Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year ago

Friends & Fiction with Lisa Unger

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

New York Times and internationally bestselling master of suspense, Lisa Unger, joins the Fab Five to discuss her latest gripping, intricately plotted thriller, CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45. Hear about her background working in book publishing, her techniques for plotting and ratcheting up the tension for her characters, and how she came up with the real-life ideas for CONFESSIONS. 

https://lisaunger.com

Welcome to Friends and fiction. Five best selling authors and the stories novelist 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 have 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. Hey, y'all is Wednesday at 7 p.m. And so now it's time to welcome you to friends and fiction. Five. Best selling authors. Endless Stories. I'm Mary Kay Andrews and then hosting tonight, and we are thrilled that you are all here. Yeah, I'm sorry. I'm Kristin Caramel. I'm Christian. What's in Harvey? I'm Paddy Callaghan. Henry. Mary Alice Munro. Every week. Uh oh, yeah, every order that that time was on me. Sorry, man. There's a lot of blonde going on here tonight. Okay? Back to business. And you all know part of our mission for friends and fiction from the start has been to support independent booksellers. This week we're supporting Tom Below books in Beautiful ST Petersburg, Florida, which happens to be my hometown and also the hometown of Kristen, who apparently can't remember her name. You are going to want to pull up your seatbelts tonight and leave the night light on, because tonight we're going to be chatting with best selling writer Lisa Unger, author of 18 novels, including her most region, Recent Confessions on the 7 45. This twisty, tautly plotted psychological thriller kept me guessing and sleeveless for much of last week. Um, and while you're staying up all night with your night light on, can be snacking on Mama Gs because from the moment the first case of Mama G showed up at the Henry House, there has been a scramble for who gets what box I take and hide the gluten free boxes. But the boys hide the cookies and cheese straws and pretend that they're gone, so what they don't know is the good part. And that's the story behind the delicious food. Cathy Cunningham was a successful, unfulfilled radio executor. Atlanta when she realized that her mama G's own cheese straws were far superior to any others. Amazing snacks and a woman owned empire. That is something we can get behind here at friends and fiction. Try them. You'll be glad you did. And you can get 20% off on your online order with the code Fab Five and also a huge thank you to our partner Page One Books, which offers hand selected bookseller, curated 36 or 12 month subscription boxes. So you know that thrill that you get when you've ordered a package and you forget what it is and you get to open it like it's a surprise. It's kind of like that because they are picking books they know you're going to love. They come to your door, and it's gonna be a book that you love because a real human, amazing avid book lover and reader is choosing the book for you. So if you're a first time subscriber, you can get 10% off with the code Fab five at page one books dot com, and now we're gonna bring our author end. Lisa Unger. Lisa, where are you? Think? Hiding, hiding? Welcome, Lisa. Thank you. So be here. with you guys. I appreciate it so much. We love having. You were so happy you could be here because I, for one, am dying to know how a nice suburban mom who lives in Sunny ST Pete can write such diabolically dark thrillers. And this thriller is. Would you call this a domestic driller? Lisa. I suppose I would call it domestic thrillers, since you know it's very much sort of centered on ideas of, you know, home and family and what things mean to us. I mean, it's always so hard to classify your own writing, right, like most of us are just writing the stories that we want to write, and it's really up to...

...publishers and booksellers to tell us what they think they are, where they belong in the in the stores. That's true. I want to remind everybody if you have a question that you would like Lisa to answer, post it in the chat and we will hope to get to as many as we can. Lisa. Starting last month, the five of us began partnering with parade dot com, and we have an essay in their online magazine each week. This week My essay was about the value of reading and my personal would say was about being an early reader and the influence, uh, that those Children's books had on me. And I was thinking about how reading aloud to Children pays off in so many ways. I know you've got a daughter, right? I do, Yeah, she's 15 years old now. You probably are reading to her anymore, but we still read together. I still read my love. I got her. I've been reading to her since she was, like, you know, a tiny baby that I brought home from the hospital. I've been reading to her every single day just recently Now that she's 15 and, like, super cool. You know, we just recently stopped reading together every single night. We still do. Sometimes when one of us needs love. When one of us start, just start sharing that good. Exactly. But I'm guessing that you I'm guessing you read the book. She read her at bedtime. Were probably what a lot of Stephen King. Yeah. Stephen King. Sheldon, uh, like things like that that I was reading D. C. Andrews. Like, you know, my mom was my mom is a librarian, and both my parents were like avid readers. And so there's always, like, these big bookshelves everywhere we lived, and, uh, there is zero censorship in my house. So, like if I can reach it, I could read it. So I was reading things much. You know, those things, like a very inappropriately young. I think my mom kind of thought a lot. I was going over my head, but, you know, it wasn't And also, like, you know, my mom is just like, this great lover of story, you know, where I I got it from, of course. But she also look movies, and my dad is, like, you know, anti fiction, anti movies. So she always used to take me to the movies with her, like, no matter how old I was. And so again, you know, wildly inappropriate. What I couldn't understand was like that was going to be okay, but, you know, I think that it's just kind of, you know, um, it just, you know, informed me, Really? You know, um, in many ways, my mom's love of books and stories. Well, I'm going to keep that in mind when my grandchildren get older because I want to be the fun grand mom with my grandchildren. I It's really sweet because they when they come to visit me on the beach, we spend a lot of time looking at the sea turtle nests. So I have a picture book that I wrote with photographs of what the turtle team actually does on the beach Turtle Summer. And so when my Children, um, had Children, they all had the book. And whenever anyone I know has a baby, they're going to get Turtle Summer and they all come to visit and visit sea Turtles. So it's a special treat. My family, That's wonderful. I love that I was like you, Lisa and that I have these pictures of I mean, it must have been like the day we brought, well, him from the hospital. And I'm like reading to him like I would read to him when he was in my belly, you know, because reading just so excited. Um, and I think one of my like, one of the mom moments that I will never, ever forget. He was in preschool and his preschool teachers at home, one of those little Bob books. You know that like you get the kids started reading on and he was very, um, like, Taipei and driven. I don't know where he gets it. It's so weird. Mystery. Yeah, I thought. And I just remember being like, Oh, my God, this is going to go so poorly because he's gonna want to read this fuck. And like, he doesn't know how to read. And, you know, he could do the thing where he would recite the parts of the books that we've read a million times. And we were sitting at the kitchen counter and he sat down and he opened the book and he started reading it. And I was like, much can read. And I didn't like his teacher, didn't I Didn't I just remember. And then I made him do it again. And I was a video again, like sending it to, you know, all the grandparents and I was like, Oh, my God. And it was I will never forget it. I was just That was amazing. It's like, Oh, yeah, that is really cool. You know that you give to your child because, I mean, I often think about it like you know, whenever somebody says like Oh, you know and people do say this even to writers like Oh, I don't read which, you know you might as well say something like, I don't breathe. I like he without without like, it's a gift that I gave to my daughter and my, you...

