Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year 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. Five best selling authors and the stories. Novelists, mary Kay andrews, Christine Harmel, Christie Woodson harvey patty Callahan, Henry and mary Alice Munro are five longtime friends with more than 80 published books to their credit In 2020 they created friends and fiction to provide author interviews and fascinating insider, talk about publishing and writing and to highlight independent bookstores. These friends discuss the books, they've written the books they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books and you're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Mhm Hi there. Hello everybody, how are you doing? Welcome to Friends in Fiction. We are so happy you're here. I'm Christine Harmel, I'm Christy Willson Harvey, I'm patty Callahan, Henry, I'm mary Alice Munro and I'm mary Kay Andrews and this is Friends and fiction, five new york times, bestselling authors, endless stories, all to remind you to shop local when you can and to keep supporting independently owned bookstores tonight. We are thrilled to have with us. Not one but two renowned authors, mary Bly, who you might know under her pen name, Eloisa James and Sonali Dev Somalis. New book in sense and sensibility. Coming july 6th is an indian american spin on jane Austen's sense and sensibility and mary's new book, lizzie and Dante, which just came out yesterday, is her first under her real name and it revolves around a Shakespeare 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 can expose us to other cultures and expand our worlds and what it's like to balance life and a writing career. But first we want to thank our incredible 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 drops by 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 your order at Mama Geraldine's dot com with the code Fab five and you know what goes 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 heaven for book lovers. We are so excited to announce the beginning right now. We are kicking off the summer of story points on Friends and fiction. Each week the after show will be called sip and stay with story point and it will be sponsored by story point wines. And it's hard to say after you've had a couple glasses of wine and what a story what is wrong with? Right. Anyway, this distinction, distinctive collection of flavorful wines, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and chardonnay. My favorite from California's best growing regions, seeks to champion stories that inspire like us after all, many great stories and ideas unfold over a shared bottle of wine. The experience 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 around after the show each week all summer long and we are going to indulge in stories and sips and surprises. And since our first this is our first night partnering with Story Point. We might have a big surprise for you later tonight. In the meantime. Yes, we hope so. In that we love surprises. In the meantime, I want to be part of the fun. If you're 21 or over, you can become a story point insider by subscribing to their newsletter when following them on facebook and instagram. You can find those links under announcements on our facebook page as well as on our partner page on our website at www dot friends and 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, book culture in new york city who will be offering 10% off of our books including mary's and Son Ollie's, the code F F 21.

You know how much we love our indie booksellers and how much it means to us to keep supporting them whenever we can and we love it when you do Also Yeah, we also wanted to announce another fairly exciting thing, something that we have been giddy about for the past hour and now you get to know to, which is that christians book that we all love. The Book of Lost Names came out in paperback last week and it turns out that she's been keeping some news under her hat. It's actually the book of the month. We are now calling her Miss june for the whole month of june. Congratulations, Miss june. Congratulations. I expect to be addressed that way from here on out please. And if that's not too much to ask, I have no choice, my dear, you are, you're miss june and if you get the costume magazine, she is the centerfold. So I feel like we need, I mean, uh, but I think maybe Kristen might have some additional news for us tonight to like maybe something to do with a certain newspaper and a certain list that we all 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, I could not have done it without you all. I mean the five of you meg behind the scenes, Sean and Alan behind the scenes and all of you out there like this whole community, but it's just been, it's the five of us and your number five sign. It's a sign. It's yes, 55 for one day, one day, a good day. Thank you so much. I'm so grateful to all of you out there, We're so proud of you and you really deserve it. And especially after The debacle of putting, putting out the heart back in the pandemic and all the craziness that ensued and I never need to move on. But I wanted to say something to, its are 71st episode and I think it's the first time that we actually set all our names without a hitch. You know, are you looking at me, are you looking at me victory victory at last year? I feel like that is do a huge congratulations to us for getting our names right. Congratulations and congratulations christian. And now I really want to talk about our parade essay this week because yeah, christian wrote about granting ourselves grace and finding joy in the roads that we choose. Even if those roads are not the ones we intended, which I think is something our guests will be able to speak to. Also, you know, um this essay really meant a lot to me. Um it's really hard for me to get personal in my writing. And this is a very personal essay for me because I've struggled this year a lot with feeling like I'm falling short in every single area of my life because I'm really trying to stretch myself too thin. So my biggest worry is that because of that, my son isn'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 a little bit of grace and forgiveness over this last year, which I think has been difficult. I mean, I think it's been kind of a tough year for all of us Christie. Um I have had to let go of my to do list. It's just a little bit because I feel like I'm very like structured and I have a million things on my list all the time, and um not that I don't still have them, but I have to be like, okay, maybe today it didn't get done and sometimes you have to sleep at some point. So just, we got to let it go a little bit and it's just been a crazy year and you know, you never knew what this week was gonna hold, her next week was going to hold and um you know, it's just, we all had to be a little different. Yeah, that's true. And I think that we're so easy offering 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, we all are dropping balls, but then we get alone with ourselves and we're like, oh my gosh, I can't believe I did that. So the very idea that I had to do everything and do it right had to be shuffled swept under the rug along with all the dust bunnies I hide because...

