Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 11 months ago

Friends and Fiction with Sue Monk Kidd

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The incomparable Sue Monk Kidd joins the Fab Five to talk about her passion for racial and social justice and how writing stories of women journeying to find their own true, authentic self is her “thing.” Sue discusses her arduous research process for her new novel The Book of Longings, the challenges of writing about Jesus as a human, cultivating our bravery as women, and the fearlessness to express our souls as a writers. https://suemonkkidd.com

Welcome to Friends and fiction. Fivebest selling authors Endless Stories, Friends and Fiction is a podcast withfive bestselling novelist whose common love of reading, writing an independentbookstores found them together with jets, author interviews and fascinatinginsider talk about publishing and writing. Thes friends discuss the booksthey'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 theright place. Bestselling novelist Mary Kay Andrews, Christine Harmel, ChristieWoodson, Harvey Patty Callahan, Henry and Mary Alice Munro are five longtimefriends with more than 80 published books. To their credit at the Start of the Pandemic, they gottogether for a virtual happy hour to talk about their books, their favoritebookstores writing, reading and publishing in this new, unchartedterritory. They're still talking, and they've added fascinating discussionswith other bestselling novelists, so join them live on their friends andfiction Facebook Group page every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern, or listenand view later at your leisure. Welcome to Friends E Hello to everybody.Yes, I'm Mary Alice Munro, and my upcoming novel is a summer have lostconfound coming way on. I'm Mary Kay Andrews, and my next novel is thenewcomer. Coming May 4th 2021. Hi, I'm Christine Harmel. My upcoming novel isThe Forest of Vanishing Stars. Coming July 6. I'm Christi Woodson Harvey, andmy upcoming book is Under the Southern Sky, releasing April 20th on Tonight Weare so delighted. Thio. My favorite patio were four friends and one enemyaway, right patio Henry and my newest novel, Coming Hard to 90. 0, Array andall five of us are Delighted Way all Love. Suma Kid School was raised in asmall town in Georgia, and that inspired the setting Pursues majordebut novel, The Secret Life of Bees. It was a literary phenomenon, spendingmore than 2.5 years on The New York Times best seller list. It has soldmore than 8.5 million copies worldwide. It won numerous awards and has taughtmany classrooms from middle school to college. Her book was turned into anaward winning wonderful, really wonderful major motion picture, TheSecret Life of Bees and I don't know If you Know this, a musical on translatedinto 36 languages, her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, and her third novel,The Invention of Wings. We're both number one New York Times Bestsellers.Sue Monk Kidd is also the author of several acclaimed spiritually essays,meditations and inspirational stories and memoirs, including Traveling WithPomegranates, which was written with her daughter and kid, Taylor, about herjourney through Greece, Turkey and France. Ah, trip that I've promisedmyself that someday I'm going to take with my two daughters. If you'd like tosign a pursue My Kids newsletter with lots of important information, gothrough Sue Monk Kidd dot com. I've known Sue since before the Secret Lifeof Bees was published in That was Back in 2000 and two And what ah, World andher life has been since them. She we missed her terribly in Charleston.She's moved now to North Carolina, where she lives with her daughter andher husband, Sandy. So, without further ado, welcome. See, my kid s s so gladyou're here. We wear delighted. We've been waiting for this day and let meget a little housekeeping done first and then we'll start asking you.Questions are highlighted. Bookstore for this week is a favorite of SumanKids and mine. It's called but Stone Books in Charleston, South Carolina.Buxton has become the heart of the literary community in Charleston, andthe story of its owners, Julian and Polly, is a love story of twoindividuals and their love of books. Julian is a writer, and Polly's dreamwas to own a bookstore. They got...