...know, my mom gave it to me and I gave it to my daughter. And I just think, But it's just, you know, it broadens your world so much, you know, it's it's such a you know, it's such an open door into other lives and other places and, um, such an important I think, you know, important thing to give your child. Absolutely. And Christie, it's so funny that you mentioned reading too Will, um, when you were pregnant with him, because I have such a memory of doing that with No, uh, I was such a weirdo that I bought headphones that went around my belly like that, so yeah, but so I recorded myself strain. It's a little weird, you know. I'm the weirdo, and it's all right, Um, I think you love that well, so I recorded myself reading, reading like I don't know, maybe eight or 10 Children's books I liked and I just played them on. Repeat when I was working because I felt like, Well, I'm not really paying attention to him like I mean, he was in my belly. I don't know what I thought they needed to do it. I So I would just play them from, like, the recordings on my cell phone into my belly. So, yeah, he and I have always read together and, you know, um no, it's five. He would be in pre K this year, but we've kept him out of school this year, you know, at least so far because of the pandemic. And one of the greatest gifts has been that this is the year he learned to read, and I've gotten to witness that, which is awesome. Like to see from the spark of interest to like Now he's reading those you know, those little phonics readers that today he read me a story about Peppa pig, and just about a month ago, he started writing his own little book. So this is called The Day, the Day greeny and blue We met and you know what I love about this. He doesn't. He doesn't draw the pictures. It's just words. So, like that's where he knows he knows already at five. That, like words, can take you places. So yeah, proud Mama. Yeah, just one. Motherhood. I know you just got the mommy crown. She's entertaining him while he's in utero and he's writing books. And I'll wear that crown side by side with the big weirdo who has headphones on her belly crowd. I think the headphones are awesome. I read to my kids every night and then during the day, and then and I figured they would all grow up to be avid readers. I have an older daughter and two sons, and only my daughter is at the moment and avid reader. But we read everything from Goodnight Moon to Olivia to Eloise, to Thomas the Tank Engine. And when my daughter was five years old, she looked at me and she said, I want to be a writer of books and I know it's because she had two little brothers and it was her only time alone with me, right? I know y'all's kids have done this. Lisa to one more book. One more one more book because they've got you. They have only you when you're reading that one more book. So I I just think reading, reading to our little ones. Um, And now Megan and I will read a book at the same time, which you're probably starting to do with your 15 year old. And then we call and talk about it. Yeah, that's awesome. That's great. When when Katie and Andy were well, we started with Goodnight Moon, which generations of families have, and then the classics like Madeleine. And they loved the story of Ping, which was written in 1939. But they loved that book. Um And then their fate was Harry the dirty dog, which I bought for a dollar and a library used book sale. And now my grandchildren, Molly and Griffin are nine and 11, and they loved llama llama red pajama. Those books are gonna do to me and, uh, mo Willems. They like, I think John Williams is like a God in our, uh, more. Well, what? The pigeon drive the best. That is another thing. I truly do not let the pigeon drive the boat. Uh, okay. I think we're being moved. Explanatory. Obviously. All right. A pigeon is bad news. Lisa, Uh, I've read that you never try to put yourself in a box, and critics call your writing style loudly experimental. I don't even know how to explain, uh, confessions on the 7. 45. So would you give us the elevator pitch? Absolutely. Yeah, of course. So when we first started confessions, Um, we need Selena. And Selena has had a really bad day, Like a terrible day, the worst day ever. And she's, you know, missed her train home. And she's in a really dark place...

