rudolph for their names and my grandpa, grandmother Rosie uh, wound up going back to europe in 1933 for a visit at the age of 69. So six years before the war began and actually eight years before she passed away. Um, so I'm sure it had to have been her going back to visit loved ones, um, which makes me feel so sad because think how she must have felt in the final years of her life just a few years later to realize what was happening to these people, she'd left behind these people, she knew she would never see again. Um you know, I mean in this country in europe where there was a higher um number of jews murdered than anywhere else. So it was extraordinary to learn that I had this family connection to it and that I have been writing this story before. I knew any of that before. I knew that connection to the past. So it's amazing and it still gives me goose bumps to think about it. That's what it feels like. I mean, so personal to it did, it felt really personal because you guys know, I mean I write about France, this was very odd for me, very, very different for me, but it kind of makes me think that there are stories that have been living in our blood all along, just waiting to be told. I do believe that I do kristen I mean when I whenever we hear and it's happened to all of us and all of our guests and these things that happened that say you know what, you're on the right path, don't give up its astounding. I know one of the things that I took away from the book, um I talked about it at the beginning, it's this idea of how do we let people define ourselves, define us? Do we take on these labels that other people give to us? But it's also this sense of hope and looking at the idea of community and helping our brothers and sisters and not believing what other people say we are. What do you hope readers take away from both up this book other than how to catch fish through what you know, you never know when you might never know that survival skills is just stuck with me. I know I have to forget it. Are there a lot of ice holes in Orlando kristen? I'm just, I was out fishing in one case, a freezer. What do I hope people take away from this book other than the obvious survival skills? I hope that people take away the idea that there's always light in the darkness that there's always hope. Um, and then we all have these vast reserves of strength that we may not know about until our backs are up against the wall. Um, and I also hope that you take away from this, as Erin Bielski said, um, we talked about this earlier when we mentioned the parade essay, he said that hardship teaches a person life and helps us to move into a better future. And I think that's especially an important lesson um for the here and now. So I hope that's something you take away from it too. It's amazing. So folks, I need you to stick around because we have some really special guests about to drop in who you do not want to miss. And then we're closing with another musical number. I'm not even kidding. We have a few final announcements and trust me, he'll want to stay because tonight we're closing in song. I don't know. We might not tell them that they might leave. You leave like a mass exodus. Like remember if tonight's musical intrigued you. Do you consider purchasing the Forest Vanishing Stars this week? I know we've said it before, but I'm gonna say it again, a books first week of sales is so incredibly important to its trajectory and to our authors and Kristen does so much for all of us weekend and we got to make friends and...

...fiction happen. So, um, tell her thank you by buying her book this week. It's beautiful. You will love it. You will. Thank us for buying it. Um, but please do because it's wonderful. Absolutely. Please do. It's a wonderful book. You will thank us. All right. So you know about our podcasts and the same friends and fiction podcast with a new name. Friends and Fictions Writers black podcast with our own Ron Black. And last week mary Kay Andrews interviewed Cindy Spiegel and julie Grau about their new publishing line and the novel The Fox and I, which is another book on my list to read this week. Patty and Ron interview to authors in their origin story series Susan Cushman and lisa Patton who both wrote about the University of Mississippi in different decades. Our podcast is such a great way to connect with even more authors. And guess what? Speaking of our podcast, it has been nominated for not one but two people's Choice awards. Were so excited and we would love it if you would vote for us. So um yes, we've made a post. It's under our announcements on facebook and it tells you exactly how to vote, but you can visit podcast awards dot com and you click the blue button and you just enter your information that says sign up to nominate and you can vote for us in both the adam curry people's choice award category and the arts category and you just have to make sure you click save nomination. It takes less than a minute. We would be so grateful because we will win. We always want to win. Winning, always want to, I want to win. Um but also don't forget we do have amazing merch. I think mary Alice has her wine sippy tonight with her. She could hold it up. We also have, oh, christian does too. We also have some amazing coffee tumblers and t shirts were working on, y'all, some merge. That's gonna blow your mind. One piece of particular that we cannot wait to announce super soon. So we're so excited. Stay tuned, you can find all of our merch on Oxford Exchange's website and also at Friends and Fiction dot com. And of course, don't forget to join the Friends and Fiction official Book Club, if you haven't already. It's a separate group here on facebook run by our friends, Brenda, Gartner and lisa Harrison and it's a more personal into it can't for readers to chat with each other. So this month