Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 2 months ago

Friends & Fiction with Sarah Addison Allen & Lauren K. Denton

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

On this episode, we talk to TWO amazing authors! Meet the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels (Garden Spells, First Frost), Sarah Addison Allen, a self-described master of "southern fried magical realism." She joins us to discuss her long-awaited seventh novel, OTHER BIRDS, which St.Martin’s Press just released on August 30th, and which debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list. The crew discuss character develpment, the craft of magical realism, the role that food and the theme of motherhood play in her books, and they go deep as they talk to Sarah about the tragic loss of her mother and how it effected her writing. On the second half of the show, the crew welcomes the USA TODAY bestselling author of six novels (The Hideaway, Hurricane Season), Lauren K. Denton who joins us to discuss her forthcoming sixth novel, A PLACE TO LAND (Harper Muse, October 4th). We hear all about the southern setting in her new novel, her strong female characters, sacrifice and sisterhood.

Welcome to friends and fiction for New York Times bestselling authors endless stories. Novelists Mary Kay Andrews, Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson Harvey and Patty Callahan Henry are four longtime friends with more than seventy published books between them. Together they host friends and fiction with author interviews and fascinating insider talk about publishing and writing to highlight and support independent bookstores. They discussed 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. Hello everyone, it is Wednesday night and that means it is time for another episode of friends and fiction. I think this is like a hundred and thirty eight, something like that. Yes, isn't that crazy? Can we are so looking forward to tonight, so let's get started. I'm Mary Kay Andrews, I'm Kristin Harmel, I'm Christy Woodson Harvey and I'm Patti Callahan Henry, and this is friends and fiction for New York Times bestselling authors endless stories, to support indie bookstores, authors and Librarians. Tonight we'll be talking with Sarah Addison Allen about her much anticipated and newest novel, other birds, and then on the second half of the show we will be talking to Lauren Kay Denton, another favorite of our members, about her newest a place to land. And don't forget, as you know, we continue to encourage you to support independent booksellers when and where you can, and one way to do that is to visit our own friends and fiction bookshop dot org page, where you can find Sarah is in, Lauren's books and books by the four of us and all of our guests at a discount. And have you seen our fall schedule for the Wednesday night live show? It's under announcements on our facebook page for all of you. Are More than ninety thousand members. Are we at thousand today? Nine three members. Next week we have shelby Van Pelt, the author of remarkably bright creatures, that Elizabeth Strout on September Twenty eight with her newest Lucy by the sea. What a line up. You guys. You're not going to miss and want to miss a single week. So go check it out. I know I'm excited every every week I just get so psyched like tonight. We're so excited. I know, I told like five people tonight. We have Sarah and Lauren, like I know. Where do you think that come on? After how weird we're being? They probably departed. I don't blame them, but God's gonna pull them on. We're gonna say bring on Sarah and it's gonna be like a blank screen. You're like so so. We know many of you have been participating our very first friends and fiction reading challenge organized by our friend and Lisa Armstrong. This month. The September challenge is a retelling of a classic and if you're looking for a way to keep track of these books and your other reading, we recommend our beautiful reading journal available at our friends Oxford Exchange in Tampa. Um. Of course, that's a bookstore we've talked about many times. They carry our merch line. We love working with them, but that that that reading journal is pretty awesome. So for the reading challenge this month, Um, we each picked our favorites or, you know, our books we would recommend to you that are retellings. Mine was beautiful little fools by Julian Jillian Cantor, which is a retelling of the Great Gatsby from the Women's point of view, I thought it was so inventive. Mary Kay chose eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, a modern retelling of pride and prejudice, and Christie chose in sense and sensibility, which is a retelling of sense and sensibility by Sinali death, and I chose, I know the does not surprise you, searcy by Madeline Miller. I loved that Book and how it brought the myth of Sarcey in the Odyssey alive. Okay, everyone, you know that every week we love doing and ask us anything segment, but tonight we're going to do it in the after show. So if you have any questions, you have that you want to do and ask us anything, just put it in the comments and we'll either get to them tonight or save them for next week. All Right, ladies, shall we get to our friends Sarah and Lauren? Al Right, first let me tell you a little bit about Sarah Addison Allen, although I know that so many of you are such huge fans and I really don't need to tell you, but we're going to anyway. That's right. Sarah is a New York Times best selling author of several novels, including garden spells, the Sugar Queen and the girl who chased them. In her books have been translated into more than thirty languages and millions of copies are now in print. She describes her work as southern...

...fried magic realism. I love that. Sarah was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains, and she grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food, which she credits to her parents. She majored in Literature in College. After publishing four best selling novels in five years, Sarah took a hiatus to return to writing with her two thousand and fourteen bestseller Lost Lake. Sara's new level, other birds, was just released. It is so whimsical and lovely and smart and a page Turner of a book, and this is the second week it's out and the second week that it hit the New York Times. So, Sean, can you bring Sarah on? We are so glad you didn't leave us. I am here just to see what you guys have to say. You know we're here for you love. Okay, we are so happy to have you on and congratulations on other birds, huge success. The New York Times list, the Barnes and Noble Book Club Pick The book of the month selection, and on and on. You must be thrilled. So, instead of me telling our viewers and listeners what your book is about, can you tell everyone what it's about and then, because I've heard you say that in your writing you want to tap into universal truth, don't just tell us what it's about, but what it's really about. That's a good one. I like that. Other birds is about Um, a small condo complex on an on an island known for its Marshmallow Candy, and the book starts out with an almost nineteen year old who comes to this Um, this condo complex, and she ends up bringing these people um together. And there are a little birds who are annoying and are not annoying. What they're not annoying I love. I would shoo them away every day they would come back, but they're called delous. I made them up. But it Um. I think what it's really about is about what we hold on to and how to let go. There are several points of view, from the from ghosts in the stories. So Um it hit home really personally for me Um, particularly with the ghost stories about Um, particularly the Um, you know, when we we're holding on a grief. So I think it's a lot about how did that go? It's beautiful. YEA was. Yeah, so, Um, Sarah, I have heard you call these amazing characters misfits, and they even call each other that. But I'd also call them fascinating and imaginative and we'ved and lovely. You wrote from all their points of view, even the ghosts. Although zoe is the flowing river of the story. She brings us into the town, the Condo, the lives of others. So can you talk to us about coming to know differing and unique characters so deeply, especially Zoe, who is a teenager heading to college? I think what you know. I think it writting from first person. Um gives you the point of view from of a character very well throughout the book. So it and but I've always written third person and from multiple points of view. I think getting into the head of some characters, Um, I think it enhances the story in terms of Um, particularly when it comes to relationships, Um, whether it be romantic or familial, or Um relationships with, you know, even with nature or with food. Um, getting into into the heads of characters and their devations. Um, for me it helps me write the story because, Um, if I write a scene and it's from one character's point of view, I pick up on the next scene, you know, with another character's point of view, and it doesn't rehash the scene before, but it it takes it and it gives you another Um perspective of just what just happened. So I've always written that way. I think it just comes naturally. It's it's Um, it's what's in my head. That's hard to do too, because sometimes when sometimes when authors do that, it can feel repetitive. But it doesn't. The way that you sort of manage all of that feels really um natural and just right to the story, like very additive. Okay, so no spoilers, but there are some character twists that catch your breath and the story so everyone's secrets come slowly into focus, and this with this layering that you really brilliantly executed. So can you talk about your plotting for this?...