...when she finally makes it to her train station and she gets on the train. And, of course, because she's had this horrible day it stalls, dies on the tracks. Just gonna be even later getting home. She finds a seat next to a beautiful stranger, and this stranger strikes up a conversation with a confession. And maybe it's, you know, the dark of the train or the drink she shouldn't have had or this terrible, awful day. But this confession leads Selena to share a secret of her own. And then the train comes back to life and spleen is headed back into the world. And she's embarrassed, you know, like, Oh, my God. Why did I tell this total stranger this really dark secret that I've never told anyone. And she hopes she just really hopes that she is never going to see the beautiful stranger on the train ever again. But of course she will. And that's the premise for confessions on 7 45. Chill, bones. Yes, really A great. I mean, you might as well just reached in a hook and, you know, every single listeners out there. So in an interview, I read you said that you frequently start with an idea you're obsessed with and that you let it build into something larger until you start to hear voices. And I assume you don't mean audibly because you know that's crazy, But Okay, we're done it. You came up with the plot for confessions on the 7. 45. Did you start? What was the obsession you started with? And then which voices did you start to hear? Yeah, so that I mean, that's exactly the way it works for me. I wanted getting like, kind of sent me obsessed with something in this case, there was an idea that had been kicking around in my head for a while. I'm not even sure where I heard it in the first place, but it was the idea that you can't con an honest man. And I thought, you know, that that has the ring that has the ring of truth to it. But you know, nothing in human psychology is ever so simple. Um and so let me do a lot of research about the confidence game con artists and, um and and scams. And so I started, um, you know, and I have been sort of thinking about it for a while, and I brought it up in a green room before Crime Fiction panel and one of my one of the women I was talking to, you said, I know she's like that Sounds like victim blaming to me. And I was like, Yeah, under that, you know? So that was another piece that kind of went into my head. So I get, you know, sort of obsessed and I'm reading and I run across a book called The Confidence Game by a writer named Maria Kondakova. And it's a very detailed book about con artists. Um, you know, you know, common scams, the psychology of the con artist and the con. And I sort of came away from this book with a much more layered idea of, you know, the confidence game. And one of the things that she said was that, you know, most people think that they are immune to this, like you're too smart or too world. Yeah, but the more assure you are of that fact, the more vulnerable you are you these pointers. And so that was really interesting. And so I can't wait from the buck thinking it's not so much that you can't con an honest man. It's that you can't con somebody who doesn't want something. And everybody everybody wants something everybody wants. These people are very, very good figuring out what that thing is and giving it to you so that you, in turn, give them what they were after all along. And so it was that idea That sort of drew me into the confessions. And my first boy, my first voice was pearl. Mm. Uh, Selena was the very powerful second. So there were these two voices these two women, uh, you know, a girl and a woman leading very different lives. And, um, you know, and I don't know how things are going to go when I start to write. I don't have an outline. I don't know what's going to happen a state away or at least go up or what they're gonna do. I certainly don't know how the book is going to end. Um, so I just have to kind of find that story. What I believe is there. I always believe it's there, and I usually find it, so just keep doing it like that. Wow. You know what? At what point did Pops voice come to...

...you? Lisa? Um, uh huh came, well, he's really sort of a like a like, sort of an element of Pearl's life. Right, So So we first meet Pearl, um, she The first thing she sort of tells us about herself is that she's a watcher, that she likes to hide in the shadows, and that's where she sees what everybody else misses. That's where she sees what people what people are when they don't think they're being observed. So pop is sort of a little bit hard to talk about him without giving a lot of this. He's the first person that ever really sees her, and it surprises her to be seen. And, you know, even though their relationship is a very dark one and, uh, twisted in a number of different ways, he is really the first person to ever take care of her. You know, truly take care of her. You know, Stella, her mother is not abusive, but she's, you know, wild and disorganized and unpredictable. And her father, her biological father, is, you know, missing. She has no idea who he is or or where he is at the beginning of the book. Um and so he is like, even though he is in many, many ways, almost a predator, I think, you know, in his sort of dark heart, he truly he truly loves her. And she loves him. And it was just that relationship that really complicated relationship that intrigued me. And that's how you know, I just kind of followed them through the book that way. That's fascinating, but I have to say that when I was listening to you talk about the psychology of the con, it made me understand, maybe for the first time, how so many people fall prey to telemarketing scams and the letters that come in the mail telling you your Social Security screwed up and they were so effective at it and they get they asked the question And also, you know, people when they have been scammed. And this is another big part of the problem when they have been scammed. There's so much shame because there's such a tyrant that you that you are so foolish. And how could you have fallen for this? And this is like it's out there. Everybody knows there's no Nigerian prince that you know your help right? Like this is that yes, it's a shame attached to it when you have gone that a lot of people don't ever report it. And so you know, they go on and they're also very. They're, you know, they're very slippery, and it's not like it's not a robbery. It's not a it's not a smash and grab, you know, it's a dance and you participate in it and you know that you participate when it's over. You know that you participated in it and so there's a tremendous amount of shame, these people from ever saying this happened to me And so you know, it goes on and people don't get caught and you know you truly have been prey. But critics have compared this wonderful book to Patricia Highsmith Classic Strangers on the Train, which was made into a Hitchcock film, and also contemporary thrillers like Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train and Donald Westlake's The Grifters and Harlan Coben The Stranger. And yet, Lisa, Your book is totally unique and fresh. So my question is, Can you talk about how you can take this traditional thriller trope and make it your own, although you've already given us a couple of insights into How But I'd like to hear how you take this thriller and decide, How do you make it fresh right? Well, it has to be yours, right? Otherwise, you can't ever write it. You know you can't you have five writers and there could be one idea, and there's going to be five. There's going to be five different, but you know there's going to be five different books because everything that you're right, if you're writing from an authentic space comes from all of your You know, this this wonderful amalgamation of your imagination, your experiences, your ideas, your you know, your fantasies, your dreams, everything is like kind of that. And, you know, so you know, it comes the the inspiration for this book came from, You know, my obsession with confidence games And of course, you know, there's so many great books that you mentioned, like The Grifters and, um, you know, and Patricia Highsmith and all these books are, you know, they're well established in the in the consciousness of of readers, especially crime fiction readers. But, you know, I'm always going to bring my own thing to that story, you know? So it's really I think...