...when this all first started I thought oh look at all this free time, I'm going to clean out the attic, I'm going to learn Gaelic which I actually started trying to do. I did, I got on duo lingo. I oh my God, I thought I'd write in case two other books and instead I struggled like the rest of us and hung on by a thread. Yeah, wow! Well I mean I have to laugh because how many of us have little instruments or things that we meant to do in the closet. Now, you know when I wrote the summer of Lost and found which was set against the pandemic, it was a struggle. And I think in the end though I learned the lesson that I really needed to learn for the rest of my life. And that is just worry about today. Just live today to the fullest. It would get to choose how the day is going to run and we can just do the best we can. So rather than worry about tomorrow, take a deep breath, like Kristen's going to do tonight uh and just say I'm living today to the fullest tonight. Have another glass of champagne. I think I finally learned to let go and to ask for help um and not to be so um controlling about my personal standards with some things. So I did that. I asked my I asked for help and my family stepped up. My husband stepped up and helped with the cooking and the shopping and the house upkeep. Um and the rest of my family um stepped into to help out with whatever came along and I got real comfortable, probably too comfortable with all of my imperfections well, but I think that's a good thing. I mean none of us are perfect and just the living in our own skin. I think that I think the more you can do that, the happier we are and then the better we're going to move forward. So it's nice to hear you all saying 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 as we're chatting, if you have questions for mary or for Sonali, please please put 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 is an 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 is really hard to believe. We became tall poppy writers together um sort of really early on and are writing careers and I had the best time hanging out with her in person, in real life for the first time, in Chicago where she now lives. Um she was actually raised in Mumbai India. She's a USA Today bestselling author who writes what she calls Bollywood style love stories that explore universal issues, how universal you ask. Shelf awareness calls her not only 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's novels have been on Library Journal NPR Washington Post and Kirkus Best Book of the Year list. She has won the American Library Association's Award for Best Romance, the RT reviewer choice award for Best Contemporary Romance multiple RT seals of Excellence, which is Romantic Times and has been a read a finalist and has even been listed for the Dublin Literary Award. And mary Bly is in one way, a little bit like me, she's written most of her bestselling books 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 of you probably know well considering she has published more than 30 historical romances which have been translated into 26 languages and have sold more than seven million copies worldwide. And I have to tell you that I hadn't read those, I hadn't read Romance in a while until I was working on my book um uh summer rental. And the little library in Nags Head had a shelf of, of Regency Romances And I picked up an Eloisa James and I was instantly instantly a huge fan. That's awesome, wow! Well under her real name, mary blight. She's quite remarkable to, oh my goodness, now buckle your seatbelt, she holds the best now from Harvard, a master philosophy degree from Oxford and a PhD from Yale. Don't you think she could have gone made up? Wait, wait, wait,...

...wait till you hear the rest are totally for starting off. He's a professor of english literature specializing in Shakespeare at Fordham University in new york city where she lives during the school year. But during the summer she jets off to Florence italy with her husband who just happens to be. Now wait for it. A couple of yan an italian night. Okay, this part makes me truly jealous. Amazing. We cannot wait to dig in with both of them. Welcome Sonali and mary. Hi lady honey. I know you are amazing both of you. My goodness. We're so glad you're here ladies. Yeah, and we really can't wait to hear about everything but mary, will you start us off by giving us the elevator pitch for lizzie and Dante which just came out yesterday. So she had her book birthday yesterday. All happy birthday, lizzie and Dante. Thank you. I had Hoggan does to celebrate but now I realize I should have had champagne. I'm living in Dante is the story of a Shakespeare professor who goes to elbow which is a little island off the shore of Italy where I've gone every summer and taken my Children because that's what italian families do and it's not a fancy island like Capri, it's an island where Italians take their Children. And so I created this story of a Shakespeare professor who goes there and falls in love with an italian chef. My husband unfortunately is not a chef, but he is italian girl. There's a lot of my own life in here. There's a chef has a 12 year old daughter named Edda and I have to say I borrowed a lot from my daughter, a lot from my daughter, I borrowed a lot for my life and and I think it fits in really well with what you guys were saying about choosing your time because lizzie and given a cancer diagnosis and she's got to decide whether she wants to go ahead with treatment or not. So she's really thinking about time as a limited resources, what can you do with time. And I just want to say right up front that she does go for treatment and she does get to go back to Elba you know made several years in a row and it's not there's no horrible death scene at the end of it. Okay. I am so relieved to hear that because I have like 2.5 chapters left and I was really concerned. Now she chooses obviously she chooses to go back and have treatment and the answer is amazing and There's a lot of Shakespeare so I mean she can twist um Sonali we all agree and sense and sensibility is one of the best titles that we have heard in