there in the midst of reading mary Alice is this summer of Lost and Found, and she'll be joining them on july 19th to chat about it. Starting right after that, the group would be reading The Forest of Vanishing Stars, which hopefully everybody will have a copy of after this time. You know, if for no other reason than to fund singing lessons for me in the future. Um, and we'll be dropping by in a facebook live chat on august 16th with the Book Club to tell you all about the book and to answer your questions and you are going to really want to be with us next week on Friends and Fiction right here at seven p.m. Wednesday night, we're thrilled to welcome new york times bestseller Paula McLain, author of the paris wife, with her astounding new novel, When the Stars Go Dark, whenever, where never you are interested, you want to sing if you are interested. I think that's not. Um, whenever you're interested about our upcoming guests, you can visit our website or check on the sidebar on our facebook page and you will not believe who we have coming for our fall schedule. We have Christina baker klein and taylor Jenkins. Reid among many others, some of the hottest books of this summer. And we also have a lot of surprises planned along the way. Yeah. And we're super excited about our virtual Friends and fiction debut with the Nantucket Book Festival. It is on july 20th at seven p.m. Eastern. Our discussion is free and open to the public but you have to register so you can find the information to sign up on the Nantucket Book Festival website and we'll have information on our facebook page. Our good pal at Nantucket Book Partners tim Ehrenberg is going to turn the tables on us, putting us not see as the guests. So now we are reaching the end, but if you know kristen you know that no book launch would be complete without cocktails. So today we cocktails. So today we invited three guests to join us to give us their own spin on the classic star cocktail, Get it the Forest Vanishing Stars, A Star cocktail which is an actual drink created in the late 19th century. It is a take on a classic Manhattan. The...

...original contained equal parts apple brandy and sweet Freimuth plus a few dashes of bitters and simple syrup and a lemon twist for garnish. Well, we gave that recipe and total freedom to three friends who we trust with our lives or maybe just with our alcohol to see what they would come up with. We have posted all three recipes on our instagram page. So you can tell us which one you like best to find us. Just search for Friends and fiction on instagram and you'll find it. If you're new to instagram, you can even access it from your computer by typing in instagram dot com backslash. Friends in fiction. But for now let's bring in our guests following you out there. Know Brenda Gartner and lisa Harrison, the fearless leaders of our friends in fiction, official Book Club test Brienza with the mock tail are alcohol free option and lisa with the cocktail. So welcome ladies, nice to see you on our side. I'm good to be here. This has been such an amazing ladies rocked the house. Yeah, we did it so memorable, just fabulous. So it's great to be here to help in a small way to celebrate. Thank you so much. You're here. Are you drinking Brenda? Yes. Yeah. Right. Um and you know, we have one more, we could not resist adding just one more friends and fiction friend to the mix, as we say, not only do we consider her a connoisseur of cocktails, but she also happens to be a storyteller of stars and she is the popular author new york times, best selling author of the popular Chicago star series, including her newest When Stars collide, which came out just last week. Let's give our Big Friends and fiction. Welcome to Susan Elizabeth phillips SCP you already with your detail, what a party you guys and for such a crummy book. I I have been telling everybody about Forest Vanishing Start and you know there's a lot of conversation you're giving about a very lofty conversation about the book. I just want to say it is a page turner, I could not put that book down, it's just a wonderful book and it so deserves a toast. Well you care soprano sipper here and I gotta say your drink looks really good question, there's no alcohol in it right now. It's kind of a fake drink, but very good. You know, you have to tell us quickly about a plot of when stars collide any book right now that has stars in the title. We're all in favour of. This is uh Diva meets the quarterback, monday night football, um meets Mozart and we have a heroine who is an opera singer and a hero who is the backup quarterback to the Chicago stars. She's number one, he's number two, He's not happy about this. Neither is she. Things are gonna get complicated. Uh is so good. I love this book so much Susan you and I'm going to, oh my gosh, it's uh you guys have to read it. It's uh it's just so absorbing and so well told and so fast paced and it's just the perfect when when opposites attract story. I loved it so much Susan. It's such a triumph for you. It is a mutual society. I was gonna say you both have the camera and you both have the word stars in your title. So there's something going on here. Okay ladies, let's see what you've got. First up Brenda. Okay, since I'm gonna diet, no alcohol is allowed. Can you share your ma cocktail recipe for an alcohol free cocktail? I'm taking notes. I would love to. And first of all this is the under the stars mock tail in honor of the forest of an issue stars. And it's it's a pretty uh generously from the original recipe, but I did include for serving before apple juice, not brandy, blueberry juice, four tablespoons juice. So there's that aspect of it and glass for your stars with apple juice first and then some granulated sugar. So we have I think we should all actually. I wish we could reach out and just grab it. I...

