Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 3 months ago

Friends & Fiction with Paula McLain

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

New York Times bestselling author Paula McLain joins the show to discuss her new novel WHEN THE STARS GO DARK, her writing career, and influences. http://paulamclain.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. Hi everyonea night that means it is time for friends in fiction and I cannot tellyou how excited I am about tonight and our guest Paula McLain, we have so muchto look forward to. I am patty Callahan Henry and I'm mary Kay Andrews, I'mChristine Harmel, I'm Christie Woodson harvey and this is Friends and fiction,new york times bestselling authors, endless stories to support independentbookstores. Tonight. You are the luckiest because you get to meet PaulaMcLain, her new book When the Stars Go Dark was an instant new york timesbestseller. We'll be hearing about this novel, her totally fascinating researchand the inspiration behind this book. We'll talk about how she started as apoet and a memoirist and we will definitely talk about her profile inthe new york Times and the very personal nature of this novel. And ofcourse, for all of you who show up for this, we will not let her get awaywithout a writing tip. Mhm. And um we just wanted to stop right now and saythanks to all of you who came to our musical last that are brilliant,Kristen Harmel wrote and um we semi performed, it was amazing. And umKristen you can probably tell is in a hotel room right now, is having a verybusy week back on tour for the, the first time since before. So you know,being like, first of all we want to raise a toast to you were, you know,ordinary book cheers, we're so proud of you. Um and how is tour going? It'sbeen amazing. I've gotten to meet so many friends and fiction members andit's been so um gosh, just amazing to have people come up and say whatfriends and fiction has meant to them to say what, you know, some of one ofmy books has meant to them. That's been incredible. I got to give lisa from ourBook Club a huge hug last night. I get to give a Nisa a big hug today. Um it'sjust so nice to be um connecting in person with people again and you know,Kathy and American Andrews and I did an event together at fox tail last nightand just to see the number of people who came in and told us both that uhfriends and fiction meant something to them. Um It just makes all of this workwhile it then I think it meant so much to both of us. Absolutely, yeah, I wasthere last night and um it was so gratifying, I mean I was just sort of afly on the wall, but it's so gratifying to see so many friends and fictionmembers and people had tears in their eyes because they were so glad to seekristen in person and so many shared their amazing stories and they weredeeply touched and inspired by the Forest of Vanishing Stars. So I mean itwas it was it was really a privilege for me to see that me to thank you.Thank you. I just feel like you're being a little bit draggy since I'm theonly one that doesn't get to see Kristen in person and I'm going to haveto I when I see you to Kristen. Well thank you. All right, you guys onsunday. I know I'm so excited about it and I think I'm actually picking you upfrom the airport on my side. I can't wait. All right. And speaking of sales,you guys, speaking of all everything we're doing with these independentbookstores, these bookstores, we're going on the road and visiting all ofus um in our continuing support of indie bookstores tonight. Our bookstorethe week is Logan berry books in the historic large mere. I might be sayingit wrong neighborhood of Cleveland Ohio. And apologies if I've said theneighborhood name wrong but established in 1994 they feature a carefullycurated collection of new used and rare books. So we'll be telling you aboutthem in just a little bit and of course we're always so gratefulto our sponsor, Mama Geraldine's a woman run business with the mostdelicious cheese, straws and cookies.

It's been a mainstay for us here atFriends in fiction and for our families and you get 20% off with the code. Fabfive. Okay, And today we celebrated ladies, our 50th issue of thenewsletter. How is that possible? We over 7000 subscribers. So I've seen,we've seen a lot of, y'all lately saying, oh, I've missed events. How doI find them? You subscribe to the newsletter, Everything you've everwanted to know. Absolutely great. And drum roll. That was a, but we don't letpatty do sound effects anymore, but maybe we should let me do them either.That wasn't very good. I should have done it. But we have a hugeannouncement. We're so excited. We've been keeping a teeny tiny bit of asecret and we're here to tell you about it tonight. You know that mary Kaypatty and I all have fall books coming out in september and october mhm. Guess what? Back by popular demand. Wehave a friends and fiction signed first edition subscription a winter if youwill. A winter wonderland of wonderful looks. Wait, no, I said, oh, what awonderful books. And we are so thrilled to be partnering with our friends atNantucket Book Partners for a chock full of fun package. So if yousubscribe to the package which has mary Kay andrews, the santa suit my onceupon a wardrobe and Christie's christmas and Peachtree Bluff. If yousubscribe to the package, you will receive signed first editions the daythey come out of each book, but also look at that adorable mug and exclusivefriends and fiction mug. It's not like it's a big like a wrap your handsaround it. We might have spent a very long time. No, embarrassingly anembarrassing number of texts because if anything, if anything can be over thunkyour Yes. So and also along with that, you get the bamboo steamer. No, you geta set of ginsu knife head scratcher. You do not with each book, you're gonnaexclusive book club kit from each of us with the recipe, discussion questionsand other interesting content. And to add to the fun. The three of us satdown, we were in Beaufort and we filmed an exclusive chat about behind thescenes story secrets of these novels that you will not see anywhere else. Sowith this package will receive a code to watch the interview with us thatonly subscribers to the Winter Wonderland can watch. So we'll postabout it after the show tonight and all the details will be on our facebookpage. You know that every week we partner with Parade magazine online, westreamed from their facebook page and we have an original essay and theironline magazine. Every week. This week, our mary Kay andrews wrote aboutrunning away from home to write, you can find it on Parades website. We'reon our facebook page. But in the meantime mary Kay, can you tell us alittle bit about it? I would love to, you know, um really since the beginningof my fiction career, I've been doing just that running away from home too.Right when I first started I had little kids and I would just leave my husbandwith some takeout menus now. Um you know, we're empty nesters, but I stillI still really get a lot out of running away to write. And I think everybodyand that's what I wrote about in the essay. I think everyone especially, youknow, we we know that our demographic is heavily women, but I thinkespecially women need to take time away from their everyday lives and um runaway from home no matter how, you know, no matter how old you are, you're neveryou're never too old to run away from home. Yes, definitely. Um So here'swhat I'm wondering if you run away from home to. Right, ladies, do you have afavorite destination? A spot where you find yourself both inspired andproductive? Or is there a spot that you're still longing to run away to?Well, you know, I'll give you my answer to both, which is paris. I'm alwayslonging to go to paris. And it's also a spot where I feel very creativelyenergized and I don't know just very connected to what I'm writing. So Iwould say paris but also L. A. I also find out. Yeah. Like the creative newsisn't that crazy and you know what? I...

