Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 2 years 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. Five best selling authors Endless Stories, Friends and Fiction is a podcast with five bestselling novelist whose common love of reading, writing an independent bookstores found them together with jets, author interviews and fascinating insider talk about publishing and writing. Thes friends discuss the books they've written, the books they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books and you're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Bestselling novelist Mary Kay Andrews, Christine Harmel, Christie Woodson, Harvey Patty Callahan, Henry and Mary Alice Munro are five longtime friends with more than 80 published books. To their credit at the Start of the Pandemic, they got together for a virtual happy hour to talk about their books, their favorite bookstores writing, reading and publishing in this new, uncharted territory. They're still talking, and they've added fascinating discussions with other bestselling novelists, so join them live on their friends and fiction Facebook Group page every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern, or listen and 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 lost confound coming way on. I'm Mary Kay Andrews, and my next novel is the newcomer. Coming May 4th 2021. Hi, I'm Christine Harmel. My upcoming novel is The Forest of Vanishing Stars. Coming July 6. I'm Christi Woodson Harvey, and my upcoming book is Under the Southern Sky, releasing April 20th on Tonight We are so delighted. Thio. My favorite patio were four friends and one enemy away, right patio Henry and my newest novel, Coming Hard to 90. 0, Array and all five of us are Delighted Way all Love. Suma Kid School was raised in a small town in Georgia, and that inspired the setting Pursues major debut novel, The Secret Life of Bees. It was a literary phenomenon, spending more than 2.5 years on The New York Times best seller list. It has sold more than 8.5 million copies worldwide. It won numerous awards and has taught many classrooms from middle school to college. Her book was turned into an award winning wonderful, really wonderful major motion picture, The Secret Life of Bees and I don't know If you Know this, a musical on translated into 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 With Pomegranates, which was written with her daughter and kid, Taylor, about her journey through Greece, Turkey and France. Ah, trip that I've promised myself that someday I'm going to take with my two daughters. If you'd like to sign a pursue My Kids newsletter with lots of important information, go through Sue Monk Kidd dot com. I've known Sue since before the Secret Life of Bees was published in That was Back in 2000 and two And what ah, World and her 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 and her husband, Sandy. So, without further ado, welcome. See, my kid s s so glad you're here. We wear delighted. We've been waiting for this day and let me get a little housekeeping done first and then we'll start asking you. Questions are highlighted. Bookstore for this week is a favorite of Suman Kids and mine. It's called but Stone Books in Charleston, South Carolina. Buxton has become the heart of the literary community in Charleston, and the story of its owners, Julian and Polly, is a love story of two individuals and their love of books. Julian is a writer, and Polly's dream was to own a bookstore. They got...

...married and their dreams came true. You can feel the love when you enter. Boxed in books on King Street, which is right next door to the beautiful Charleston Library Society. So do visit Buxton books and support a local independent bookstore, Polly and Julian, who never failed to go the extra mile for their clients. You can receive 10% off the Book of Longings and all suits, books and all the books of friends and fiction authors using the code, friends and fiction. The link can be found on our friends and Fiction book page, so don't worry about it. It's all there and good news. Polly said that at Buxton Books, they have signed copies of all Suu's books with book plates, so that makes it a very special gift for this holiday season, or perhaps for yourself. Okay, That's housekeeping. Not for a chat. Hello. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Hi. Hi. I thought this year we want to go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother'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 big old turkey and Macy's parade. Which Kathy, you and I were talking about that earlier. There is going to be amazing day properly. Yes, but it's not going to be on a parade like everything else. It's been affected by this pandemic. We're going to have the performances in Herald Square to like everyone else. New Yorkers have to watch it on TV. So that's what I'm doing. So what are you doing for Thanksgiving? Uh, some cooking and cleaning up afterward. I'm sure we're gonna have a small gathering of my daughter, my son in law and my grandson and my husband. Um, lots of food, as usual. What's your favorite dish? Um, it's probably the sweet potatoes to fly E o and cook that I always get the vegetable so I don't get a lot of kudos for 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 than usual. My, of course. My husband and I will have dinner here, my daughter and son in law and our two grandchildren and my sister in law. So we're being very