Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 4 months ago

Friends & Fiction with Mary Bly & Sonali Dev

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Mary Bly joins the Fab Five to discuss her long, successful career writing regency romances under the pseudonym Eloisa James while living somewhat of a double life as a Shakespeare professor and English Dept chair at Fordham University. We hear about how she made the decision to write contemporary fiction (LIZZIE & DANTE, out now) under her real name just this year for the first time and how her love of Italy and the classics infuses all of her writing. https://www.eloisajames.com/ She’s joined by Sonali Dev who writes clever, deeply layered, and heartwarming Bollywood-style romantic comedies in the Jane Austen tradition (INCENSE AND SENSIBILITY, coming July 6th). Sonali discusses giving readers a glimpse into the Indian American experience through her work, and the importance of revisiting and retelling classics like Austen. https://sonalidev.com/ 

Welcome to Friends and Fiction. Fivebest selling authors and the stories. Novelists, mary Kay andrews, ChristineHarmel, Christie Woodson harvey patty Callahan, Henry and mary Alice Munroare five longtime friends with more than 80 published books to their creditIn 2020 they created friends and fiction to provide author interviewsand fascinating insider, talk about publishing and writing and to highlightindependent bookstores. These friends discuss the books, they've written thebooks they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books andyou're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Mhm Hi there.Hello everybody, how are you doing? Welcome to Friends in Fiction. We areso happy you're here. I'm Christine Harmel, I'm Christy Willson Harvey, I'mpatty Callahan, Henry, I'm mary Alice Munro and I'm mary Kay Andrews and thisis Friends and fiction, five new york times, bestselling authors, endlessstories, all to remind you to shop local when you can and to keepsupporting independently owned bookstores tonight. We are thrilled tohave with us. Not one but two renowned authors, mary Bly, who you might knowunder her pen name, Eloisa James and Sonali Dev Somalis. New book in senseand sensibility. Coming july 6th is an indian american spin on jane Austen'ssense and sensibility and mary's new book, lizzie and Dante, which just cameout yesterday, is her first under her real name and it revolves around aShakespeare scholar, which just so happens to be exactly what mary is.We'll talk to both of them about drawing inspiration from the classics,how the central theme of love carries us through the centuries, how books canexpose us to other cultures and expand our worlds and what it's like tobalance life and a writing career. But first we want to thank ourincredible partner Mama Geraldine's who's t straws and cookies we all love.We've all had busy months with recent book, it's nice to know someone dropsby in the midst of the chaos. Like Delia dropped by on me last week.Something delicious to entertainment. As always. You can get 20% off yourorder at Mama Geraldine's dot com with the code Fab five and you know whatgoes really great with cheese, straws, what's that? What is it? What is it?Why really good wine? Especially good wine. That is a match made in heavenfor book lovers. We are so excited to announce the beginning right now. Weare kicking off the summer of story points on Friends and fiction. Eachweek the after show will be called sip and stay with story point and it willbe sponsored by story point wines. And it's hard to say after you've had acouple glasses of wine and what a story what is wrong with? Right.Anyway, this distinction, distinctive collection of flavorful wines, cabernetsauvignon, pinot noir and chardonnay. My favorite from California's bestgrowing regions, seeks to champion stories that inspire like us after all,many great stories and ideas unfold over a shared bottle of wine. Theexperience of a wine like that of a good book should tell you something,invite you to discover new things and surprise you. Right, so stick aroundafter the show each week all summer long and we are going to indulge instories and sips and surprises. And since our first this is our first nightpartnering with Story Point. We might have a big surprise for you latertonight. In the meantime. Yes, we hope so. In that we love surprises. In themeantime, I want to be part of the fun. If you're 21 or over, you can become astory point insider by subscribing to their newsletter when following them onfacebook and instagram. You can find those links under announcements on ourfacebook page as well as on our partner page on our website at www dot friendsand fiction dot com. We are all really excited about this partnership in a bit.Will also be telling you about our featured bookseller of the week, bookculture in new york city who will be offering 10% off of our books includingmary's and Son Ollie's, the code F F 21.

You know how much we love our indiebooksellers and how much it means to us to keep supporting them whenever we canand we love it when you do Also Yeah, we also wanted to announce anotherfairly exciting thing, something that we have been giddy about for the pasthour and now you get to know to, which is that christians book that we alllove. The Book of Lost Names came out in paperback last week and it turns outthat she's been keeping some news under her hat. It's actually the book of themonth. We are now calling her Miss june for the whole month of june.Congratulations, Miss june. Congratulations. I expect to beaddressed that way from here on out please. And if that's not too much toask, I have no choice, my dear, you are, you're miss june and if you get thecostume magazine, she is the centerfold. So I feel like we need, I mean, uh, butI think maybe Kristen might have some additional news for us tonight to likemaybe something to do with a certain newspaper and a certain list that weall really want to be on. Uh, me, maybe the ball cases, number five on the page,Number five on the new york times list. You guys thank you so much, you know,just not, yeah, so sweet not not to bore anybody with this, but I just, Icould not have done it without you all. I mean the five of you meg behind thescenes, Sean and Alan behind the scenes and all of you out there like thiswhole community, but it's just been, it's the five of us and your numberfive sign. It's a sign. It's yes, 55 for one day, one day, a good day. Thankyou so much. I'm so grateful to all of you out there, We're so proud of youand you really deserve it. And especially after The debacle of putting,putting out the heart back in the pandemic and all the craziness thatensued and I never need to move on. But I wanted to say something to, its are71st episode and I think it's the first time that we actually set all our nameswithout a hitch. You know, are you looking at me, are you looking at mevictory victory at last year? I feel like that is do a hugecongratulations to us for getting our names right. Congratulations andcongratulations christian. And now I really want to talk about our paradeessay this week because yeah, christian wrote about granting ourselves graceand finding joy in the roads that we choose. Even if those roads are not theones we intended, which I think is something our guests will be able tospeak to. Also, you know, um this essay really meant a lot to me. Um it'sreally hard for me to get personal in my writing. And this is a very personalessay for me because I've struggled this year a lot with feeling like I'mfalling short in every single area of my life because I'm really trying tostretch myself too thin. So my biggest worry is that because of that, my sonisn't getting what he needs for me, and so that's kind of what I talked about.Um I'm curious though, how have you ladies found ways to grant yourself alittle bit of grace and forgiveness over this last year, which I think hasbeen difficult. I mean, I think it's been kind of a tough year for all of usChristie. Um I have had to let go of my to do list. It's just a little bitbecause I feel like I'm very like structured and I have a million thingson my list all the time, and um not that I don't still have them, but Ihave to be like, okay, maybe today it didn't get done and sometimes you haveto sleep at some point. So just, we got to let it go a little bit and it's justbeen a crazy year and you know, you never knew what this week was gonnahold, her next week was going to hold and um you know, it's just, we all hadto be a little different. Yeah, that's true. And I think that we're so easyoffering grace to each other and so hard on ourselves, you know, we say,I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I dropped that ball and we're like, uh you know, weall are dropping balls, but then we get alone with ourselves and we're like, ohmy gosh, I can't believe I did that. So the very idea that I had to doeverything and do it right had to be shuffled swept under the rug along withall the dust bunnies I hide because...