...cannot write in coffee shops anywherebut I can write in coffee shops in L. A. Is that weird? It's like crazy. Yeah. Idon't know because you're waiting because you're waiting for MatthewMcConaughey to walk. That is true. That is true. He does. I think that would beme. Who are you waiting for? Its uh here would you be waiting for christian?I don't know. I don't know. Patrick Dempsey maybe. I don't know. I don'tknow if I Mark waiting for Mark Ruffalo mary. Kay will be writing for, we'll bewaiting for paul Red, we know, we know we already know my pretend boyfriend.Um I believe it or not. I have never run away to right before um which Ineed to do sometime. I feel like I'm always running away to tour and so Idon't want to be gone from home to run away and right, but I think it would dome a lot of good if I did. Um but I will say there's something about beingin new york, it's not writing there, but it like inspires me, like it justgives me energy and I think, you know, going and doing those fun meetings thathopefully we'll get to do again one day and just like being on the streets andI've always really loved new york and kind of felt like energized there andlike, like, oh, you know, and I remember like walking by, you know, thepublishing houses when I was young and be like, I'm you know, right for one ofthis one day. And so there's something about that that like get some kind ofjazzed up for me, it's been a couple of placesfrom the sea to the mountains, but it always has changed the story and doneme some good and I can't wait to hear what Paula has to say about it becauseI know she has done the exact same thing. So, now let's talk about Paulareally quick before we bring her on. She is the New york Times best sellingauthor of the paris Wife, which has been published in 34 languages, and wason the New york Times list for 31 weeks and has two million copies in print.She also wrote circling the sun and love and ruin. And her newest is Whenthe Stars Go dark. Amazing. I love that cover Paula McLain is also the authorof two collections of poetry, a memoir like family growing up in otherpeople's houses and a first novel, a ticket to ride. A recipient offellowships from Yamato, the McDowell Artist Colony, the Cleveland Arts Prize,the Ohio Arts Council and the and the National Endowment for the Arts. Notvery impressive. Yeah, stuff to say. I couldn't find anythingscraping the bottom of the barrel. I was trying, oh my gosh collar was bornin California in 1965 After being abandoned by both parents. She and hertwo sisters became wards of the California Court system, moving in andout of various foster homes for the next 14 years, which she has spoken andwritten so beautifully and movingly about. She received her M. F. A. Andpoetry from the University of Michigan. She lives with her family in ClevelandOhio. Where are Ron lives? She was there. Cool. Her new book is anatmospheric novel of intertwined destinies and heart wrenching suspense.So who can resist that? So Paula come out, come out from the green room. It'sso nice to see you all. It's really nice to be here. I admire you all. ButI also just think you're lovely women and you're adding a lot thisconversation. People keep books and keep them near their hearts and it'simportant. It's important, important what you're doing. I know people arereally feeling that. So congratulations. Well we're honored. You joined us, myfriends. So to all of you out there who are watching, remember to put yourquestions in the comments on facebook or on Youtube and we're gonna do ourbest to get to them. So Paula, the first thing I want you to do is tell usabout the plot of when the stars go dark and then we're going to dive intothe origin story and a whole bunch of other stuff. But basically, yeah, sowhat you need to know is that it's set in the 19 nineties, in northernCalifornia, in a town called Mendocino. And um it begins with a missing personsdetective who flees her home. And uh in a personal tragedy that we actuallydon't know a lot about until the end of the book and where she goes is theplace in the world that she finds most important to her. That gives her asense of home. She like me grew up in foster care, but Mendocino is the placethat she calls home. She goes there in order to restore herself and to healand to pick up the pieces of her life.