ages and it comes out July six right? Yes. And uh first I have to say that my husband sells software so I feel really small right now. But it was not a night. I now I want to really clever fun about night and you know, sales and no nothing got nothing because I now I don't know anyway, but I will say that my son the one who came up with that title when he was in middle school. So there is something Oh wow man. Yeah, I was this is back in 2013 when I was just you know, 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 favorite Austen novels that are set in um, you know, in the indian culture, but our scene by scene retellings, but more lessons I've learned as a person. And uh, I think venus and I was going to be um, as I was thinking about them, I was kind of quickly reffing the concept with him. I had nothing more than just that and just like that. He's like in sense and sensibility because I said yoga instructor and sense and sensibility and he was like in sense and sensibility. So came from, so this is um you know this is the story of a man who is running for California governor, A man who is from, it comes from immense amounts of privilege and I mean the families, it's a very, it's a politically ambitious indian american family descended from royalty in India who have made a life for themselves in san Francisco and he's running for California governor and kicks off months before the election when there is an assassination attempt and his...

...body bodyguard is critically injured and this is a man who has known exactly what he wants to do with his life all his life and he you know, he knows his body all of that and that one and sit and just totally throws him off his game. And it's three months before all his dreams and his family's dreams, and his community's dreams are about to come true. And he cannot he cannot get on a stage. And of course, uh the only person who can help him without it leaking to the press is um Sister's best friend who is a stress management coach and you And um and well, um of course they had moment 10 years ago and now he's with someone else and has been for everyone to see the 10 years. So this is of course, sense and sensibility. 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 want for yourself, what you carry for others, um and and and how you know how you navigate that. Awesome thank you. So, to all of you out there, I remember to put your own questions for mary and Sonali in the comments were fully hopefully if we still have time we'll be pulling if you to ask. But for now, mary Alice, do you want to start us off with a question? I do, thank you. Let me begin with mary please. I've seen interviews with you where you talked about your love of Italy and in particular the things Italy has taught you about life and the enjoyment of life and that shines through in all your pages of the book. It really does. So I'm curious, can you talk about what you've learned and how important that was for you when you created the lizzie and Dante? Of course, I mean, I will say that, I think that Italy and Elba is like 1/5 character in the book, right? And I'm in love with my characters and I'm in love with the island. And so one of the things I learned, I came from a very workaholic family. I mean my, my parents went with Nico and be like, what's your project? What are you writing? They're both writers. Right. So I'm, I am absolutely product of my parents, I work all the time and I'm a professor and one of not being a professor I'm writing, but my husband 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 entire day 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 then you know you might clean a little bit and then you start cooking for dinner and you only buy the food that day that you're going to cook that day and your life 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 the book took me 4.5 years, so I admire you guys so much writing contemporary novels. 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 mary teaches us some lessons about life as we know it by giving us insight into the italian mindset and in your novels you do the same by giving us a window into the indian american family. So, is there anything in particular you hope that readers take away after reading your book? So, first anyone who reads mary's book and doesn't want to go to L but in something I yes, yes, it's impossible ever. I rub it. I'm like, okay, that's the next trip, and that's when can we go to Italy? Uh you want to leave? It's just gorgeous. And I swear I've been to Albert just by reading that book and I still want to go me. Um you know, it's always a it's a complicated thing. I grew up in India, but my Children are born and raised here. So I have this very unique experience of having um Children 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 country when I was grown adult when I was very confident in my skin. So my experience of being mothered happened when I already knew who I want. I faced Children who were the only brown kids in their school when they were in, you know, preschool and first grade and they've had to, they had to navigate this journey that I can never truly understand. So, when we all have with them 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 I could 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 I know, I know him and know her that I will have done something. So that's your mother of young Children, sort of you know, selfish. Um almost moved to my writing, not selfish at all. It's a decent, it's a desensitization which I think is really important and a lot of that, it's so important that only comes from from putting yourself in someone choose and what van it's cool to do that. I mean that was that was a big thing when I went into this, I want to have my grandchildren have a different and my kids are very comfortable, they are very all american, you know, all of that. But there is this like you know there is that one thing that's different and I want my grandchildren to have that thing that's different, that's beautiful to have nothing. So that that was my main thing, my other thing and I know I'm going on was um was that all South asian