...know it looks okay. Don't y'all are so creative. Just so impressive what you came up with. Okay, so some liquor in a glass. Exactly, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Competition. Okay. How about you lisa, what's your spin on the Star full bodied cocktail? Well, I wanted mine to kind of be a little nod to the original but a little more contemporary as well. So I have the stargazer in the stargazer. It's got brandy and some cherry juice and a teaspoon of bidders and an orange slice a little bit of orange juice. And you top it off with Prosecco. So you muddle the free a glass and then you add the ice. Then you pour the brandy and then you do a little bit of orange juice, a little bit of wolf water. And you top it with Prosecco and I'm telling you it's a little stronger than I remember. But you see I've only have barely made it halfway so it is delicious. Sounds amazing. Uh last but not least our sister in stars. Susan Elizabeth phillips. What's in your drink? Well because it's summer because I have a soprano. I wanted to make this the summer soprano sipper. I sort of made up the quantity so to hydrate a couple of cups of seeded watermelon and you blend it and I think that's better than doing the watermelon juice and a half a cup of chilled vodka which is I confessed is not actually in here right now, two tablespoons of lime juice or maybe one if you don't want it quite that honey or simple syrup. I don't even know if you're gonna need it. It depends on how you want it. But you have to have the mint on top and to sue your passion. You need some ice in it. I love that sounds really good. I have to admit that sounds great, pushed up watermelon out vodka to really enjoy. Wow. Once again, all three of those recipes will be on our instagram which is at Friends and fiction or instagram dot com backslash. Friends and fiction and Susan. That drink like sounds as delicious as your novel which which is very yes, yes, smoothly done. Well. Well thank you ladies, all three of you for being here with us. That was so kind of you. I I am thrilled that I got to celebrate the launch of the Forest Vanishing stars with the three of you. Dear Friends. So thank you for being here and thanks for sharing your cocktails. There was so much Amazing. Thank you. Season All right ladies. Okay, so before we plunge into song to close out our show, I wanted to say a true and deep thank you to all four of you. My four friends and fiction sisters. I wanted to thank meg and superstar. Sean behind the scenes, Christina and Stephen for coming on and sharing your talents with us tonight, Brenda, lisa and Susan and all of you out there who have supported and embraced not only our books but us, we love you. We appreciate you more than you'll ever know. And we are deeply, deeply grateful for you. We hope that week after week we give you a reason to keep coming back for new, surprising and sometimes yes, even badly harmonized peeks behind the scenes at your favorite books and the lives of your favorite authors. But our night is over. I hope you buy my book. Thank you for being here. Thanks for taking a look your friends and fiction re reach this evening's and what we're here to. Thank you. Thanks for being a friend to all of you out there. You are the wind beneath our wings. You move and inspire us and all created of things. Thank you and Goodnight wherever you are, we hope you will join us in the Forest, Vanishing Stars. Goodnight everyone. Please stick around...