But instead the minute she arrives shesees a poster for a missing girl. A local 15 year old girl has sort ofvanished into thin air and she finds herself pulled into this case. And theways that these stories connect essentially are things that reallyinterests me about trauma and healing and survivor hood and destiny. So yeah,that's the the plot of the book plus a really great dog and a psychic andamazing scenery. Good Lord because you're such a visual writer, thescenery is you know, we're there, but it's such such a powerful book. So youknow, because we talk about it a lot. I'm endlessly fascinated by originstories and where books come from. It's hard to pin it down. There are certainthings that happen. And you've had, you've written about three real women,you've written poetry, you've written a memoir and this is a departure from allof bats. This kind of took a hard right turn. So I want you to talk a littlebit about the origin. I know you were walking, you're too cute for itself.Dog piper, in fact, perfect. And she just perked up. She looks like she'ssaying really perfect. She might make a little cameo of parents later as my bigfat cat crawling who we just called baba because he's nervous because helooks like a baba. Anyway, um I was actually in the middle of working onlove and ruin. So love and ruin is a told from the point of view of MarthaGellhorn, who was a really important more correspondent and she happens tohave been the third wife of Ernest Hemingway and the scene that I wasworking on the day that the idea for this book came to me is set in 1937Madrid. You know, it's like Madrid surrounded on three sides by franco'sarmy and everyone's getting shelled every other second. And I was superimmersed in her voice and her point of view and her perspective. And suddenlyI took a dog walk to clear my head and um and a character came literally outof the sky patty. You said, you know, hard, right turn. It felt like that. Itjust felt like, you know, going to the movies, right? Completely. Just nothingthat I ever think about this missing persons detective who becomes involvedin this case with a vantage girl. And there's a serial killer like who thisis not my life, this is these are not the ideas that I have, and yet it hadsuch authority when it came to me that I couldn't really stop thinking aboutit. Um but I was in the middle of another book and so I finished thatbook and it was still there, you know, percolating in the back of my mind. SoI got super brave and told my agent about it one day and I just assumedthat she was going to say girl you have lost your cotton picking minds like noyou historical fiction about women who actually lives. So let's just go aheadand do that instead of this crazy thing. Instead she said that sounds amazing,you should do it. And this is what I want to say about creativity and aboutsupport and how we can support each other. When somebody tells you theirdream, just say that sounds amazing. And sometimes I think it's our fear foreach other, right? Like we're afraid our our kids come to us and say, I wantto do X. And instead of saying yes, go be an astronaut, we say, well, you know,maybe accountant is more, how are you going to support yourself or any ofthese practical questions? And the way we really can support each other'sdreams is just say, go, go, go, go, don't look back, just go, yeah, you'reabsolutely right. It's so it's so important to have that support behindus. I think, I mean, like you said, just to have people behind us sayinglike, you know, like this group is one of the reasons this group has been sowonderful is it's just a fountain of encouragement all the time, which iswonderful even when it's not necessary, even when, even when it still deserveshonestly, but it's so Paula, you had an incredible profile in the new yorktimes titled Paula McLain wrote a thriller and this time it is personal.Um and in that you said that stories...

...were the bridge that carried you out offoster care. Can you talk to us a little bit about what books meant toyou in that period of your life and whether you think that had something todo with why you wanted to become a writer? Oh my goodness, yes, Noquestion. Absolutely. No questions. So I'm sure that you guys also had yourlives saved by books in various ways. Because most writers I know will saybooks saved me and I always take it seriously when I hear those words. Umregardless of what the back story is, you kind of know that That there is 1um you know by the time I was eight years old I have been in so manydifferent homes and felt such um such uncertainty about my future and soanxious about making new friends at school that I about to only makefriends with librarians. Which doesn't that make sense? Doesn't it make a hotsense? And yeah hit out in the library. I ate my lunch in the library, I madefriends with librarians and I um devoured books. I could read two andthree books a day. And of course you know we say about books as if it'sderogatory that we read for escape as if that isn't sometimes the mostmarvelous trick in the world that we can read to escape our currentenvironment and you know libraries are excellent for that now. Oh my God do weneed our libraries for people, you know those people who really need a safeplace and in a sense of really being grounded and stories can do thisremarkable thing for us, can't they? I read um like harry potter pulling oninvisibility cloak, right? I just, I whole world around me and fell intothese worlds and for my best friends. And you know, I read because I didn'tknow if I had a happy ending myself and I read because I wanted something tohope for and I read to disappear. And along the way, I also um started toread like a writer I think. You know, and so that kind of total immersion ofand I love books, particularly hardcover books because we opened thepages and they sort of invite us to fall in. What books do they just inviteus to fall in And you know, nothing really works exactly that same way forme except for writing that kind of absolute immersive experience thattakes every part of me and knits it kind of into every part of the book.It's like a perfect magic carpet ride, a perfect hat trick. It's my favoritething in the whole world. And I mean to do it until they wheel me away. It'samazing. Great. And I think about eight year old Paula in that library betweenfoster homes. I just want to crawl through the screen and uh and I know gointo the past actually. I think we all could today consider everyone had. Yeah,well, Paula, you said in that same new york times article, why not write thestories that matter? And then one of your themes is surviving theunsurvivable. Do you think that surviving the unsurvivable is a themein all of your books? Oh, yeah. Although I wouldn't have known it fromthe very beginning. So in one way my career looks really schizophrenic. Ihave two books of poetry, I have a memoir, I wrote a contemporary novel. Iwrote these three historical novels and now I have a suspense like lady likepick a lane and staying laying. But to me, the through line of all of thosebooks is really about resilience, like what it is. I don't know what it is tobe fair, but I know what it feels like and I know what it is when I see it andjust how we overcome obstacles to discover ourselves is what I'm alwayslooking for, right? Yes. And how we survive things that mean to kill us.But then don't Right. And the people we have to survive in order to come out onthe other side and do what we're meant to do. Like what were faded to do? Likethat idea of destiny is always sort of driving me as well. And I wonder ifit's part of the way that I grew up where there was so much just bad news,right? There was no way out. And so I started thinking what if I meant forsomething bigger? What if this is not...