literature is about immigrant arts and things. Um and I and and that's, I mean that's not who we are, really believe it or not have a little bit of fun, you know, so so I wanted that part of you know that having no boundaries, having been the community where families have no boundaries where you know, and that can be a rope that you know stuff with you and that can be a rope that yanks you out of the worst Greeks and you know kind of grounds you. And so I wanted that part, I want that part of South asian 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'm leaning and I'm leaving it like I want to me, it makes me want to meet your family, you know, it makes me want to see all of them. So I know this is your third jane Austen retelling from an indian american perspective. So I'm also curious what draws you to Austin in particular and what draws you to providing this new take on a well known classic. What is it about the retelling that 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 contemporary author, 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 and I wanted to comment on my current world, but but the interesting thing is that my first introduction to Austin was when I was in high school and it was through an indian tv show that what we re telling died in federal. Oh wow. And as 1/7 grader, as a woman that young every all the messages, all the stories around me um was women who, you know, who confirmed women who you know did uh who made themselves like a book and my first experience with with a heroine who wanted something who had an opinion who you know, who did not under to the opposite 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 to colonization, educated in english and all of that. And so reading a lot of british classics and everything I was seeing was when a woman wanted something in a story. Uh you know, she either had to accept her lot and that's how she found happiness or everything ended in, you know, you know lunatic asylum or I want a partner. You're a ghost to a man who was yelling her name into the darkness. So it always ended in death and destruction when women have desired. Wow lizzie Bennet was the first woman whose choice was between destitution and one of the richest men in England. And she chose destitution because she thought he was a jerk and I was like this thing I had inside me that I don't know where it came from, it found validation and I was I was in the library, I checked those books out. And so she changed me as a person. She changed the tragic story of my life. So...

...it's more than just, oh I love this book. I want to retell it these these stories to me, Roo manages to what I learned trump. So there emerges to no lessons of what I learned trump wow. If there's a reason to honor her in retellings baby, you just said it just nailed it. That's awesome. So mary of course, as we mentioned, you are a Shakespeare 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 that time period and with who he was and how he became what he was. So, the classics must mean a lot to you too. So why do you think we're at a moment in literary time where there are so many modern retellings or at least references to classic stories? How did these stories from the past still manage to be so relevant today? Well, I'm going to spring right off Sonali and say because a 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, I mean in marriage choices, but also she was one of the first women who really made a huge career if she'd wanted to in writing. And there was a bunch of other women writing at the same time there called silver spoon novelists. They were essentially romance novelists. And so, but she she's the largest example we have of a woman who had a career in writing and wrote what are now classics. And so when you're looking at people like Shakespeare or jane, Austen I think they have such wait for us now because there are some of the first voices that we read early on and there's a reason why we read them, right? These are books that actually can change people's lives. So I've been teaching Romeo and Juliet for 20 years and I've taught it differently over my entire life. I'm much more interested now in the fact that they grabbed 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 in the 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 english stage 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 I have, you know, I bought a house but I haven't but I'm like a suit of new clothes, I haven't been worn and I bought a house, but I haven't lived in it. She's actually talking about sleeping with a man in that scene and there's nothing like, so years afterwards, there's all these parodies that 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 how revolutionary Romeo was. So I'm I wanted lizzie and Dante because there's a 12 year old girl who's right on the cusp of puberty and 13, you know, I wanted that um Edda to have that sense when you read it, you'll see that she she's you don't have to read Romeo and Juliet ever. But she had it in class and she didn't agree with the teacher and by the end she's got her own idea of who Juliet is and that's important to her and will be important in her life. 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 up again, um my my october novel is a little bit about the lion, the witch and the wardrobe. And when you take these stories that are so loved and you apply them to modern day characters, they're alive again in a new way. So I love that. That's what both of you are doing. What a fascinating way to put it patty. I totally agree mary. You chose our bookstore in new york city's book culture tonight. Can you tell us a little bit about what this store means to you? Sure it's my it's my you know my local it's a black and a half down the street and like a lot of Indies it has struggled during the pandemic. They had three um you know three locations. They lost one on 86th Street. And so I really wanted to be particularly empathetic that people if they can because 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 I signed a huge table with the book so they're they're waiting for you personalized and so please you know...