...it's I think it would be hard to copy a book or an idea, even if even if you wanted to, you know, you couldn't really you can't really Do you know that that idea for me of two strangers meeting like in a liminal space has always been kind of a fascinating idea. You know, I feel like when you're traveling especially, you know, like traveling is like this liminal space. It's you're not the person that you were when you left where you were and you're not the person that you're going to be when you get where you're going, you're just in this, like, sort of space where there's this tremendous amount of energy and we all know that we, like, wound up next to somebody It could be and maybe is most often one of those like, Oh, my God, moments where you just need to put your headphones in like I can't talk to you. But sometimes there's like this electricity and, you know, you know that everything in your life and everything in their life has brought you, you know, to the space. And there must be an energy there, a reason for that. And so that was really like it wasn't really, um, strangers on a train or the Grifters or any of those that were the inspiration. But just that idea of, you know, you're vulnerable and you're in this liminal space and what the energy is there and what can happen. And so everything goes from there is me. So you could never you know, you never really like there's many. There are as many stories around a central theme as there are people. It's true, I think. And I think this is more just that you're being compared to the great classic, which is, you know, humbling and very kind. You know, Lisa, we had we had Kristin Hannah on our show last week, and she spoke about throwing unbearable challenges of her protagonists. So it seemed to me in reading this book that you threw a lot at Selena. You put her through a lot of the understatement of the evening, right? You know, Kristen was talking with us last week. It sounded like what she was saying. She was making a very conscious, deliberate choice to continue asking herself. How can I raise the stakes? How can I make things worse for you? Was that as conscious? And I'm especially curious about the answer. Since you were just talking about the way you plot your books, that you start with these characters, you hear these voices, and then you just go. Are you consciously asking yourself every step of the way? How can I raise the stakes? How can I make it worse? Or does that just evolve because of these characters you've created? Yeah. No, I'm never thinking anything like that. I mean, And of course, you know, I will say that. You know, I've been a writer all my life. I've been a writer since I was a kid. I've been a reader since I was a kid. My education is centered on writing, and the novel is where is my voice, right? Like that's where, you know, after studying poetry and screenwriting and, you know, play writing and journalism, You know, it was very clear to me when I just when I discovered that the novel is my writer's voice, right? So I've been doing this, you know, in one way or another for most of my life. Um, so I think in many in many senses, I have, like, just sort of internalized that form, you know, like it's the way my brain works, right? Like I'm always looking for the story and telling the story. But when I'm writing, I'm like in a completely other brain. Um, and I have no access to these choices like I don't choose my characters. I don't choose their names. I don't feel that I do right, I do. But I don't experience it that way. And I never asking questions like, How can I raise the stakes? Where can I bring this twist like there's nothing like that for me, it is all 100% organic and, um, everything. Every element of my plot flows from character, and and the and those characters are, and I am in that space with them. I am not above it on the outside, moving pieces around the board. I'm not doing I'm not doing that. I'm in it. So later, right after the first draft is done, it was written, and there's an editorial process that, you know, as a professional writer, I, you know, subject my book too. At least 2 to 3 editorial drafts before I ever turned it into my editor. And so at that time, when I'm reading my own book, I'm going to ask myself this question about every scene I'm gonna say, Does this scene advanced plot or a character? Hopefully, both. Okay, Right. So every scene that I have written, every piece...

...of the story that I have put onto the page is going to be subjected to that in the editorial in the editorial phase, Um, but in the writing phase, Yeah, I just don't I just don't have any of those thoughts. I'm sure I am having them, but they're on their their their deep consciousness. Yeah, Well, do you feel like that's developed as I mean, as you've written more and more books has that ability for your subconscious to do that for you evolved and made you over time A better, more intuitive writer. I honestly well, so so my first novel, I the first novel I published I began writing when I was 19 years old. Wow. I just I just turned 50 last year, So I hope that the book I started writing when I was 19 years old in quality is a recognizable from the book that I just turned in, right, Right. Many years after 11,000 and 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 hours, whatever amount of hours I have devoted to honing a craft that I have been, you know, working on my entire life. I hope that I am a better writer today than I was when I was 19 year old. I mean, like, sort of, you know, God help me if I'm not, my process has honestly, always has always been the same. It's never It's never really it's never really changed. I've always written the way I write, but I hope I hope I'm doing it better. And that's not saying that, like, always motivates me like I'm not motivated by, um, you know, best seller list or reviews or or anything. What I'm motivating is every day is that I feel like I believe I can get up every day and be a better writer than I was yesterday. I truly believe that, you know, And so that's That's the fire in the belly for me, Like that's what brings me back to the age. That's awesome. I love that. Wow, that's so well, sad. And yeah, such a good goal to strive for that. That's the only thing you control. I mean, we all know that this is true literally. It's the only thing you control is what you bring to the page. So true, so true. Um, well, sort of along that line, um, Selena, that your protagonist seems to be caught in this velvet cage of her own making. You know, she has this seemingly storybook life with a great job in beautiful Children. and you know the things that we all really want want. But her marriage is already starting to developed some cracks. You can say that you have a lot to say about happy families in this book and also about the role that Social media plays in that. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Yeah, absolutely. I am, you know, So Selena is like one of those women, like, you know, she's any of us or she's anybody that she's like one of these super women that, like our culture, is so good at producing, right? She's got her friend and she's got the perfect marriage and she's got the perfect house and she's got the big job and she's got the, you know, the gorgeous Children. And, you know, she even thinks of herself as being like Instagram Mobile. You know, like she's instagram. It's a great line and puts that out there. You know, very much, though, and she's very invested in it, you know, she's very invested in this idea of herself as being perfect, and it's not even anything that she I think consciously has chosen or consciousness wants. But she is very very invested in that facade that she has put up and so much so that she has, um, you know, allowed her marriage to kind of rot underneath the underneath the shingles, right? So there's a lot. There's a lot of rot there, and, uh, and she's also very tied up in it because she can't even bring herself to tell anyone. She can tell her best friend. She can't tell her sister. You can't tell her mother because she doesn't want to shatter this image. This perfect image of Selena and Graham. You know this like you know, she's like they're basically like tearing each other's throats out, and she's like posting pictures of them, like having a family walk in the park. Like when, uh and so she's So She's so invest in that. And I think that is one of the reasons that you know she's so vulnerable to mark to Martha that that, you know, in that moment on the train, because she's like she has to tell somebody like all the stuff that's going on within her. And I think that, you know, I think social media, you know, I think I think social media has a lot to answer for and certainly is. You know, I think it's rewired us in ways that we could never...