careful, Very cautious. Uh, and, um, you know, I'm baking pies as we speak. And the sweet potato souffle is kind of my favorite too. Although my daughter I like parsnips. I'm like my daughter told me nobody else likes him in 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 you doing this year? Way actually told the Friends and Fiction Book Club earlier in the week that a lot of years we can have I mean, a tremendous number of people in our house because my husband's family and my family and all extensions 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 parents who have sort of been a part of our cova team and my husband's sister and her husband and two sons. So we're going to be a teeny tiny little great This year will be outside. Fortunately, it's gonna be really pretty, and we have a kids table in adult table and we're all spread out. But it should be fun. And speaking of Macy's Day parade, I saw today that the Rockets are teaching 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 of choreography in there. I was kind of walking into a lot of work. I was supposed to be editing and was procrastinating. Patty, how about you? What are you doing? Where? In South Carolina. And you know, we usually have a group of 14 to 16 to 18, and we're having to pare it down. But we're trying to keep the main Thanksgiving traditions Miss Oyster, that Pat's mother made every year since I was dating Pat Henry. And so, no, if it's in 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 one without it. Uh, our home. But I can't see my daughter. My daughter baby. So that's that. Last but not least, Kristen. How about you? Well, so we normally go to my in laws for Thanksgiving. We're not this year because 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're entertaining 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 smaller ones, so they brought me a £22 turkey out. But just in case you thought we didn't have enough turkey meat, my husband has also chosen this year to experiment with smoking a turkey so he'll be smoking a turkey for us. In addition, todo so will basically be eating turkey all the way through next to radio working Christian ever e o. Having thanks good on. And I hope everyone has a good book called The Book of Longing. Happy Andy. If you haven't read it, you will want to after tonight. For sure. Sue, can you tell us a little bit about your new novel? Well, this novel, Um well, I'll put it like this the day that that occurred to me to write this novel. Um, I remember sitting back in my chair and thinking, um, I really going to write a book in which Jesus gets married. And then I remembered something I had said many times that women particularly we all women particularly need to do something at least once in our life that takes our own breath away. I love that. And I remember sitting back thinking, Okay, this is mine. This is mine. Eso sort of initially take my breath that I would kind of go away way out on the literary limb with this, but I was very compelled to do it, and I never looked back after that. But the novel itself is really not about Jesus getting married. 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 an adventure in search of her own longings. the It's a beautiful book, and I know we all have a lot of questions, and please, everybody just feel out there listening to You can write your questions in the chat room and we'll get to you Eventually we get to start asking the question, Sue, So we're going to start with Patty. Patty, do you have a question pursuit? Hi. So it's so good. Cool. So the first book I read of yours was the dance of the dissident daughter way before I met you and it sent me on a journey that I am still on today. Are we ever not on the journey? Right, so but it changed me deeply. That book did. And now comes the Book of Longings, which is, at its core, the story of a woman's search for her voice, which I feel like the book the dance of the dissident daughter helped give me. And this theme you have a rebellious woman is prominent in your fiction, and I don't even know if I would call it rebellious. But this theme of women understanding who they really are at their core, this theme of knowing their value and they're worth and I love. When you once said that stories that will empower women and girls is what I do. It's my thing. Can you discuss the importance of telling such kinds of stories? And I can't help but notice that the main characters named Anna and your daughter is an talked about that. Yeah. I can't explain that too. Good. I don't think, um yes, empowering women includes That is my thing. And not only that. I mean, there are many things that I have in my fiction. One of them has to do with race and racial injustice. Uh, gender inequality, thes things mattered deeply to May and those air to motifs that have re occurred in my work over and over again, both in my fiction and in my nonfiction. And the only way I can really sort that out of where that is sourced is that yeah, it is personal in my history. You know, I came of age in the pre feminist south and in pre civil rights south, and those had enormous impacts upon may I have a real sensitivity to injustice and social justice always mattered enormously to May. So I think because I had a personal history with this because I witnessed things that had to do with all of this that, you know, it's surfaces in my writing. And I do think that often writers right out of two summit to some degree, their...