...married and their dreams came true. Youcan feel the love when you enter. Boxed in books on King Street, which is rightnext door to the beautiful Charleston Library Society. So do visit Buxtonbooks and support a local independent bookstore, Polly and Julian, who neverfailed to go the extra mile for their clients. You can receive 10% off theBook of Longings and all suits, books and all the books of friends andfiction authors using the code, friends and fiction. The link can be found onour friends and Fiction book page, so don't worry about it. It's all thereand good news. Polly said that at Buxton Books, they have signed copiesof all Suu's books with book plates, so that makes it a very special gift forthis holiday season, or perhaps for yourself. Okay, That's housekeeping.Not for a chat. Hello. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Hi. Hi. Ithought this year we want to go over the river and through the woods toGrandmother's house. But we are stuck in the middle of a pants so we can't.So in my house is going to be very quiet. Just my husband and me and a bigold turkey and Macy's parade. Which Kathy, you and I were talking aboutthat earlier. There is going to be amazing day properly. Yes, but it's notgoing to be on a parade like everything else. It's been affected by thispandemic. We're going to have the performances in Herald Square to likeeveryone else. New Yorkers have to watch it on TV. So that's what I'mdoing. So what are you doing for Thanksgiving? Uh, some cooking andcleaning up afterward. I'm sure we're gonna have a small gathering of mydaughter, my son in law and my grandson and my husband. Um, lots of food, asusual. What's your favorite dish? Um, it's probably the sweet potatoes to flyE o and cook that I always get the vegetable so I don't get a lot of kudosfor what? I dio appreciate it. E o they are. You could make good vegetables.You triumph. Mary Kay. How about you? We're gonna have a smaller group thanusual. My, of course. My husband and I will have dinner here, my daughter andson in law and our two grandchildren and my sister in law. So we're beingvery careful, Very cautious. Uh, and, um, you know, I'm baking pies as wespeak. And the sweet potato souffle is kind of my favorite too. Although mydaughter I like parsnips. I'm like my daughter told me nobody else likes himin every year she throws him out. So I'm not going on this year. Alchemy.Even with you. I love Parsons. We can have this together. So what are youdoing this year? Way actually told the Friends and Fiction Book Club earlierin the week that a lot of years we can have I mean, a tremendous number ofpeople in our house because my husband's family and my family and allextensions like everyone's invited to our house so we can have a huge group.But of course, this year we're not doing that We're just having my parentswho have sort of been a part of our cova team and my husband's sister andher husband and two sons. So we're going to be a teeny tiny little greatThis year will be outside. Fortunately, it's gonna be really pretty, and wehave a kids table in adult table and we're all spread out. But it should befun. And speaking of Macy's Day parade, I saw today that the Rockets areteaching live dance lessons on Instagram every Wednesday at three e.On Wednesday at three e Can't Yeah, well, I mean, they have a lot ofchoreography in there. I was kind of walking into a lot of work. I wassupposed to be editing and was procrastinating. Patty, how about you?What are you doing? Where? In South Carolina. And you know, we usually havea group of 14 to 16 to 18, and we're having to pare it down. But we'retrying to keep the main Thanksgiving traditions Miss Oyster, that Pat'smother made every year since I was dating Pat Henry. And so, no, if it'sin our month, it's an oyster month. So the oysters are we making oyster dish,which doesn't sound sound like Thanksgiving, but we've never had onewithout it. Uh, our home. But I can't see my daughter. My daughter baby. Sothat's that. Last but not least, Kristen. How about you? Well, so wenormally go to my in laws for Thanksgiving. We're not this yearbecause of the pandemic. Eso it's just gonna be the three of us me, my husband,Jason, and our four year old Noah. And...

...so, as one does when they'reentertaining for just their husband and their child. I picked up a £22 turkey,which was an accident. I ordered a £15 turkey and they were out of the smallerones, so they brought me a £22 turkey out. But just in case you thought wedidn't have enough turkey meat, my husband has also chosen this year toexperiment with smoking a turkey so he'll be smoking a turkey for us. Inaddition, todo so will basically be eating turkey all the way through nextto radio working Christian ever e o. Having thanks good on. And I hopeeveryone has a good book called The Book of Longing. Happy Andy. If youhaven't read it, you will want to after tonight. For sure. Sue, can you tell usa little bit about your new novel? Well, this novel, Um well, I'll put it like this the daythat that occurred to me to write this novel. Um, I remember sitting back inmy chair and thinking, um, I really going to write a book inwhich Jesus gets married. And then I remembered something I had said manytimes that women particularly we all women particularly need to do somethingat least once in our life that takes our own breath away. I love that. And Iremember sitting back thinking, Okay, this is mine. This is mine. Eso sort ofinitially take my breath that I would kind of go away way out on the literarylimb with this, but I was very compelled to do it, and I never lookedback after that. But the novel itself is really not about Jesus gettingmarried. Although that happens in the book. Um, it's about his wife, Anna.It's her story through and through, and I'll just say she has quite anadventure in search of her own longings. the It's a beautiful book, and I knowwe all have a lot of questions, and please, everybody just feel out therelistening to You can write your questions in the chat room and we'llget to you Eventually we get to start asking the question, Sue, So we'regoing to start with Patty. Patty, do you have a question pursuit? Hi. Soit's so good. Cool. So the first book I read of yours was the dance of thedissident daughter way before I met you and it sent me on a journey that I amstill on today. Are we ever not on the journey? Right, so but it changed medeeply. That book did. And now comes the Book of Longings, which is, at itscore, the story of a woman's search for her voice, which I feel like the bookthe dance of the dissident daughter helped give me. And this theme you havea rebellious woman is prominent in your fiction, and I don't even know if Iwould call it rebellious. But this theme of women understanding who theyreally are at their core, this theme of knowing their value and they're worthand I love. When you once said that stories that will empower women andgirls is what I do. It's my thing. Can you discuss the importance of tellingsuch kinds of stories? And I can't help but notice that the main charactersnamed Anna and your daughter is an talked about that. Yeah. I can'texplain that too. Good. I don't think, um yes, empowering women includes Thatis my thing. And not only that. I mean, there are many things that I have in myfiction. One of them has to do with race and racial injustice. Uh, genderinequality, thes things mattered deeply to May and those air to motifs thathave re occurred in my work over and over again, both in my fiction and inmy nonfiction. And the only way I can really sort that out of where that issourced is that yeah, it is personal in my history. You know, I came of age inthe pre feminist south and in pre civil rights south, and those had enormousimpacts upon may I have a real sensitivity to injustice and social justice alwaysmattered enormously to May. So I think because I had a personal history withthis because I witnessed things that had to do with all of this that, youknow, it's surfaces in my writing. And I do think that often writers right outof two summit to some degree, their...