...give them a try. They are wonderful bookstore. I bought Children's books there, I bought every kind of thing, I bought my kitchen cloths there, I just tried to support them in every way I can. I found incredible books there. I found cookbooks. You know just it's uh indie books were this close to you that has wonderful choices is something that can really change your life. You can walk in and find a book on a table that someone you know and you respect recommended and go home and jump into it. Whereas you know I like Barnes and Noble to but if you walk into a Barnes and noble you know it's kind of who paid most of that table. That's a situation. Um and this is a great time for me to remind everybody that as usual you can get 10% off the purchases of all of the friends and fiction authors, new books as well as lizzie and Dante by mary, blind and incense and sensibility by Sonali Deb with the coupon code f F 21. Okay. And that brings me back to mary, you know, you have kind of taken the opposite track from me. I started writing fiction under my own name. Then I switched to a pseudonym because I was kind of switching genres. I had been writing straight up mystery and when I wrote another book, Savannah Blues, um my publisher decided to market at more as women's fiction. But you did something different. Um, you had huge success writing as Eloisa James and then this year you reclaim your real name. And I think I remember we are tracks of our paths have crossed. I've got to stop drinking, I've got to stop her, but not anytime soon. You guys have crossed terrible times at romance conferences and things. And I think I remember hearing you say some time ago that you originally chose a pseudonym because you feared professional backlash from the academic world. Um, that did not have any kind of respect and in fact had nothing. But um, um, what would that word be discussed? Maybe attempt that word that thank you. You must know do words for a living contempt. Has the world finally changed and made romance? Almost dare I say it respectable? I think 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 told the chair of my department, midnight Pleasures is going to be in People magazine. It was the page turner of the week and they said, we'll give you a half page if we put your picture in. And so I went and I disclosed to him my scandalous 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 guys all 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 I was ashamed of them. On the other hand, I wanted to get funnier. So you know, I did that and I think things have really changed. I mean there's a huge amount of feminist scholarship on romance. For example, that's had a huge effect on sort of looking at how women, um, right to other women about desire or how women running other women about what marriage should be like. These are books that slip under the radar of a lot of what we call patriarchal society was just, you know, society run by men and and romance is just go everywhere and they kind of have very different stories about what kind of experience you should be having with your husband. Does any of this, Do you think any of this has to do with the, the very new bridge Bridge Artur ization of popular culture. The mary, Kay, just made up a word like that happens a lot. It happens 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 my best friends and I'm actually talking to her after you guys today. So that's lovely. Yeah. Well, I think that I, I actually think that Britain will have an effect. But I think that Bridget jones incredible success falls on the tail codes of these young feminist scholars and other scholars saying, hey, this stuff is great. Look how many...

...people are reading it, you know, and sort of filtering it into the mainstream, so that people realize it's not just a silent reading group, there's people studying it and it makes the papers all the time and people write articles and, and that's where I think finally somebody had excuse me, but the balls to actually buy the Richardsons and then make such an incredible success of them. Except that the woman who bought the, except that the person who bought the Richardsons doesn't actually possess balls because it's Shonda Rhimes, am I right? That is true and she's fabulous. But I think, well, yeah, so that's not a fair analogy at all. But I do think that a lot of people don't realize in the Hollywood, 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's books 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 write under a pen name to derive from your maiden name, right? Yeah, So I read a quote from you in the Chicago reader where you said it's about creating this identity 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, has given you some freedom and changed your life? Uh So so it's uh it's it's this really strange thing because it was not about anonymity at all. For me, it was I kind of it was just okay, I had a full time job, but I was always really proud of what I was doing and what stories I was telling. I come from, you know, having watched Bollywood movies all my life, which are structurally the original ones 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, you know, 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 Maya thing. So I split that and it was Maya Think, which seemed like a really, you know, great pseudonym and people started to call me Maya and I was like who? And it just would not work for me. And I realized that so gnarly, which actually was a name. I did not, I was kind of upset with my parents for much of my childhood for giving me because there was always force in alleys in the class. So you know because I was in, it was like being named jane and James they was, I was like I wanted you know unique name and they called me so not like, so I was always called by my last name because there were four Somalis in every club. It was interesting. So but this was a moment where I was like oh my gosh, I am so not like I cannot be anyone else and that name is such a part of my identity. So I couldn't be Maya and I was so gnarly but the last name just fit with that and so it became Maya Dave. But then I started to find that it was um it just, it was because I created my own identity when I 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 and make this, you know, focused on this full time without being in a place where I could financially afford it. So it put a whole lot of pressure on a marriage, you know, and I always talk about this because the thing that people, you know who aspiring authors always here, you know, like my kids will say, oh I'm so grateful to my Children for eating pizza for two ways for two months that my kids will say all authors say at, you know at signings, so you always hear the support and there is support, but there is also struggle when you just like I want something and I wanted to and and I think that was so tied in that ability to fight. Like I would give up whatever you have to give up and I will fight it. But I'm going to do this and I'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 something subversive that comes from the patriarchy, that is not this person being a bad myself, but this conditioning that that someone you know that your mother in law, your mother will say