...when this all first started I thoughtoh look at all this free time, I'm going to clean out the attic, I'm goingto learn Gaelic which I actually started trying to do. I did, I got onduo lingo. I oh my God, I thought I'd write incase two other books and instead I struggled like the rest of us and hungon by a thread. Yeah, wow! Well I mean I have to laugh because how many of ushave little instruments or things that we meant to do in the closet. Now, youknow when I wrote the summer of Lost and found which was set against thepandemic, it was a struggle. And I think in the end though I learned thelesson that I really needed to learn for the rest of my life. And that isjust worry about today. Just live today to the fullest. It would get to choosehow the day is going to run and we can just do the best we can. So rather thanworry about tomorrow, take a deep breath, like Kristen's going to dotonight uh and just say I'm living today to the fullest tonight. Haveanother glass of champagne. I think I finally learned to let go and to askfor help um and not to be so um controlling about my personal standardswith some things. So I did that. I asked my I asked for help and my familystepped up. My husband stepped up and helped with the cooking and theshopping and the house upkeep. Um and the rest of my family um stepped intoto help out with whatever came along and I got real comfortable, probablytoo comfortable with all of my imperfections well, but I think that'sa good thing. I mean none of us are perfect and just the living in our ownskin. I think that I think the more you can do that, the happier we are andthen the better we're going to move forward. So it's nice to hear you allsaying this too. I do feel like we're kind of all in this together, all right,but enough about us because we have two amazing guests tonight. And remember aswe're chatting, if you have questions for mary or for Sonali, please pleaseput them in the comments. You know how much we love to take your questions,but Christie do you want to kick things off tonight? Because I know Sonali isan old friend of yours. Yes, Well, I don't know, I mean, you know, battles,but we've known each other for gosh, like four or five years now, which isreally hard to believe. We became tall poppy writers together um sort ofreally early on and are writing careers and I had the best time hanging outwith her in person, in real life for the first time, in Chicago where shenow lives. Um she was actually raised in Mumbai India. She's a USA Todaybestselling author who writes what she calls Bollywood style love stories thatexplore universal issues, how universal you ask. Shelf awareness calls her notonly one of the best, but one of the bravest romance novelists working today.That's awesome, that I'd like that. Peg Yeah, that's pretty right. So, in Ali'snovels have been on Library Journal NPR Washington Post and Kirkus Best Book ofthe Year list. She has won the American Library Association's Award for BestRomance, the RT reviewer choice award for Best Contemporary Romance multipleRT seals of Excellence, which is Romantic Times and has been a read afinalist and has even been listed for the Dublin Literary Award. And mary Blyis in one way, a little bit like me, she's written most of her bestsellingbooks under a pseudonym. Mine of course is mary Kay Andrews, it's not a secret,it's not my real name, but um mary's son, m is Eloisa James a name. Lots ofyou probably know well considering she has published more than 30 historicalromances which have been translated into 26 languages and have sold morethan seven million copies worldwide. And I have to tell you that I hadn'tread those, I hadn't read Romance in a while until I was working on my book um uh summer rental. And the littlelibrary in Nags Head had a shelf of, of Regency Romances And I picked up anEloisa James and I was instantly instantly a huge fan. That's awesome, wow! Well under herreal name, mary blight. She's quite remarkable to, oh my goodness, nowbuckle your seatbelt, she holds the best now from Harvard, a masterphilosophy degree from Oxford and a PhD from Yale. Don't you think she couldhave gone made up? Wait, wait, wait,...

...wait till you hear the rest are totallyfor starting off. He's a professor of english literature specializing inShakespeare at Fordham University in new york city where she lives duringthe school year. But during the summer she jets off to Florence italy with herhusband who just happens to be. Now wait for it. A couple of yan an italiannight. Okay, this part makes me truly jealous. Amazing. We cannot wait to digin with both of them. Welcome Sonali and mary. Hi lady honey. I know you areamazing both of you. My goodness. We're so glad you're here ladies. Yeah, andwe really can't wait to hear about everything but mary, will you start usoff by giving us the elevator pitch for lizzie and Dante which just came outyesterday. So she had her book birthday yesterday. All happy birthday, lizzieand Dante. Thank you. I had Hoggan does to celebrate but now I realize I shouldhave had champagne. I'm living in Dante is the story of a Shakespeare professorwho goes to elbow which is a little island off the shore of Italy whereI've gone every summer and taken my Children because that's what italianfamilies do and it's not a fancy island like Capri, it's an island whereItalians take their Children. And so I created this story of a Shakespeareprofessor who goes there and falls in love with an italian chef. My husbandunfortunately is not a chef, but he is italian girl. There's a lot of my ownlife in here. There's a chef has a 12 year old daughter named Edda and I haveto say I borrowed a lot from my daughter, a lot from my daughter, Iborrowed a lot for my life and and I think it fits in really well with whatyou guys were saying about choosing your time because lizzie and given acancer diagnosis and she's got to decide whether she wants to go aheadwith treatment or not. So she's really thinking about time as a limitedresources, what can you do with time. And I just want to say right up frontthat she does go for treatment and she does get to go back to Elba you knowmade several years in a row and it's not there's no horrible death scene atthe end of it. Okay. I am so relieved to hear that because I have like 2.5chapters left and I was really concerned. Now she chooses obviouslyshe chooses to go back and have treatment and the answer is amazing and There's a lot ofShakespeare so I mean she can twist um Sonali we all agree and sense andsensibility is one of the best titles that we have heard in ages and it comesout July six right? Yes. And uh first I have to say that my husband sellssoftware so I feel really small right now. But it was not a night. I now Iwant to really clever fun about night and you know, sales and no nothing gotnothing because I now I don't know anyway, but I will say that my son theone who came up with that title when he was in middle school. So there issomething Oh wow man. Yeah, I was this is back in 2013 when I was just youknow, thinking of these books, I had this grand idea that I wanted to retell,I wanted to tell stories, you know, that paid homage to my four favoriteAusten novels that are set in um, you know, in the indian culture, but ourscene by scene retellings, but more lessons I've learned as a person. Anduh, I think venus and I was going to be um, as I was thinking about them, I waskind of quickly reffing the concept with him. I had nothing more than justthat and just like that. He's like in sense and sensibility because I saidyoga instructor and sense and sensibility and he was like in senseand sensibility. So came from, so this is um you know this is the story of aman who is running for California governor, A man who is from, it comesfrom immense amounts of privilege and I mean the families, it's a very, it's apolitically ambitious indian american family descended from royalty in Indiawho have made a life for themselves in san Francisco and he's running forCalifornia governor and kicks off months before the election when thereis an assassination attempt and his...