...personal history. Um eso That's probably 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 work before secret life of bees and then finding secret life of bees is that it's It is a thread that has followed through, kind of like the red thread and pomegranates and and all that other nonfiction is understanding the value of who you are and that that goes toe every single subject you just named. I think, too, that there is a kind of steam in my work that has to do with authenticity of belonging, of women belonging to themselves, you know, in the secret life of bees. Um, that had definitely had a civil rights backdrop to it and and dealt with some of that. But it also dealt with Lily, my character trying to find her home or her place of mourning and the mother the great mothering spirit in the world, which I it identified, is the black Madonna in this particular story that is a journey that matters. And it's true that in all my books The Invention of Wings, The Mermaid Chair, the Book of Longings, these women are searching for their deepest and truest and most authentic self for their voice, their power. And this is a classic journey for women. And, you know, I tried to write about that journey that I took in the dance of the distant daughter Patty. And, um, you know, it's amazing to me that I wrote that book. Gosh, it was published in 1996 eso and it's still new. Generations are finding It s so it That book actually is a kind of template or prototype for the book of longings. And a lot of those things re emerged in that book. And in fact, there is one or two things that are verbatim right out of my life, like a dream or things that happened to me. I decided to give toe Anna and I've said, and I know I'm not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing. But this book, this novel, the book of longings, ISMM or oh, I'm going to say it. It's a little more autobiographical than any novel I've read that I've written, I should say, Or Red. Yeah, my hopeless thing. The When he read the manuscript, he looked at me. The first thing he said to me, he looked up after the last page and he said, I see a lot of Anna and you on, and that kind of shocked me and I thought, Oh, dear, you know But it's true. And what I said to him was, I'll tell you what I think there's a lot of Anna in a lot of women. Uh, yeah, the woman writer writes. Write stories of other women giving them voice. I mean, that's what you do. That's what I dio way repeat ourselves in stories that the same thing service. You know, people said to me after this when the mermaid chair came out, which was really ah, hard novel to write because I had to follow the secret life of bees on. You know, someone said to me before the mermaid chair, I was in the midst of writing it and uninjured viewer from a mill big newspaper up there in New York, said, Uh, how does it feel? Thio have written your best novel first e. It's already been decided, 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 bees and I thought on the outside is different on the inside. It's not interesting. Um, it's just a little more sophisticated, Um, journey of a woman 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. I know you have a question to follow up. I dio this book. Oh, my goodness. It was just so incredible in so many ways. Actually, like texted all of them when I 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 was absolutely beautiful. This is a really incredible book, and I cannot imagine the research for a novel that took place 2000 years ago. I mean the details that you included about everyday life, the religion, history, the culture. It's so meticulous. And then you also brought in from a lifetime of study of the divine feminine throughout history. So can you talk about diving into the immense amount of research on Jesus? And maybe, in contrast, what did you find available about the women of that period? Well, the research waas daunting, to say the least. I had no idea what I was getting into e mean I had spent. I mean, I've taken seminary courses in theology and New Testament background and all kinds of things. And I've been a student of spirituality, just kind of a self taught reading, the classics 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 would write the book, and then I began to create a storyboard for the book, creating characters and characters, studies and things like that. And then I began to realize just how much I research I had I thought it would take me maybe a year. It took ah, year and, um, 14 months. I mean, ah, 14 months is what it took. So 12 heat Boy, I'm really e you're in two months e None of our things. You e 14 months of research was a long time on, and I just had to read everything I could not only about the time, the history, the culture, the women but mostly I focused a lot on the historical Jesus because I needed to get that right. And I made a decision not to write the character of Jesus as divine, 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 women in the Bible, and I read as many, um, early documents as I could in the nonstick gospels and just I mean, I collected a small library of books. It just It was like eight hours a day of research for for those 14 months on. And what I discovered about the women is that not only were they deeply oppressed with their 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% of all the words spoken in the Bible are by women. Wait, there just aren't represented in a large way. And we can name some women who have prominent stories that are told, but for them, but relatively speaking, it's very small presence and impact eso there was that. And then I discovered when I was researching Egypt, which was the other place, I had thio research not just Galilee and Judea but Egypt. To at this particular time, the women were much freer. Not that they were liberated by any means. Um, there was a journal of historical fiction that did a an interview with May, and they asked me if 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 kind of 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 that actually didn't even exist when my mother was a lot, you know, when she was born, there wasn't it. So I said,...

