Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 4 months ago

Friends & Fiction with Vanessa Riley

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Meet Vanessa Riley, author of regency romance and the brand new historical novel ISLAND QUEEN which was just optioned for film by the team behind Bridgerton. Vanessa discusses her extensive research into the life and times of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, who was a free woman of color who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies. https://vanessariley.com/

Welcome to Friends and Fiction. Fivebest selling authors and the stories. Novelists, mary Kay andrews, ChristineHarmel, Christie Woodson, harvey patty Callahan, Henry and mary Alice Munroare five longtime friends with more than 80 published books to their creditIn 2020 they created friends and fiction to provide author interviewsand fascinating insider. Talk about publishing and writing and to highlightindependent bookstores. These friends discuss the books, they've written thebooks they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books andyou're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Hi everyone.It's Wednesday night seven p.m. And that means it's time for Friends andfiction. We are so glad you're joining us tonight. I'm mary Kay Andrews, I'mChristine Harmel, I'm Christie Woodson harvey, I am paddy Callaghan Henry andjust in case you're one of the new kids on the block. We are, it's BonnieWilbur coming today. No, sorry, sorry, false alarm. No kidding, sorry.We are friends, conviction, new york times, bestselling authors, endlessstories to support India's bookstores tonight. We're so excited to welcomeVanessa Riley, whose new historical fiction novel, Island Queen has createda stir in the publishing world. We hope you will be as fascinated with herstory as we are Island Queen. Uh and the research Vanessa did for this bookbased on the previously little known Dorothy doll kerwin Thomas who was bornto an Irish planter and an enslaved woman in 1756 on the island ofmontserrat Endure these 90 years. She endured bondage assault abuse,eventually secured her own freedom against unbelievable odds, accumulatedwealth and considerable influence and became the family matriarch of aprosperous caribbean clan. And so we're going to talk to Vanessa about all ofthat and she's got some exciting news that we want to share with you alltonight. Yeah. And as you all know, we always have a featured independentbookseller of the week. This week it is Foxtail book shop in historic downtownWoodstock Georgia, a top bookstore destination in the southeast forhundreds of best selling authors including mary Kay and I who didn'tevent there just last week still. Yeah, Foxtail boasts an eclectic mix of newbooks, including signed first editions, hardcovers and paperbacks in all genres.So you can visit the specially curated Friends and fiction page on the Foxtailwebsite to shop for Island Queen by Vanessa Riley, the Low Country seriesby our sunday bonus guest Susan Boyer. And yes, we have a sunday bonus thisweek. We're so excited. And of course you also know Susan Boyle from the LowCountry Book Club and you can also get our new and recent titles from those ofus who are the fab five Friends in Fiction. We are so excited about thatspecial sunday bonus episode that kristen mentioned, join us as wewelcome agatha award winning and USa today bestselling author Susan Mboya,she's the author of the Liz Talbott, Low country mystery theories. Now. 10titles strong, which includes her latest Low country boughs of holly.Susan is also the founder of the wildly popular Low Country Book Club facebookGroup, which boasts more than 12,000 members. So mark your calendars forsunday, july 25th at five PM and tune in for our chat with season and we hopethat so many of you because there were so many people there last night. It wasso much fun. We're watching last night when the five of us appeared virtuallyat the Nantucket book fastball where ringmaster, what he probably felt likethe Nantucket Book towards Marketing pro and Book Festival Board member TimEhrenberg moderated our panel. We even wrote a short story, each one of uscalled Fairy tales, but r ry about meeting Nantucket in different ways. Ifyou did miss it, you'll find it on our friends and Fiction facebook page andour Youtube channel as well as the Nantucket Book Festival website andtheir Youtube channel probably in the next day or two. So if you missed it,which I don't know why you would have if you had, it will be coming soon, youknow, and the Nantucket Book Festival...