...my life at all? I mean that's that's astoryteller's line. Right? What if what if I meant to get out on the other sideof this and tell about it. Yeah. What if what if all this bad stuff is justthe prologue. Amen. Amen. Okay. I love that. I just got chills mary Kay and Mytherapist says her favorite words in the English language are and then oneday and then one day because you could justlike any right, any fable Cinderella too. I mean just on and on a little redriding hood and then one day, right And then one day she rescued herself. I went to a I went when I was anewspaper reporter. I went to a popular culture convention um and I went sat inon a panel discussion about the pop culture ramifications of the movie.Pretty Woman Until until I sat in on that it never occurred to me thatPretty woman is about um Cinderella and Rapunzel. And at the end of PrettyWoman um Julia roberts says and then she rescued herself. Right. Yeah. Rightso you know Paula your main character anna and when stars go dark please tothe northern California village of mendocino to grieve. I'm wondering whymendocino. Yeah. Have you ever been there? I mean I don't think I havefriends been there. Okay so it's three hours north of san Francisco. I grew upin California but I grew up in a much less um picturesque, shall we sayCalifornia. Um I grew up in the Cleveland of California and breads, noin the central valley, which is the hottest hell. And it's home likewhatever is home to us is absolutely absolutely home. So, but three hoursnorth of san Francisco um is a little village that looks more like it belongsin maine and in fact in murder she wrote, which was, you know, the set ofmurder she wrote is actually the town of Mendocino. I didn't know that shewrote exactly. So now you guys on jeopardy weekend, you know, um it'sthis victorian village, just cut a snot victorian village, white clapboardhouses, gingerbread trim picket fences and on the Burj of this bluff, thissuper sheer cliff face and then the roaring pacific and all of it issurrounded by the way, it's tiny. A couple, A couple 100 people live there,surrounded by ancient redwood forest, old growth redwood forests and then thebob comes in this eerie coastal fog that can come any time of day in anymoment in any season and wrap you in this shroud of mystery and magic. Andit's an extraordinary place which I spent time in in my twenties and thatday that I took the dog walk and had this, you know that whatever fairy dustof imagination like these characters came to me knitted to that place. Itdid not seem at all. Um random, right? I just knew it had to be set there andand lo and behold it is, it is set there. So once I did a book event andsomebody stood up at the back, a live book event when you know, I haven'tdone one yet, but I'm really looking forward to because anything can happenand anyone can say anything and it's beautiful. But woman stood up at theback and she said not, what are you writing next? She said, where are youtaking us? Oh, nice. Where are you taking us next? And I thought that'sright. And I think it hadn't ever been articulated to me in exactly that way.That place is my portal. You know? And and every writer I think has one likehow do you enter a story as a character? Is a dialogue? Do you see the wholething? Do you see the ending and write your way? Is it is it one singlecharacter? Is it a voice sometimes for...

...me for this is really important, butreally the same immersive experience that I had as a kid, like with theinvisibility cloak, I have to believe that I can see that place and if Ican't see it then honey, I cannot take you there. Yeah. You know, we talkedbefore you came on Paula about running away to, right. So when you wereworking on one stars go dark, did you go to Mendocino to do research? I did.I ran away to Mendocino and I wasn't writing me. I was sometimes researchfor me. It's just breathing, breathing the air of a place and we'll feel. Whatdoes it feel like standing like stand in those words, What does it smell like?And sometimes I think as writers, we can get to um wedded to the granulardetail that we think is going to transport a reader to the place. And itcan be just like, oh my God, you know, and I remember having this conversationwith patty about surviving savannah, which by the way, is a beautiful bookand I was lucky enough to read it. You know when she was here pages aloud whenshe was working on it. I did. I read you the first chapter. Oh, I know. Butdo you remember that honey, you like read me the scene set on the ship andI'm like, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's all fantastic. And yet I can tell howmuch research you did because you are trying to shove it into every moment ofevery sentence as away again to get into the place. But to me it's much,it's much more of an emotional thing and it's almost, it's super mysterious.Like we don't know how we get there. Sometimes one detail can do more workthan 100 correct details. Like really hard based detail that makes a readergo. Yes, yes, I know what it feels like to be there. Yeah, that's a good point.Yeah, absolutely. So Paula each week we support an independent bookstore andthis week you chose Logan berry books, can you tell us? Yeah, so loganberries,this it's the group. Yes. I mean I have a lot of independence and as writers,as you guys know, it's really important to support these small booksellers whohave brick and mortar stores and it's almost well it's always out of, it's anact of love. Nobody opens a bookstore because they want to get rich quick.Right? No, it's desperate. It's a desperate act to open a bookstorebecause because it's a hard way to make a living. So it's really important tosupport them. But Logan berry, I love because it's in an old building in withlike creaky soft, buttery floors and a fiction section that has I think 15 fthigh ceilings and you have to get on the ladder. Really big ladder, aserious ladder to get to the top and you can spend years in there and nottouch every spine. And we just like to go in there and disappear on a rainyday. And it's just a wonderful place. Used books, new books, rare books, Dogs.All right. It's a good place to disappear. It's actually a really greatplace. And the local writer, a girlfriend of mine who was the firstwriter friend that I made in Cleveland sarah Willis. She has a beautiful bookcalled Some Things that stay, if you don't know, it's fantastic. She worksthere as a bookseller. She worked there as a bookseller because she likes to bearound books who doesn't Right? Didn't you always want to be a librarian or for you? I'm going to kick you. Come on,hang on y'all. Let's see. Let's see if she'll make an appearance come herepiper patties, Here's how paper. Well we'llsee now she's gone and now she's gone. We'll see if she barks. I'm sorry.There's nobody to yell at. There's no child tom sometimes I, I bribed myChildren to take the dog into their rooms whileI'm doing events, you know? And sometimes they ask me for more moneybecause they're tired of me by now. That's called extortion never parent, which also means that I'ma single dog parents so well um your bookstore sounds amazing and just foreveryone out there, Logan Berry has an inventory of more than 100,000 volumesincluding ours and you can get 10% off at Logan berry books this week on whenthe stars go dark and on new and recent...