...body bodyguard is critically injuredand this is a man who has known exactly what he wants to do with his life allhis life and he you know, he knows his body all of that and that one and sitand just totally throws him off his game. And it's three months before allhis dreams and his family's dreams, and his community's dreams are about tocome true. And he cannot he cannot get on a stage. And of course, uh the onlyperson who can help him without it leaking to the press is um Sister'sbest friend who is a stress management coach and you And um and well, um ofcourse they had moment 10 years ago and now he's with someone else and has beenfor everyone to see the 10 years. So this is of course, sense andsensibility. So he's Edward Paris, but he's an Edward Ferris I actually like.So uh so it's it's it's basically, you know, dreams, you know what you wantfor yourself, what you carry for others, um and and and how you know how younavigate that. Awesome thank you. So, to all of youout there, I remember to put your own questions for mary and Sonali in thecomments were fully hopefully if we still have time we'll be pulling if youto ask. But for now, mary Alice, do you want to start us off with a question? Ido, thank you. Let me begin with mary please. I've seen interviews with youwhere you talked about your love of Italy and in particular the thingsItaly has taught you about life and the enjoyment of life and that shinesthrough in all your pages of the book. It really does. So I'm curious, can youtalk about what you've learned and how important that was for you when youcreated the lizzie and Dante? Of course, I mean, I will say that, I think thatItaly and Elba is like 1/5 character in the book, right? And I'm in love withmy characters and I'm in love with the island. And so one of the things Ilearned, I came from a very workaholic family. I mean my, my parents went withNico and be like, what's your project? What are you writing? They're bothwriters. Right. So I'm, I am absolutely product of my parents, I work all thetime and I'm a professor and one of not being a professor I'm writing, but myhusband is also a professor, but when he goes to Italy and he's on the beach,he just does the crossword puzzle and my mother in law can spend the entireday cooking. You know, she'll she'll cook some wonderful things, have lunch.You always support me with lunch, don't you have a little finally no. And thenyou know you might clean a little bit and then you start cooking for dinnerand you only buy the food that day that you're going to cook that day and yourlife is they have a way of enjoying the time I wanted to bring into this, wow,I love that sounds so wonderful right now. Especially. Yeah, yeah. I mean thebook took me 4.5 years, so I admire you guys so much writing contemporarynovels. I found it very difficult. But but so it's pre pandemic as it were.You also know the area so well. I mean, you wrote about what you're really knew.That's wonderful. Um Thank you and I have a follow up for Sonali maryteaches us some lessons about life as we know it by giving us insight intothe italian mindset and in your novels you do the same by giving us a windowinto the indian american family. So, is there anything in particular you hopethat readers take away after reading your book? So, first anyone who reads mary's bookand doesn't want to go to L but in something I yes, yes, it's impossibleever. I rub it. I'm like, okay, that's the next trip, and that's when can wego to Italy? Uh you want to leave? It's just gorgeous. And I swear I've been toAlbert just by reading that book and I still want to go me. Um you know, it'salways a it's a complicated thing. I grew up in India, but my Children areborn and raised here. So I have this very unique experience of having umChildren who have a life experience that's very intrinsic to who they are,that I can never truly doing. That's right, because I moved to this countrywhen I was grown adult when I was very confident in my skin. So my experienceof being mothered happened when I already knew who I want. I facedChildren who were the only brown kids in their school when they were in, youknow, preschool and first grade and they've had to, they had to navigatethis journey that I can never truly understand. So, when we all have withthem who have experience is different from us, but I think that's a very,very um unique and uh, almost character forming experience that I can buy land.One of the main things. Um, everything...