...is such a great organization. And ifyou did watch it or if you do watch it and you feel like donating a fewdollars to the Nantucket Book Festival, that will keep them going forward, keepthem putting on these great literary events. Um, and hey, maybe they'llinvite us in person. You never know. That would be really cool. I, so thisweek's parade? S a, as you know, we always um, you know, write a paradeessay every week. One of us, we take turns. This week is by paddy Callaghanwho writes about the one time as an adult that you get to choose whatyou're called. So here's my hint. If you're a grandparent, pay attention. I, when my daughter was discovered shewas pregnant about three years ago, one of the very first questions people wereasking me was what will you be called? And it hit me that it might be thefirst time in my life that I get to choose what someone calls me now. Thatdoesn't mean they won't change it. I know I understand what happens withtoddlers, but it was this fascinating journey in choosing a name to be called.And made me think a lot about the nicknames we call each other that forexample, y'all call me peach, right? And, and there are terms of endearment.Um, pardon me party patty. That that was, that was 1982. But yes and yes, Ilove when you, yeah, sparty patty. Always party back once and foreverparty peach patty. But it made me think about how naming is an act of love andwhether it's to someone we care about or as a grandma. So what my neckgrandma name ended up being a mama, which is the Gaelic name for grandmaand Megan and I, my daughter decided together and it just is so powerful andmeans so much to me. So I want to know either what you want to be called, whatyou are called or what you call your grandparents and why I want to hearfrom y'all. Well, I decided to do a preemptivestrike because I did not want to be mama or um, any of those names. So I'mkiki. I love it. Yeah, I couldn't be PP sorry, I wanted you to be. Each eye canbe kiki. Yeah. You know what the problem is with kiki though, at leastfor me, that was the name, That was the name. Everybody called me when I getdrunk, like, like 15 years ago, you're drunk all the time with my drunk alterego. Like I would get to, this was like back in my mid twenties, but I wouldhave a couple too many drinks in downtown Orlando and people would saykiki's coming up to play. So that doesn't seem like what I want mygrandchildren to address me. Your grandparents, what did you call yourgrandparents grandma and grandpa from Weymouth and grandma and grandpa fromtexas. So we just distinguish them by their police. Um, and my mom is grandmato know it. And I think I would like to be grandma one day too. I like, uh, Iam, oh, so sweet because I'm really going to have to up my current drinkinggame if I'm gonna reclaim kiki. And that seems like a bad idea. It's not agood idea, not a good idea. That's not a good thing to strive for. Yeah,grandma. Yeah, it's probably just as well if you just, you know, don't,don't resurrect kiki. Um, so I called, my grandparents are called mygrandmother and so both of my grandfathers were granddaddy and then,uh, I was the third grandchild on one side and so she was already grandma, meand then my other, my dad's mom like insisted that she would be grandmother.Like, I mean grandmother that was actually wrote a column about this forparade awhile ago, which is kind of funny. But yeah, so I called hergrandmother like my whole life, but I don't know what I want to be called. Ithought about this all day and I could not come up with anything good. So Shewas like six months old before I came up with it. So I can't think that likeI have a long, long, long time, 10 year old and Kristen has a five year old.But you know, the naming thing is so interesting because that is umsomething that comes up in Island Queen. And I hope maybe we'll ask Vanessaabout that when she comes on. So let's talk about her. Um Vanessa Riley is anaward winning author of historical fiction and historical romance,showcasing the hidden histories of women of color and emphasizing strongsisterhood like ours and dazzling multicultural communities. Vanessaholds a doctorate in mechanical...

...engineering and an M. S. In industrialengineering and engineering management from Stanford University. She alsoearned A B. S. And and M. S. In mechanical engineering from Penn StateUniversity. So she's just your basic, we kind of get some better best. Youguys know. Vanessa is the author of over 20 novels. Her works have beenreviewed by Entertainment, Entertainment Weekly, NPR LibraryJournal and the new york Times. She's received starred reviews frompublishers weekly and book list, her latest releases, Our Island Queen,which we'll be talking about tonight and Earl the girl and a toddler, whichI think is awesome. I know which was historical romance and a Duke the Ladyand a baby, which is also a historical romance. Okay, let's tell Sean, let'sbring the Nasa in. Hey, first of all, you guys are a riotof this one backstage. You guys are a riot. So okay, Vernazza welcome. Youknow, we, we did have a minute to chat with Vanessa in the green room and sowe're so glad she's here and I'm going to put this up because this is one ofthe most gorgeous striking cover. I wondered a lot about, I won't ask thisnow, but I'm really interested in that cover and how many iterations you haveto go through? A surprising, there were two iterations because it's because ofthe Covid miracle. Originally we were going to have a model for Maserati. Um,and then Covid happened and you couldn't get in the studio so we changedirections and uh, William morrow was just so fabulous. They, they've beenlooking at artists or they've been retaining them and Tanya angle out ofmichigan was the artist. They actually bought some of her work. She's thatshe's so good. Yes, she's just amazing. And so I, you know, we had thedescriptions and I sent clothes, you know, because like y'all have seen, I'ma little detail oriented. So we had clothes and jewelry and the hats andjust the emphasis on it and just, you know, there were probably two or threetweaks to get the clothes right to get the everything right. But to me nailsit in the eyes and that hat for these spectacular um, for you all who haven'tseen a, well the way you see this as you go out and buy it, but it iscutting a major side eye on this cover. Would you say that Vanessa? It's sidestated, I would say side I, she's just from just from the ancillarydescriptions of worthy and the reactions to me. She she had a gamesomething going on with the game face. She had that those eyes that justpenetrated the soul because of just the reactions that she had. People. Youknow, we got so much to talk to. Let's just jump into it. Hey, we just sawVanessa that one of our past guests and I think one of our all time favoritehistoric fiction authors. Kay Quinn. Hello Rose Code. Hello Alice Network.Hello Huntress recommended your book as a great summer reading. Now, would youjust give us the elevator pitch for Island Queen? Yes. So um, Island Queenis about a woman Dorothy kerwin thomas who starts her life out enslaved. Andshe's able to save money to not only buy her freedom and the freedom of hermother and her Children, but she goes on to build businesses across the WestIndies. So from Granada to Barbados to the colony of de Moreira, where she'sbuilding luxury hotels and catering to the needs of Westerners, from peoplecoming from Scotland and Ireland and England uh to the colonies, giving themhousekeeping services and and just arts and all these different things. So sheliterally ends up being one of the wealthiest women in the West Indiesthat it alone would have been a great story, but that's just a piece ofDorothy story because of the people that she interfaces with the world inturmoil. You've got all, you know, the american revolutionary war, the frenchrevolutionary war, the Haitian revolutionary war, um the rebellionsthat are all term all this turmoil that's going on in the islands. Um andthen hurt the terminal in her own personal life because she was popular.10 Children's popular. Um one measure of popularity. There you go. There yougo. But she's she's just a fascinating woman. And once again, that would beenough. But then at nearing the, I...