...titles from all of us. With a speciallink on our facebook page under announcements Paula before we jump inbecause there's all these live questions coming in. You know, I alwaysmake you do this. I want you to talk about when you were in Mendocino andyou saw the time in the maiden on the rooftop and how, how so I have a sobeautiful and it just worked its way there. It is. Okay So this is a carvingthat's on this, you know the flint of an actual chapel that was uhconstructed in 1865 and this is a statue of Father Time and this and thismaiden. But all you have to do is sort of like look a little bit closer to seejust how creepy it is creeping It is because like number one, he's braidingher hair. You hello, I'm braiding her hair and then there are all these otherdetails. There's a there's a and earn, there's an acacia bow, there's anhourglass and that this side and you know, Father time is also is also death.So here we have death braiding the hair of this mysterious maiden. And this umcarving is visible from every corner. Mendocino. And so I just stared at itand I thought, I wonder what this means. And so I did a little google dive. Andall the articles basically turned up the fact that nobody really knows whatit means. It's like a mystery In plain sight. And I thought, okay, so there'sa metaphor. Right? And so that's something that's braided all the waythrough the book, not just the physical carving and what my character who growsup in this town from the age of 10, like steeped in the unsolvable natureof this thing, which is braided into her psyche as a mystery, Right? Not ascroll. Is that a scroll she's holding? So this is, you know, and if um, youknow, it's it's on the it used to be a Masonic lodge now it is a credit union.So that in fact is a column that has broken in half. Yeah, it's a sundered,it's a sundered column. Yeah. And it's it's the story that's being told in thecarving is something that's important to Masonic rituals. But what I likedabout it, knowing nothing about masonry and actually not wanting to knowanything about me so angry because the mystery is the more interesting thing,right? That's why I always want to talk about that because I remember when yousaw it and how it was almost a mirror or an echo of the mystery and I wasgoing to have to solve and these unsolvable things in our life and howone in this crazy world where it's hard to say where a book came from.Sometimes it's something like a really mysterious carving and all of a suddenyour mind is making connections and moving towards a different kind ofstory. So I think I think a bunch of things, but I also think this, so therewas a bunch of things, I think a bunch of things oh month usually, but it'sall writers too. But you know, on the dog walk that day these characters cameand I knew the setting, but I didn't know where it would take me because wenever do. We really just buy a ticket. We just buy a ticket and we get on theride and hopefully we have the boldness and the and the surrender sort of anequal parts to just ride this ride and see where it takes us. And I had noidea that after a dozen years, uh, writing historical fiction about womenwho actually lived, that the first time I chose a fictional character, that shewould be closer to me than anything I could ever imagine. And closer to methan the version of myself that I wrote about in my own memoir. Like how doesthat right? So that, you know, so when I was working on her backstory,suddenly I thought, and it wasn't right away. It took several drafts until itoccurred to me that the story I was actually telling was about how wesurvived the unsurvivable Christie. We...

...survived the unsurvivable and that annaas someone who grew up in foster care is going to be acutely aware of pain.So her, she wears her own pain, she carries it with her, right? It makesher super sensitive to the stories of others, particularly the traumaticstories of others. And it's exactly how she's lived her life that helps her,that leads her to find this girl and helps her not save the girl butunderstand how we are saved, right? Does that make sense? Just think whatyou just said about the character and how she helped solve the mystery ofthis missing girl from what's inside of her. It's you and what's inside of youthat does the story, You did exactly. The whole meta meta you did you did themirror Mirror. The mirror Mirror. Mirror. Exactly. Whatever leads anna toCameron just missing is the thing that led me to both of them in the way. Iknow it gets good away that we understand each other, but I think thisis what we're always doing as writers and it doesn't matter who are writingabout. It's all these little, it's like fortune cookies, right? It's just alittle slip of paper that's hidden in the cookie. That is the thing that istrue, true, true, true true. Right? And maybe somebody knows you really welland read your book and says, oh my God, I can't believe you told that storybecause nobody knows because it's a secret. You know, it's like our deepdown sometimes we don't even know it. And the character shift sometimes,sometimes that's true. I mean, I was working on the paris wife and mymarriage was failing, but I didn't I was hiding that truth from myself, butI was writing about a marriage that was falling apart. And so all of the womenwho read my book and bawl their eyes out on airplanes and then write me andtell me about it. It's because they're because they sensed the truth and thosescenes I didn't even know I was writing the truth. It sneaks again. It sneaksout. Yes it does. So we have an amazing community and they love to askquestions. So Christine woods and harvey, would you take us away, grab acouple of the live questions because I could keep asking her questions but metoo. So I have to start with more of a compliment than a question from BonnieMiller who says she could listen to Paula talk forever. Her description inher conversation is so you, I think we actually have a lot of people askingabout your childhood and what books inspired you during your childhood. Ithink it's an interesting, Yeah, that's really sweet. So I play a gamesometimes. I'm gonna do it with you all just super, super quick and then I'mgonna answer the question and the game patties played this game with me. Ithink the game is um name that book, your favorite book as a kid. And thenthink about what just to yourself like what it's about, you know, like sort ofat the core what it's about. So mine was maybe a tree grows in Brooklyn, right? Or maybe even um Watership Down,you know? Um And then to think about the book that you were embarrassed toadmit that you read in high school. And then to think about what that book isabout. And for me that book is probably flowers in the attic, in the attic.Flowers in the attic. Just really about how we survive unsurvivable things. Andit's about resilience and all this stuff, right? And then the the bookthat you've read that you've read, you know, as an adult that really feelslike it's like the Book of Your Heart. And recently, that book for me is Myname is lucy Barton by Elizabeth stroud, which really is about that aboutresilience and what we survive and what we carry forward with us after throughthe surviving. That's your language paddy Callaghan that was going to saythat you didn't know. Yeah. So just to play that game with yourself every oncein a while, you know, my favorite line and my name is lucy Barton is lucywants to be a writer and her first writer, writer teacher tells her don'tever worry about story. We only get one...