And again, they're spoilers, but did you know the twists when you were going in, or did they just kind of evolve as the story evolved? They I am such a pants or when it comes to writing. Writing is an excruciating experience for me trying to get a book out because I have a set. I had the setting APP at the characters in mind. Um, I have a general idea of what, you know, where it's going to go, but it always ends up surprising me and it's it's frustrating and I mean tears a lot of the time and I'm eating, you know, bars of chocolate. I can't not write this way, though, and some of these things you're you're talking about, I knew what the final ah was. You did, I knew that, um, but as far as the other ones, some of them surprised me. I went and then I have to go back to the beginning of the book and sort of weave in the Easter egg because, you know, there was absolutely no clue up until that point where what some of these you do Aha moments are. So it's painful and it's frustrating but Um, it's very organic. I have tried plotting and I can't. It doesn't it doesn't flow. MM HMM, wow, gosh, and I wish I could do it that way. Like that gives me such anxiety. But obviously, like it works so well for you. It's it's just it is endlessly fascinating to me how each and every one of us does it in a completely different way. You know, right, right, and it's our path and it's what we take it. Yeah, and you can't really teach it. It has to be it has to be your voice and it has to be your story, and I think that's one of the reasons. You know, when it comes to writing advice, so many people say just sit down and do it. Yeah, and then or not. It's their process, your process, any process, is just sitting down and getting it done. That is so true. You can't do anything if you don't have those words on the page. Right. So, so, Sarah Um, talking about magical realism a little bit. We slip easily between worlds in this novel, losing ground and then gaining it back with this really charming prose Um. You often write about magical realism and your character, Zoe, says the invisible isn't always imaginary. I love that so much. How would you define magical realism and what does that mean to you? Magical realism is a a way of seamlessly putting the unreal into the real. It's not fantasy, it's not Um, you know, other worldly. It is the world in which we live, in which magical or unusual things happen and they are not magical or unusual in the whole context of the story. Um, I I had no idea what the genre was until I was in college and one of the very first books of magical realism I read was the passion by Jeanette Winterson, but also like Waterford, Talk Glut, and there's a book called I want to be forever by Fred Chapel, and these it was like. When I read these books, it was like taking a geode in, cracking it open and inside the sparkle was inside. I had no idea that this kind of fiction existed and I didn't think of writing it at all until much later. But to this day those first wooks of magical realism I read are my favorite. They're the ones that lived in my head. Oh, I love that. And you know, that example of the geode is such a good one, because the follow up question I have for you is about how you mix the real with the magical sort of. So even with the magic, we're really grounded in reality here. So, Um, when Oliver said, for example, I knew that she had a long road ahead of her learning to accept that the one person you wanted to love you the most was the one person you never would. You know. There's so many one liners like this that are so real but just hit us right in the heart. So can you talk a little bit about toggling between two worlds, the whimsical one and the magical the whimsical and the magical one, and also the solid and the grounded one at the same time? Can you talk a little bit about striking that balance it um? I think one of the reasons that magical realism resonated with me in it was in the context of I've always been a day dreamer and there are some ways in which the real world is profoundly disappointing to me because it is not like the world I have in my head, like the way things should be or the way I want them to be or or I think Um because I've always been that way. I think it was just a natural fit to me, for me and that marriage of what is real and what is unreal is what I live in every day. Um with, you know, being a writer, creating and day dreaming what's in my head...