...personal history. Um eso That'sprobably why the empowering women and girls and I just care a lot about that.It deeply matters to me. Well, I feel like from reading your previous workbefore secret life of bees and then finding secret life of bees is thatit's It is a thread that has followed through, kind of like the red threadand pomegranates and and all that other nonfiction is understanding the valueof who you are and that that goes toe every single subject you just named. Ithink, too, that there is a kind of steam in my work that has to do withauthenticity of belonging, of women belonging to themselves, you know, inthe secret life of bees. Um, that had definitely had a civil rights backdropto it and and dealt with some of that. But it also dealt with Lily, mycharacter trying to find her home or her place of mourning and the motherthe great mothering spirit in the world, which I it identified, is the blackMadonna in this particular story that is a journey that matters. And it'strue that in all my books The Invention of Wings, The Mermaid Chair, the Bookof Longings, these women are searching for their deepest and truest and mostauthentic self for their voice, their power. And this is a classic journeyfor women. And, you know, I tried to write about that journey that I took inthe dance of the distant daughter Patty. And, um, you know, it's amazing to methat I wrote that book. Gosh, it was published in 1996 eso and it's stillnew. Generations are finding It s so it That book actually is a kind oftemplate or prototype for the book of longings. And a lot of those things reemerged in that book. And in fact, there is one or two things that areverbatim right out of my life, like a dream or things that happened to me. Idecided to give toe Anna and I've said, and I know I'm not sure if this is agood thing or bad thing. But this book, this novel, the book of longings, ISMMor oh, I'm going to say it. It's a little more autobiographical than anynovel I've read that I've written, I should say, Or Red. Yeah, my hopelessthing. The When he read the manuscript, he looked at me. The first thing hesaid to me, he looked up after the last page and he said, I see a lot of Annaand you on, and that kind of shocked me and I thought, Oh, dear, you know Butit's true. And what I said to him was, I'll tell you what I think there's alot of Anna in a lot of women. Uh, yeah, the woman writer writes. Write storiesof other women giving them voice. I mean, that's what you do. That's what I dio way repeat ourselvesin stories that the same thing service. You know, people said to me after thiswhen the mermaid chair came out, which was really ah, hard novel to writebecause I had to follow the secret life of bees on. You know, someone said tome before the mermaid chair, I was in the midst of writing it and uninjuredviewer from a mill big newspaper up there in New York, said, Uh, how doesit feel? Thio have written your best novel first e. It's already beendecided, you know. So I went into a kind of two months, um, perilous peril,paralysis. I had to kind of get past that in order to write my second novel.And people said, You know, it's so different than the secret life of beesand I thought on the outside is different on the inside. It's notinteresting. Um, it's just a little more sophisticated, Um, journey of awoman not trying to find her home out there, but her home in here. Right.Thank you for sharing that. That's very...

...personal. So thank you, Christie. Iknow you have a question to follow up. I dio this book. Oh, my goodness. Itwas just so incredible in so many ways. Actually, like texted all of them whenI read the scene where Anna meets Jesus for the first time, which, of course,is a two beginning of the book and it just took my breath away. It wasabsolutely beautiful. This is a really incredible book, and I cannot imaginethe research for a novel that took place 2000 years ago. I mean thedetails that you included about everyday life, the religion, history,the culture. It's so meticulous. And then you also brought in from alifetime of study of the divine feminine throughout history. So can youtalk about diving into the immense amount of research on Jesus? And maybe,in contrast, what did you find available about the women of thatperiod? Well, the research waas daunting, to say the least. I had noidea what I was getting into e mean I had spent. I mean, I've taken seminarycourses in theology and New Testament background and all kinds of things. AndI've been a student of spirituality, just kind of a self taught reading, theclassics of Christian history and tradition from my background. But I didn't know anything. Well,that's daunting for Meteo Wow. Well, for one thing, um, I decided I wouldwrite the book, and then I began to create a storyboard for the book,creating characters and characters, studies and things like that. And thenI began to realize just how much I research I had I thought it would takeme maybe a year. It took ah, year and, um, 14 months. I mean, ah, 14 months iswhat it took. So 12 heat Boy, I'm really e you're in two months e None ofour things. You e 14 months of research was a long time on, and I just had toread everything I could not only about the time, the history, the culture, thewomen but mostly I focused a lot on the historical Jesus because I needed toget that right. And I made a decision not to write the character of Jesus asdivine, but to focus on the humanity of Jesus. So I e read a lot about that.But the women you ask about, um well, I read everything I could about the womenin the Bible, and I read as many, um, early documentsas I could in the nonstick gospels and just I mean, I collected a smalllibrary of books. It just It was like eight hours a day of research for for those 14 months on. And what Idiscovered about the women is that not only were they deeply oppressed withtheir voices and their stories. They don't show up in the Bible very much,comparatively speaking, to stories with men. Um, in fact, I think it's 1.1% ofall the words spoken in the Bible are by women. Wait, there just aren'trepresented in a large way. And we can name some women who have prominentstories that are told, but for them, but relatively speaking, it's verysmall presence and impact eso there was that. And then I discovered when I wasresearching Egypt, which was the other place, I had thio research not justGalilee and Judea but Egypt. To at this particular time, the women were muchfreer. Not that they were liberated by any means. Um, there was a journal ofhistorical fiction that did a an interview with May, and they asked meif I could find documentation that of women like Anna in the first century.And there were other people who said to me, Well, she's so feminist. She's kindof a proto feminist. Did they really exist? You know, there was no feminism,Sue and I said, Well, of course, there wasn't any organized feminism thatactually didn't even exist when my mother was a lot, you know, when shewas born, there wasn't it. So I said,...