You know, I think I know women and I know women's hearts and I have a feeling that I don't care when they lived. Whatever Waas women yearned to have their own freedom, their own independence, 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 very clearly and deeply. But my point really was that if women if we can't find those women, it's not because they didn't exist is because they weren't recorded. Oh, I love that you just can't find a lot of history written by women, um, at and their stories or about women? Yeah, you know, just interjecting the scrolls that you wrote about it, the afterward in the book those existed or because I remember you talked about some that were later proved forgery. But the ones that you described in the book where those found the one I described in the book was a natural dog. I think you're referring to the Thunder Perfect Mind, which is Anak Chua Li um, document That was part of the Nag Hamadi text that were dug up in Egypt in 1945. And that document was most 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. But it 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, So this'll book is just beautiful and intricate and so brave. I mean, it's such a brave, amazing thing to take on. I mean, just the scope of it is enormous. 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 to kind of re imagine Jesus in this new fuller light. So I actually have two questions for you About that first, why did you set out to create this alternate history of him as a man? You know, just as a as a as a person we can kind of identify with. And second, did that change your relationship with Jesus or the way that you think about him? E like that, um, to go to your first question. Um, I was, you know, I had to debate about that, and this has been parsed and written about over and over again. The story of Jesus and I wanted to do something that would bring a new dimension. This story on, I was really interested in the historical Jesus the man. Jesus. Because I feel like we have largely lost touch with that, um, with the 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 was reading some text by Marcus Board, the late Marcus Borg, who was a scholar of the historical Jesus, and he made a distinction between the pre Easter Jesus and the post Easter Jesus. That was very clarifying for me to hear it in those terms. And I decided, right that in there I'm writing about the pre Easter Jesus awesome. And, um, that is quite different in many ways, you know? And he made the point that I totally concur with, which is that if we lose touch with the human Jesus, we have lost the the idea or the potential in ourselves to be like him and eso, you know, Did it change my relationship to Jesus? Um, I have to say that it probably did surprisingly, um, it gave me a new appreciation for the man. And I have had so many readers write to me and say that they rediscovered Jesus or they found interesting Jesus, or they fell in love with Jesus again. Or they now had a crush on Jesus. But but yeah, I think it does. I wanted to kind of shake up...

...how we understand or at least ask ourselves certain questions about who is this. But this was not my primary goal. It really wasn't Jesus. I was far more interested in Anna and in having this 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 even without him, you know, can I go back to the pre Easter and post Easter Jesus, which is actually, I'd love you to explain that a little bit more to those who might not understand that it's really before, in my understanding, is the aestheticism of the divine. You know all not just Jesus, Mary the saints, the whole group. You know, it's it's always about the divine and as opposed to the human quality. And I always love to read about the lives of the saints and find out what they endured as individuals. 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 who probably was a stone worker or ah, carpenter or woodworker? Ah, person who lived as a ah, life is a Jewish man and he died, Um, the Post. But his life was so luminous he really waas extraordinary in so many ways that his story lived on and on. It was not until, um, the third century that the matter was settled, that he was divine. You know, there were believed that he was divine there was believed he was human and the this council met, and they determined these bishops that he was both human and divine. And this is how it started. But for the 1st 200 years after his death, it was largely debated. And it wasn't even until the second century that people began to say, Well, I don't think he was married up until then, it was kind of assumed he probably was or it wasn't an issue. Um, so there's a lot of interesting history to understand. How did Jesus the human become Jesus, the divine? The Christ. So there's Jesus, and there's the Christ. And this became mesh together to create amazing, you know, religion. Thank you. You did a beautiful job explaining that. Thank you very much. That was I just think a lot of people might 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 the black Madonna and your search for them throughout Europe. And you wrote about the Black Madonna and the secret Life of bees. So could you discuss a little bit about how you created the quieter, endearing character of Mary in the Book of longings and compare and contrast that portrayal with Mary the Black Madonna? Yes. You know, I really have a thing for the black Madonna. That is also my thing, Mary, um, as as a divine kind of larger than life mythic figure was intriguing to me And in the, uh in traveling with pomegranates this travel mother daughter story that my daughter and I wrote Ankita war. We went to visit all these black Madonnas, and I was so struck by her grandeur, her imagery and what it stood for and how different it waas from them Shire White Mary, who had a different man and a little bit of a handmaiden. Look about her. The black Madonnas of Europe were powerful. They gaze right at you, putting with their fist on their on their 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 powerful authoritarians, authoritative figure. And I just liked her a lot. And so I adopted her and I have a painting of...