...would say her third act, she is puttinga position where the local planners in D. Moreira, which is present in Guyanaare afraid of the power of these wealthy women of color. So much so thatthey're starting to tax them. And Dorothy is good with math. She knowsthat within a few generations if men are able to use laws to defraud womenthat they will steal her generational wealth. So she does not stop there. Shedoes something literally coming from below the equator all the way up toLondon and forces a meeting and pleads the case and is able to change theworld for the women like her who were in D. Moreira. God. So obviously she's fascinating and I'malways intrigued by research for a real person. I've done it and I wasfascinated to read that your interest in Dorothy was planted or the seat ofit was by a character in san dish in san Ditan. I never say that right. Itold you I don't protect sand it in an unfinished jane Austen novel. So thenyou followed what a 10 year down the rabbit hole research. Can you talk tome about that kind of research and dedication? Did you ever waver? I wantto hear about that deep dive into this woman, definitely. So first of all, youknow, everybody in school, we we do pride and prejudice and then sometimeswe'll get to Emma's, sometimes we'll get to persuasion and sense andsensibility, but we rarely get to the last book and see I was hooked. I wasjane Austen was hooked on jane Austen. So I kept reading it and I get to sanmartin. And the wealthiest woman, I wouldn't trust my pronunciation. Firstof all, Southern trinidadian, we work through this. I would not, it's aproblem. It's a real thing. But the wealthiest woman in san martin is aMlada woman from the West Indies. And I was like, wait a minute this way. Sincenow I'm drawn to this. Um, and as I went into my writing career, it wasalways a question. Um, was jane Austen just being a progressive, contemporaryauthor, you know, of her times because she she's very pro abolition. Or wasshe actually recording people that she saw in her present day walk. And so I'mdoing this research and all of a sudden I come across this, this cartoon circus1788 and you know, I was looking for something totally different. So one tipfor all history research people. When you find something good, you betterKinko it, you better copy it, you better. You will never find it again. You never found it again. No, I know. Ican't go to because I learned I've learned there are some other stories Iwould have told, but I didn't do that. Um so this this cartoon sketch, it's ofby Gilroy and it's of Prince William, Henry, the Future King, William thefourth. And he's in a hammock, lovingly embracing a black woman. Now thiscartoon is by Gilroy. Gilroy is an ist. Any issue can come up, he's misogynist,he's sexist. Any, you just name it, he's honest. Um when he draws womengreat praise, he he just goes to town. He's gonna make us look stupid andhaggard and just any just just horrible. But when he gets an opportunity to drawa black woman, no, he does not hold back. He's gonna give us bulbous lipsand, and make us say things like Massa and all this, all this craziness, right?But in this particular sketch, the woman is drawn beautifully. So she'snot part of the joke. She's part of the tattle. Oh, you can see it. Oh, wow.The author notes. That's so great. That's a great visual. Yes, becausehe's trying to tell the world this is what your prince is doing in the WestIndies. And literally, I followed the rich man because rich man are very welldocumented. Um, and so you find you follow Prince William Henry. He's uh,he's in Jamaica and he and his sailor friends are tearing up brothels inJamaica and then they're partying at all the other islands. And then hefinally gets to dominica. And all of a sudden all of his friends are sayingthe prince is hanging out with that Mlada woman again, look how beautifulshe is, look how they're dancing. Uh, and I find a name finally Dorothykerwin and the prints are dancing at um, a lot of all I had a name and for sixyears I put back all the pieces together of this woman's life and sheis phenomenal. I can't believe she was reduced to like a paragraph in one bookand a chapter in another That gave me...