...and then the realities of what the real world is. I I walk that thin line every day. Yeah, and I think party, your magic is that. In your magic is that you don't call it magical. You're just accepting that we can talk to a ghost or that there are della whisps or so you don't try to explain it like this magical bird is here splitting around. You just say it like it's real. So there isn't. There isn't a delineation of here's the magic part and here's the real part. Right, they're blended together. That's exactly right. Yes, that that's a very good definition of magical. I should have asked you for us. Let's let's go to Patty. I've thought a lot about it because you just do it so well and I you know. Anyway, onward, go ahead. I think it's appropriate that we're talking to you at dinner time because, Um, food is often the center of your stories and it is here again. Um, the chef Mac, a James Beard Award winner, has his own literal ghost. He makes food for two of the other characters and even a special dinner with his own menu. In your dedication, you say to the memory of my mom who taught me that food is loved. It was the first and best magic I ever knew. I think I would say the same thing about my own late mother. But if you would talk to us about how food is so important for you and your books, uh food. Because of my mom, I've always equated food with love and Um many, um of you know the story of the reason I took so long between books is when my mom had a catastrophic brain injury and Um, she um. She was profoundly brain damage and I watched her I for four years and it was such a hard time and I and during the first few months up to almost because the first eight months after it happened, um I lost a profound amount of weight and there was nothing more illuminating to me that that equation of food is love is when I lost my mom. On that emotional level, she was not here and she was my best friend. I was really close to her. So Um, food is love and it has an emotional aspect to me that I have felt all my life. and talking about like water for chocolate. Um, it the magical realism part, but also the food part, and how that always felt to me as well, that that food is magic and how it can convey emotion and how it can, Um, change the way you feel. Um. I have always put food in my books because it's that food has been an important stick up my life, Um, all my life. But I am a horrible cook. I don't Cook, I I cannot bake. I mean I can follow a recipe, I just don't find a lot of pleasure in cooking. Um. But the whole idea of food being stitching of love is something I've felt for the longest time. Oh Wow, it felt like you were a cook, like the menu that he makes for them. Without spoilers, I almost want to recite the menu, but I don't want to ruin anything. And like that menu, I was like, oh, she must be really good at this. I love looking at food, I love looking up food, I love eating food, I just don't like cooking. I have a great appreciation for it. It's sort of like how some people are who who love to read but they have no interest in becoming a writer. I I love to eat, I just don't have any interest in becoming a cook. I feel really seen in this conversation because I have all these cookbooks and like I love them. I love cookbooks. I like to buy them, I like to own them, I like to look through them and look at the pictures and read the little stories and the but I do not like to cook. Yes, yes, it's I don't know what is. I just I can't seem to make it as well as anyone else. And if I can't make it, well, wide do it. I'm just I don't know. I love food and cookbooks, but just cooking is not my thing. Well, writing obviously is. I have we have one comment I want to read out loud to you from, Um, someone who's WHO's watching. They can drop comments and and she said, thank you, Sarah, for enduring all of that so that we can enjoy your lovely book when you're talking about the pain of it. I know. Isn't that the best thing to read? Thank you for that. We're just gonna pret attend. They said that to all of us. So, Um, I want to talk a little bit about themes, because I see so many that bubble up in this story. Of course, mother stories. Letting go.

I just got choked up talking about your mom Um Books, home, finding family and the Gossamer threads that connect us all. But I want to talk about one of them right now. Stories, they're so important to you and to this novel. You even open with an epitaph about how stories are fabric we put over our ghosts so we can see them. So good a quote from the author in the LAVEL. But this line caught me to zoe was uneasy with the thought of untold stories. What happens to them? Where did they go? When I read that, I got out my highlighter. Where do they go if they remain untold? So cantiue, talk to us about this idea and the importance of stories to you it. It came to light, Um, in bright, bursting colors, after my mom passed away and I started cleaning out her house and some of some who are watching might be following the letters to my niece. I've been watching, watching, writing about clothing I've been finding of my mom's and you know, these things will go to her someday and she will not have the stories. and Um, because her mother, my sister, died within days of my mom. You know she doesn't have a mother to tell her these stories as well. So, Um, I, you know, I started writing other birds and then I put it aside. You know, going through that the tough time and then I picked the story back up after my mom and sister died and it had a whole new meaning to me after, you know, after they passed away, the themes of the book had an entirely new meaning. And then the idea of stories had an entirely new meaning to me, knowing that I had to Um passed this torch to my niece in some way and and think about all the stories that Um, she didn't know that I needed to tell her, and I think that was the aspect Um that I put into this book in particular. And when Zoe says those words about what happens to stories, I was thinking about what would happen to the stories of my mom and my sister if I don't tell my niece. Yeah, it was so powerful. I feel like you alchymized all that pain. It's some really profound minds in this book. I was a different person Um before I started the book then from what was afterwards. What I went through added a dimension to the book that would not have been there otherwise. But just in real life I think I'm a different person as well with after not. Yeah, yeah, absolutely, Patty. Do you want me to grab a live question. Yeah, well, you please. Sorry, yeah, yeah, comsolutely sure. Um, okay. Well, actually, let me ask this one. Karen Smith means asked why didn't y'all give Patty the Red Pink memo? So in the same thing, but and and wait until Lauren comes on. We're all I feel like I'm in seventh grade and nobody told me about the somber party. Nobody. All right, but a question for Sarah M Robin. Shelley says, and this is a question from Youtube, someone watching on Youtube, was it difficult for Sarah to identify her genre early on? And she adds I'm writing a book with some magical realism, but not enough to classify it as that. Did she face roadblocks because of her unique ideas? I think that's a great question. That is a great question. Hi, you know, my very first published war work was a Harlequin romance really decades ago. Yeah, I thought that was going to be my career here because I loved reading them as a teenager and so I thought, you know, kind of graduated from college, let's give this writing thing a try. I went for Romance. I had one book published and the funny thing was I submitted it to a line that wasn't accepted for but they sent it to another editor in Harlequin saying here's this really funny romantic comedy, and I had no idea it was funny, but I just wanted to be published and I thought that was the way to go. But then I couldn't get another book published. There's a point to this. I promised Um and it it. I kept trying to follow the market. I kept thinking, well, this is the way I can get published, or if I if I tweak my voice to this, maybe that's selling. That's the way I will get published. And I went through this really dark time of not being able to publish anything and I almost gave up and I thought, okay, I'm gonna give it one more try. And what I ended up writing was not a book that followed the market or a book that actually, you, fit in any particular genre.