You know, I think I know women and Iknow women's hearts and I have a feeling that I don't care when theylived. Whatever Waas women yearned to have their own freedom, their ownindependence, they wonder what their brothers had. And then there were.There were also women who stood out and who could see it and feel it veryclearly and deeply. But my point really was that if women if we can't findthose women, it's not because they didn't exist is because they weren'trecorded. Oh, I love that you just can't find a lot of history written bywomen, um, at and their stories or about women? Yeah, you know, justinterjecting the scrolls that you wrote about it, the afterward in the bookthose existed or because I remember you talked about some that were laterproved forgery. But the ones that you described in the book where those foundthe one I described in the book was a natural dog. I think you're referringto the Thunder Perfect Mind, which is Anak Chua Li um, document That was partof the Nag Hamadi text that were dug up in Egypt in 1945. And that document wasmost surely written by a woman. Most scholars think so, and yes, it existed.And, uh, it's beautiful. You also look it up and and read the whole thing. Butit made me so happy to just decide that clearly and rubbed it. Absolutely. Yeah.Beautiful Christian. I think this is a good segue for your question. Yeah, Sothis'll book is just beautiful and intricate and so brave. I mean, it'ssuch a brave, amazing thing to take on. I mean, just the scope of it isenormous. It's so interesting to hear you talk about it. But as you mentioned,this novel really portrays the humanity of Jesus. A son, a brother or husband,a man. Ah, very riel kind, appealing person. So you encourage the reader tokind of re imagine Jesus in this new fuller light. So I actually have twoquestions for you About that first, why did you set out to create thisalternate history of him as a man? You know, just as a as a as a person we cankind of identify with. And second, did that change your relationship withJesus or the way that you think about him? E like that, um, to go to yourfirst question. Um, I was, you know, I had to debate aboutthat, and this has been parsed and written about over and over again. Thestory of Jesus and I wanted to do something that would bring a newdimension. This story on, I was really interested in the historical Jesus theman. Jesus. Because I feel like we have largely lost touch with that, um, withthe humanity of Jesus, that the divinity of Jesus or that title that he would live into later,after his death, um, was had sort of overshadowed all of that. And I wasreading some text by Marcus Board, the late Marcus Borg, who was a scholar ofthe historical Jesus, and he made a distinction between thepre Easter Jesus and the post Easter Jesus. That was very clarifying for meto hear it in those terms. And I decided, right that in there I'mwriting about the pre Easter Jesus awesome. And, um, that is quitedifferent in many ways, you know? And he made the point that I totally concurwith, which is that if we lose touch with the human Jesus, we have lost thethe idea or the potential in ourselves to be like him and eso, you know, Didit change my relationship to Jesus? Um, I have to say that it probably didsurprisingly, um, it gave me a new appreciation for the man. And I havehad so many readers write to me and say that they rediscovered Jesus or theyfound interesting Jesus, or they fell in love with Jesus again. Or they nowhad a crush on Jesus. But but yeah, I think it does. I wanted to kind ofshake up...

...how we understand or at least askourselves certain questions about who is this. But this was not my primarygoal. It really wasn't Jesus. I was far more interested in Anna and in havingthis character who could be his partner, who had her own quest, her own longing,her own calling and how she would realize that along with him, and evenwithout him, you know, can I go back to the preEaster and post Easter Jesus, which is actually, I'd love you to explain thata little bit more to those who might not understand that it's really before,in my understanding, is the aestheticism of the divine. You knowall not just Jesus, Mary the saints, the whole group. You know, it's it'salways about the divine and as opposed to the human quality. And I always loveto read about the lives of the saints and find out what they endured asindividuals. But can you describe that a little bit more for our viewers? Well,I'll try. You know, Sue is not much of a theologian, but I will try. So, um,the pre Easter Jesus was this riel human being who was born who lived whoprobably was a stone worker or ah, carpenter or woodworker? Ah, person wholived as a ah, life is a Jewish man and he died, Um, the Post. But his life was so luminoushe really waas extraordinary in so many ways that his story lived on and on. Itwas not until, um, the third century that the matter was settled, that hewas divine. You know, there were believed that he was divine there wasbelieved he was human and the this council met, and they determined thesebishops that he was both human and divine. And this is how it started. Butfor the 1st 200 years after his death, it was largely debated. And it wasn'teven until the second century that people began to say, Well, I don'tthink he was married up until then, it was kind of assumed he probably was orit wasn't an issue. Um, so there's a lot of interesting history tounderstand. How did Jesus the human become Jesus, the divine? The Christ.So there's Jesus, and there's the Christ. And this became mesh togetherto create amazing, you know, religion. Thank you. You did a beautiful jobexplaining that. Thank you very much. That was I just think a lot of peoplemight not have fully understood what that meant. So thank you. All right.Mary Kay Andrews, you have a question. You know, it's not a theology question.Okay? What? You know, you've written and spoken about the iconography of theblack Madonna and your search for them throughout Europe. And you wrote aboutthe Black Madonna and the secret Life of bees. So could you discuss a littlebit about how you created the quieter, endearing character of Mary in the Bookof longings and compare and contrast that portrayal with Mary the BlackMadonna? Yes. You know, I really have a thingfor the black Madonna. That is also my thing, Mary, um, as as a divine kind oflarger than life mythic figure was intriguing to me And in the, uh intraveling with pomegranates this travel mother daughter story that my daughterand I wrote Ankita war. We went to visit all these black Madonnas, and Iwas so struck by her grandeur, her imagery and what it stood for and howdifferent it waas from them Shire White Mary, who had a different man and alittle bit of a handmaiden. Look about her. The black Madonnas of Europe werepowerful. They gaze right at you, putting with their fist on their ontheir knees. And they had a history that we don't have time to go into,which had to do with, well, the ancient goddess with a very powerfulauthoritarians, authoritative figure. And I just liked her a lot. And so Iadopted her and I have a painting of...