I say, whether it's, you know, in books,I write articles, I write a lot of it when I started out, was about if Icould get one person to, to meet someone who doesn't look like them um,and not and not treat them as someone who is different if I change one person,you know and I can feel if one person meets an indian child and think oh Iknow, I know him and know her that I will have done something. So that'syour mother of young Children, sort of you know, selfish. Um almost moved tomy writing, not selfish at all. It's a decent, it's a desensitization which Ithink is really important and a lot of that, it's so important that only comesfrom from putting yourself in someone choose and what van it's cool to dothat. I mean that was that was a big thing when I went into this, I want tohave my grandchildren have a different and my kids are very comfortable, theyare very all american, you know, all of that. But there is this like you knowthere is that one thing that's different and I want my grandchildrento have that thing that's different, that's beautiful to have nothing. Sothat that was my main thing, my other thing and I know I'm going on was umwas that all South asian literature is about immigrant arts and things. Um andI and and that's, I mean that's not who we are, really believe it or not have alittle bit of fun, you know, so so I wanted that part of you know thathaving no boundaries, having been the community where families have noboundaries where you know, and that can be a rope that you know stuff with youand that can be a rope that yanks you out of the worst Greeks and you knowkind of grounds you. And so I wanted that part, I want that part of Southasian life to be alive on the page instead of just thank you, I love that.Oh Sonali, just keep up. I found myself, you're talking, I'm leaning in, I'mleaning and I'm leaving it like I want to me, it makes me want to meet yourfamily, you know, it makes me want to see all of them. So I know this is yourthird jane Austen retelling from an indian american perspective. So I'malso curious what draws you to Austin in particular and what draws you toproviding this new take on a well known classic. What is it about the retellingthat is perfect for you and perfect for the time we're living in. So, so Austin,of course we read her in a historical context, but she was a contemporaryauthor, she was commenting on the, on her current world and so interesting.It was, it was she was and of course, you know, I'm a contemporary author andI wanted to comment on my current world, but but the interesting thing is thatmy first introduction to Austin was when I was in high school and it wasthrough an indian tv show that what we re telling died in federal. Oh wow. Andas 1/7 grader, as a woman that young every all the messages, all the storiesaround me um was women who, you know, who confirmed women who you know did uhwho made themselves like a book and my first experience with with a heroinewho wanted something who had an opinion who you know, who did not under to theopposite sex or two elders or any of that and got what she wanted in the end.So I was reading a lot of literature back then, living in India, thanks tocolonization, educated in english and all of that. And so reading a lot ofbritish classics and everything I was seeing was when a woman wantedsomething in a story. Uh you know, she either had to accept her lot and that'show she found happiness or everything ended in, you know, you know lunaticasylum or I want a partner. You're a ghost to a man who was yelling her nameinto the darkness. So it always ended in death and destruction when womenhave desired. Wow lizzie Bennet was the first woman whose choice was betweendestitution and one of the richest men in England. And she chose destitutionbecause she thought he was a jerk and I was like this thing I had inside methat I don't know where it came from, it found validation and I was I was inthe library, I checked those books out. And so she changed me as a person. Shechanged the tragic story of my life. So...

...it's more than just, oh I love thisbook. I want to retell it these these stories to me, Roo manages to what Ilearned trump. So there emerges to no lessons of what I learned trump wow. Ifthere's a reason to honor her in retellings baby, you just said it justnailed it. That's awesome. So mary of course, as we mentioned, you are aShakespeare professor and I am in the middle of reading Hamnett right now.And so I want to go back and research. It makes me so fascinated with thattime period and with who he was and how he became what he was. So, the classicsmust mean a lot to you too. So why do you think we're at a moment in literarytime where there are so many modern retellings or at least references toclassic stories? How did these stories from the past still manage to be sorelevant today? Well, I'm going to spring right off Sonali and say becausea lot of them actually changed people's lives and already, you know, Right, so,um, I would in jane Austen had a huge effect on women in swimming ways, Imean in marriage choices, but also she was one of the first women who reallymade a huge career if she'd wanted to in writing. And there was a bunch ofother women writing at the same time there called silver spoon novelists.They were essentially romance novelists. And so, but she she's the largestexample we have of a woman who had a career in writing and wrote what arenow classics. And so when you're looking at people like Shakespeare orjane, Austen I think they have such wait for us now because there are someof the first voices that we read early on and there's a reason why we readthem, right? These are books that actually can change people's lives. SoI've been teaching Romeo and Juliet for 20 years and I've taught it differentlyover my entire life. I'm much more interested now in the fact that theygrabbed at what time there was, right at the time they had, if you'd ask them,if you said, hey, you only have two days, so you sure you want to go up inthe balcony and have sex and they would have been absolutely down the line,especially Juliet, you know, she was, she's the first woman on the englishstage to propose marriage to a young man. She first person to express desire,her epithelium, which is the opening, you know when she talks about I have Ihave, you know, I bought a house but I haven't but I'm like a suit of newclothes, I haven't been worn and I bought a house, but I haven't lived init. She's actually talking about sleeping with a man in that scene andthere's nothing like, so years afterwards, there's all these parodiesthat go up in the stage where young women come out on the balcony of like,oh I have to have sex right now began from that, we can tell just howrevolutionary Romeo was. So I'm I wanted lizzie and Dante because there'sa 12 year old girl who's right on the cusp of puberty and 13, you know, Iwanted that um Edda to have that sense when you read it, you'll see that sheshe's you don't have to read Romeo and Juliet ever. But she had it in classand she didn't agree with the teacher and by the end she's got her own ideaof who Juliet is and that's important to her and will be important in herlife. You know, Juliette asks Romeo to marry him, Juliet desires roman. Okay,we don't talk about well, when the six, Yes. And when these classics um rise upagain, um my my october novel is a little bit about the lion, the witchand the wardrobe. And when you take these stories that are so loved and youapply them to modern day characters, they're alive again in a new way. So Ilove that. That's what both of you are doing. What a fascinating way to put itpatty. I totally agree mary. You chose our bookstore in new york city's bookculture tonight. Can you tell us a little bit about what this store meansto you? Sure it's my it's my you know my local it's a black and a half downthe street and like a lot of Indies it has struggled during the pandemic. Theyhad three um you know three locations. They lost one on 86th Street. And so Ireally wanted to be particularly empathetic that people if they canbecause you know we can't all go buying hard covers all the time but the 10%should help. And I just want to say that I went to book culture today and Isigned a huge table with the book so they're they're waiting for youpersonalized and so please you know...