...have predicted and that, you know, there's so much of you know, these curated moments that are put out there right while we all know that real life is the life that's being lived, between those filtered and curated shots that you had time to post on Instagram and then, like, wrote your little blurb or whatever what you wrote about, like you're perfect self and then the people on the other end. They're looking at the speed of perfection and comparing it to their very messy, complicated, three dimensional lives. And it's toxic or or Kelly and, um so I'm always I'm always interested in questions of technology, you know, they always figure very, um, very prominently, especially in the last I would say three or four bucks this question about what technology is doing to our sense of identity and how we relate to each other. So along those lines, do you think that social media has made voyeurs out of all of us for sure, lawyers and and narcissists and um and I think that it hasn't made it to be. To be clear, I don't think it's made anything out of us. I think it's just exposed some of the fractures and some of the tendencies that, you know we already had. You know, there is always a tendency that hide behind an armor of everything's okay. I'm fine. It's perfect, right? There is that tendency to behind that in general. And this just, you know, has amped it up to a new level. And then, you know, and we are looking, um but we're at each other much more than ever before, but we're not really seeing what's true. We're just seeing what people have chosen to show. And sometimes I think the messy, real life behind the scenes pictures are like the most curate was like, Yeah, OK, yeah. You're messy. Kid is so cute, right? Uh, yeah. Um, we've got some questions from viewers. I've got another. Another question I wanted to ask. And you know, actually, I think the problem. We're all curious. Lisa, could you talk about your publishing journey because you were in the business side of book publishing to start with, right? Yeah. Yeah. So I was you know, I was a writer as a kid. My mom was a librarian, and she always knew kind of what I was. My dad, on the other hand, is an engineer. And so, you know, I had aspirations early, and I was like, Is this something I could do? You know, my dad was like, No, it's not a job, you know, get a real job. And you're like, here's the deal. You know, you're covered for four years of college, I got I got your back. But when you graduate, you are off the payroll. So, um, you know, you can take basket weaving for all I care. Um, but you're gonna need your job that even if it doesn't pay, well, at least it pays every two weeks. So, you know, even though I knew this is what I was and that's all I wanted and everything, I don't my entire education writing when I graduated. Not surprisingly, I didn't really have the confidence to actually try, even though I already started my first novel when I was 19 years old, like still in school. So I went into publishing. And to be honest, you know, it was unfortunate that I happened to be, like, really, really good at my job as a publicist. So my job just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger time that I spent right and got smaller and smaller and smaller until I just reached a point in my life when I wasn't writing at all. Uh, and I had a little bit where I was like, Okay, everything about my life is wrong. I was with the wrong guy, not my husband, who I'm with now for 20 years, but the wrong guy at that. Everybody's been with that guy, right? Like not the right guy. And I was giving, like, 100 and 10% of myself to, uh, a job that I didn't didn't love and that the only thing that I ever wanted I was just letting it go. And so that was the moment where I got really, really serious about my writing. You know, I was like, I'm going to be able to live with spectacular crash and burn failure, but I'm not going to be able to live with a slow thing. Yeah, that's the courageous choice of success, isn't it? Well, yeah, I mean, that's all you need to do to right? To be a writer is to actually write, you know? So that's when I started writing every day, and I took me another year from that from that time to finish the book that I had started when I was 19. So the book that I tell you when I was 19, I finished when I was 29. Wow. And so even when I finished it, I was like, I still didn't know what to do with that. You think...

...after having been in publishing all this time and like now, you know, people in publishing published all the time But then it wasn't really like that, you know? It was like I was kind of a closet writer, you know, It was like it's almost embarrassing to be working and publishing and be like, You know, you're at dinner with Tom Clancy like I'm a writer, too. Tom. Yeah, I so cute. I went. I wanted to go down to Florida to visit a friend, and I was sloppy Joes in Key West, and that's where I met my my husband, Jeff. Usually those relationships sloppy Joes are a little bit more short term. Yeah, I mean, yeah, like, sort of a one in a million. We just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. So Well, congratulations. Each week we supported Independent Bookstore, and this week you chose Tom Bullough book and founder Elsa's Wellington, who is so great was the longtime events director of Malaprops in Asheville, North Carolina, and I love her and I have done events with her, and she moved to ST Pete ST Petersburg with her partner and co store owner, Candice Anderson. And by the way, we all look forward to visiting the story at some point in the future. Yeah and Tom. Below Books features all genres from biography, memoir and science to gardening, cooking, poetry and, of course, fiction. The store offers an expansive Children's section with a cozy reading nook for parents and Children, and you can enjoy your visit and take all the time you want. It's a wonderful place. Customers were. All customers will also find a healthy section of books, both fiction and nonfiction by Florida authors and all about the state of Florida. So if you want to order Lisa's books tonight or ours offer, they are offering a 10% discount on books by Lisa and US. Discount will be given at the check out. And I don't see that we have a code, so you don't know tonight, so just get your 10% is go. Don't even have to remember anything. That's a point there. There's such a great store. I love it there so much. They're so supportive. And it's just such a nice place. Hello again. Hello. Okay, so now we've got a lot of people are posting questions for Lisa. Patty, are you going to read her a couple of questions or so? Okay. Lisa, I'm so glad they asked this because I wanted to ask you this. So Diana kun McGoldrick said how you said you didn't plot that you don't have an outline that you work from How far into a story does the way it will come to a close. Become clear to you Question. Yeah, I know. I was like, Thanks. Man is good at the question. Yeah, Yeah. I mean, the small usually just kind of continues to continues to build on itself, and then I'm probably about three quarters of the way through when I start to see the shape of the end. And this is around the time where I would end up having a lot of 3 a.m. wake up, which is, you know, it's, uh, everybody like 3 a.m. is like the witching hour, right? Like for everything, every worry that you have in your life, like it's for me. Like that's the You know, the time I wake up, especially towards the end of the book, Um, when I I just feel like a lot of things are are working themselves out during the day when I'm when I'm when I'm not writing when I'm exercising when I'm cooking. And then, of course, unfortunately when I'm sleeping and so I and then it was just kind of wake me up and I'll just wake up thinking, Oh my God, that's it. You know, like I can't even tell you haven't like that's happened. You know when I'm sleeping or when I'm on the treadmill or like whatever you know, whatever it happens to me, it's usually like about three quarters, the way that I'm starting to see that shape and that things really get very, very intense and and it's, uh, you know. And it's also like to the point where, like, I will have written something, you know, like on page 50 that I didn't even know why at the time. And then I'll just be like, Oh, right, that's why you know, because I know I know enough. I trust myself enough to...