...the black Madonna. It's kind of Ahcontemporary painting of her over my desk for the last gosh 25 years on. AndI think of her as, um um, use as an eye on that that radiates the divine,feminine, spiritually power and compassion and inclusion and justice.She stands with those kinds of things, and I revere those things. So when I began to write the Book ofLongings, this was a whole different Mary, you know, because in the secretlife of Bees she was mythic Mary in the Book of longing, She's human, Mary. Mhm.So we have both sides of her Justus. We have both sides of this figure, Jesusand the Christ, two sides of one person. And she has that, too. And I was abletohave the fun of writing both sides of Mary. That was lovely. I I felt thatshe was such a good mother in law. You know what? I wanted her to be a I wanta good mother, and I felt like she was just a mother who didn't get a lot ofcritic for a lot of things. How of ways he turned out. So you know, I didlittle things like when he said, Turn the other cheek. He got that from hismother. Things like e love that, you know, there's so many scenes that werecognize that you put in through the Book of longing of Jesus life that camein through different avenues, which was I won't say anymore. So I don't want tospoil for those who haven't seen it. But it was beautifully done. All right,I'm gonna go out on a limb with my question. Um, they use this camebecause I read your book. But the use of guides and literature is animportant vehicle to point to the reader what is important. And whilereading the book of longings, I thought of Dante's Divine Comedy is goingthrough hell, which added did a little bit too. But in that wonderful book,which I'm sure you've studied Ah lot. You have Beatrice who pointed outdivine Mr. And then you had, of course, Virgil who pointed out human wisdom andreasoning. And I'm thinking to myself When I read the book of Longings, I sawClear Guides or Ana's journey. Now I know whoI'm thinking of before I say anything. Think about the book. Did you? First ofall, did you know this intentionally when you wrote it? Or can you think ofwho would be the guides for Anna in the book of longings, Mary Alice, you're the only person onearth who has compared that to Dante's company. Oh, no, that never occurred tome. Um, but sometimes, you know, that happens unconsciously to of course itdoes. In fact, I'm always hearing from readers what I'm doing, right? Yes. Yes.Because we write instinctively we right from the unconscious, and we have tojust trust that in right. But you're right. There is a guide. Um, and Ithought of her as Yalta, her aunt. And this guide, um, is an older woman. Itwas not her mother. It was her standing mother. I'm always giving peoplestanding mothers. I don't know why my mother was great. And, you know, shewas the mother of the year and all of that and has little silver bowls ingrade Thio Prove it. But I am so hard on mom's. Sometimes with my characters,they have to find their mom somewhere. else. Uh, but yeah, she's the guide.And she is kind of a midwife. You could say, a kind of spiritual midwife forAnna. Um, she blesses her largeness, which is Ah, an important thing in thisstory. Is that Anna? Um, she has a lot. I said that we all have a largeness inus, as you also said, And Anna says something like, Bless the largeness inme even when I fear it. Eso finding her largeness. And she had a ah lot oflargeness inside of her, and it was motivated through this longing, and shewanted to have a voice in the world...

...more than anything. And I think this iswhere Sandy was really seeing a lot of connection to me. Oh, she wanted to bea writer ascribe at the time, and she wanted to tell the lost stories ofwomen. This this is ringing bells with me, too. And I think that her, um needwas she needed to be blessed by a real person and she needed to be guided. Andthat was her aunt. She we all kind of need a person like that. But she alsowas very protective of her knees of Anna, and she really had a lot of howto fulfill her goals on Earth, the human side. But her relationship withJesus was beautiful. It was a marriage, you know, That was what was so greatabout it and that. But he advised her war towards the divine. In my mind. Agreater Yeah. Yeah, that was very grounded, you know, She was no nonsense.She was very grounded. She was, but she was deep in wise. Um, but the marriageof Jesus and Anna, I really wanted them to have Ah, great big love. That's whatI wanted. I mean, I thought they deserved that. And they're larger thanlike figures, and so they deserve to have a larger than life marriage. But Ialso knew it had to be a human marriage. It had to have its conflicts. So it wasa real challenge to figure out how to portray Thekla character of Jesus. Imean, the audacity of putting words in his mouth. I would sit there and thinkNow what would What would he say? And what would he do? How would he respondlike this? And you know, I'm putting words in hismouth and I'm having him do all these things. And some of them were inconflict with her. Um and I think we have Thio had to walk a line betweenhow to portray to extraordinary people, but they can't be perfect. And theyhave to, Like all characters, they have to be flawed. It isn't easy to portrayJesus flawed, but But I think where he where this came fully into play Waashis need to fulfill his destiny was so deep and profound that it sometimes gotin the way of everything else. You can not faulting for that. Really? No, no,it was beautifully done. I mean, it was the conversations were beautifully done.Now, I just want to keep talking about this for another two hours. But I knowwe have a couple of questions that we're going to draw from the people whoare audience. So Mary Kay, could you do the first one, please? Oh, sorry. I had you did myself. Um,Mary Caution Pets. Elin's, uh, says where did you get the idea for thecharacter on? And she wants to know if you were raised catholic. Um, no, I wasnot raised Catholic. I was raised Protestant, Southern Baptist. I'm I did leave that domination,however, and became an Episcopalian which I think I'm still on the rolesomewhere. Uh, but I have thio say about where to Donnacome from? Um, she just surfaced one day when I was reading ah, piece fromNational Geographic about a fragment of a papyrus that described the wife ofJesus. Now this papyrus was believed to be authentic, but it turned out not tobe authentic. It turned out to be a fake. It's But it stirred up theacademic world for quite some time, and it was vetted no less than HarvardUniversity Theological School vetted it. It published a scholarly article aboutit, and it was Dr Karen King who is chair of the religion department, whointroduced it to the world. That's how good this fake WAAS and there weredocumentaries about it. And there were, um, this article I was reading. Now, when I read it, I got an image inmy mind. My imagination just was on fire because I suddenly could see thiswoman. Her and her name came to me to refer back to your question Mary Aliceabout my daughter named and and this...