It was a book that Um had elements of magical realism, had elements of romance or food, a Foodielet, of women's fiction, all the things I like to write ended up in this book. And, Lo and behold, that was garden spells and it was a book that made my career and there's a quote by Glennan doyle that says reading is the inhale and writing is the excel. So I think it's it's what you read and what you like to Um to absorb and what comes out in a natural voice. And I don't think it has anything to do with genre or following the market. I think it's following your voice and that's that's that's the best advice I can give. That's a perfect answer. I love that. And, Sarah, so many people who have come on here with you know their their blockbuster, have said I hit the wall, I didn't think I'd write again, and then I just wrote this. Emily Henry told us that. The hold is that they all had hit this wall where they were like, just forget it, I'm just gonna write what I want to write. Yeah, we inhale, exhale. I love that. So I feel guilty asking you this because I kind of feel like you just give us a writing tip, but our viewers its end us. It's one of our favorite things. So do you mind, before we let you go, to give us a writing tip? Oh No, not at all. Um, from the very beginning, I think that the best and truest thing that that I can say when it comes to writing is that it's hard, but don't give up because of those dark days, because those dark days they make the bright days even brighter. I mean so bright you can hardly stand it. Um and it's, it's it's about perseverance, perseverance, and it's. It's that wall. It's it's almost like once you reach that wall, you know you're almost there. So don't give up. The only way through is the right wow, Sarah Gosh, we have loved having you and this story is extraordinary. Thank you for sharing your heart and how you alcomise these things into these magical stories and the Delo wisps and Zoe, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you, guys. Thanks Take Care of Sarah. Thank you. Thank you. All right, everyone, that was Mary Kay. Take it away. I'm just still so stunned by how great she was. Gosh, how sad about her mom and her sister, goodness the same time. Yeah, okay, Sarah was amazing and we had a great time with her, but now we have a double hatter and while we get ready to bring Laura, Laura Denton, on, we want to remind you of a couple of things. First off, I want to tell you about our writer's block podcast with all of us on our beloved Librarian Pal, Ron Block. We'll always host links under announcements each Friday when a new one drops. On the most recent episode, Ron and Christie talked to Brenda Novak about her new novel summer on the island, which was released earlier this year. Coming this Friday, Ron and meg talked to Tom Parata about his new novel, Tracy can't win, his two decades in the making sequel to election. Listen, review subscribes. Do all those things for us, please, hes so. Of course, we cannot let you forget about the friends and fiction official book club with Brenda and Lisa, with fourteen thousand of its own members. This club is run by our friends Lisa Harrison and Brenda Gardner, otherwise affectionately known as P B and j. So they choose the books and they host the authors for their monthly chats Um so make sure to listen to all the fun things they do. They have happy hours with our writer's block podcast host, Ron Block, and we were just talking about they keep everyone in the loop about about suggested reads and upcoming releases and coming up this Monday, September nine, they'll be discussing the lost book of Eleanor Dare with the author Kimberly Brooks. So joined them for lots of fun. Okay, it's time to bring on our friend laurentent. She lives right here near me in Birmingham Alabama, and I have loved her books and I'm going to tell the story later of her very first, which is often posted about in France and fiction, the hideaway. Lauren K Dutton is the USA Today bestselling author of several novels, including the hideaway and hurricane season. Her love affair with southern writing started with Pat Conroy. World magazine stated stated that her third novel, Glory Road, exudes so much southern charm that the scent of Magnolia's practically woffs from the pages. Her Very Own Kristin Harmel, also said her novel, the one year with is a complex, compelling, powerful story about the roads not taken. In addition to her fiction, Lauren writes...

...a monthly newspaper column about life, faith and how funny and hard it is to be a parent. Born and raised in Mobile Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood just outside Birmingham. When she's not writing your editing, Lauren is going to the grocery store, playing with her daughters and dog Ruby, reading, exercising, sweeping the kitchen floor again. Man, she needs to come over to my house listening to good music. I can't my yeah, my kitchen floor needs a good sweeping. Listening to good music and waiting impatiently for their next trip to the beach. Lauren's new novel, a place to land, comes out on October, fourth seawn. Could you bring Lauren on? Hi, hi, hi, everybody. You got the memo and I'm sorry forget this. Don't, don't, I don't forget these things ease. Lauren, welcome. So excited have you? And just like we asked, Sarah, can you not only tell us about a place to land, tell us what it's about, but then our favorite, what it's really yes, I love this question. So a place to land is about what happens when two women who thought they had effectively left their past in the past, they discovered that it is not as buried as they thought it was. We have two sisters, Violet and Trudy fig violet is a bird watcher. She volunteers with the Audubonne society and counts and watches birds and bird habitats and she with her sister Trudy. They own a art shop, a handmade art shop, in a little town called sugar bend, Alabama, called two sisters, and her sister, Trudy, makes Um mixed media art pieces that they sell on the shop up and she doesn't speak, she writes, she communicates three pieces of paper and towards the beginning of the novel, a boat that has been buried under the river in their town for forty years rises to the surface and with it comes all of these secrets that they thought they had left buried in the past and Trudy and violet have to decide what they're going to divulge in, what they're going to keep hidden and how all of that is going to affect the relationships with the people around them that they love in this little town. What it's really about. I love this. This is a great way to to learn about the book. What I think it's really about is the love between these two sisters and really how far someone will go to sacrifice for someone they love. And I think it's also about Um finding out who you really are and being able to step into that purpose and calling in your life really with out Um having regrets or the past kind of pull on you. Um. And it's really about finding your place and finding home, and I feel like all of my stories in some way or about finding where you belong. Well, the place where these two sisters belong sugar band. It's so beautiful and it's so evocatively Um written I want to move there. Opening against sugar band has always been known as a place of secrets and mystery. So, boom, you got us. We're hooked. The last sentence in that opening is it belonged to a girl whose life was irrevocably changed in that span of one steamy glass. Calm night. Again, boom you got us. Okay, now everybody's gonna want to know. Is Sugar Band a real place? Sugar Bend is not a real place. What I do when I when I write, when I create these places, is I based them kind of on a real place, but I always fictionalized the main town because I have learned that if I get one little thing wrong, somebody's gonna say this road doesn't go here. It actually goes here. So I have you know, I mentioned other towns in the story, but the actual place is Um. I can tell you on the map where it is and it's near actual places, but I just I just made it up and made it however I wanted it to be. I would love to move there to tell the place what it's near or what what you were thinking of when you decided to fictionalize what was. So where my my family goes to the beach. We go to this place called pretio key. It's right in south Florida and it's on a river called old river, and old river and the bays and the different waters that kind of feed into its snake up north a...