...give them a try. They are wonderfulbookstore. I bought Children's books there, I bought every kind of thing, Ibought my kitchen cloths there, I just tried to support them in every way Ican. I found incredible books there. I found cookbooks. You know just it's uhindie books were this close to you that has wonderful choices is something thatcan really change your life. You can walk in and find a book on a table thatsomeone you know and you respect recommended and go home and jump intoit. Whereas you know I like Barnes and Noble to but if you walk into a Barnesand noble you know it's kind of who paid most of that table. That's asituation. Um and this is a great time for me to remind everybody that asusual you can get 10% off the purchases of all of the friends and fictionauthors, new books as well as lizzie and Dante by mary, blind and incenseand sensibility by Sonali Deb with the coupon code f F 21. Okay. And thatbrings me back to mary, you know, you have kind of taken the opposite trackfrom me. I started writing fiction under my own name. Then I switched to apseudonym because I was kind of switching genres. I had been writingstraight up mystery and when I wrote another book, Savannah Blues, um mypublisher decided to market at more as women's fiction. But you did somethingdifferent. Um, you had huge success writing as Eloisa James and then thisyear you reclaim your real name. And I think I remember we are tracks of ourpaths have crossed. I've got to stop drinking, I've got to stop her, but notanytime soon. You guys have crossed terrible times at romance conferencesand things. And I think I remember hearing you say some time ago that youoriginally chose a pseudonym because you feared professional backlash fromthe academic world. Um, that did not have any kind of respect and in facthad nothing. But um, um, what would that word be discussed? Maybe attemptthat word that thank you. You must know do words for a living contempt. Has theworld finally changed and made romance? Almost dare I say it respectable? Ithink it has changed. I do you know the amount since when I started writing,I've been writing for 20 years. And I um, I remember when I when I first toldthe chair of my department, midnight Pleasures is going to be in Peoplemagazine. It was the page turner of the week and they said, we'll give you ahalf page if we put your picture in. And so I went and I disclosed to him myscandalous second career and he said, please, you will never get tenure. Oh,he was probably right. So it ran, I only got a third of a page. You guysall know what this means, right? The publisher was like to turn the hair out.Um, my God. But oh did a secret until I hit the new york times and I got tenure.And then I told everyone because I didn't want my readers to feel as if Iwas ashamed of them. On the other hand, I wanted to get funnier. So you know, Idid that and I think things have really changed. I mean there's a huge amountof feminist scholarship on romance. For example, that's had a huge effect onsort of looking at how women, um, right to other women about desire or howwomen running other women about what marriage should be like. These arebooks that slip under the radar of a lot of what we call patriarchal societywas just, you know, society run by men and and romance is just go everywhereand they kind of have very different stories about what kind of experienceyou should be having with your husband. Does any of this, Do you think any ofthis has to do with the, the very new bridge Bridge Artur ization of popularculture. The mary, Kay, just made up a word like that happens a lot. Ithappens a lot mary, can that be a word? Yes. Yeah. Ok. Yeah. She's an academic.She's and she's known Julia Quinn for a very long time. Right. She's one of mybest friends and I'm actually talking to her after you guys today. So that'slovely. Yeah. Well, I think that I, I actually think that Britain will havean effect. But I think that Bridget jones incredible success falls on thetail codes of these young feminist scholars and other scholars saying, hey,this stuff is great. Look how many...

...people are reading it, you know, andsort of filtering it into the mainstream, so that people realize it'snot just a silent reading group, there's people studying it and it makesthe papers all the time and people write articles and, and that's where Ithink finally somebody had excuse me, but the balls to actually buy theRichardsons and then make such an incredible success of them. Except thatthe woman who bought the, except that the person who bought the Richardsonsdoesn't actually possess balls because it's Shonda Rhimes, am I right? That istrue and she's fabulous. But I think, well, yeah, so that's not a fairanalogy at all. But I do think that a lot of people don't realize in theHollywood, in the publishing industry in general, but mostly in Hollywood,just how powerful women's re women readers are. You know, like all y'all'sbooks should be movies. We agree really well, a long time about this. Yeah,it's not like, I'm not sure that a lot of people know this, but you writeunder a pen name to derive from your maiden name, right? Yeah, So I read aquote from you in the Chicago reader where you said it's about creating thisidentity that belongs entirely to me, and I thought that was really powerful.Can you talk about about how writing under a pseudonym has given you, hasgiven you some freedom and changed your life? Uh So so it's uh it's it's this reallystrange thing because it was not about anonymity at all. For me, it was I kindof it was just okay, I had a full time job, but I was always really proud ofwhat I was doing and what stories I was telling. I come from, you know, havingwatched Bollywood movies all my life, which are structurally the originalones or rather the older ones, very much romance novels. And so, you know,reading, I got into romance novel when when that when that connection, youknow, snapped in my head. So it was more um I think people did and I'm like,I would like to have a pseudonym, what would it be? And my maiden name is Mayathing. So I split that and it was Maya Think, which seemed like a really, youknow, great pseudonym and people started to call me Maya and I was likewho? And it just would not work for me. And I realized that so gnarly, whichactually was a name. I did not, I was kind of upset with my parents for muchof my childhood for giving me because there was always force in alleys in theclass. So you know because I was in, it was like being named jane and Jamesthey was, I was like I wanted you know unique name and they called me so notlike, so I was always called by my last name because there were four Somalis inevery club. It was interesting. So but this was a moment where I was like ohmy gosh, I am so not like I cannot be anyone else and that name is such apart of my identity. So I couldn't be Maya and I was so gnarly but the lastname just fit with that and so it became Maya Dave. But then I started tofind that it was um it just, it was because I created my own identity whenI started to write and when I started pursuing um and I always had support,but I also didn't have support the moment I decided to quit my job andmake this, you know, focused on this full time without being in a placewhere I could financially afford it. So it put a whole lot of pressure on amarriage, you know, and I always talk about this because the thing thatpeople, you know who aspiring authors always here, you know, like my kidswill say, oh I'm so grateful to my Children for eating pizza for two waysfor two months that my kids will say all authors say at, you know atsignings, so you always hear the support and there is support, but thereis also struggle when you just like I want something and I wanted to and andI think that was so tied in that ability to fight. Like I would give upwhatever you have to give up and I will fight it. But I'm going to do this andI'm gonna do it my way and it's painful. And you've all been do it right? I mean,we've not, one of us has not had the moment when I spouse has said somethingsubversive that comes from the patriarchy, that is not this personbeing a bad myself, but this conditioning that that someone you knowthat your mother in law, your mother will say something. Why don't you whydon't you write a real book? Why don't you do something for? Oh, yeah. Allright. It's just it's all But Sonali Dave is the one who was 100% sure shewas gonna fighting. So that so that is awesome. I love that so much. All right,ladies now, no Friends in fiction...