...wife of Jesus Anna. But her name cameto me immediately. It was Anna. I could picture her. She was very compelling tome. And then I m I mean, she just sprouted the wholething. Sprouted story sprouted out of that image. Eso I think, um, you know where these images come from.Maybe I'll talk about that a little bit later when we talk about some writingor something. But I think, um, the story just grew out of that onemoment. Uh huh. Or Christian? Yeah, We I have a question from Anna ErhardWilliams. If you were to write a spinoff about a secondary characterfrom any of your books, which character would you choose? Oh, my word. Okay, doit would catch you off guard. She gotten well, you know, I love every oneof those characters that I've ever written. Even the bad ones, even thebad boys in bad mothers, because I s so it's hard to say. But it would probablybe, um, What I probably do is revisit the secret life of bees. Mm. And I'mnot sure which character I would spin off. Um, wash. That's so hard. You'regonna get so much fan mail now. Oh, my God. We 00 wow. Well, if it was in thebook of longings, um, I don't know, maybe y'all maybe to betha How do you pronounce your daughter's name? The office? No. Nodeodorant. China. Y'all, This daughter Okay? Yes. You could say you know howto pronounce an E. She has another Greek name. Yeah, I pronounced it in myhead is Diadora. But I noticed that the woman who was the reader for the audioI finally listened to it not long ago produced it completely differently. SoI can remember. She pronounced it. He'd be interesting to read about. Yeah. Yes,actually, that would be a good one, Eddie. How about you? So a woman namedJenelle Frost Rodent talk. If I slaughter that, I am sorry. Um, sheasked if you if you when you were reading this few ever feared backlash, I knew it was very likely, but I didn'tfear it. I e mean, look, I went around the controversy block with the dance ofthe dissident daughter. I know about that. And that was 20. 0, 24 years ago,that book came out and I knew that was gonna get backlash toand do it ever. It was incredible. Um, everything e I mean, you know,everything from letters, hate mail, Thio. Well, things said from pulpits tochurch newsletter to, um, boycotts of my lectures. All in the name, you know?Yeah, you know, the good way. Surpassed. Yeah, that's my point, Really? Is thatfor all of that initial kind of. I mean, it was in the big scheme of things. Itwas minor. But, you know, in my world, living in a small town at the time inSouth Carolina it was really something, and I I had to be as prepared as I wasfor that. And I thought I was pretty prepared for that right through, youknow, seven years of therapy. But when it happened, it did rock my boat alittle bit. But I learned tremendous amounts from that, and I learned how tobe fearless. And as I got older, I knew and understood that being grounded inmy own soul and in my own boys and in my own authentic desire to write what Ineeded to write and to express my soul. There was a fearlessness that tookshape in that, and honestly, I knew...

...this would be controversial in manyways. And yet I needed to write it. I wanted to writeit. It was embedded in making right. It did not walk my boat. One ripple whenit has I love that good for you. I love that I learned from, you know, Anna.She was very brave and and I think we have to cultivate our bravery as womenin order to voice ourselves. But particularly as writers, not Thio,compromise ourselves but to have a clear brain and daring voice and thetimes of helmet. Thank you for that. That's what Christie, I know you have aquestion. Dio The papyrus was an important symbolin the novel. It was the material that carried Anna's words. Also, it wasstriking to see the symbolism of papyrus that came from Egypt, where theJews were slaves, returned to Egypt with Anna as a free woman with thevoice. Can you talk about that symbolism and is that papyrus on thecover of the book? You know, I'm not sure what is said on that? Even ifanything is said on the papyrus that's on the cover of the book. I have noidea. I think she means the drawing, the drawing it Is it piracy? I guessit's just it is a very basic Yes, it, um very riel. Um, you know, when I wentto Egypt Oh, back in 1980. Wow. My mother and I wentto Egypt together on, and I bought this pile, this papyrus making kit, or is apaper making full of papyrus strips and things. And I came home and I wove it.And you had the wet and you had to do all of these things to it. And I made asheet of papyrus out of it, and I finally inked something onto it.Eventually, a little story. But I've been fascinated with papyrus, but yeah,what are the things that convey our words? How much do we pay that to grantfor granted? And how much do we take for granted? The words themselves, howpowerful they are. And in the first century, when one thing I learned isthat there was almost all inspiring reverence for words and the power theyhad. Um, at one point, Anna describes her words as little ink temples whereGod can live and inhabit. That's how exquisitely powerful they were for her.And in many ways, they're there like that for me. Um, I just believe notonly in the power of imagination, but in the power of our words, to rewritethe whole world. And maybe that's what we called opinion. All right. Rewritethe world. And so, by rewriting that one segment of history, that was my nice small attempt to dothat. Well, I have to say that I feel like you've given us a lot as authors alot to think about for tips. And it seems almost strange to say we wouldlove to hear a writing chip from because I feel like you've gotten quitea bit already. You and I did a retreat together a long time ago with SophiaInstitute, so I know you have no shortage of writing chips for offers. Alot of our viewers are hope are learning to write or our existingauthors, and yet it's our favorite. Part. Two is to hear what the authorhas to say about writing. Well, I knew that you did that on this, um,wonderful thing you've created friends intervention from other authors and eso.I tried to think today, Um, you know what? Writing tip what I say and we'veheard so many of them. And I know writers have things like you have toread a lot and, um, you have to give yourself permission to write badly. Sothey're all these these tips, we've heard a lot, and maybe they just goright over our head. I don't know what I wanted to decided I wanted to say wassomething about imagery, and I've already kind of touched on this, soit's gonna flow right into things I've already said, But, um, I think we have to pay attention Iswriters to the imagery that streams up from our own unconscious. So if I gavea writing that I would say something like right from the inside out on bythat I mean, whatever images are rolling up in, youpay attention to them. You know, the...