...the black Madonna. It's kind of Ah contemporary painting of her over my desk for the last gosh 25 years on. And I 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 of Longings, this was a whole different Mary, you know, because in the secret life 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, Jesus and the Christ, two sides of one person. And she has that, too. And I was ableto have the fun of writing both sides of Mary. That was lovely. I I felt that she was such a good mother in law. You know what? I wanted her to be a I want a good mother, and I felt like she was just a mother who didn't get a lot of critic for a lot of things. How of ways he turned out. So you know, I did little things like when he said, Turn the other cheek. He got that from his mother. Things like e love that, you know, there's so many scenes that we recognize that you put in through the Book of longing of Jesus life that came in through different avenues, which was I won't say anymore. So I don't want to spoil 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 came because I read your book. But the use of guides and literature is an important vehicle to point to the reader what is important. And while reading the book of longings, I thought of Dante's Divine Comedy is going through 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 out divine Mr. And then you had, of course, Virgil who pointed out human wisdom and reasoning. And I'm thinking to myself When I read the book of Longings, I saw Clear Guides or Ana's journey. Now I know who I'm thinking of before I say anything. Think about the book. Did you? First of all, did you know this intentionally when you wrote it? Or can you think of who would be the guides for Anna in the book of longings, Mary Alice, you're the only person on earth who has compared that to Dante's company. Oh, no, that never occurred to me. Um, but sometimes, you know, that happens unconsciously to of course it does. 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 to just trust that in right. But you're right. There is a guide. Um, and I thought of her as Yalta, her aunt. And this guide, um, is an older woman. It was not her mother. It was her standing mother. I'm always giving people standing mothers. I don't know why my mother was great. And, you know, she was the mother of the year and all of that and has little silver bowls in grade 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 for Anna. Um, she blesses her largeness, which is Ah, an important thing in this story. Is that Anna? Um, she has a lot. I said that we all have a largeness in us, as you also said, And Anna says something like, Bless the largeness in me even when I fear it. Eso finding her largeness. And she had a ah lot of largeness inside of her, and it was motivated through this longing, and she wanted to have a voice in the world...

...more than anything. And I think this is where Sandy was really seeing a lot of connection to me. Oh, she wanted to be a writer ascribe at the time, and she wanted to tell the lost stories of women. This this is ringing bells with me, too. And I think that her, um need was she needed to be blessed by a real person and she needed to be guided. And that was her aunt. She we all kind of need a person like that. But she also was very protective of her knees of Anna, and she really had a lot of how to fulfill her goals on Earth, the human side. But her relationship with Jesus was beautiful. It was a marriage, you know, That was what was so great about it and that. But he advised her war towards the divine. In my mind. A greater 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 marriage of Jesus and Anna, I really wanted them to have Ah, great big love. That's what I wanted. I mean, I thought they deserved that. And they're larger than like figures, and so they deserve to have a larger than life marriage. But I also knew it had to be a human marriage. It had to have its conflicts. So it was a real challenge to figure out how to portray Thekla character of Jesus. I mean, the audacity of putting words in his mouth. I would sit there and think Now what would What would he say? And what would he do? How would he respond like this? And you know, I'm putting words in his mouth and I'm having him do all these things. And some of them were in conflict with her. Um and I think we have Thio had to walk a line between how to portray to extraordinary people, but they can't be perfect. And they have to, Like all characters, they have to be flawed. It isn't easy to portray Jesus flawed, but But I think where he where this came fully into play Waas his need to fulfill his destiny was so deep and profound that it sometimes got in 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 know we have a couple of questions that we're going to draw from the people who are 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 the character on? And she wants to know if you were raised catholic. Um, no, I was not 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 role somewhere. Uh, but I have thio say about where to Donna come from? Um, she just surfaced one day when I was reading ah, piece from National Geographic about a fragment of a papyrus that described the wife of Jesus. Now this papyrus was believed to be authentic, but it turned out not to be authentic. It turned out to be a fake. It's But it stirred up the academic world for quite some time, and it was vetted no less than Harvard University Theological School vetted it. It published a scholarly article about it, and it was Dr Karen King who is chair of the religion department, who introduced it to the world. That's how good this fake WAAS and there were documentaries about it. And there were, um, this article I was reading. Now, when I read it, I got an image in my mind. My imagination just was on fire because I suddenly could see this woman. Her and her name came to me to refer back to your question Mary Alice about my daughter named and and this...