...little bit and there's these little communities. There's one called Josephine, there's one called Lilian. If you know where pirates Covi is, I'm sure a lot of the people listening to where that is back up on those little those little river towns. That's what I based this on in my mind, just a really you know shady Um, little, not shady bad, but like actually like oak tree over the Um. Yeah, I just in my mind this place exists, but it is it is near where those uh, just those little, small, little inlets and codes are well. You know you do southern and you do humor so well, Um, and I know your tagline is southern grace and grit, humor, hope and love. We know you grew up in mobile and now I live outside Birmingham. Talk to us about how the south affects your writing and your view of the world and your storytelling. Oh, I think for me, the when I think of writing stories set in the south, it always, like I said, it always has to do with your home and where you belong. And I think no matter where you live in the country or in the world, where you came from matters. But I feel like in the south there's just such an emphasis on where you came from, where your people are and what you're feeling about. That is there's just as many people never want to return to the place of their birth as the people who can't wait to get back to where they came from. And I don't live where I was born. My family, my my dad is there, my brothers in Atlanta, but we drive down to mobile a whole lot and I miss it. It's a place I always thought I would end up and I love Birmingham and we're here to stay in Birmingham, but that pole is still there. So for me, I I just write about, Um, the places that I know really well and there's something about the weather and the voices and the food, like Sarah was talking about, and Um, just the emotion, I don't know, a tied with being from the South and where your people are, that really resonates with me a lot. Yeah, that makes sense, you know. Before I get to my question, I just have to read this comment from our friend Bubbo Wilson, who says, well, my TDR stack is going to get bigger. Good grief, it is already impossible to resist this book, which I think is such a nice, nice comment. Yeah, yeah, and she's right, it is irresistible. Um. So, Lauren, you talked a little bit about this. The past comes to visit the present in this book, both literally, with a boat that's been buried deep in the river and metaphorically with the truth of the character's lives. We have trudy and Violet in Maya. Did you know it? Without spoilers, did you know these secrets of the character's pasts before you dove in, or did you discover them along the way. Oh goodness, I knew I knew a lot of them. I didn't know everything, though, especially about Maya. I didn't know how she was going to play into the story. But I knew from the beginning Um, this sort of goes back to that original little little nugget that started this whole story idea. I had a thought of Um, hurricane coming through and something being revealed Um that had been hidden. And if you've anybody's read this, there's no hurricane in this story. But that idea of something being hidden that is revealed kind of kept sticking with me. So I knew that was going to play a part in Trudy and violent story. And then I wanted to have a younger I wanted to have a younger voice in there. And Maya, I don't even know where she came from. She just came out of nowhere and I thought she fits with these sisters Um in a in a really interesting way. So I wove her in. But she was kind of a surprise how her relationship to them and her relationship to her grandmother and all that was going to play it was fun to see that come together. Well, talking about that, I just let's touch on mothers for a second. So trudy, Violet and Maya's mother's all left them. Can you talk a little bit about this and why Trudy and violet might have felt compelled to help Maya while knowing this? Yes, I think you know. It's that's one of those things that that often when I write a story, all of these connections. I make all of these connections after I've finished writing it and I see how I see how little ways I've put myself on the page or little ways that I've I've put my own thoughts into the page. But but for violet and Trudy to have both had this mother that willfully left them, that chose to leave. And then Maya's mom, again, we don't want to give any spoilers, but she didn't choose to leave. But I think they saw somebody in her. They saw in Maya who they were years and years ago when they were sort of without a, I don't know, without a rudder on their boat, is at the right metaphor, I guess,...

...of steering them. And so they could be that for Maya, and I really liked Um giving Maya a place to to find her home with these with these two sisters. Yeah, yeah, I like that. I'm actually glad to hear you say that, because sometimes I do that same thing, like I'll finish a whole book and then be like Oh, about yeah, there's actually this one reviewer that Um, she's interviewed me for every single one of my books and I truly now I'm like, can we schedule her very first, because she'll ask me these questions and I'm like, Oh my God, didn't. But M violet, you know, really sacrifice her dreams to take care of her sister, treaty, and yet they never talked about what happened that one fateful night. No spoilers, but can you talk about this choice in your storytelling and how you think it's shaped their lives? That's something that I really ruggled with during the book because I thought, are they really not going to it? Is the secret gonna last this long? Are they really not going to talk about this? Um, I think it's very stern of them, though. It was, what very southern of them. Yeah, I think. I think violet saw herself as a mother figure for Trudy and she really wanted to protect her Um, and trudy didn't have anybody else. She had this marriage that, you know, Um, I wasn't wonderful and I think she just thought, my I'm gonna put myself second and I'm gonna put her first and I'm gonna do what's necessary to take care of her. And you know, when I I try to put myself in my characters positions sometimes and it's just so hard to think when I do that, would you put your whole life on hold for somebody? But I think violet is the character who would do that, Um, and that that sacrifice was she was willing to make that sacrifice. Yeah, well, and both sisters have these Um ways of coping. A treaty with her art made of lost objects and just like Sarah's buck. Coincidentally, birds play a really defining role in the story for violet. So did you talk to us about that? Yeah, you know, those birds just popped in there. That was not there at the beginning and but that I just from the beginning I had an idea of this story being, Um, just a little more mystical and I and I knew that I wanted this fishbone element, without saying too much, to be in the story and I when I was writing that first scene, actually, the scene on the Um, the scene on the dock, I wrote way early, way before I had written anything else in the book, and this bird just showed up out of nowhere and Um, yeah, I I don't know where that came from, Um, but I I liked that it was outside of of people. It was just something that sort of came from nature and from the world and and it sort of carried through and then towards the end we can see how it sort of shows the two sisters how life is gonna be different going forward. M Right, hey, kristen, do you mind pulling a reader question? Absolutely, yeah, sure, let me just scroll through. Um, Heidi McKay mckahan would like to know, Lauren, are you a plotter or a pantherer? Obviously Sarah earlier was talking about how she kind of writes by the seat of her pants. Um Uh. And which is the difference? Panthers writing by the seat of your pants? I'm not explaining to Laura and I'm explaining to the audience slot or someone who who who outlines. You brought Lauren on the I'm gonna teach you about writing tonight joined us. Yeah, I do. You tend to be a plotter or a pancer. I think would. I am jealous of people like Sarah who can just start writing and see where it goes. I really wish that I could do that, but I really think I'm somewhere in the middle. I Um my plotting is a notebook and I just write everything down that I can think of with these characters in the conflict and where it's going. It's almost like stream of consciousness. And then I'll be a little more serious and I'll put it on a word doc and I'll bullet point kind of what I think is happening. But I don't plan out whole scenes. I don't plan at all chapters. I have a pretty loose idea, sometimes more firm than others, of what my end scene is. I kind of have an idea of where I'm going, because if I don't, I think I just wiggle all over the place and I don't ever make it anywhere. So maybe a plant sir. Okay, that's good plots. There you go, there you go.