...chills. That's astounding. Did you everwaver or was your dedication during this 10 years? Kind of an unwaveringdedication to this woman? I always wanted to find her, but you know, I'malways juggling other projects, of course projects and other things. Um,but I honestly never thought I'd be able to tell her story. I alwaysthought I would have to mask her story in someone else's story, I would tellit um as you know, as Prince William's mistress or even go back and do the toDorothy's for Dorothy Bland, who was his mistress in England and DorothyKerwin, uh thomas. Um I'd never really thought I'd be able to tell her story.I didn't think that even though she's phenomenal, there's a, there's reasonswhy the world hit her story. I mean, her will is archived in the UK. So atsome point in time everyone realized how phenomenal this woman was and thenshe's just been hidden and drawn away. So I really, I was, I was astonished. Ieven pitched to uh Rachel Con at William morrow, I pitched in alldifferent ways and says, I don't wanna hear that story, don't wanna hear thatone. I want to hear her story. So, I, I just feel very blessed and privilegedto be able to tell Dorothy Story. Now, were you planning other books while inthe meantime, because you like all of us, you know, our job is right in ourbooks and you can take 10 years, right? No, but you know, you, because I oftenfind when I'm looking for something else, I'll find something. Yeah, sothat's why, you know, I'm always, you're always searching your buildingyour world. I'm I'm trying to become an expert in from 17 52 18 thirties in theWest Indies, as well as all the juncture points. So that would beScotland, Ireland, and England, everything that's going on and you'refacing um so I'm always building this world. So you get a piece here. Themormons actually had some of the birth records. I mean it just like randomband research like oh my gosh, she followed all those trails. You know I Ilove how you resisted though. The temptation to kind of fictionalized heras superhuman. You instead revealed her as this fiery, passionate, intelligent,but still flawed woman. She wasn't perfect. She was she was an incredibleperson who was just herself, you know and we all have flaws, right? But I'mwondering, especially hearing you talk about it to patty a second ago sincethere wasn't as much as one would maybe hope for to go on. How did you nail herinterior life? Like how did you get it? So Right, how did you discover hertruth? How did you put all those pieces of her together? I think um as youbecome immersed in the signposts of her life. So there's documentation uh likeparticularly around the child Katharina, you can see Mr Photons estate is fromthe from the plot. I literally, you know, I went real geek on you. I havethe land plots from those time frames. So I found his estate. And when Inoticed that the way it was registered was as the Katharina. And so you putthese pieces together and you begin to ask your questions of like what wouldmake, what kind of relationship would she have to have with Mr Fountain forher to name this child after this estate. And so you begin to put thepieces together. And then you see little snippets in someone's diarywhere the cells family um that katarina stayed with the cells family and thenthey move on. But as me with my little antennas up I'm like wait a minute. Whywould a mother whose, you can see how she's so dedicated, like for uh, for awoman of color. Uh, to register the birds is a thing. Um, in some of theislands, they would have to bring priests in in order to register theenslaved birth. Um, and then just in general when you're free or a blackwoman or woman of color, she was very particular in making sure every birthwas registered and who she claimed was the father on each one of thesedocuments. Right? Um, so it's just to me, I got this vision of this woman ofthe detail oriented nature of her life and how she would deal with differentthings and, and her influences just by those pieces of paper read crime. Yeah,yeah. You know, it's so interesting to me because I feel like, you knowVanessa, I I write a lot about World War Two and a lot of my protagonistsare women and I feel like there's been so much that's been lost in the tellingeven over the last 80 years, which is much more recent than you're writingabout here about women in World War Two. Right. Are you trying to do you thinkthat one of your missions here, especially now that you've put all thistime into writing this book, is one of your missions to kind of bring theselost stories to the forefront. And do...

...you, sort of, is it your hope thatother people might be inspired to do the same? And give us these loststories of women and particularly women, we don't read about as often kind of asa result of this, I think so, um particularly there's I wouldn't call itanger, or but there's like a disappointment when you see all thethings this woman, this woman went through, all the things she ends updoing. We never read about her in the history books. Um, as a, as a, as a, asa young black girl going to school and all of that you hear is an enslavementstory and the victimization and, and black pain. And you see, you don't seeany, any um, semblance of joy until after 1865. Um, it can do things, Ithink to the psyche, you've got to know that people that look like you survivedand figured out ways to thrive. No one's trying to apologize forenslavement, no one's trying to inflict any guilt. But there is a, is asubstance of, of, of a person. When you were able to say, you know, they, theysurvived the harsh things, they went through, they found love, they did whatwas necessary. I can do that too. I think that that we've robbedgenerations of being able to look at our lives and say you know what, nomatter what happens I can survive this. You know patty and I were just pattyand mary Kay and I were just talking about this how the past has lessons forthe present. You know like you find these stories in the past that lead usto exactly where we're supposed to go in the here and now. Yeah. Um you know Vanessa, I keep thinkingabout your bio. That is quite a biography that as a woman, I have a lotof engineers and my family and I I can't even do math. So I am sointimidated by the fact that you are a mechanical engineer. My son in laws anda mechanical engineer and my husband's a civil engineer. My son, my my nephewis a chemical engineer. I want to know how the heck you go from that crazyright brain left brain writing romance and historical fiction and helping youknow, engineer stuff. How how does that balance that? Right. And I think that'sthe technical term, right? Yes. I just kill your I want to kill your brainapart and go you got all of it going on right and left brain. How did thathappen? You know, just that they take in school where they would tell youwhich quadrant. I was usually a dead center. That's kind of a um but I wasgood at math and writing and my mama always told me you need to pay yourbills. You know uh you know this is lightning like I'm sitting with fournew york times bestsellers. That's lightning striking, right? It's likethat starting for us being here with you, honey, thank you, thank you. Butyou know as a child when you're growing up and you're like this is my career umyou know mama said do math and we listen to mother, I did math extremelywell. Um You know, you know they're die casting units and rapid prototypingsystems and things like that from my time in general motors and working onfluid dynamics equations, We know all about that. We do, yeah, yeah, we dothat to Vanessa. I other other show is called Engineers and Fiction. There wego. But nobody boxes it. But it's there. That's a shame. That's a shame. But youknow, being good at engineering, you're always asking these questions andparticularly how and why. So I take that directly into my research. Likeyou know my card catalog. My love of card catalogs comes from sleeping inlibraries to to graduate at stanford, which they tore termine library down.I'm very disappointed on that. Um, but you're always asking how and why and sofor me when when I write, I I want you to be immersed in the world. So I needto know how this world works. Everything from fabric to, you know,how are they making money? Uh, you know, why would they do certain things? Andand particularly with Dorothy's putting story two stories, why would she moveto these various islands? What is making her move? What what's happeningin the geopolitical scales of these,...