...wife of Jesus Anna. But her name came to me immediately. It was Anna. I could picture her. She was very compelling to me. And then I m I mean, she just sprouted the whole thing. 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 writing or something. But I think, um, the story just grew out of that one moment. Uh huh. Or Christian? Yeah, We I have a question from Anna Erhard Williams. If you were to write a spinoff about a secondary character from any of your books, which character would you choose? Oh, my word. Okay, do it would catch you off guard. She gotten well, you know, I love every one of those characters that I've ever written. Even the bad ones, even the bad boys in bad mothers, because I s so it's hard to say. But it would probably be, um, What I probably do is revisit the secret life of bees. Mm. And I'm not sure which character I would spin off. Um, wash. That's so hard. You're gonna get so much fan mail now. Oh, my God. We 00 wow. Well, if it was in the book of longings, um, I don't know, maybe y'all maybe to be tha How do you pronounce your daughter's name? The office? No. No deodorant. China. Y'all, This daughter Okay? Yes. You could say you know how to pronounce an E. She has another Greek name. Yeah, I pronounced it in my head is Diadora. But I noticed that the woman who was the reader for the audio I finally listened to it not long ago produced it completely differently. So I 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 named Jenelle Frost Rodent talk. If I slaughter that, I am sorry. Um, she asked if you if you when you were reading this few ever feared backlash, I knew it was very likely, but I didn't fear it. I e mean, look, I went around the controversy block with the dance of the 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 to and do it ever. It was incredible. Um, everything e I mean, you know, everything from letters, hate mail, Thio. Well, things said from pulpits to church 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 that for all of that initial kind of. I mean, it was in the big scheme of things. It was minor. But, you know, in my world, living in a small town at the time in South Carolina it was really something, and I I had to be as prepared as I was for that. And I thought I was pretty prepared for that right through, you know, seven years of therapy. But when it happened, it did rock my boat a little bit. But I learned tremendous amounts from that, and I learned how to be fearless. And as I got older, I knew and understood that being grounded in my own soul and in my own boys and in my own authentic desire to write what I needed to write and to express my soul. There was a fearlessness that took shape in that, and honestly, I knew...