...word imagination comes right out ofthat root word for imagery, and that is essentially what imagination is andwhat creativity largely is I think is, um, the welling up of images from theunconscious that we make and respond to, and that can be sometimes images withinus. And sometimes we respond to something outside of ourselves on imagethat has the power to resonate just like an image that floated up fromwithin. Say, we're looking at art, for instance. So because imagery is soimportant in particular of your visual person, and even if you aren't a visualperson as a writer, maybe cultivate that because that's so important to me.I make what I call a collage for every novel I write on now. Collages, Justin,old fashioned word, and I'm probably dating myself terribly. Is there abetter word for it now, my daughter's mother? You should call it a visionboard or something. Vision board. Okay, it's and I've done one. I did one forthe secret life of bees, and essentially, what I do is I come up with my idea and I call thisthe Annunciation image, and if and you often know this becauseit's so powerful, it resonates with you and it can sustain you for the next.However long it takes to write this novel and that Annunciation image. Um,it should be something that, like I said earlier, can kind of sprout astory and you play with it because creativity it's largely about playingwith images. And so then I start collecting images. It I don't ration,rationalize whether they should be in my collage or not. I just if I see animage and it kind of pricks my unconscious or my fascination or mycuriosity, I put it in the college. So when I did the secret life of these, um,collage, I was surprised to find that it had a big pink house in it had awall, a wailing wall. It had three African American women standingtogether with arms around each other. It had another one with a very big haton. I mean, every one of those images. I had no idea what they meant, but when.But I love them. And how did I? How do you connect and make and play withthese images? That's what a collage does. It stays up in my study the wholetime I'm writing, and those images all turned up in the book. Wow, Samearticle my other novels. So that's something I do that, um, just kind ofhonors any VOCs and invites imagery that comes from within. I think you Ithink for sure you there's a number of us. We're going to start that tomorrow.E I have not heard that. So That's lovely. Thank you so much Soon. Alright.How final housekeeping. Um, let's see. Patty, can you remind everybody aboutBraxton? Books, please. Please. So are highlighted. Bookstore of the week. Ihave to pull myself out of that beautiful like, uh, are highlightedbookstore. The week is a favorite of Suman kids and of mine and a fairanalysis right smack in downtown Charleston. It is called Boxed in Books.It is owned by Julian and Polly and is a marvelous place. And you can receive10% off the book of longings and all of sues books. And, of course, our books,friends and fiction books. If you use the code friends and fiction and spellout the word and and the link will be on our Facebook page. Thank you. AndChristian, you've got some exciting news to share. Yeah, we haven'texciting announcement. We are introducing friends and Fiction Firsts.A brand new exclusive subscription club where you get signed. First editions ofall five of the friends and fiction authors. 2021 books as soon as they'rereleased, plus a friends and fiction tote bag, plus for the 1st 200 peopleto order by December 10th. Ah, small friends and fiction Holiday Ornaments.So we are doing this in partnership with one of our favorite indiebookstores, Oxford Exchange in Tampa. ESO. You'll still be supporting localbusinesses? And if you're if you would prefer to pre order books elsewhere,that's totally fine. We'll have some...