...the island politics? You know, so manyof them are shifting from being dutch to french to english and back and forthand all that sort of thing, what's going on that's making her do thesevarious things. Um, and so to me I create that, that dogma of just digging,digging, digging directly from engineering because you won't graduate,Did you do like, I want to, this is a serious question. Did you do, like, umbecause we're all interested in the processes of writing, um do you do likestory boarding or I'm just fascinated because Dorothy got around, right, she,you know, she starts out in Montserrat and then she goes to the river, Yeah,the Moreira, uh you know what, that was the first time I thought, oh, demerarasugar comes from bing, bing, bing, bing, and then in theroom, right, and then she goes to Domenica, So did you, how technically,is there a secret to that? Um The first thing is I get the timeline and I getthe timeline as as exact as possible. I've started using a tool called a ontimeline, which is abso frankly amazing on timeline, because I can pull all myworlds in because, you know, at the same time as I'm overlaying her life,I'm overlaying what's going on in, in England, what's going on in Scotland?You get this, you get, and then I oftentimes overlay the weather events,because particularly the West Indies, you've got the hurricanes, you haveearthquakes upon occasion, you get a volcano right? You've got to know allthese what's going on because that can affect that could be one of the reasonswhy, because I don't know why why would you be moving? And often it came to uh,the political, the politics of the colony, that was what was happening,but I didn't know that. So to me this, this timeline is extremely detailed andthen I have maps, because you've got to say, you know, um, one book I wasreading and they got the, I don't want to say they got the math wrong, butthey kind of got the math wrong because they make it sound like D Moreira andmoderate are very close like you could do a day trip, there is no freaking wayyou can do a day trip, you've got a couple of the equator and come back. Ohwow, There there's no ways, especially by boat and you know, during that timethey didn't have little power boats, Right, wow. So I, you know, I I readpart of the book, physical book and then listened to this, gosh, thisamazing audio book. But I was so struck by the scene when she gets to Domenicaand she's standing at the wharf and the sales, the boats coming in with herfather with tom and her mom and her daughter. And you made that come tolife so vividly, I have to say so kudos to you for that. Well, speaking of thatglorious audio book, um your narrator, Adua Ando, who has had an amazingtelevision career, including her most recent role is Lady done more inBritain, which I don't know about you guys. But like that show kind of got methrough the pandemic. I actually was thinking I was like, I really need towatch that again because it was just so good. Um but we believe that you havesome big news in that regard. Can you share it with us? Yes. So when theannouncement was made that I was writing this book, we got a number ofproduction houses were very interested, but there was no book, no pressure, nopressure. Uh, so the book was finished in august of last year. And so, uh my,my agent, Sarah, she um sent it out and we got a very strong interest back fromLongboat Productions. They're out of the UK. They've done a few things likevictoria and I love New Black and yeah, yeah and um you know, so there are allthese negotiations have been going on and when Adua um did the reading, sheshe fell in love with the book. Um and so it's kind of like everythingaligning at the right space. So uh she's coming on as executive producer.Longboat has bought the option. Longboat host victoria fee whose formerof I. T. V. And former executive at ITV once again doing projects like victoria.Um and then Julianne Robinson who is executive director on our uh Emmynominated director for Britain. And so...