...this would be controversial in many ways. And yet I needed to write it. I wanted to write it. It was embedded in making right. It did not walk my boat. One ripple when it 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 women in order to voice ourselves. But particularly as writers, not Thio, compromise ourselves but to have a clear brain and daring voice and the times of helmet. Thank you for that. That's what Christie, I know you have a question. Dio The papyrus was an important symbol in the novel. It was the material that carried Anna's words. Also, it was striking to see the symbolism of papyrus that came from Egypt, where the Jews were slaves, returned to Egypt with Anna as a free woman with the voice. Can you talk about that symbolism and is that papyrus on the cover of the book? You know, I'm not sure what is said on that? Even if anything is said on the papyrus that's on the cover of the book. I have no idea. I think she means the drawing, the drawing it Is it piracy? I guess it's just it is a very basic Yes, it, um very riel. Um, you know, when I went to Egypt Oh, back in 1980. Wow. My mother and I went to Egypt together on, and I bought this pile, this papyrus making kit, or is a paper 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 a sheet 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 grant for granted? And how much do we take for granted? The words themselves, how powerful they are. And in the first century, when one thing I learned is that there was almost all inspiring reverence for words and the power they had. Um, at one point, Anna describes her words as little ink temples where God 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 not only in the power of imagination, but in the power of our words, to rewrite the whole world. And maybe that's what we called opinion. All right. Rewrite the world. And so, by rewriting that one segment of history, that was my nice small attempt to do that. Well, I have to say that I feel like you've given us a lot as authors a lot to think about for tips. And it seems almost strange to say we would love to hear a writing chip from because I feel like you've gotten quite a bit already. You and I did a retreat together a long time ago with Sophia Institute, so I know you have no shortage of writing chips for offers. A lot of our viewers are hope are learning to write or our existing authors, and yet it's our favorite. Part. Two is to hear what the author has 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've heard so many of them. And I know writers have things like you have to read a lot and, um, you have to give yourself permission to write badly. So they're all these these tips, we've heard a lot, and maybe they just go right over our head. I don't know what I wanted to decided I wanted to say was something about imagery, and I've already kind of touched on this, so it's gonna flow right into things I've already said, But, um, I think we have to pay attention Is writers to the imagery that streams up from our own unconscious. So if I gave a writing that I would say something like right from the inside out on by that I mean, whatever images are rolling up in, you pay attention to them. You know, the...

...word imagination comes right out of that root word for imagery, and that is essentially what imagination is and what creativity largely is I think is, um, the welling up of images from the unconscious that we make and respond to, and that can be sometimes images within us. And sometimes we respond to something outside of ourselves on image that has the power to resonate just like an image that floated up from within. Say, we're looking at art, for instance. So because imagery is so important in particular of your visual person, and even if you aren't a visual person 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 a better word for it now, my daughter's mother? You should call it a vision board or something. Vision board. Okay, it's and I've done one. I did one for the secret life of bees, and essentially, what I do is I come up with my idea and I call this the Annunciation image, and if and you often know this because it'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 a story and you play with it because creativity it's largely about playing with 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 an image and it kind of pricks my unconscious or my fascination or my curiosity, 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 a wall, a wailing wall. It had three African American women standing together with arms around each other. It had another one with a very big hat on. 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 with these images? That's what a collage does. It stays up in my study the whole time I'm writing, and those images all turned up in the book. Wow, Same article my other novels. So that's something I do that, um, just kind of honors any VOCs and invites imagery that comes from within. I think you I think 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 about Braxton? Books, please. Please. So are highlighted. Bookstore of the week. I have to pull myself out of that beautiful like, uh, are highlighted bookstore. The week is a favorite of Suman kids and of mine and a fair analysis 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 receive 10% 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 spell out the word and and the link will be on our Facebook page. Thank you. And Christian, you've got some exciting news to share. Yeah, we haven't exciting announcement. We are introducing friends and Fiction Firsts. A brand new exclusive subscription club where you get signed. First editions of all five of the friends and fiction authors. 2021 books as soon as they're released, plus a friends and fiction tote bag, plus for the 1st 200 people to order by December 10th. Ah, small friends and fiction Holiday Ornaments. So we are doing this in partnership with one of our favorite indie bookstores, Oxford Exchange in Tampa. ESO. You'll still be supporting local businesses? 