something. Why don't you why don't you write a real book? Why don't you do something for? Oh, yeah. All right. It's just it's all But Sonali Dave is the one who was 100% sure she was 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 without taking some questions from our members who give this community, it's heartbeat mary. Kay. Do you want to start us off? Yeah, hang on a second because I'm a little bit lost. Pig News. Big news. Okay. I've got it. Um Tanya Jackson wants to know. Um and I guess this is for either of you. Do you when you Right, Do you have music in the background? No. Yeah. I don't have have it while I'm writing, but I have a soundtrack. Especially do I love stories. I have a soundtrack. This song, this one song will take on my imagination and then um I listen to it so much that after I'm done with the book, 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 your characters let you write their story or do they bug you until you write the story 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 long career 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 a farm in Minnesota, I mean not about Harvard Oxford and Yale, but I grew up on a farm in Minnesota, two miles outside of town of 2000. So, I mean a big wish to get out and I got through my, yeah. Then to switch from writing about Dukes and regency ballroom, which I've never met a duke and then writing about something I know, so well, you know, being a professor, marrying an italian, having a 12 year old, going to Italy being diagnosed with cancer, I was diagnosed with cancer. I'm absolutely fine. But there's a way in which that changes you. So it was very hard to write a book that has so much of 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 and then goes, you know, so we all want to keep growing and learning right now if you'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 of disappeared. They stopped writing, they didn't switch john so they didn't try something and they kind of fade out. So you have to be brave, take those brave steps, you have to keep learning. You need another name like Sonali I don't know how about you, your characters let you guide them or is it vice versa? I think that a lot of what I write is what I want to say. It has to do with what I want to say. So it's there is this moment when that character becomes you know there's a moment when that thing snaps in place. Um and it's it's so it is a mix of both things. It's certainly I think they just come from my own mind. So when people say that the characters are telling me what to do, I know what they mean, but my characters are, you know, a result of what I want to say. So, you know, it's kind of a mix of those things and mary I have to say I you know, I know because we're friends. This book was literally like having mary with my year, the entire I love we've talked about this right may be a very early version and you know, it was it was it was such a joyous experience to just here because mary is very professorial in her writing, her craft is so perfect in her historical, she's you know, she but but this is very wrong. Like all of her very wrong. Uh Well there you go. Next time you need a student mary mary hall, I think you're completely john Rose take a risk mary mary and Sonali every week, one of our favorite parts of the show is receiving a writing tip from our guests. Do each of you have a quick writing tip you can offer to our audience sally you go first, go first, and this says the professor. Yes ma'am. I think there are...

...two things you have to know and one is what do you want to say in this book? Right? And that is the thing you figured out along the way. And then the book is done when you know that. Um and it also can't start unless you know how birthday important, giving yourself permission to write crap. I think for me, I would write nothing if I didn't allow myself to stop because if I sit down there trying to write this perfect thing that I want to write, then I don't Right? So, so I have to be able to vomit uh page and then find beauty in it. You know, between those two things, I think lies your story, you're so I'll just build right off Sonali and say, um I think that you when you're, when you're writing, you have to write crap, right? But basically you also have to take advice. 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 was like, this is utterly brilliant. I gave it to my agent and she ripped it to pieces, and I was like, oh my God, I took another year and I rewrote it, and she ripped it to pieces, two august in a row last night. We actually had a glass of wine on zoom, and and I reminded her of that and she'd forgotten 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 think this is a great book and I may well be wrong or I will have to accept the fact that what I think is brilliant, maybe isn't quite so brilliant. And if I just kept working at it, you know, give yourself time, it's like what's analysis that you've got a really crap except in your riding crop and then make it better at it. It's a great tip and it's so true. It's not being afraid to write what you want to write, but to make sure you have the craft to back it up. All right, I get to say um ask you if you have any books. Speaking of wonderful 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 finished season of the phillips next book which is coming out and it's called Winds collide and it's about a football player and an opera singer who want to work 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 just classic 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 that I've been obsessed last month with a writer called Talia Hibbert, H I B B E R T. And I think her romances are so amazing. And just to give you an example why a lot of us have written curvy heroines, I've written them myself, but Talia's curvy heroin, you know, curvy heroines often end up having like these little waste and they're so beautifully shaped and the men are like, oh my God, I love you know, I love the hourglass figure and you know, you're talking Marilyn Monroe and what Talia Herbert does is create a much more authentic female body and then have the guy absolutely lusting beyond believed for her thick thighs for example. And I just find it so refreshing and wonderful and and real to life, you know, guys don't necessarily want everyone to look like Marilyn Monroe, they don't and they are full of last and she does that brilliantly. So I suggest tally Hibbert and Sizzlers phillips next book when stars collide. I love that. How about you, 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 right now I'm reading christian Higgins um which comes out a week from today on eight and she is breaking my heart. This is about a wife who has a terminal illness and dies and leaves behind 12 letters to get her grieving husband through the first year. So it is a heartbreaker and you will laugh out loud and parts. So this book is an emotional roller coaster again, christian is a friend of one of my favorite artist ever. Nobody writes humor and emotion like her and I'm you know, this close to just picking up the phone and yelling at her like what are you doing to me? Like I'm dying. So it'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 uh mary, my other friend who had said to...