...leave it there, even though I don't 100% understand it. And then, of course, while while I'm writing, you know, when I start my writing day, I generally reread what I wrote the day before. So there's always a lot of editing that goes in to that as well. You know, you can never be reading your work and not rewriting it, right? I mean, no way, not impossible, even when it's in the book way too late for way too late for that. But I think all of us would probably rewrite everything I know I would forever and ever. And then, actually I mean, Lisa, it's like you just know what I'm going to ask you because you segued so well into this. Kathleen Bridge wants to know what your typical writing day is like and do you write seven days a week. And she also said she loved meeting you at her independent bookstores, the Very Beach Book Center, which I know we already waiting forever and ever. Hi. Thanks for for asking. Yeah, I write. You know, I read pretty much every day. Um, my, you know, sort of My golden creative hours are from five. Am to noon. Um, I'm a mom, so I don't get that every day. You know, of course, there's, like, you know, the dog three up at four o'clock or sick or whatever, But, you know, I My my happy place is to roll out of bed, like to my desk, like when I'm as close to that dream frame. So, um, things have shifted a little bit during the pandemic. And then also now my daughter goes, She has to be at school by 7. 20. So six o'clock, we're having breakfast and having like that time together before she goes to school. So I've, you know, since the pandemic, I really treated her school day, Whether it's virtual or she's now actually in physical school, I treat her school day as my workday. That that's not ideal. Ideal is for me to wake up at 5 a.m. and work until noon, and that that is the ideal. That is the ideal situation for me. But, you know, I ideals are not reality. Yeah, you write. You can write that when you wish you were writing. My ideal is like 11. 30 PM to like 3 a.m. Like what you're talking about like that twilight but on the opposite end. But last night I can't. That's not like a real person's life, right? I mean, you can't do that. I can't do that. Someday you might be you. But you know, when you have a you know, when you have, like rugrats running around it's like you don't want to miss that. You know, like your life Sleeping till 11 a.m. is like not a thing anymore. So crispy your your your quitting writing When I'm getting up to write When Lisa it's crazy. I could never do that. No, Lisa Lisa. Our readers, many of whom are also writers, love to hear writing tips from our guest authors. Do you have a writing tip you'd like to share with us today? Yes, I do. Let me think about this for a second. I usually just say, you know, don't Don't be precious about it, you know? No, don't look for you know that perfect moment when the means comes and all your laundry is done and you have the perfect writing space and the, you know, in complete silence, like, don't don't wait for that. You know, my first book started, um, on a napkin that I took out of the glove, the glove compartment of a car while I was sitting and waiting for my friend to be done with whatever it was he was doing. I can't even remember. So, like, there, you know when when it you should just right, right, Like that's like the main thing. But you know, when you're when you have a job and you have kids, if you if you still have that burning desire to write, if you have like a story that's in you and you've always wanted to do it, there's there's really only one way, and you you have to schedule the time and honor the schedule in the same way that you can schedule the time to do anything else that's important to you. because there really is no other way to write a novel than to write it. And there's no other way to write. Yes, unless you've scheduled the time to do it. And you've honored that time when you get that time and you you know you're not Facebook stalking your ex or cat videos on Twitter. You know that's right. So it's time and honor the schedule. It's not easy, but it is. It is simple, well put. Thank you, Thank you. Well, you know, you've given us a lot of writing tips all night long. But another question we like to ask our guests is,...

What are you currently reading? So, Lisa, do you have a book you'd like to recommend to all of us? Yes, I so I I And it's also exciting because I also be speaking to her next week at a mysterious Galaxy Books. I am right here. Her dark lives by J. C. Is. I know some of you guys know her. She's she's so amazing. She's such a wonderful, generous and super kind person. She's also a mega talented writer, and this book is just very elegant and dark and twisty, and it's like, you know, the wedding of the year at, like, you know, this island in Italy and, you know, the bride and the groom. They both have really, really dark secrets. And, you know, there's a storm coming and, like, really, what could go wrong? I'm sure it's gonna be fine. Yeah, it'll be great. It's all going to go off without a hitch, happy, and make sure it's a credit to It is fantastic. It's truly riveting. And yeah, of course, we all we all love our friends. And, you know, we all try to support each other. But, you know, JT truly is a tremendous talent. And this was a fantastic book. I loved everything. Thank you Could not agree more. So I'm going to toss out a book wreck. Um, including JTS, her dark lies. Um, and that is a book that just came out yesterday called a boobs life. Right. And it is written by Leslie Lear. And she is an amazing writer. And I first came in contact with her because she had written a modern love article about how she had fallen in love and married her husband. And they got married and she got breast cancer, and the article was about how he got more than he bargained for. And this book is It's funny. It's vulnerable. And it explores America's obsession with I just wanted to tell you all about it. It has been an option for, um, film or TV. I think it's been optioned by HBO. Max with Salma Hayek. Leslie? Yeah. Wow. Big announcement. Yes, that's right. Anybody else have a book you want to recommend? Actually, I do. But I don't have the cover with me, so I'll hold it off till next week. There's so many. So many. Okay, well, we've got a few more announcements you want to tell you about, but stay with us because you don't want to miss the last question for Lisa Christie. I think that's me. Yes. Um, I don't know if you guys know about our podcasts. If you don't, you need to know about them. Not only are our shows on our podcast, but now we have extra interviews to make sure you check them out. Um, I recently interviewed um, the author of the new Reese Witherspoon Pig Outlaw. It was she was amazing. Patty and Mary Kay um interviewed book Influencers Carol Fitzgerald and Robin Haman off So you don't wanna miss that one. And Christian and Mary Kay just interviewed a ton of French, so we have a lot of really great episodes coming up, but you don't want to miss. You can subscribe and listen wherever you listen to your podcasts and if you're enjoying it, radius and review us and follow us. And I'm here to remind you not about all those great podcast. Thank you, Christine. But to remind you about our featured independent bookseller of the week, which is Tom Below Books, the locally owned indie bookstore in ST Petersburg known for its helpful staff, get 10% off with the code. We do have a code. We lied about that it is F F 10 this week for our guests, Lisa Unger's book Confessions on the 7 45 as well as our recent upcoming books. Go Ahead thank you again to our partner, Mama Geraldine, maker of the country's best selling cheese straw and my personal favorite pecans and many cookies and our partner Page my books, where real true book lovers hand curates elections. They know that you would love and speaking about books, our book club, friends and fictions. Official Book Club is doing amazing things. First of all, they just passed the four 1000 member mark, Amazing Brenda and Lisa, who run the program. And this month they'll be reading my novel The Book Club, appropriate for a book club so you can visit by going to the Friends Infection Official Book Club on Facebook. And I'll be joining...