...many other beautiful pieces that youput together, they have all been looking for something that kind of tieseverything together. We, you see a and es productions of like, pride andprejudice, which is really located in uh England, London. This is tying inall the West Indies with England and London uh with London and all thesedifferent things. So it's, it's it's what they were looking for. It's astory that's going to that's already diverse from the beginning. Um and it'sjust, it's just to me, I think it's a, it's a great tale of perseverance andovercoming and it's just, it's gonna be exciting to see. Yeah, we're gonna stopfor a minute so we can show a video, a little bit of video of the, of theaudio cover and you can hear this glorious, glorious voice who narratesIsland Queen? Never knew a moment. Made betterstanding, still. Never knew an hour made perfect bysilence. It's been a long time since I'd hadpeace. Oh, wow. Yeah. That doesn't blow youaway. Nothing. Well, I just want to ask you when you were writing this storyand then you heard this audio where you like, yes, this is what I heard in myhead. Or I always think that's like an odd experience to have when you've beenhearing the voice of this character and then someone brings this character tolife. It's another worldly experience. It's kind of like, better than what wasin my head. Because my head is kind of like, you know, she's wonderful, herpronunciation, she nailed Gaelic, she nailed everything. She's Gaelic. She'sswitching from all of these various uh, dialects and she's amazing. Um you know,the Scottish, the irish, just, it's just wonderful. Yeah. Yeah. Island patois is so, so right on, so rich, so very rich.Yeah. I wanted to ask you Vanessa. It seems like you were writing periodromance stories featuring characters of color. Long before it dawned on majorpublishers that love comes in many hues. Was that a hard sell for you? Startingout? Yes, it was um it was um The world of historical romance when I started in2013 was used to characters of colour is being the best friend um being themaid servant. Um you know, you know, it's just, you know, until you switched.Well, this is once again focusing on the UK If you're focusing on Londonromances because everybody skips up to 1865. Uh and then you get Beverly,Jenkins and Alyssa cole and piper hugely. And they're telling these thesewonderful romances uh in the United States from Reconstruction on right.But you were you started writing regency, is that right? Yes, I'm onlywritten regency. So, you know, there may have been one time I did avictorian and I'm sorry about pledge, but for most part it was, it's alwaysbeen regency. I just love that. I love the time period Georgian regency thatjust totally love it. And to me there has been such a disservice because it'sa lot more progressive than what we've seen even to something as looking atPrince Prince George, right? He becomes king George the third. Um he elevatedpeople of color into his inner circle. He hung out with like boxers and, anduh you know, uh the uh musician Bridge Tower, he saw that he was gifted. Hesaw he was in an abusive relationship with his father. He actually banisheshis father from the country, uh sends money for his mother, so she would havean income. And it made sure that he went to uh all the, get the bestviolinist training. This bridge tower is like on arrival of Mozart uh leveland this is what prince George and typically when you you see anythingwritten a prince George, particularly in regency romance, he's made look likea buffoon uh things like that. Very much a caricature of who he really is.So there's like so many different aspects of the true history that hasn'teven been touched in regency. And so that's been my thing. I'm going tobring you as much. You come for the romance. You may leave it a little bitmore. I love that. So Well said. Yeah. So this is where we take somequestions from our audience and we have...

...one from Barbara Walters chick whoasked what made you decide this particular person, which you addresseda little bit in san dish in. But did it have anything to do with where she wasfrom in the West Indies? Did that kind of pique your interest or was it moreabout who she was in that book and that she wasn't being given her? Do? It wasit was more who she was. Um, I found her in the West Indies, but she didn'tstay in the West Indies. She actually did a lot of traveling to Scotland andLondon. Um this is all part of her sphere. I mean, there's a, there's inthe book, I mentioned her travel in 1810 where she takes 18 grandkids withher because she wants them to see the world that she has opened up by gainingall of this influence. Incredible. Um, I was happy that she was in the WestIndies because, you know, often as americans, we think of everything isjust being islands and palm trees and every one of these colonies, every oneof these islands is different and distinct based on who founded it. Thefrench colonies of Haiti are of santo Domingo very different than what you'regoing to find in Granada or you find in de Moreira or or Barbados and all thesedifferent things. So when you go to these islands are one of my intentions,When I take you to one of these islands in my, you're going to feel like you'rethere and you're going to know that this character of island and and andculture, this is this is authentic to that particular time period. Did youget to visit it? Did you get to visit the West Indies or had you been therebefore or felt a tie to it at all? My grand trip? Well now this is no longera covid blessing. This was the covid destruction. Yeah, yeah. That took awaythe grand trip because I wanted to kind of retrace her steps. I wanted toretrace your, I will, I will because it's something, it's a bucket list todo. You're gonna have to do it in on a selling slope. You wearing a hat? Yes.Uh, hold onto the flying out back now is the, is the, is the, is the feathera herons plum. Did I have that? Right? It's, it's a plume a feather. Um, Idon't, I don't recall. It might, it might have been some, some of thembecause some of the best hats, particularly the ones from the one shewas getting from London. They really decked those out with the feathers andthe bows and everything like that. I love that. Well, I know a lot ofaudience members want to know this, but this is really just a selfish questionfor me because I want to know. Um you've done all these kind of things.You really amazing novels. Do you know what's next for you? Do you haveAbsolutely. Okay. What I'm gonna put you on the spot, like, you just hadthis massive, glorious novel come out, What's next? It's like when you're inthe hospital with the baby and what are you having your next one? We'll see thebabies come out and she has complications. And we're working onrevisions right now. Yes. So next summer you guys should be seeingMother's Sister Warrior. The two women who helped. Yes, the two women. And by the way, ifit's a title like Island Queen and Mother Sister Warrior, I didn't come upwith, it's corny, I did it, My Little Secret. I've got good, I've got a goodeditors and a great agent and they know better, you know much better. ButMother's sister warrior is about the two women victoria Montu, also known asa bed or Pretoria and mary claire Bonaire, the two women who shaped theHaitian revolution. Oh my goodness! Oh wait, alright, so we have a questionfrom Sharon Carlson person. She says everyone is going to know about thisbook if they don't already, how does that make you feel? I love thatquestion. It's going to be such a big, it is so big and it's going to be evenbigger. How does that make you feel? I am? I'm I feel blessed, you know,because like I told you, I didn't think that the world was ready to just hearher story. I always thought I had to couch it and for me to one get theopportunity to write the story and to see the reception that the story ishaving that people our understanding Dorothy. Um and and really feeling bothher struggles, her triumphs, realizing she wasn't a superwoman, as Kristen hadsaid earlier, she was just someone who when the moment came, she rose to thatmoment and have her story out there. It is an amazing feeling. It's basically,you know, that reminds me we were all...