...me that you know she's going to die before I even started the book and so then I was like okay but even even mary's this delightful like there are so these two books back to back uh you know that's why I'm called Brave I guess because I can do those two books back to back. But also this book called The dating plan which is by saturday side. The first one was called The Marriage game and her second one is called The dating plan. And it's true romcom because it's hilarious. The banter is fabulous and it's these um these indian families in this indian community. That is so over the top nuts that just, it's just the most delightful thing ever. She's absolutely delightful, delightful. Thank you thank you 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 tell you all real quick to friends and friction. Friends to friends and fiction. Friends books out yesterday including Lindsay, Rogers cook in her learning 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 to be a rapid fire question which is unfortunate because it's a question that we should delve deep, but we are running out of time but stick around and be prepared to answer in 10 words or less patty hit it with the podcast first. We just want to remind all of you out there that we now have our friends and fiction writer's block podcast as we told you last week, we have superstar librarian Ron block who we all know and love is now the captain of our podcast ship because my shit metaphors will never end. Its first podcast with us. Under the Friends and fiction writer's Block banner will be next Friday on June 11 with weight wade rouse and Alyssa Friedland and the podcast and Christie Woodson Harvey and that podcast is called Summertime. But this week on friday, june 4th for audio book month, mary Alice talks to audiobook narrator, cassandra Campbell who narrated both Mary Alice and Christie'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 to join 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 with this great community and get behind the scenes looks at your favorite books right now. The Book club is reading mary Kay's brand new bestseller, the newcomer, which they'll be discussing on june 21st with mary Kay and next up is mary Alice is the Summer of Lost and Found. This is your chance to ask the authors all your questions and really dig into the storylines how while hanging out with a fun group of friends and fiction friends write the Book Club without snacks. Of course you want to bring along mama cheese while you talk about the newcomer. As always, you get 20% off all your orders on the website Mama Geraldine's dot com with the code Fab five And speaking of snacks and things that go 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 story point. We'll be telling you more about our new partnership with them in our city and stay with story point after show tonight. So stick around and next week join us right here at seven p.m. For a special night with new york times best selling author Susan Wiggs. Also next week we'll be getting a peek a little peek at the video trailer for Kristen's new novel, The Forest of Vanishing Stars, which is out in who's counting five weeks she today? Like you're here today. Christine. No, I don't think five is the number of the day. And if you're ever wondering about our schedule, it is always on the friends and fiction website as well. On the sidebar of events, on our Friends and fiction facebook page. All right, ladies what mary Kay, I'm going to cut you off and ask them this last question because we're out of time. This has to be a quick answer. Ladies. We always ask our guests what is one influence or what influence the reading and their love of literature as a child. Can you each name one influence in your early lives that leads you to where you are today? So it's like yes, I love love and it's about death. Yes, yes and Sonali. I think it's indian my apology.

My grandmother is telling me the stories. Uh Oh I love that so much ladies, thank you so much. Sorry to kind of start at the end. We just had such a lovely time talking to you. I'm amazing! So all of you out there. We encourage you to grab lizzie and Dante which just came out yesterday in the in sense and sensibility, which comes out july 6th. Don't forget you can get 10% off both books with the code F F 21 at new york's book Culture. Thank you so much both of you for joining us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And to all of you out there please stick around for the sip and stay with story Point after show because we have a little surprise for you, get the big one day with us and we will see you in just a minute in the after show. Yeah, one welcome back everyone to our friends and fiction, sip and stay with story Point after show. Ready to sip. As we mentioned earlier, we are so happy to be partnering with story Point lines as the official sponsor of our after show all summer long. It will be the summer of story point right here. I'm Friends in fiction. Story Point comes in three varietals, chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet. My personal favorite is the story point chardonnay. And as they stay at story point many great stories and ideas unfold over a shared bottle of wine and who knows that better than us at Friends connection through do indeed. So every Wednesday night throughout june july and august we hope you'll stick around for the Friends and fiction after show to sit and stay with Story Point. All right. And as we promised we have a little surprise for those of you who have 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 mean I'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 about Golden 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 night and I'm in Collegeville pennsylvania tonight, which is my hometown. And uh so 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 the beyond 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 on earth for the summer. And I'm going to give you the use of three judges and you're gonna be able to influence outcomes down below. And uh, so you know, she's got three almost grown Children, she's got a boyfriend and ex husband and best friend and she's watching all of them as she murdered her. And it's just filled with drama. There's a little bit of a who done it because she doesn't know who, who killed her. And I really think, you know, 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 you tonight. I know, thank you. I wish I had mine, but I'm oh, here kicking the back 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 little bit of this novel Golden Girl could be a little TC bit autobiographical. I know it's so much fun you mark it was so much fun to write about like the inside writer stuff like via you know, Vivi has like this rival writer and there's like a professional jealousy in there and then there's about like the new york times bestseller and touring and the bookstores that she goes to and like trying to come up with the ideas and trying to sell her first book when you go back in time. So I really think you have to appreciate those books I drew on my own life obviously for that I can't wait You tell your mama to drive safe Way. Thank you so so much for having me. I am so honored. I love you all so much weight. So when it...