...for the sip and stay with story point after show. Good night everyone. Good night. Oh my gosh! We lost Christie. It was amazing. You guys, we did a musical. That was uh was beautiful. I was so off all night because I was so emotional after listening to them. That was that was absolutely crazy. But sorry, I'm getting off on the wrong foot welcome for eight points. Sit and stay after show. We promise we will not be singing anymore unless crazes of my new book, flat christian tonight. So I'm sure for after show, okay, you're a real christian so much when she starts to disintegrate, just shooting, she just made a little flat and two dimensional tonight. I have it every night that I'm like, I just really can't with like the hair tonight. I can just double christians. Right, Well, I hope everybody out there has been seeing our uncorking the weekend videos. You don't want to miss them on instagram and our facebook page and we are lifting our story, Point wine, whichever one we choose and maybe one of y'all to kristen and to summer because with the wind that says indulgence stories told, which is what we did all night. It is the wine we want and what an amazing story Kristen told tonight in a musical. Why doesn't get to be that talented? I know my gosh, I was not the talent tonight. Those oh my gosh, shine it well. Yes, you see it was just a recurring melody again and again that they capitalized on and made something stuck in. You know, for me, I was surprised by my, by my reaction to be totally honest with you. I knew it was a powerful story. I read the novel, but as I heard Christina seeing the lyrics, I got, I got teary eyed, I really did. And then along comes alexander and then when, frankly when Sean Zeus came out, I was like, he did such a good job that the whole story seemed so real. It just didn't seem like reading a script. It was really beautiful. I felt like I could see that on a stage. Yeah, absolutely. I think I could feel it unfolding. I could see her I guess because we've read the book which all of you should be doing. But I feel like I could watch her as this young baby being stolen and then in the woods and then meeting these men. Like the musical was so evocative. I could, it was like I could watch it. Come on, come on a stage. I have one question What part does Liev Schreiber play in this screen in this movie that we're making? And I think he has. Yeah, he's got to return to the forest. That's right. He was in defiance. He might as well be in this. You're absolutely right. Yes. Can paul Ryan have apart. All right. My my I don't have a part. How about how about Patrick Dempsey? Can we squeeze a Patrick Dempsey? I don't know him like, you know, pretty No, he can, he can grow out his hair and do the scruffy beard. I think he could pull it off and James taylor being it Christie you're chance boyfriend. Taylor bang your boyfriend. James taylor being it in all seriousness, in all seriousness because the stage is, is the forest and I really do almost like a play. I actually do see it could be a real musical. That would be amazing. Any hey from your lips, let's, let's hope Really cool. Yeah, about com fourth can we find a place for calling? Always. Always. I don't know how he sings. Have you? It doesn't matter how you use it might matter a little bit. No, he can cause an amazing singer is Hugh Jackman tom and I saw him, Yeah, I actually, I saw him in Oklahoma On the West End in London when Katie was like 16 years old and it was yeah, he can really see girls binoculars looking at Hugh Jackman. I'd never heard of him before. But wow, I passed him as Zeus in a heartbeat, lets you know how this happened. I would add the line. All right. All right. All right. And there were no not in this one. I know he can...