...episode would be complete withouttaking some questions from our members who give this community, it's heartbeatmary. Kay. Do you want to start us off? Yeah, hang on a second because I'm alittle bit lost. Pig News. Big news. Okay. I've got it. Um Tanya Jacksonwants to know. Um and I guess this is for either of you. Do you when youRight, Do you have music in the background? No. Yeah. I don't have haveit while I'm writing, but I have a soundtrack. Especially do I lovestories. I have a soundtrack. This song, this one song will take on myimagination and then um I listen to it so much that after I'm done with thebook, everyone in my family like joins it off instant now reflects about that.So I do have a soundtrack. All right, well I have one from Lynn Miller Hill.Would like to know for both of you when you are writing your book, do yourcharacters let you write their story or do they bug you until you write thestory the way they wanted to be? Mhm. I revised my book over 4.5 years.So those poor characters marry Humble. Yeah, I mean, you know, I've had a longcareer and it was a big switch to writing about people who are alive now.You know, think about it. I mean I've I've never met a duke. I grew up on afarm in Minnesota, I mean not about Harvard Oxford and Yale, but I grew upon a farm in Minnesota, two miles outside of town of 2000. So, I mean abig wish to get out and I got through my, yeah. Then to switch from writingabout Dukes and regency ballroom, which I've never met a duke and then writingabout something I know, so well, you know, being a professor, marrying anitalian, having a 12 year old, going to Italy being diagnosed with cancer, Iwas diagnosed with cancer. I'm absolutely fine. But there's a way inwhich that changes you. So it was very hard to write a book that has so muchof me and so much of my heart and it and so much of my life. Really? Oh wow,What an incredible thing to do. Yeah. I didn't realize what took so long andthen goes, you know, so we all want to keep growing and learning right now ifyou're a writer, you know, with my career it's been so long and mary Kay,I'm sure you've seen this tube like people came along and then they sort ofdisappeared. They stopped writing, they didn't switch john so they didn't trysomething and they kind of fade out. So you have to be brave, take those bravesteps, you have to keep learning. You need another name like Sonali I don'tknow how about you, your characters let you guide them or is it vice versa? Ithink that a lot of what I write is what I want to say. It has to do withwhat I want to say. So it's there is this moment when that character becomesyou know there's a moment when that thing snaps in place. Um and it's it'sso it is a mix of both things. It's certainly I think they just come frommy own mind. So when people say that the characters are telling me what todo, I know what they mean, but my characters are, you know, a result ofwhat I want to say. So, you know, it's kind of a mix of those things and maryI have to say I you know, I know because we're friends. This book wasliterally like having mary with my year, the entire I love we've talked aboutthis right may be a very early version and you know, it was it was it was sucha joyous experience to just here because mary is very professorial inher writing, her craft is so perfect in her historical, she's you know, she butbut this is very wrong. Like all of her very wrong. Uh Well there you go. Nexttime you need a student mary mary hall, I think you're completely john Rose take a risk marymary and Sonali every week, one of our favorite parts of the show is receivinga writing tip from our guests. Do each of you have a quick writing tip you canoffer to our audience sally you go first, go first, and this says theprofessor. Yes ma'am. I think there are...

...two things you have to know and one iswhat do you want to say in this book? Right? And that is the thing youfigured out along the way. And then the book is done when you know that. Um andit also can't start unless you know how birthday important, giving yourselfpermission to write crap. I think for me, I would write nothing if I didn'tallow myself to stop because if I sit down there trying to write this perfectthing that I want to write, then I don't Right? So, so I have to be ableto vomit uh page and then find beauty in it. Youknow, between those two things, I think lies your story, you're so I'll justbuild right off Sonali and say, um I think that you when you're, when you'rewriting, you have to write crap, right? But basically you also have to takeadvice. I think you have to bury your ego to some extent. I mean, the reason,one of the reasons this book took 4.5 years is I wrote it in a year, I waslike, this is utterly brilliant. I gave it to my agent and she ripped it topieces, and I was like, oh my God, I took another year and I rewrote it, andshe ripped it to pieces, two august in a row last night. We actually had aglass of wine on zoom, and and I reminded her of that and she'dforgotten it. But the fact in those moments, she she said to me, you know,mary if you want to publish like this, I know I can find a publisher for you,but I think and I think it's very, very difficult for all of us to say, I thinkthis is a great book and I may well be wrong or I will have to accept the factthat what I think is brilliant, maybe isn't quite so brilliant. And if I justkept working at it, you know, give yourself time, it's like what'sanalysis that you've got a really crap except in your riding crop and thenmake it better at it. It's a great tip and it's so true. It's not being afraidto write what you want to write, but to make sure you have the craft to back itup. All right, I get to say um ask you if you have any books. Speaking ofwonderful books books you'd like to recommend? Let's start with you.Married, do you have any books you'd like to recommend? I just finishedseason of the phillips next book which is coming out and it's called Windscollide and it's about a football player and an opera singer who want towork together. And I absolutely loved it. It's one of the Chicago stars books,but it's classic season. I mean I love all her books but this one is justclassic Chicago stars, you know, turn the page and you just allowed. Yeah,very happy book. And then I want to give you a second one which is thatI've been obsessed last month with a writer called Talia Hibbert, H I B B ER T. And I think her romances are so amazing. And just to give you anexample why a lot of us have written curvy heroines, I've written themmyself, but Talia's curvy heroin, you know, curvy heroines often end uphaving like these little waste and they're so beautifully shaped and themen are like, oh my God, I love you know, I love the hourglass figure andyou know, you're talking Marilyn Monroe and what Talia Herbert does is create amuch more authentic female body and then have the guy absolutely lustingbeyond believed for her thick thighs for example. And I just find it sorefreshing and wonderful and and real to life, you know, guys don'tnecessarily want everyone to look like Marilyn Monroe, they don't and they arefull of last and she does that brilliantly. So I suggest tally Hibbertand Sizzlers phillips next book when stars collide. I love that. How aboutyou, Sonali do you have a book to recommend? Yes. And I also want to say,I'm here to tell you that men like pick guys. It sounds like a song. So rightnow I'm reading christian Higgins um which comes out a week from today oneight and she is breaking my heart. This is about a wife who has a terminalillness and dies and leaves behind 12 letters to get her grieving husbandthrough the first year. So it is a heartbreaker and you will laugh outloud and parts. So this book is an emotional roller coaster again,christian is a friend of one of my favorite artist ever. Nobody writeshumor and emotion like her and I'm you know, this close to just picking up thephone and yelling at her like what are you doing to me? Like I'm dying. Soit's it's it's gorgeous and funny and heartbreaking and I'm not at the end,but I know I'm in good hands and that's you know that is good and well um uhmary, my other friend who had said to...