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 bag also. But this is the only place to get signed first editions for all five of us for our 2021 books in one package subscription, and it would make a great holiday gift. Thank E. Just share this with you. We appreciate your enthusiasm, and more information will be on offensive fiction page, and we have a bonus episode on Sunday. Mary Kay Andrews Tell us about it. Yeah, we're gonna have James Beard, award winning cookbook author, television chef, columnist and extraordinary entertainer. Uh, now they do pre, and she'll be with Monday. And I know that you will want to hear her ideas for ways to scale down this year's holiday celebrations. And also just to hear from this amazing, um, legendary Southern cookbook author. So that'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 book recommendation for Yeah, just really briefly. I'm so excited that we're going to have Robin Car is our guest coming up next week, right? Believe it's next week. And so I'm reading her Virgin River Siri's right now, which I'm sure many many of you have read. And it's also a series on Netflix. So we're gonna be talking to her about the books in the show. It's been really cool for me to see. You know, the differences between, um, it'll be hearing 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 hope you enjoyed our conversation with Sue Monk Kidd and Sue. Thank you so much for joining us and enlightening us about Thank thank you to all of you. I just love with that You created this and thank all of you who tuned in and listen to all of this. I appreciate it so much. We have one last question from Bethany Hablar who said of all your books, which of your books should I begin 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 Longings and 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 out there. 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, if you'd like to know more about Sue and please subscribe to her newsletter at w w w dot su monkey dot com, back slash newsletter. And I'm sure there's a lot of very wonderful information there. And so, thanks to all of you for joining us and please join. Join us on Sunday with Natalie Dupri, and we at Friends and Fiction have created a YouTube channel. And if all goes as planned beginning next week, we will also be broadcasting to both the Facebook Group and you, too. So stay tuned for more information, and that is a wrap up of an episode that we've been very excited about. A give A to and and to thank you, everybody by E. I hated to even get to announcements or anything. I just wanted to continue the wonderful e mean. I wondered the question I wanted to ask, but didn't was. What does it feel like to write a new American classic? No kidding, right there aren't that many. You know, there are many contemporary novels that become American classics. I can remember when my son was in high school and he brought home his, um, literature syllabus for what they were going to read. And, you know, it was it was all stuff by dead white guys. Remember asking his English teacher, Why don't you guys look something? Why don't you look at contemporary literature like the 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 a Mockingbird 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's sort of, you know, she was walking in the footsteps of Giants. And yeah, it's amazing that this book, I think this...

...book, the Book of Longings is going to be a landmark is well, because of the subject matter. The first actually approach this subject matter and to do it so well, I I told Patti that's already, but I just was, you know, thinking about writing something historical. And I thought, Oh my gosh, it feels like such a huge responsibility to take this really person that's lived on the planet and give them a voice and you hope it's right. But you don't really know. And I read 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. I thought Whoa. Do you know what's really interesting? That it just made me think of. I thought it was really interesting that, you know, JT Ellison last week and then Sue this week, and this was something I'm kind of exploring and my edits right now. And I was like, Is this realistic? But the idea that someone that you really admire, I can tell you something about yourself that it's so damaging that it actually changes the trajectory of your life in some way. And she didn't let it ultimately and neither did J T. But it throws them off their course. And I think we've all had those moments where and sometimes when you when you think about it or you say it, it seems like maybe it's not realistic. But it's so interesting to me just to have heard those stories about, you know, the things that people say to us really do change 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 more prevalent 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 and then saying to myself, You don't get you don't get to define me. Tell me you don't get to do that. I get to define me and if I fail, it's on me. Yeah, you you don't get to say that, too May. Well, I think that for me was one of the reasons why I was so interested that she said, I write for women and girls and I think what she's really saying is to give them voice. Yeah or no one. No one puts you down. No one puts baby in the corner. You know, it's it's you know we have. We have our right to our voice and she didn't point out. But I thought it was so interesting that in that period in time in 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% of the room in the Bible. I mean, they talk talking, I guess she's talking about the words that come out of their mouth. And I just was kind of speechless, I guess. Like the Bible, this'll idea of being afraid or knowing you're going to get backlash and doing it anyway, because usually if I know I'm going to get backlash, I definitely take a step back. You know, sometimes the backlash comes and we didn't know it was coming. Right? Um, to know you're going to get it and then do it anyway is really how we owe avoiding backlash, energy. Avoiding back. Yeah. All right, ladies. I'm gonna go eat my dinner. That my husband? Let me just say happy Thanksgiving E. You've been listening to the friends and fiction podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the friends and fiction podcast wherever you listen. And if you're enjoying it, leave a review. You can find the friends and fiction authors at w w w dot friends and fiction dot com a swell as on the Facebook Group Page. Friends and fiction 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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