...have a quick walk on and walk off. He could just walk across the stage. Alright, alright, Daniel craig. Father, dan quickly Daniel craig was in the movie. Right? So he could be the german father. He was in the movie defiance. He said Aaron Bielskis older older brother Tuvia, He's getting older now. It's such a movie. Yeah, yeah. Everyone should watch that movie though. But you guys. I was off my game tonight because I was just so I don't think so. I am the least. I felt like I was having like an out of body experience, Do you know what I mean? Like it was one of those things like, oh my gosh, yeah, we're doing this. You know, the part that I loved was when you were talking about how you didn't know when you began writing the book that you had all this history in Poland. Yeah, I love that. You know, because I just don't know. I didn't prior, I didn't for a long time. No, a whole lot about my dad's family background. Uh, But my dad didn't really grow up with religion, so that wasn't passed on to me from his side. I, what I got was the religion from my mom's side, which was Catholic. And so that's what I grew up with and that's what I grew up identifying with. And the last um, 20 years have really been a discovery of this piece of my genetic history, a piece of my past, a piece of my family that I didn't know that much about before. So, um it's a journey I never intended to be on, but I'm so glad that I am and this, this felt like an important piece of that, you know, Kristen a lot of people, including my father's family, when they came from Germany, they converted to Catholicism. And it turns out that a lot of people who were fleeing and they were jewish converted as a way is to try to hide them hide their, that did happen. But on my dad's side of the family, they came over and that was not the case. You know, it's funny, like you can see on ancestry dot com, you can see all those old census records and all that, and you can see my grandmother, Rosie or great great grandmother Rosie, who I mentioned on all of the census forms. Her primary language is listed as Yiddish. So even after she came over and had been here for 10 2030 years, that was still the language that she felt most comfortable with. Enough to put on her. I believe in genetic DNA. They settled right Kathy us where they settled right near Ron block and chiyo, chiyo. No kidding. Huh? Isn't that crazy money? Eastern europe force of Ohio. Yeah. So many eastern Europeans settled in what we now call the Rust belt. Ohio pennsylvania. My husband's uh parents, his his family on both sides, on his mother's side the Croatian and on his father's side were yugoslavian. And so uh they were people when they came over there were people who had already moved there and they had jobs in the coke works and the steel mills in um Western P. A. And then you know also into Ohio and indiana and uh you know I think that's that's always been kind of the pattern. The earlier earlier immigrants come, they settle and they weren't back home. There's jobs here and we speak your language. The other things, I don't know if it's still true today. I know when I was there that there was a larger the second largest population outside of Warsaw for polish was Chicago. Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah you're going to say um Cleveland but yeah Chicago Chicago. Yeah yeah absolutely 96 Olympics. Um you know I live in Atlanta but I live in a small town inside the beltline in Atlanta. And the Polish delegation to the Olympics were headquartered in our little town Avendano. And let me tell you those polls can part a, they can part a, you know, so my background is part polish part irish. So you know that's a combination. I'm just saying you don't make sense now, a little bit of french, which gives me a little class and then it just means you can drink a lot of champagne and whiskey. Yeah, you've got a wide variety there, you know, Kristen are you going back, where are you going for the next book? Back to France? Um so my um you know just sorry, I don't mean to make this all about like my my extensive family history, but it turned out you know, I lived in paris um in my early twenties and I found out afterwards I should really do all of my family history now. So I know in the future before I start doing things before you write a book. Um but when I lived I lived in paris...

...and it turns out Later I found out that my great grandmother, my grandmother's mother um had lived just a few blocks away from me in Paris. So um I have that, I think I feel Paris and my blood too, but Paris is the place I'm very comfortable with because I've lived, there is a place I've written about several times. And yeah the next one's, World War II Paris, but also in 1950s New York. Well when you get back can you go back, can you go to France this time? Do you think? I hope so. I'm really hopeful that I'll be able to, I'll meet you there. Okay. I think we need a group trip. I like it. We have to last summer that was cancelled because of the pandemic. And so we still have our chicken. So. Oh, to Meet You there sounds good. One of my fit, there were so many favorite parts, but one of my favorite parts tonight was when Sean busted out singing. I got a little like I love that song, I'm downloading it to tomorrow, but just the musical words to you know, he's works, he's incredible and he worked so hard with us, but he's always behind the scenes and to hear him just bust out singing was really lucky. We're