...of one. Yeah. Everyone only gets one.You only have your one story and you might write about it from 100 differentvectors. But you're still going to arrive at that at that one story.Actually one of our questions for you and we didn't even have to ask it. Soisn't that interesting? You believe that everyone only has one story?That's the question. I do believe that we're always sifting through the sameearth. You know, like you get this plot of Earth and it's the stuff, it's ourstuff, it's the stuff we're fascinated by. What I didn't know was that thisbook was going to pitch me in a kind of perfect way at my own obsessions that Ifound this character who could really allow me to, you know, I just gave hereverything at a certain point. I gave her my childhood in foster care. I gaveher my obsession with trauma and healing. I gave her a dog, I love thatI've met in real life, you know, and I gave her one of my favorite places inthe world. I gave her nature as medicine and um yeah, and then I lether talk. You ever notice, oh sorry. You ever notice like little, theselittle streams that run from one story to the next, that you write. Like evenif their extreme, I'm interested in your perspective on this because you'vewritten things that are extremely different from each other. But evenlike I'm working on christmas and Peachtree left in the wedding veilright now, they could not be more different. Like they could not be moredifferent. And there are these little threads that I'm like running about thesame thing in both of these because you Yeah, it's really interesting universethat the universe clearing it. It's our soil. It's our competence Kyle, it'sPaula, we have so many questions. Maybe you will go in afterwards to theFriends and fiction facebook training and answer some of those questionsbecause people want to know what you're reading. Yeah, yeah. They want to knowwhat your favorite genre to write is, in which genre you're going to take usto next. Oh my goodness, Okay. There's a lot we want them to know. I mean.Yeah, I want to know those things too. Every week, every week one of ourfavorite parts of the show is receiving a writing tip. And on your instagramyou have given a really a big gift to your followers which is writers mondaywhere you answered writing questions from your readers for anybody out therewatching tonight. Would you go out there and find those posts? It's atreasure trove. But tonight maybe sure, maybe sure. Writing trip with us. Yeah.Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Thank you. So yeah, you could look for me oninstagram. It's not always on a monday, you know why? Because I never know whatday it is I got yes, I will drink to that. Well we know when it's Wednesday and then only barely. Oh my goodness.Oh my God, no. Oh my God, I'm sure I've been calling, ask me anything. And soquestions readers throughout the years. Again, it's like Q and A right. It's myfavorite part of any event is the Q and A. Because that's the part that youdon't know what's going to happen. Already know what I'm gonna say. Butthen somebody asked you a question and suddenly it gets you to think about adifferent part of your experience or or even what your wisdom is. So I was eventhinking about it patty said to me yesterday, oh, by the way, we're goingto ask you about a writer step. I'm like a writer's tip. Like what do Iknow about writing? And I know it's like a little nugget and then I wasthinking about, I know I was thinking a laughing, I was thinking I was thinkingabout dizziness and away. The way that writers often come to me and ask me,how do you make time? How do you make time to write? And the fact of thematter is like, you don't like you do not, you will never live a life whereyou have enough time to write. That life does not exist. And when I'm notwriting I'm super busy and when I am writing I'm even more busy but the timedoes not exist. We're not going to suddenly magically get to that clearingin the forest that invites us to sit down and finally write the book thatwere meant to write, I think that it, I don't know, I'm inviting you to imaginea world where you took the time and...

...used it as that clearing in the woodsas a gift that you give yourself because you don't have time to write.What if you simply said I will never have the time and I have to make it andit's just for me and it's the most precious thing I have and I'm gonna sitdown right here and I'm just gonna I'm gonna make it like that is that's it,right? It's that it's that clearing in the chaos. The chaos will never getquieter. Don't you get quite a game with yourself? I just have to get offtour or I just have to get it and it's going to be fine. But then it's notit's not it's married or we have this weekend and then I yeah, you're totally right Paula.Another thing that we always like to ask our guests every week is if theyhave something there reading lately or something they read recently, that theylove cuba book recommendation, you can I do, and in fact, this is so fun,y'all you're gonna, I hope you're going to smile. But I've been reorganizing mybook cases because I have too many damn books, too many damn books and theykeep proliferating like mushrooms and so I was trying to give stuff away andlooking at older titles, and I picked up this little book, Shirley Jackson.We have my goal in the castle, which was published in 1963. Oh my goodness,I can remember readers and look how little it is, it's just a stack, Oh,but I picked it up and I just I was trying to decide whether or not I couldthrow it away because I've had it for a really long time. And I read five pagesand I read 10 pages that I read. 20 pages that I read. 30 pages because itis just so brilliant. Not read Shirley Jackson, she wrote the short story, thelottery lottery in ninth grade and also the haunting ofHill house. And so she's a, you know, a gorilla writer, suspense writer. But ifyou just read, I think what is really capturing me about this book is theabsolute authority and particular charity of the voice. And you thinkabout what is suspense. Like we're all writing suspense, aren't we? Becausesuspense just means we have to turn the page right, we have to turn the page.And there's just something about the eeriness uh, and particularity thatjust the detail of the voice and the apps, the engine of the Voice that setsup this mystery from page one that I just thought, you know, this doesn'tsound like anything anyone's writing today. And, and I just love it. I justlove it. So I love when you throw back something throwback, like a throwbackthursday. A throwback thursday, Okay, you'll be okay at that. Okay. Did Ijust accidentally volunteer for something when you're like a kid shouldgo on a field trip? Okay, real quick. I want to recommend a book called TheLast Commandment by Scott Sheppard. And speaking of thrillers, it is a debutthriller out next week. And wait, it was out yesterday um with endorsementsfrom one of yeah, I was out yesterday and it has an endorsement from one ofour friends and fiction favorites Karin Slaughter and so it's getting tons ofbuzz and he's a Hollywood tv writer for Miami Vice, Quantum leap and it's thefirst in a series with a Scotland yard detective. Mm wow. What? Absolutelyanyone else? No, I think um mm we have to talk aboutpodcast Patty All right Paula don't leave because we have a couple of moreannouncements but we have another question for you. But first we want toremind all of you out there to check out our friends and fiction writer'sblock podcasts will always post links under announcements each time a new onecomes out. It is with our favorite library and Ron block. It is so muchfun and it is totally different from the show and it comes out every singlefriday. We love Ron blocks librarians. Well last week Patty and Ron talked toSusan Cushman and lisa Patton and our series called Origin Stories abouttheir novels. Um john and mary Margaret and brush, which are both side of theUniversity of Mississippi in different decades. And this week Ron talks tobook clubs with M. J. Rose and pauline hubert,...