...me that you know she's going to diebefore I even started the book and so then I was like okay but even evenmary's this delightful like there are so these two books back to back uh youknow that's why I'm called Brave I guess because I can do those two booksback to back. But also this book called The dating plan which is by saturdayside. The first one was called The Marriage game and her second one iscalled The dating plan. And it's true romcom because it's hilarious. Thebanter is fabulous and it's these um these indian families in this indiancommunity. That is so over the top nuts that just, it's just the mostdelightful thing ever. She's absolutely delightful, delightful. Thank you thankyou patty quickly. Do you want to just give on behalf of friends and fiction?The two big book recommendations we have Absolutely, we just want to tellyou all real quick to friends and friction. Friends to friends andfiction. Friends books out yesterday including Lindsay, Rogers cook in herlearning to speak Southern and also Elin Hilderbrand with her golden girl,which we all cannot wait to read. All right, mary and Sonali stick around.We're going to have one more question for you at the end and it is going tobe a rapid fire question which is unfortunate because it's a questionthat we should delve deep, but we are running out of time but stick aroundand be prepared to answer in 10 words or less patty hit it with the podcastfirst. We just want to remind all of you out there that we now have ourfriends and fiction writer's block podcast as we told you last week, wehave superstar librarian Ron block who we all know and love is now the captainof our podcast ship because my shit metaphors will never end. Its firstpodcast with us. Under the Friends and fiction writer's Block banner will benext Friday on June 11 with weight wade rouse and Alyssa Friedland and thepodcast and Christie Woodson Harvey and that podcast is called Summertime. Butthis week on friday, june 4th for audio book month, mary Alice talks toaudiobook narrator, cassandra Campbell who narrated both Mary Alice andChristie's books and she also talks to dan zet of penguin, Random House Audio.You don't want to be missing these podcasts, Trust me and don't forget tojoin the Friends of Fiction official Book club hosted by our good friends,lisa Harrison and Brenda Gartner. It's yet another way to stay connected withthis great community and get behind the scenes looks at your favorite booksright now. The Book club is reading mary Kay's brand new bestseller, thenewcomer, which they'll be discussing on june 21st with mary Kay and next upis mary Alice is the Summer of Lost and Found. This is your chance to ask theauthors all your questions and really dig into the storylines how whilehanging out with a fun group of friends and fiction friends write the Book Clubwithout snacks. Of course you want to bring along mama cheese while you talkabout the newcomer. As always, you get 20% off all your orders on the websiteMama Geraldine's dot com with the code Fab five And speaking of snacks and things thatgo with them, don't forget your story point wine. I love this label. Um,we'll be just like behind the label. I know, I know we'll be doing a storypoint. We'll be telling you more about our new partnership with them in ourcity and stay with story point after show tonight. So stick around and nextweek join us right here at seven p.m. For a special night with new york timesbest selling author Susan Wiggs. Also next week we'll be getting a peek alittle peek at the video trailer for Kristen's new novel, The Forest ofVanishing Stars, which is out in who's counting five weeks she today? Likeyou're here today. Christine. No, I don't think five is the number of theday. And if you're ever wondering about our schedule, it is always on thefriends and fiction website as well. On the sidebar of events, on our Friendsand fiction facebook page. All right, ladies what mary Kay, I'm going to cutyou off and ask them this last question because we're out of time. This has tobe a quick answer. Ladies. We always ask our guests what is one influence orwhat influence the reading and their love of literature as a child. Can youeach name one influence in your early lives that leads you to where you aretoday? So it's like yes, I love love and it's about death. Yes, yes andSonali. I think it's indian my apology.

My grandmother is telling me thestories. Uh Oh I love that so much ladies, thank you so much. Sorry tokind of start at the end. We just had such a lovely time talking to you. I'mamazing! So all of you out there. We encourage you to grab lizzie and Dantewhich just came out yesterday in the in sense and sensibility, which comes outjuly 6th. Don't forget you can get 10% off both books with the code F F 21 atnew york's book Culture. Thank you so much both of you for joining us. Thankyou. Thank you. Thank you. And to all of you out there please stick aroundfor the sip and stay with story Point after show because we have a littlesurprise for you, get the big one day with us and we will see you in just aminute in the after show. Yeah, one welcome back everyone to our friendsand fiction, sip and stay with story Point after show. Ready to sip. As wementioned earlier, we are so happy to be partnering with story Point lines asthe official sponsor of our after show all summer long. It will be the summerof story point right here. I'm Friends in fiction. Story Point comes in threevarietals, chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet. My personal favorite is thestory point chardonnay. And as they stay at story point manygreat stories and ideas unfold over a shared bottle of wine and who knowsthat better than us at Friends connection through do indeed. So everyWednesday night throughout june july and august we hope you'll stick aroundfor the Friends and fiction after show to sit and stay with Story Point. Allright. And as we promised we have a little surprise for those of you whohave stuck around and we'll give you a clue. She's our very own golden girl.And we all know you love her. Alan can we bring in our special surprise guest?Yeah, congratulations on Golden Girl. Yeah, we are so excited to see you meanI'm in the back of my mother's car. I mean this is like life life on tour.Right? Yes there in the back it sounds yep. I love it. So Ellen, tell us aboutGolden girl and tell us about about all the fun you're having with it this week.Okay, so I'm on to live door. Um and I went I was in Rhode island last nightand I'm in Collegeville pennsylvania tonight, which is my hometown. And uhso Golden Girl is about Nantucket Beach novelist who gets killed on page one.She gets killed in a hit and run while she's jogging and she is sent into thebeyond and she needs like administrator named Martha who said you know what?That was really unfair. So I'm gonna let you watch what happens below onearth for the summer. And I'm going to give you the use of three judges andyou're gonna be able to influence outcomes down below. And uh, so youknow, she's got three almost grown Children, she's got a boyfriend and exhusband and best friend and she's watching all of them as she murderedher. And it's just filled with drama. There's a little bit of a who done itbecause she doesn't know who, who killed her. And I really think, youknow, you'll enjoy it. I hope it's a great story. It's very original. Yeah,awesome premise. That's so cool. We're so happy to be celebrating with youtonight. I know, thank you. I wish I had mine, but I'm oh, here kicking theback of a car. Well just commit to drinking double take up just for you.Yeah, so since we're talking about stories, Ellen, it sounds like a littlebit of this novel Golden Girl could be a little TC bit autobiographical. Iknow it's so much fun you mark it was so much fun to write about like theinside writer stuff like via you know, Vivi has like this rival writer andthere's like a professional jealousy in there and then there's about like thenew york times bestseller and touring and the bookstores that she goes to andlike trying to come up with the ideas and trying to sell her first book whenyou go back in time. So I really think you have to appreciate those books Idrew on my own life obviously for that I can't wait You tell your mama todrive safe Way. Thank you so so much for having me. I am so honored. I loveyou all so much weight. So when it...