...them on March 15th for a discussion. And next week, no biggie. We're gonna be selling having a book launch party for Patty's highly anticipated surviving Savannah's Released. So yep, it's the first. This is the first Fab Five release out of the chute. It will be Patty. Yeah, because we just pump them out like that, you know? Just want to know. No worries. Yeah, So you don't want to miss you do not want to miss us next Wednesday night. And now we have one more question for Lisa. Lisa, you know, reading confessions on the 7. 45 during this pandemic year, Um, that we've been wearing our protective masks, but in confessions which was completed before right before we knew about covid 19, you talk a lot about the mess we all wear. And also about blinders. Could you talk a little bit about that? Yeah. I mean, that's definitely that's definitely a big fame of confessions, You know that? You know Selena, it's true. Selena, Of course. You know, she she's wearing a mask. She has a facade that she puts forth of her life. Certainly Graham has one face that, um, he's showing the world and you know, another another face behind that. And and, uh, and Martha, you know, she she's sort of the ultimate, Um, I guess, even more than somebody who's wearing a mask, she's a changeling. She's sort of becomes somebody different and something different at every every phase of her life, in the books in the book. And I think also, you know, especially Selena definitely has has blinders on about her life, you know, she's there are things that she sort of willfully doesn't want to see and doesn't want to acknowledge. And I think that, you know, that's probably true for for all of us, in different in different areas, you know, we're you might be one person at work, and you might be one person with your Children. And you might be another person with your spouse to a certain degree. This is this is a normal thing. Um, of course in confessions were taking it out. We're taking up taking it at the level. You know, the maths are a little bit darker. And, you know, the blinders are a little bit more willful than then. Hopefully we're experiencing our in our real lives. Yeah, that's a great a great explanation. All right, so tonight we were talking about confessions on the 7. 45 with us selling author Lisa Hunger. Thanks, Lisa, for being with us tonight. I just want you to know I will. I will never look at another stranger on the train in the same way after tonight. Don't talk to strangers, stranger. Danger's Please go to our indie bookstore tonight, partner. And make sure you've got Lisa's book or front listener backlist. We would love it if you would treat yourself to our books. Especially our Patty, whose book comes out next week. Thank you, Lisa, for being with us tonight. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you. Uh, Now, you guys, everybody run out or you can stay put for our after show, but we hope you'll run out to Tom below books and grab confessions on the 7 45 Preorder any of ours join us friends and fiction on our Facebook page YouTube and on parade dot com's Facebook Page where I wrote this week's essay, Give our podcast a listen now with original new interviews. And don't forget we're on Instagram. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you very much. Money. Mhm. Oh, that was great. Thank you for tuning in. Join us every week on Facebook or YouTube where our live show airs every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Eastern time. And please subscribe to our podcast and follow us on Instagram We're so glad you're here. Good night. Wow. Yeah, she was I still had to leave. I was like, I had another I see what you mean about, you know, keeping the light on. That was the psychological thriller Times 10. I mean, wow, even the thing about the cons. Wow, I got economy. Okay. You did? Yeah, something about my bank statements or something. And I...

...thought Marcus, take a look at this. This doesn't seem right. I have someone call me from like What they're doing now is they are hacking into your bank's actual phone number. So I had a call come through to me from my banks phone number. Unfortunately, it was, like, kind of late at night, and I thought it was a little bit weird and they were like, We need to verify some charges. And I was like, I'm going to hang up and call back. And I hung up and called back and they were like, Oh, my gosh, that's a That's a scam And they were like everybody. That's the word of the lesson of today and call back. Don't get it out. Yeah, and the number is always on the back of your credit card. Um, and then you just know it's the right number. But I had it saved on my bank, like saved in my phone. And so it popped up on my phone as them. So I mean, any other by Yeah, my, uh, my in laws. One time I got a call from somebody who's who pretended to be my son and said, I'm in trouble and I don't want my parents to know. Yeah, that's a classic Mom and Dad to know I'm in trouble. Will you please send money to get me out of? I've been arrested, whatever it is. And of course, my mother in law immediately knew that that was crazy. And yet my father in law was like, We've got to send money. We gotta call patent. Patty Thomas is in big trouble. And she was like, Yeah, no, he's at home. He's good. Like I know, talk about preying on the vulnerabilities department. Yeah. Horrible. Yeah. Killer scare me. I can't read this at night. Well, this one, this one, um, is so well done. I love the way she talks about who Selena is in the margins like she's coming home from work. She's had a terrible day at work and she's coming home and she's going before she goes in the house and becomes a mom. It's like this little sliver is for me. And who am I in this little sliver? Um, and I thought it was so well done. And of course, the whole time when she's toying with the idea of of the stranger on the train, starts texting her and she knows it's a bad idea to text her back. Her best friend says, Don't text her back, her lawyer says, Run away. But so there's this pull, and so it's really well done. But yeah, I've always been fat. Maybe it's, you know, my former police reporter. Um, background, but cons and confidence games. Kind of fascinating to me. Well, something Go ahead, sweetie. There you go. I was gonna say, for something so twisty, I can't believe she doesn't plot. I know. That's that's what. Yeah, I agree. And I mean, I'm a non plotter, so, like, I don't know, But I would just think for something where you, you know, you have to kind of get to a certain place. And there's a lot of twists and turns along the way. Yeah. I mean, I thought that was working without a net. Yeah, I always thought looks like that were tautly plotted, like the twist. And then the twist. And then the twist. I was assumed they had their just lined up, right? Yeah, but I was actually thinking about you know what we all right and how even though they're not twisty psychological thrillers, I wouldn't have like, really put it into words this way. But I feel like in a lot of ways, we're always writing about who are characters are in those fringe hours or like who they are and that, you know, you're who they are with the families who they are with their friend, who they do. You are when you're and so sometimes you know, like my editor will say they're thinking too much or cut that. But I'm like, No, because you're a totally different person or like, oh, have this in conversation. But the things that you think to yourself or so often things that you would never say to anyone, anybody else because quiet, introspective, often reactions to some action that just yeah, and a lot of times like, they're just not something you would say out loud. So I think it's really fascinating to think how that isn't necessarily genre specific, but that we're all kind of doing that. Yeah, Kristen and I interviewed uh, Todd of French. How? For the podcast. It was really interesting. She and she kind of does the same thing. She just you know, um, it's whatever she's been thinking about, and it just she just starts writing. So, um and of course, we all think, Oh, thriller writers, they have it all. They have it on a barb char and a graph, and they have a story border. But I think everybody does it differently. Mm, that's what's always...