how lucky were we to just randomly? I know, I mean Christie, Christie. Yeah, well Sean probably doesn't even remember it, but we just had a really funny day and I was like when we I mean it's like months later that we decided to do this and I was like, oh yeah, that guy, that's the guy I that's all you left out and somebody with a sense of humor, all these guys is happening kind of looks And that basically sums up the last 15 months. I know, I know, but you know what? He fits with us perfectly, like he fits with us. Like he was meant to be with, I mean, you know what I mean? Like I can't really imagine friends in fiction without him. You know what I mean? Like he's just seriously imagine him and meg's faces behind the scenes. I can we've known them. So now I can imagine their faces like, can I cut that is why, you know, speaking of Sean in all seriousness, when can we download his song friday, this friday y'all? You're still here listening to his check this friday y'all. It's okay. I love you. Maybe can we put a link um to the song on the beach? We have to um there's a link up or there's a post up under announcements right now. That links to that contest we mentioned for the four signed books. It also talks about Christina and where you can follow her. And it also talks about Sean and where you can find him. That's all in that one single post. And then, and then I already have it scheduled to post on friday. Um to where we can find Sean single because it is out on friday and I want everybody to be able to find it. So that is already, it's loaded and ready to go eight a.m. Friday morning. Can we make maybe do you summer? Do you think you can make Sean chart? But you did not begin charting? We want to hear that song for us and I think I think I didn't want to say anything. But yeah, he's made a horrible loving wife, the mother of his two young adorable Children. But he wouldn't say maybe to her that I love you for sure. I think maybe the baby's depending definitely hey hey sean that could be the one that could be the B side on your cabana boy. Exactly. I'm sorry for the dog panting follow up song to um um uh what's the song? Um You better shop around. There's a bunch of old sixties records and there's a follow up song to it. Like there's one that's mama mama told me you better shop around and then there's uh is like I shopped around and then there's the oh I didn't know that. Yeah. And then uh you know the song about um it's my party Lesley gore. Yeah. Party uh Oh god. We know uh huh song, the follow up to that song is it's the revenge song which is, it's judy's turn to cry. I I did not know that. Oh no...

...cry cry cry. I I was just thinking about how I was going to wear these crowns to my birthday party. That was a very appropriate song to break up. I think I'm going to wear this crown all the time. Oh my God my God. Alright scratch meg meg helpfully is saying don't quit your day jobs. Thanks meg Meg. I should pop on before we say good night with your, come on, bring them on. We could not have done this tonight without you guys. Thank you. Meg is refusing to turn her camera. You'll always be Zeus she you know she turned it on because she got her hair did today looks good to help. So she came on. You got awesome. It was a great show launch, this was so many working, so much fun and all the good stuff. Sean did you, are you happy? Are you happy with the way with? Yeah, I was remarkably uh stressed out about this. I don't know why. I'm just thinking in front of my computer. You, you were stupid. You guys are so sweet and you know the love goes both ways. God this was meant to be. I I love this way. Maybe way maybe the way I feel like I have to say that song was inspired by my four year old. So wait, maybe, Oh no, he falls in love with every attractive woman on tv. Every a okay does all the time to every time I'm with her she's watching a movie, I'm going to marry him. A thank you. I thank you Everybody find your tour and everything so people can find it for the rest of the asking. Just my website, Christine, Harmel dot com. I have a combination um live and virtual tour so if you can't make it to one of the live events, there are plenty of virtual ones and I'm doing a virtual when on friday with Christie so um and with Christie and also run blocks so that's probably probably phone a never get, I'm like I'm like round Kristen who does age just a family. A lot of fun. Yeah and on Tuesday I'm going to be with Mary Kay live live and in person in Atlanta at Fox Hill, Tuesday night at 6:30 and then I'm going to be with Mary Alice, the following Friday I think Friday. And you know what? We're making it public while opening it up for a while so we're gonna make it public and then the following sunday with mary Kay and patty in Tybee Island. So it's going to be everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. Alright, this was a thank you guys. Thank you guys so much time. I have a musical for you guys. I mean honestly he gives and she gives bravo, bravo, bravo. It was better than I anticipated. Great. Thank you. I a guys, that's our instagram guru. Hey Grace, I it's going to collapse. I love you guys so much. You guys. I thank you for tuning in, Join us every week on Facebook or YouTube where our live show airs every Wednesday night at seven p.m. eastern time and please subscribe to our podcast and follow us on instagram. We're so glad you're here. Yeah.

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