...options for you to get that tote bagalso. But this is the only place to get signed first editions for all five ofus for our 2021 books in one package subscription, and it would make a greatholiday gift. Thank E. Just share this with you. We appreciate your enthusiasm,and more information will be on offensive fiction page, and we have abonus episode on Sunday. Mary Kay Andrews Tell us about it. Yeah, we'regonna have James Beard, award winning cookbook author, television chef,columnist and extraordinary entertainer. Uh, now they do pre, and she'll be withMonday. And I know that you will want to hear her ideas for ways to scaledown this year's holiday celebrations. And also just to hear from this amazing,um, legendary Southern cookbook author. Sothat's Natalie Dupri. And that's Sunday at five Eastern time. My goodness,we're getting close to time. But, Christie, I think you had a bookrecommendation for Yeah, just really briefly. I'm so excited that we'regoing to have Robin Car is our guest coming up next week, right? Believeit's next week. And so I'm reading her Virgin River Siri's right now, whichI'm sure many many of you have read. And it's also a series on Netflix. Sowe're gonna be talking to her about the books in the show. It's been reallycool for me to see. You know, the differences between, um, it'll behearing a little bit more about that and they're great books. Check them out.Thank you. Well, everybody, we're done. We're reaching the end here. We hopeyou enjoyed our conversation with Sue Monk Kidd and Sue. Thank you so muchfor joining us and enlightening us about Thank thank you to all of you. Ijust love with that You created this and thank all of you who tuned in andlisten to all of this. I appreciate it so much. We have one last question fromBethany Hablar who said of all your books, which of your books should Ibegin with? She should ask us s. What would you recommend for a new leader?The new this one book belongings Or what do you suggest? Well, let's see.I'm terrible at this. But I would say maybe start with the book of Longingsand if not, go to the beginning and work your way through with this ***Lockerbie. That was the first one. Yes. Thank you. Well, you've all read outthere. If you have the book of longings, you'll want to dive deeper into Susan.Nonfiction books is well and all sues books are at Buxton books. And also, ifyou'd like to know more about Sue and please subscribe to her newsletter at ww w dot su monkey dot com, back slash newsletter. And I'm sure there's a lotof very wonderful information there. And so, thanks to all of you forjoining us and please join. Join us on Sunday with Natalie Dupri, and we atFriends and Fiction have created a YouTube channel. And if all goes asplanned beginning next week, we will also be broadcasting to both theFacebook Group and you, too. So stay tuned for more information, and that isa wrap up of an episode that we've been very excited about. A give A to and andto thank you, everybody by E. I hated to even get to announcementsor anything. I just wanted to continue the wonderful e mean. I wondered thequestion I wanted to ask, but didn't was. What does it feel like to write anew American classic? No kidding, right there aren't that many. You know, thereare many contemporary novels that become American classics. I canremember when my son was in high school and he brought home his, um, literaturesyllabus for what they were going to read. And, you know, it was it was allstuff by dead white guys. Remember asking his English teacher, Why don'tyou guys look something? Why don't you look at contemporary literature likethe secret life of bees? And I think that book has It has become that Yeah,s so it's, you know, it's like, um if you think about it, um, To kill aMockingbird is another great class. But it's 60 years old, right? At least,right? And so the secret life of bees, It's definitely a classic. Yeah, it'ssort of, you know, she was walking in the footsteps of Giants. And yeah, it'samazing that this book, I think this...

...book, the Book of Longings is going tobe a landmark is well, because of the subject matter. The first actuallyapproach this subject matter and to do it so well, I I told Patti that'salready, but I just was, you know, thinking about writing somethinghistorical. And I thought, Oh my gosh, it feels like such a hugeresponsibility to take this really person that's lived on the planet andgive them a voice and you hope it's right. But you don't really know. And Iread this book and I was like, I mean, I was overwhelmed by what I was doing,like O E. No God, yeah, here, though, I mean, what, what a bringing, beautiful,daring career. Then you feel like she's just getting started. E that Great.Yeah, I told her. What are you doing? You've written your best book. Ithought Whoa. Do you know what's really interesting? That it just made me thinkof. I thought it was really interesting that, you know, JT Ellison last weekand then Sue this week, and this was something I'm kind of exploring and myedits right now. And I was like, Is this realistic? But the idea thatsomeone that you really admire, I can tell you something about yourself thatit's so damaging that it actually changes the trajectory of your life insome way. And she didn't let it ultimately and neither did J T. But itthrows them off their course. And I think we've all had those moments whereand sometimes when you when you think about it or you say it, it seems likemaybe it's not realistic. But it's so interesting to me just to have heardthose stories about, you know, the things that people say to us really dochange the way we think about ourselves. Now I think that people don't realize,uh, the casual cruelty a day they inflict. And of course, it's It's moreprevalent now with social media, But I mean, 30 years ago, my managing editor,when I worked at the newspaper in Atlanta, told me, You're not a writer,you'll never be a writer. Yeah, Andi, remember weeping all the way home andthen saying to myself, You don't get you don't get to define me. Tell me youdon't get to do that. I get to define me and if I fail, it's on me. Yeah, youyou don't get to say that, too May. Well, I think that for me was one ofthe reasons why I was so interested that she said, I write for women andgirls and I think what she's really saying is to give them voice. Yeah orno one. No one puts you down. No one puts baby in the corner. You know, it'sit's you know we have. We have our right to our voice and she didn't pointout. But I thought it was so interesting that in that period in timein history, in the 1st 2000 years, 50% 50% of women died in childbirth. Well,I was thinking about it's no accident that there were no female apostles,right? Yeah. Uh, well, I was one which she said that women only speak 1.1% ofthe room in the Bible. I mean, they talk talking, I guess she's talkingabout the words that come out of their mouth. And I just was kind ofspeechless, I guess. Like the Bible, this'll idea of being afraid or knowingyou're going to get backlash and doing it anyway, because usually if I knowI'm going to get backlash, I definitely take a step back. You know, sometimesthe backlash comes and we didn't know it was coming. Right? Um, to knowyou're going to get it and then do it anyway is really how we owe avoidingbacklash, energy. Avoiding back. Yeah. All right, ladies. I'm gonna go eat mydinner. That my husband? Let me just say happy Thanksgiving E. You've been listening to the friendsand fiction podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the friends and fictionpodcast wherever you listen. And if you're enjoying it, leave a review. Youcan find the friends and fiction authors at w w w dot friends andfiction dot com a swell as on the Facebook Group Page. Friends andfiction come back soon. Okay? There are still lots of books writing tips,interviews, publishing news and bookstores to chat about goodbye.

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