...talking about our grandmother names andhow we are privileged to choose our name. But I wanted to ask you a littlebit about Dorothy and how chic because when the book starts, pa her irishplant, her father has called her doll, my little dolly and then Dorothy assoon as she can rises up and would you talk a little bit about claiming a nameand how important that is to a character who starts out as an enslavedwoman? Yes. And, and because you know, in the south here in America, when anenslaved person had the opportunity to name their child, you'll often seethings like precious jewel or king or because they wanted when the masses ofthe plantation called that name to have that moment of respect because theyknow that the life that they, the enslaved person has has so littlerespect. So one of the things that I kind of came, you know, came to is Iwas because there were so many changes in her name. Uh, I wanted to theme thatand so you know, dolly is, is precious to me that shows the love even thoughit's a complicated, crazy relationship of her father who has the means to freeher but never freeze her. Um, he's, there's still love there. He, I believethat the reason she was so good at business was because he showed herthings, he was proud of her um and he called her dolly because of that. Sothere's there's that, that part of it um and then she moves, you know, her,her she's she's becoming a woman, she's doll, right, She's dull. And thenfinally you get to Dorothy and mrs thomas, right? The levels of respectthat she wants to claim. Um it's, to me just that's just a theme to the story,what someone called you is extremely important as well as what you answer to.I love that. And I said earlier, it's uh it went done in love. It makes allthe difference when, when a name is called or chosen out of love versusdisrespect. So I love how you have all those names for her and why she choosesto be called them. That's well in that relationship with her father to I mean,you captured that so well because it's so complex, but I think the way thatyou wrote it, we understood it, like we understood the complexity of it. Butjust to see that little girl with that fire of I'm not going to wait forsomeone to do this for me, I'm gonna do this for myself. That was amazing.She's an incredible woman. She was an incredible little girl. Forget woman,she was amazing at five to me. I think you have to have that fire because ofhow she she was never satisfied. She just kept pushing, pushing. She has herfirst child at 1 15, Unfortunately, 12. Well, God yeah, just miscalculated that12 and 14 and the ugliest, well, one of the uglier sides, as many ugly sides ofenslavement, but that is the incest. Yes, the incest, wow. So back towriting tips, a couple of people who have put in questions how you spell thename of that timeline. It's E O N so A on. There you go. Okay, so aside fromthat genius writing tip that we're probably all going to get off and lookit up, especially those of us writing historical fiction is a little earlier.I'm going to say I have timelines around my office that look like abeautiful mind and eye on. So I have stickies and now I'm thinking you justsaved my life. But you know, we always have the engineer on the show,especially if you continue to put books in the same world. Yeah. Why reinventthe world? Good. Amazing. It's amazing. I bet it's going to be better than mystickies. So I mean, it's just guessing, I'm thinking it's going to be adomestic. So could you share a writing tip other than I am that has really then meaningful for this novel morethan any other. I actually ordered some of the authentic fabrics because Iwanted to touch the fabric. So, like I got a piece of Oz, Newburgh Osterbergwas the enslaved cloth. So it's very coarse muslim, very, very first muslim.Um and even the version I have is probably not as bad as what it wasbecause it was, it was very scratchy...

...and itchy and they would have to beatit on the rocks. But just I wanted to feel, you know, the textile. So anytime you can get just a sample of the fabrics, because like, I have samplesof silks and satins and you you flip it and you watch how the, how light justchanges the movement because, you know, it's those types of things. So yeah,I'm a very tactile. Try and get representation of the things you'redescribing and writing. I love beautiful. So we are reading and lovingyour bug. So can you tell us what you are reading and loving these days? Yes.What I'm reading today's days. Yeah. Book called A Woman in my uh yeah a lotabout that one. She's always amazing and recently got this one but I haven'tgotten that far into it. Uh Sonny Houston. That is the best cover. I lovethat cover so much. It's just like really? Yeah, it's a good color. Yeah.Does anybody else have a book they want to recommend? Yes. Mhm. I'm finishingthe exiles right now for next week. And gosh it is just like your book Vanessa.There is so much deep history of this lost story of how they would take womenfrom London out of prison and send them to Australia to convict him. I know.What's your name? What's the name? What exiles crime? Same woman who wrote theorphan train. She has a great job with historic fiction. Yeah, Okay, everybody,we have so many more questions we wanna ask Vanessa, but we're running out oftime. But so don't go anywhere and you can leave questions on the facebookpage and hopefully Vanessa will go in and answer some questions. Uh we have acouple of things we want to tell you about. Uh we have a question. So uh wehave one more question for, you know, don't do not leave. So everyone, I'malways here to remind you about our podcast because I am so proud of themand it's just been such a great journey we've brought Ron Block on and thensuper clever with Writer's Block podcast. So not only do you get theWednesday night shows in the podcast, but then the Writer's Block podcastwhere we join Ron to interview all kinds of authors and publishers andpeople in the industry. Last week Ron interviewed M. J. Rose and paulinehubert and this coming