Well, Lauren, I know you just sort of gave us a writing tip, but I have to say, you know, this has happened a few times in the show where the themes have echoed so much and we didn't know it. And there's such a deep theme in both Y'all's works about mothers, and I know you both lost your mother's recently and it's been has worked its way into your work. And then the birds and then the southern setting. The two of you. I feel like should be a paired book club read. Yes, my side it's it's really astounding. But before you leave us, could you give us a really a writing tip because, and for all of you out there follow both Lauren and Sarah on instagram. Lauren writes these great weekly articles and her instagram she talks a lot about her writing and Sarah has all these little story use about the clothes she was talking about. But I would love to hear a writing tip from yes okay, so I will give my writing tip, as long as you and any writers who are listening understand that I am completely preaching to myself as I'm giving you my writing tip. Um, so we all have heard you have to write every day, you have to get your butt in the chair and write every day, which is good advice, I think. But I have found that when life is just busy, you've got a million things going on. Sometimes I can't sit down and write the words or the chapter or the scene that I meant to do. So my plan for myself is just to get my feet wet in the story every day, just touch it somehow, even if it's rereading what I wrote the day before or just reading the last two paragraphs, or sometimes I'll go in and just write a couple of lines of where I think my next scene is going to start so that I don't start the next day with a blank, you know, blank white space. So just something to keep that dream work, keep myself in that dream world. Um, so it doesn't go days without without being seen. Um, there are any books that we might be surprised? We're on your nightstand and if not, can you just tell us something that you've read lately and loved? Yeah, so I actually met with a book creep yesterday and I thought that I was this is a book that I read, two books actually, the first in the first two in a series, and I told this group and I thought none of them were going to heard of it and they all were like, Oh, yeah, we read that. So it might not be a surprise, but it's so good. It's the Thursday murder club. See, okay, I read the first two this year and I am anxiously awaiting the third of that series. That's so far out of my usual reading, but I loved them so much. I love it. Yes, so there those PAMS books. Mary Kay, my Um, my agent's wife, Pam Dorman Um, is the editor on those, the acquiring editor. Yeah, those are by Richard Osmond, but yes, I'm so glad that she acquired them and put them out. The third one coming out this month, September. Right, I'm not sure, but I know there's a third one coming yet. Yes, I'm excited about it. Yeah, those are really fun. Okay, Lauren, please don't go anywhere. Okay, do you mind sticking around for another minute, because we have more we want to talk to you about. But first, all y'all out there, we want to tell you the big news about our first edition subscription and a few plans for next year. Did you know that we are going back on the road together next year? Yes, we are. We are going to do at least four friends and fiction live events won during each of our book tours. So Um, and a couple of them we already have like plans science field delivered on the calendar, which is great, because we'll be announcing them soon and I want you to make your travel plans to join us as we take our show on the road in April for my launch, in May for Patties, in June for Christians, and one more in the fall for Mary Kay's Christmas Book. And we're kind of all over the country with this one. Yeah, we are, yeah, yeah, yeah, we are. I mean we you know, we've heard you. A lot of you have said you know. A lot of you who don't live in the southeast have said, you know, come visit us, and we're really making more of an effort to do that. For a long time I think we were kind of constrained by Covid and sticking closer to home, but you know, we want to get to all of you, so hopefully we will. So. Also, our new friends and fiction first edition box is available now from the Indie Bookstore Book Town in Manasqua, New Jersey, which is one place where we visited live this year, and it features signed hardback first editions from all four of us in three and a friends and fiction kitchen towel that says dinner can wait it's time for friend in fiction. I know it's adorable. You can order from them right now at BOOKTOWN DOT com. That is book town with an e at the end. That that holiday her to come is killing me, like usually, and...

...usually when it's something like that, we're like we've seen it. I haven't. I haven't. Dennish writing the book. Don't say that out loud. Oh my good. Okay, Laurence, since the day I met you in Birmingham at the coffee shop, we went to Oh Henry's right, yes, we did. That's where it was. It was at least a decade ago, if it was a long time ago. Yes, you were nice enough to answer an email from a complete total stranger. I had just moved there, was it? Had your oldest daughter been born yet? You were a mom. Yes, okay, I think I had both of them. I had both of them, did okay, okay. So since that day I've known that stories are important to you. So and I've met both your mom and your dad and the in Monroeville. That's stories, Monro Bil right. Um. So one question we always like to ask. What were the values around reading and writing when you were growing up in mobile? Oh Wow, I um the values my reading. I was a reading kid. I was not super sporty. I played tennis. Christie, I think you played tennis right. You were probably a lot better than I was, but I played tennis my whole childhood. But I think that was just I could. Now I just tore my calf playing tennis. So fine. Well, I don't know, it's been a while since I picked up a racket, but I wasn't super athletic. I really think what I was good at was reading and I loved art. I wasn't writing it all as a kid, though. The only writing I did was in a journal. So so many, many years later, but my, I mean what parents aren't supportive of a kid's reading habit? I was the kid who would read the back of the cereal box and the toothpaste tube. And you know, we had to build extra bookshelves in my room to hold all my baby visitters club books and I not parents gave me money to go shop at the Scholastic Book Fair, which back then was actual books in the library. They would set them up on racks, not the little flyer we get home now. So yeah, I my my my parents loved that I read and they loved that it that it has turned into this Um and we do a lot. I'm reading is a big part of our life now with my kids. I mean our our house is full of books and we go to the library all the time and I think that from my childhood is just carrying on through my kids childhood and it's just one of the best things I think I can pass on. It's just a love of stories and using that as an escape Um and as entertainment and as a way to find your own voice. Uh Yeah, Oh, using the story to find your own voice. I love that. Lauren, thank you so much for spending time with us. It's always such a pleasure. Thanks for talking about stories and finding your voice. And trudy and violet and Meg Walker really wants to know what the crossroads are at sugar band. Sugar a map. I'll send her a map. Okay. Can you tell everyone where to find you in both real and digital life, because I think you're going to be at the southern festival of books in Nashas. I'M gonna be in Nashville on the Friday. I think it's two or two thirty or so of the weekend. Is October fourteenth, sixteenth, and then for anybody who's in Birmingham, I'm gonna be a little professor on the night of October four when the book comes out. So that would be really fun to see people. Who are you going to be talking to? I don't know. They haven't told me. I'm talking with Patty, sort of anonymous author. Yes, you know, you probably won't get the clothing memo, though, so no, once again, leave me out. We can coordinate, patty, we can. Okay, just text me, yes and all right, my web side. Yeah, thanks, thank you. Thank you for having me. Okay, everyone, you can find all of our back episodes on Youtube. We live live there every week, just like on Facebook, and if you subscribe you won't miss a thing and make sure that you come back next week, same time, same place, as we welcome Shelby van Pelt, who wrote the blockbuster novel y'All are talking about all over the page, remarkably right creatures. But don't go anywhere because we're going to do some ask us anything in the aftership. So see you. It's gonna say hey, Hey, guys, how's it going? Well, you know, you didn't get the thing about on Wednesdays we wear a pink I know. Once again, I'm why do you keep going? For Good Sake, get a loser. We're...