...you bear and you know what else we havebeen nominated for? Not one but two people's choice awards and we want towin you guys. So um made some snazzy how to guides on our our facebook pageunder announcements and it takes like less than a minute to vote for us. Sowe would really appreciate your vote. Hashtag winning. Yes, exactly. It's notan honor to me nominations way you can tell that you guys are reallycompetitive and you're like, wait, so just a reminder about our friendsand Fiction official Book club hosted by our friends, lisa Harrison, who Igot to give a big hug to last night and Brenda Gartner, I think I'm going toget to see later this week. It is growing like mad, it's a separate pageand we would love to have you join us over there to talk about books in depth.So this coming monday july 19th, they'll be talking to mary Alice aboutthe summer of Lost and Found and then on friday the 23rd, I believe that'sfriday. Um next friday they will have a virtual party To celebrate their oneyear anniversary, which is so exciting, is going to be so much fun. Am I mixingupdates? I think it is the 23rd and then I will join them on October 16.Talk about this up. You know what listen, I've been driving since, Idon't know, I'm not caused I didn't even know what, what is today, what istime? I should not have even given you that part, august 16th to talk aboutthe Forest of publishing stars. Talk about the ultimate volunteeringyourself wasn't at least Brenda. They were like, you guys should have a bookclub and someone was like, great, you should start it um your end time.Exactly, exactly the time we make the time we take. Exactly right. Um and inthe time that you make this week, if you have not checked out our merch,it's there, it's on our website. Friends and Fiction dot com. You canbuy it through Oxford Exchange and it's fantastic. But even more important,don't forget to check out that That friends and fiction um signed 1stedition subscription, a winter wonderland of books with our friends atNantucket Books Partners. And speaking of Nantucket, I know we wish we couldall go in person and partly bring you with us this month. I'm going to showup in real life, we're going to turn us away. Come on. Oh my gosh, Paula you'recoming with. So we are going to be on the front of the friends at this man,okay, I'm starting over, we are going to be a tough, you passed down, we'regoing to be at the Nantucket Book festival next week. It is virtual soeveryone can come july 20th at seven p.m. They will be games and prizes andgiveaways, original stories and loads of laughs as tim turns the table on usand plays host for the night. We have also each written a very short storyabout Nantucket. There once was a man. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,yes, we agree. We're not going to tell that story. Come on, come on. But ifyou have to attend and see what the stories really are about, The event isfree and open to all. But you have to register in order to get the link toattend. So the sign up is on the Nantucket Book Festival website and wedo hope you'll join us because it's the only place you can hear these crazystories that we've written. Yes. Next week join us right here at seven p.m.With Vanessa Riley to talk about her new novel, Island Queen, its historicfiction. And then the following week will be here with a little lady we callChristina baker climb and her novel the exiles. And if you're ever wonderingabout our schedule, it is always on the Friends and fiction website as well asthe Sidebar of Events on our Friends and Fiction facebook page. Okay Paula,we didn't get to talk about it and I want to talk about it. Your poetry,which is always Alive in your prose, and you're also a memoirist and anovelist. I want to talk about, oh, they overlap or don't overlap. And youwhat does the difference feel like even in your body when you're doing thesevery different things? That's a great question. You surprised me. I didn'tknow you were going to ask that. I love surprising, you know? So remember how Isaid just a second ago that Q and A S are my favorite because we don't reallyknow what's going to happen or what...