...so interesting. And I think the when, she said she follows her obsession, I was gonna say to her, but she was talking so beautifully about it. The other word I would use for that is curiosity, Right when we're curious about something, that's how I always almost always fall into my story. There's something I'm curious about. Then I get a little more curious and then a little more curious and then a little more curious. And the next thing you know, you're falling down a research rabbit hole and there's a story. You do it. Doesn't that what that painting is? Uh, isn't that what Grimmett minister was talking about the other night when she said that it's always those empty gaps that we find most curious? Yes, the question mark, and they're like and someone needs to answer the question. So, you know, um, the question I wanted to ask her. She in one of the interviews I read with her. She said the idea can come from everywhere, and she and one idea for a book she got. And I guess she wrote it was from a piece of junk mail. Wow, that's awesome. I know when people when people say, Where do you get your ideas? I'm like, Hello, world. Yeah. You know, I feel like I've been counting on reading a lot more. Not necessarily books, but just like magazines And, like, what's going on in the world? And because I'm not out there everyday living this exciting life, I'm not all you know, none of us. Are we working on that now? Yeah. I mean, we're not, you know, thinking all these interesting people and on airplanes and speaking, and I mean, we're just not being our creativity has to come from some different places. Well, Kristie, I am never talking to anybody on the plane again or a train or anything. Okay? I want to just guess anything. Yeah, right. Just don't tell him your secrets, but do you ever like are there any, um, like a plane or a train or whatever Conversations that you've ever had that you remember like a person that you met on a plane that you were like. It's stuck with you. Oh, I met a heartthrob one. It's like, Well, we just in to me. I better not talk to you anymore. And I've been married for a long time. That has not happened. Really? Uh, you know, But I can't get anybody. I'm sure I have talked to strangers on the plane. Um, but I really can't think I can't. That's right. Maybe I should talk to people of I met a guy on a plane one time, and it was so fortuitous because I was writing the secret to Southern Charm. And the Sloan's husband is like, missing in action. And and he told me all of these, like, really interesting stories about being a soldier and my heart didn't pitter pat. We weren't like Dustin's to read or anything, but he really helped me with my book. I mean, we talked The flight was two hours. We talked the whole time, and I was like that. It was really great. Yeah, Hopefully, we'll get out there and do that, you know? Yeah, I know, right? Now it's like, What are you going to be inspired by? Well, I was inspired by the run to the grocery store on the way to the mailbox. There was this really cool dog. I don't know. I sat beside a striking on a plane. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to tell you all I one day on the show. Yeah, one day on a show. I'll tell you all about it cause it was like the cars. Yes, I think I've told you all, but I don't think maybe I'm trying to hear it. And, uh, I met a psychic in a bar, a famous bar in New York. Gosh, decades ago, it was the lion's head, which was the village hangout for writers. It's gone now, but a friend who was working for the New York Daily News at the time took me there, were sitting at the bar having a drink, and a guy came up and told we totally did not. The two of us did not look like women. You would hit on. But for some reason, this guy was hitting on us and he was like, I am I'm, uh, read poems among other things and let me read your poem. Alright? Whatever. Go away. Yeah, sure, he's reading our palms and he says to my friend, he goes, Oh, no mm. And she goes, What he goes, Well, your lifeline is coach, right? That's not good. That's a horrible thing. And drink. I think we basically just said run along But he said to me something about you have a secret thing you're working on, right? Because I was I was writing in Secret Fiction. I said yes. And he said, Well, and I said, Well, since you're,...

...you know, since you can read my hand, Um, what does my hand tell you? And he said, Well, my hand your hand tells me that you will get what you want, but it depends on who you know it was true. So did your friend have a short life? No, No. I think she's still living. She's still working and she's probably retired now. Um, they said it depends on who you who you know. And I had a friend at the paper who have been published many, many times by HarperCollins, and she introduced me to her editor and he published my first two books. Yeah, he was right. That's why I was asking about. I had to look up. I have to look her up and see. I'm sure she's retired. She was some years older than me, but she was a television writer for the for the New York Daily News and then maybe two for the post. Um, but the great thing was, she got me tickets to see, um, Saturday night Live, Uh, time, uh, days. Never worried about her. Yeah. Go check on her for us and reporting. I should check on her. I should check on her. I want to. Are you all ready to check on your dinner? Yes. I'm hungry. You guys, That was great fun. It was. Thank you for taking us very happy. At least that's amazing. You soon by tomorrow. Thank you for tuning in. Join us every week on Facebook or YouTube, where our live show airs every Wednesday night at 7 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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