...going to lose him, I know. Anyway, they were incredible. I mean, yeah, they were great. Yeah, it is so crazy how so many themes overlapped. But such yeah, yeah, such a good point. I was about halfway. I had read Sarah's and I was about halfway through Lawrence. I was like, oh, that's weird. That was weird. And they both are these imaginary southern towns that you want to move to. One is, you know, near the both on the coast. They're really amazing. But we promised everyone and ask us anything, so I'm going to get US started off. Do you mind do it? I think meg should join us. Meg, do you want to join us, because these aren't necessarily like about books per se. Well, Meg, pop on if you want to come up. Oh good, because I'm dying to know the answer to this question. Sharon Carlson person put a post on or ask US anything. Hey, Sharon, I know you're here. Um, and it said do any of you have a tattoo and, if you do, is a book related? And since I know are barely sure that none of us have tattoos. Megail beyond in a second. I thought I'd take Sharon's question to the next level. What if someone told you you had to get a tattoo, what would it be? M K A, Oh, I don't know. Um, Katie had a shamrock tattoo that she got her freshman year in college on Spring break, and I did not know it. Right before she was getting married and we were having this discuss about you know, back in the day they called him tramp stamps, made a statement that my daughter does not have a tattoo and her best friend and Katie and US and have been best friends since fourth or third grade, and you know very much still said, uh, yes, she does have a tattoo and it was a shamrock. So maybe I get a shamrock for Katie. Oh, I love that. That's the that's just the perfect reason. That's beautiful. How about you, Kristen? I do not have a tattoo. Um, if you had to get one, like you didn't have a choice, just a small one at any one. What would it be? I would probably get three little stars for our little family of three, me and Jason and Noah Stars. It's weird. Stars have become like a real symbol in our lives and it began with the sweetness of forgetting, where one of the characters Um says to another character, as long as there are stars in the sky, I'll always love you, like that was their promise of love. And so she looks up at the stars and thinks about him. But I never mean for it to happen, but stars are do they just wind up being woven into my books right. And like Jason proposed with that line Um from the sweetness of forgetting, we have stars hanging in our little front hallway here and like just stars are now how we just say I love you to each other. So I think three stars for our family. I love that. I don't have it. I'm not. Okay, Christie, I knew you were going to ask this question, which would make you think that I would have thought about the answer. I haven't talked about it either. So, yeah, yet I have not. It just feels so so big, so permanent. Right, yeah, I don't have one, and I am very, Um fortunate that I don't, because there there were some senior, beach weet decisions that were made Um that have been lasered since Um and you didn't have to undo what I really thought in order to do that. And one of my foot one of my friends, got a butterfly and she said, I think it's it's gone now, but she said you can imagine during, during pregnancy, the butterfly has a big butterfly and she sort of wished she has not done that. But I would get all of your initials right. Well, your initials look like a little heart around them, I'm sure. How about you, Meg? I don't I don't think ever go just the whole permanent factor. For me, I think it is what throws me off. But if I had to, yeah, I don't even know. I don't know. Something beachy, maybe because my entire life mostly living at the beach.

But I mean I have friends who've gotten the impulsively Christie like you, and one of them has a rather large cat in the hat tattoo and she says she's asked a million times life like. So, do you really love Dr Susan? She's like, you know, no, not any more than anybody else does. Right, like you, that's awesome. We'll maybe a little beach umbrella. I don't know nothing about nick. I feel like you've really missed an opportunity there to like one up, Christie and say you would tattoo all of our faces on you somewhere, like Roger Star with Nixon across his on my back, so permanent. Yeah, it was big. I mean it's I mean it's not. It's huge. Picture from the head back death. Yes, yeah, and it's perfect for a marketer because, like, I'm not looking at him, just showing it to the world. Actually, even so, wish we need to find somebody who can photoshop them on your back. That's Day's next job. I'm gonna email Dave Bo my hang up, Patty Mary Kay, I was going to say a shamrock because of this story. So my dad, who his name is George Callahan, and you know he's very Irish and uses words like we and like a wee little time and Um tiss him when he signs things off. And so when he went to Ireland he had these plans to get this huge in his sixties, or I think it's in the seventies, to get this huge Celtic us tattoo on his arm and they started to do the Tattoo and he was like yeah, no, that hurts. So he ended up getting a little tiny shamrock right here on his arm, and so I've always thought if I ever did it, it would be a little tiny shamrock. But I also do you need to have a peach? Oh my gosh, you're right. Yeah, I need to have a peach. The other thing I was going to say was feathers. I have, you know, have feathers all over my art, in my house and in my books. But the father would be good. Maybe, maybe PAT would get a peach tattoo. Ask Him. Loves you. He'll get a peach right. Actually, I'm going to tell him that tonight and then I'm going to put on the page and then I'm going to quietly, silently tape his answer and send it to Y'all. I get waits, I'm gonna do illegal voice taping. Okay, we have one more. Ask US anything, and then Um or another. I see. I see this one though. Sharon and STIGMUND says Hello, I love you all. We love you too. Sandra, I've heard that audiobooks don't count as real books. Do you agree or not agree with this? Um Any way, audio books are definitely books, definitely, and you know there are a lot of people who um, you know somebody has a vision problem or if they have Um, reading issues. I have a friend, he's a Goldsmith and he has dyslexia and he has been listening to audiobooks for as long as I've known him and, Um, I don't see any difference at all. I think it's just a different way to enjoy stories, and that's what we're about. How about your person? Yeah, I would actually go so far as to say an audio book gives you a completely different way to read the same book if you want to read it twice, like you know what I mean. Like if there's a book, if there's a book you've loved, Um, hearing it in someone else's voice, with someone else's inflections and someone else's interpretation of those characters gives it a completely different read Um, and vice versa. If you hear it on audio, then to read it yourself, I think it's a different experience. Um, I love listening to audiobooks. It's a great way to pass the time in the car, Um, you know what you're doing, chores around the house, things like that, and I for me it absolutely counts as reading. Yeah, how about you, Christie? You too like absolutely, I am. Sometimes, if I'm really loving an audio book, I will then go buy the hardcover. Um, if you all don't get our newsletter, we always say what we're reading in the newsletter. Um, you should get our newsletter. If you don't, it has great behind the stuff with the authors it. I've been reading tomorrow and...

...tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle's Evan, and I was listening to it on audio but I never said I was listening. I said I was reading it, but my road trip and all the travels I had were over. So I bought the hardcover so I can finish it and it is a completely different we interviewed Um on our writer's plot podcast. We interviewed the man Don Kats, who founded audible, and if you want to listen to that Andraw, it's really interesting about how we consider these books or not books and why they are books. Meg, what do you think it questioned? I absolutely think it's. I think any anyway you can consume a story, you're consuming it. So, yeah, I listened to a total audio books and I don't I don't believe in that whole line that it's like's not a test, right, we're all just enjoying books, that it supports US still. I mean it's still supporting like when you get the audio book and still supporting our work and our story and our career and all that. It's I can I think the children too, like when my kids were young, we were we would drive from Atlanta down to St Pete over the holidays and that was at the time, an eight hour drive and um I would go to the library and get the unabridged British versions of classics and one year we listened to treasure island and my kids never forgot that experience of listening. They were hanging on every word and I try to read. You know, Um, Um, the the original it's it's it's dance prose for a child, but it came to life on the audiobook. Something we listened to call the wild wow. They're great classic for the kids to listen to. That audiobooks helped me with my son. He was like, you know, you would have trouble getting into a book when he was a lot younger, and I said we'll try and listening. And so what he would do, he did this himself, was actually listened while reading so that he it read to you while you were also reading it and it really, I mean it really st getting then for him. But he I think it's just an enhancement. I mean, I mean, I know I've talked about before. One of my favorite books is Um the end of the affair by Graham Green and Colin Firth reads nice the other day for audiobook suggestions and I've got so many good ones, but that one I'm going to have to because I've never read that book. Now that book is amazing and it's not very long. You know, ended up in a movie with Ralph fiends and it's just it's so many audiobooks now are the foecast recordings, so they're really enhanced experience. Like, Um, a lot of Taylor Jenkins reads books are full thing to the new very Soto Christie right now. Yeah, I knew you would love it because it's right. I love it. It's so to this heavy. It's great. I'm like really into it. It makes me want to like, I'm like, can I play at? Can I play at? I'm gonna read it like I'm a loser. I'm a loser. I can't and I forgot to wear pink. So whatever. It's a real problem. No, but I don't. I don't think that you have to love tennis to enjoy the book. Oh, no, I know you don't. Everybody's raving about it. Um, I can answer this last ask us anything. And then I know our M K A needs to uh yes, needs to finish a book before midnight. Um. So, Sharon Carlson person asked who met who first in this group before, and Kathy and I met twenty years ago. Mary Kay and I met twenty years ago at a Christmas party and then I met Christie next. No, Meg next, then Christie and Kristen. Could you meet first in the group? Christie? Um, I met you first, Patty, Um, quickly, it was right. It was in two thousand, right when my first book came out. And then I think I met Kristen next and we had that fun breakfast in Orleando and then and then I think we saw each other CIBA too, like it was funny because it was like we've never met and then you met me for breakfast. saw each other like kind of more frequently after that and then so I think happy was the last one that I met, and we don't mean at one time, like briefly. Yeah, we met in the Green Room at the Decatur Book Castle. Yeah, yeah, and I had never met Kristen until we started in fiction. Yeah, I hadn't met you were patty or Meg, I only knew I just Christie. Yes, that the other night, like you, really got in with a fast crowd. I was trying to do my work and they were sending texts about...

...watching the Emmy's when I was trying to work. And so then I you're gonna blame us. Ye. So, Kathy, you're saying that Christie and Kristen and Patty are the friends that your mom would refer to as that and that Pattie. Yeah, I was. We have a big class union coming up and and and a woman who I went all through junior high and high school with I haven't seen in all those years and it's It's our fiftieth, I'll just say it. And my husband and I were talking about in Tom Tom and I went to high school together and I said, Um, I still remember calling this girl's House and back in the day you called someone's house and their mom answered the phone and I said Hi, is is you know Blah Blah home and she said she's doing her homework like you should be doing. Click. We're definitely not Kathy. After that, your mother's Kathy Friends, and then you met Kathy first. Right, you met Mary Kay first. Mike. Had We ever met in real life before friends and fiction? I don't think it's spoken on the phone a couple of times you've ever met. And then, Um, Mary Kay and I started working together in two thousand nine. So I'm really bad at but I think that's a seen years. Yeah, Boddy, I knew Mary Alice as well. I never met Kristen, but as soon as friends in fiction formed, it was fast friendships all around. Exactly. She need. You're desperate, desparation from friendships. Alrightyl that was an incredible night. Yeah, great, great job hosting. I have to go finish a book before midnight. Good, let us know if you want to surround robin that ending. We're here for you. We got it. We're gonna be texting you just to turn into a Pumpkin, so get it done. Good night, everybody, alight, night night. Good night. Thank you for tuning in. You can join us every week on facebook or Youtube, where our live show airs on Wednesday nights at seven PM eastern time. Also, subscribe to our podcast and follow us on instagram. We're so glad you're here.

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