...somebody's going to ask. And oncesomebody said, do you still write poetry? And I said I do still writepoetry, except I do it in my novels. And it was sort of a joke, right? But Ithink it's I think it's for rials. I think that how I I love words and andand use them to describe experience and and seen and felt. Experience is in mekind of in my spleen, you know, it's like all the way, it's like all the wayand I can only do that right? I can only do it exactly the way that I do it.I sometimes joke that I only have two, I have two superpowers. I can describethings and I can make pie, you know, and then I know and then Patty and Iare friends with a woman who could really make pie. And now I say, okay, Ionly have the one thing I can just hilarious describe things. I love wordsand I love um imagery and the power of the image to carry human experience.It's like what it's why we read, we read to know we're human, we read toknow why we're here and we write for the same reason. So and part of part ofreading and the being allowed to read. Um and to have ownership of books isbookstores. So we want to encourage all of you to go out and grab Paula's whenthe stars go dark, preferably from our bookseller of the week Logan berrybooks Paula. Thank you so much for sharing your life and your inspirationfor us telling us about your journey to California and your process. It'sreally been my pleasure. I think you guys are amazing right back at you and we're taking you inreal life. Wouldn't that be great? Alright, come visit me in Cleveland. Isort of want to say and you guys will say no, but sometimes yes, I like it. Cleveland rocks. Cleveland rocksbaby. I'm here. We're here. So I'm planning on it. All right, thank youfor joining. Okay, bye. Okay folks, we will see that was so powerful. We willsee you in a minute at the story point after show. So come back next week.Same time. Same place as we welcome Vanessa Riley and don't forget to checkout our winter subscription box and we'll tell you so much more about it astime goes on. But right now we'll see what the story points. Sit and stayafter show. Mhm. Hey, everyone welcome to our storypoints, sip and stay after show. The wine that loves stories as much as wedo with a woman winemaker who talks about things like what's wine without astory? We say what does anything without a story? Exactly. This is thesummer of story points. If you haven't seen our uncorking the weekend videos,go check it out on instagram. Oh, you say you want to know where doyou find your point? So you can drink with us? You can do with this. Uh hereis how you find out about that. You go to story point wine finder tool, go tothe story point wines dot com to their website and then look for the storyPoint wine finder tool and that's where you find online retailers or search fora local store or restaurant near you. Mm Sounds sounds easy enough to me. Sochristian. How are you? Yes, that's how are you hanging? Or youjust like yes. And I still have a nine p.m. Virtual. It's with ChristinaMcMorris. So it will be delightful because she's always delightful. ButI'm like, who? How what was I thinking? What I said? Yeah, I think I'll have aday where I get up at seven. No, I'm sorry. Get up at six, you know, getmyself ready, leave my hotel at 7 30 in Atlanta, Drive to Spartanburg, do aluncheon, do a magazine, photo shoot and interview, do a cocktail party, dofriends in fiction and then um nine PM Virtual. So I guess I have to go to bed.I actually, I think virtual like being on tour and doing virtual added such anentirely new dimension to the exhaustion of being on tour becauseinstead of collapsing in your bed, you...

...come back and turn on the computer.Yeah, you're just and further complicating it. I have not actuallyeaten really since breakfast. I had a couple of noodles at lunch but theystart, they start to finish spinach quiche which looked delicious, but theystarted before I spoke and what would have happened to my mouth if I didn'tfinish tell everybody the reality of book tour,which is so glamorous, right, you're starving and boston and ready fordinner because it's iconic for the second course. I well I remember thisone time like being in a hotel room and it had a microwave and I was like areal event and then a virtual right after and I went to like grocery storeand grab this like freezer burrito. And I was sitting in this like sad hotelroom in the sad freezer burrito a is actually worse than my sad burrito. Youknow, we don't want people to think, we don't know, we do our book tour. Mygosh, oh my God, I've had such a wonderful time. It's just, you know, mystomach's been talking to me for the last hour. We really feel so gratefulthat we get to do it what everybody gets. People went on tour. We love tomeet readers. But I think we should all share like our saddest tour stories.It's this one day I didn't eat until 808 P. M. And then I broke into my foodat the end defensive fiction. That's my status book tour story. The funny thingabout book tour is like one day you were like, I am lying, glamorous,freaking personal planet. Like I just had this gorgeous event. But thisswanky hotel and then the next night you're like, oh my God, is that arabbit and watering on the ceiling? And I haven't had food in four days. Likewhat's happened? Your car looks like a blue smurf and then in your keys andthen you get an offender bender and you're lost. Yeah. One time I was I wasgoing to um I was going up to the Jersey shore. So I flew from wherever Iwas in the south and I flew into someplace else and I picked up a rentalcar and I got to my motel on the way to the Jersey Shore. And literally when Iwas walking through the hotel lobby with my little roller bag, everyonehanging out there I absolutely know was on early release from prison. Seriously?They all had ankle bracelets. Uh they're in the party. I'm making a note, y'all for wheneverif we have a justice. So because I know Kristen needs to go, but we need totalk about like stories from what I'm told car stories that I can tell rightnow. So let's let's do that. So I'd love for us to talk about. Not tonightbecause I don't want to see christmas pass out on the screen. But she saysit's happening. Yeah. I wanted to talk about the three books that Paula talkedabout. The favorite book is a childhood of your favorite embarrassing book. Andthen I think that's really interesting. So many notes that I talk tonight. It'sreally I mean she was great, she was great. She's amazing. That was just apowerful and amazing about what my book is that I was embarrassed about. Mhm.Um In height. Was it that what you were embarrassed about reading? It was yourfavorite in high school like that, you know, as a teenager or whatever, a bookyou didn't want to tell anybody you. Mine was probably forever Amber. Iremember being embarrassed, but I have to think about it. Well, I was I wasraised Catholic and forever. Amber was pretty 50. Yeah. Rusty. That's a goodword. That's funny. All right, ladies. It was amazing. And I wish you'd likein real life, I met her at the same time. I met you patty. We met on thesame day. Yeah, we met on the same day in texas. So I know. Look at us nowexactly how far we've come. Well ladies, I've got to go eat. I'm so sorry, sosorry. Be careful out there on the road. Wait for all of you who are stillhanging around mary Kay and Kristen and I will be together on sunday and maybewe'll find a black Christie. Oh no. Oh...

...my God, it's so mean. But it's also my birthdayweekend and you're hanging out without me. It's your birthday weekend. Happybirthday. Happy birthday. Happy birthday. You just talk about her. Ihave a birthday coming up to, it's not just about you. I you know just aboutme because this is my birthday week, it can be yours as soon as your birthdayweek, I want to eliminate pie for my birthday. Do you think all it wouldmake me one? Yes. And she can also just say, I didn't get a birthday weekcelebration because it happened to be some lady releasing a book called thenewcomer that week. True, that's true Fucking no, I'm glad to say that we have made it through 78 episodes. I just put beef instead of bleep. So thatshot, it's a leap leap. Oh my God, you go. There you go. Alright, okay. I'llmiss you all. I'm sad guys too. Good night everyone. 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, wow.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (121)