...creates because that was the way I mean we had Delia last week Ellenthis week. He never does. Everybody was going to happen a story point afterhours. Oh, that's awesome. And what a greatshow that was tonight with Sonali and my it was powerful. I talked to themfor another hour. I know, I know and I have to apologize to you ladies becauseI cut a couple of your questions short because we know uh with my dearsteering. No, I saw a couple of the comments and they were saying that Iwould love to audit one of my classes and I thought, yeah, mary's if youhaven't read mary's Eloisa James Regency Romances, they're so smart. They are rooted in the classics,They're funny. Um they're sexy as hell. And um I don't think I had when I, whenI, you know, when I was reading her all those years ago when I was staying inNags Head working on summer rental, I it just really gave me a newfoundappreciation for um the skills and the talent that goes into writing umsomething it's like historic fiction, kristen and patty um so much researchgoes into it and then you have, it's such a skill set to me to be able to have that research in the back of yourmind, but not info down, put the reader, put the reader right into the world ofthat book and, and I think you of course you ladies do it so well. But umI would love it if people would rediscover and you know, Julia Quinnwith the bridger tones is another great example. Well, the regency romances inparticular have probably the strongest following of all. And there's so manyconventions and you really know, who knows their stuff? I love, I've beenreading regency romances for so long and they never get old. They're just Soclever and the dialogue is so important and just the near Touch. No one touches.The near touch. I mean the little details are so beautifully done. I'venever won one. Oh wow, you will. I promise you, you will love it. And Iwould start with Eloisa James. Alright, I couldn't believe she said that herboss said she wouldn't get tenure. Oh, I can absolutely believe it, especiallygoing back 20 years, but you're right. It's it's stunning to think of now.It's interesting and I know Christie, I know you were going to ask about thistonight, but Eloisa mary has a great um a great article that is linked to fromher website Eloisa James dot com, which is an op ed she wrote for the new yorktimes in defense of the romance genre. And for any of you who have readromance or have considered reading romance or who have thought romance isnot for you, I challenge you to read that essay because I think it reallymakes a good point, just as mary kate just did about how it's, you know, it'snot what you think and and it's it's not something to turn our noses, notbad. I mean, these are beautiful stories that are, in many cases justbeautifully researched historical novels and you know, I think we make amistake if we short change them. You know, you know, they're they're aboutthey're about the things that matter most. They're about love, their aboutfamily life. So many of them are about the the conflicts that women are facingbetween. Um as Sonali said, what they want and what they can't have and howthey get what they can't have. Um just to look at the way that go ahead. No,no, you start. It's fascinating to look at the way with Sonali talked about theheroine's change, right? They either going in the women in the classics hadto either accept their fate or go insane. And then as time went on, thethe heroine's changed in what they were allowed to want. You know patty what'sinteresting to tie into that is it she sort of went and answered the questionabout how books influenced you as an author. For sure. For being able toread the classics influenced into another direction, didn't it? Yeah,that's so true. I know, I felt like it was such a shame that we didn't get tothat question in a full way tonight because I think mary's father was atremendously well known, award winning poet. So I think that would have beenreally interesting to hear the answer. Yeah, yeah, that would have beeninteresting to I'm sorry we didn't get...

...to that, but ladies, we did. And it was,yeah, it was a great shot with them. They were both so interesting. And justwhat a night, what a night. What a great kick off to this greatpartnership with Story Point. So I think we're a tiny little drop left.You think? Think I'm nearing the end. Thank you so much. And before we signoff tonight, I do want to make it our mission for the week to show our newpartner story Point the power of Friends in fiction. So how many, let'slet's do this, ladies. How many new instagram followers do you think we candrum up for at story point wines? Well, let's see where they're at right now.One minute. Okay, The challenge. Yellow Sea. Let's see. We know you ladies lovea challenge. So, um, Kay is looking okay, How many? 786 they have right nowas of now, 786 followers. We can Okay, we get past 2000. And that's what I wasgoing to say. Let's do it. 4000. Yeah. So how many of you pop over there rightnow to instagram at story point point lines follow them. Let's get them over1000. Yeah, It's a budget. Everyone out there. We're so grateful for yoursupport. Yeah. Yeah. And we hope that you will support our new partner tobecause our new partner is helping us do all of this. Plus they make one. I mean that'swhat's not going on. It is, yes, completely. All right.Everybody out there and all of you. Thank you so much. That is it for ustonight. We will see you next week as we welcome Susan Wiggs to the show atseven p.m. Eastern on Wednesday. Thanks ladies and thanks everyone out there atnight. Take on instagram. Thank you for tuning in, Join us everyweek on Facebook or YouTube, where our live show airs every Wednesday night atseven p.m. eastern time. And please subscribe to our podcast and follow uson instagram. We're so glad you're here. Yeah.

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