...creates because that was the way I mean we had Delia last week Ellen this week. He never does. Everybody was going to happen a story point after hours. Oh, that's awesome. And what a great show that was tonight with Sonali and my it was powerful. I talked to them for another hour. I know, I know and I have to apologize to you ladies because I cut a couple of your questions short because we know uh with my dear steering. No, I saw a couple of the comments and they were saying that I would love to audit one of my classes and I thought, yeah, mary's if you haven'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, when I, you know, when I was reading her all those years ago when I was staying in Nags Head working on summer rental, I it just really gave me a newfound appreciation for um the skills and the talent that goes into writing um something it's like historic fiction, kristen and patty um so much research goes 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 your mind, but not info down, put the reader, put the reader right into the world of that book and, and I think you of course you ladies do it so well. But um I would love it if people would rediscover and you know, Julia Quinn with the bridger tones is another great example. Well, the regency romances in particular have probably the strongest following of all. And there's so many conventions and you really know, who knows their stuff? I love, I've been reading regency romances for so long and they never get old. They're just So clever 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've never won one. Oh wow, you will. I promise you, you will love it. And I would start with Eloisa James. Alright, I couldn't believe she said that her boss said she wouldn't get tenure. Oh, I can absolutely believe it, especially going 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 this tonight, but Eloisa mary has a great um a great article that is linked to from her website Eloisa James dot com, which is an op ed she wrote for the new york times in defense of the romance genre. And for any of you who have read romance or have considered reading romance or who have thought romance is not for you, I challenge you to read that essay because I think it really makes a good point, just as mary kate just did about how it's, you know, it's not what you think and and it's it's not something to turn our noses, not bad. I mean, these are beautiful stories that are, in many cases just beautifully researched historical novels and you know, I think we make a mistake if we short change them. You know, you know, they're they're about they're about the things that matter most. They're about love, their about family life. So many of them are about the the conflicts that women are facing between. Um as Sonali said, what they want and what they can't have and how they 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 the heroine's change, right? They either going in the women in the classics had to either accept their fate or go insane. And then as time went on, the the heroine's changed in what they were allowed to want. You know patty what's interesting to tie into that is it she sort of went and answered the question about how books influenced you as an author. For sure. For being able to read 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 to that question in a full way tonight because I think mary's father was a tremendously well known, award winning poet. So I think that would have been really interesting to hear the answer. Yeah, yeah, that would have been interesting 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 just what a night, what a night. What a great kick off to this great partnership 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 sign off tonight, I do want to make it our mission for the week to show our new partner story Point the power of Friends in fiction. So how many, let's let's do this, ladies. How many new instagram followers do you think we can drum 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 love a challenge. So, um, Kay is looking okay, How many? 786 they have right now as of now, 786 followers. We can Okay, we get past 2000. And that's what I was going to say. Let's do it. 4000. Yeah. So how many of you pop over there right now to instagram at story point point lines follow them. Let's get them over 1000. Yeah, It's a budget. Everyone out there. We're so grateful for your support. Yeah. Yeah. And we hope that you will support our new partner to because our new partner is helping us do all of this. Plus they make one. I mean that's what'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 us tonight. We will see you next week as we welcome Susan Wiggs to the show at seven p.m. Eastern on Wednesday. Thanks ladies and thanks everyone out there at night. Take on instagram. Thank you for tuning in, Join us every week on Facebook or YouTube, where our live show airs every Wednesday night at seven p.m. eastern time. And please subscribe to our podcast and follow us on instagram. We're so glad you're here. Yeah.

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