friday, we celebrate cooking where Ron talk toVivian Howard about her. Were you there to Christine Ron and Christie talk toVivian Howard about her new cookbook? This, I love this. This will make ittaste better. Rodney scott also. Right. No, he wasn't. No. Okay, never mind.All right. So of course if you are not hanging out with us and the friends andfiction official book club yet you are missing out. So the group which isseparate from us and is run by our friends, Lisa Harrison and BrendaGartner is now more than 7000 members strong. This Friday. I know, isn't itthis Friday they're going to be celebrating their one year anniversary.I don't understand, I don't understand where the time is going, it is foldedin half time. Like it. Yes, but one year, one year this week, so they'regoing to be hosting a live online party on friday at seven p.m. Eastern and ofcourse you are all invited. And then on august 16th I'll be joining the BookClub to discuss the forest Vanishing stars, my brand new novel and we willhave plenty more fun events in store, coordinated by the wonderful lisa andBrenda. So join now if you haven't, we will see you on friday and happy oneyear anniversary to the Book Club. Happy anniversary. Book and do notforget on sunday we have the joy of talking to Susan Boyer of the LowCountry Book Club on our sunday bonus here at five p.m. The next week join usas patty host, Christina baker klein, as we earlier mentioned, whose new yorktimes, bestselling the exiles was just released in paperback week after week.Week after next, Kristen will host Lauren Willig, whose new book is Bandof Sisters and you know that we got so many great authors coming up, so checkthe sidebar on our facebook page on our website to see who else is coming upand speaking of great teaming up, you know that mary Kay patty and I all havewinter books coming out in september and october well if you didn't, you donow is a bad by popular demand. We have signed first, we have a signed firstedition winter Wonderland subscription...

...box, you can order now, they'reNantucket booksellers or look for the link on our website to get not onlyautograph first editions of upcoming new holiday novels by us, but also a Q.R. K. For exclusive access to private recorded presentation with us. Talkingabout the back story of these novels and exclusive friends of fiction,coffee mug that you won't find anywhere else. And a package of FN F branded hotchocolate have much more that I love it. I'm so wishing I had writtena winter book. I feel so left out every time you guys see what have you beendoing? I am. I know nothing, obviously nothing exactly. All right back toVanessa Vanessa. We are fascinated with how an engineer becomes a novelist andwe wonder, yeah, kind of where this all started. What were the values aroundreading and writing in your childhood? And do you think that they influencethe writer you became? Oh absolutely. My mother, she stressed the classicsand we were talking about, you know, Wadsworth and Shakespeare and uh youknow, she made sure we had a book that was always a thing. You have a book inyour hand or you better be doing a chore, have a book in your head or youbetter be doing that word. So I I really thank her for that. My fatherwas where I get the love of history because he would weave these tales ofof Trinidad um of his childhood that were just so magical and just felt so Iwanted to know more, I just wanted to know more. Um so yeah, you you have toget your kids your grandkids into reading because that opens up the mind,You can escape so many different things um and just be so creative, but youhave to pour into yourself. You have to pour into these kids and and that'swhat good books do. Yeah, you're absolutely right. And then we cannotthank you enough for joining us tonight. Great, yeah, thank you. This is amazing.This is we love visiting with you and talking about Island Queen and we wantto remind everybody they can order the Island Queen from tonight's bookstorepartner Foxtail Book Shop. And the link is on our page and I think we're gonnaall be waiting anxiously for that next book. That's in rewrites and theadaptation of Island Queen Vanessa. So, great to meet you tonight. You'reamazing. Thank you for coming. This was so much fun. Thank you ladies, Goodnight, Good night, wow, just wow! Okay, y'all, We'll see you in a minute at thestory point after show where we will wolf break that down. That wasincredible and powerful. And come back on sunday for our bonus episode withSusan's Boyer at 45 p. M. four p.m. My time Central 10 p.m. Eastern time andnext week, same time. Same place right here with us as we welcome Laura Willigand don't forget to go check out our new winter subscription and we'll betelling you more about it as the weeks go by. Good night y'all. Welcome to our story. Points, sip andstay after show. The wine loves stories as much as we do. You know with thewoman winemaker who talks about things like what's wine without a story? Imean, I say what's a story without one? But you you don't fix their logo forthem. But you make that maybe I am leaning into the kiki side of me alwaysbe editing. But listen here on Friends of Fiction, we say what is anythingwithout a story. And since we've been together for various events over thesummer, we can tell you that our stories are richer and funnier. Once weuncork that story points really, we think, I think they're funnier, yep,this is the summer of story point. And if you haven't seen our uncorking theweekend, go check it out on instagram, I know we have one coming up, so, wow,y'all that was incredible. That was yeah, she was great. She is quite aguest and that is quite a book. And to think about, you know, that really isjust it's so inspiring to think about, you know, that you can continue on yourpath and be writing your stories while getting these little snippets aboutsomething new that you want to write, Finding that these breadcrumbs that shejust followed until she had all the pieces and 10 years of not giving up ona story, she followed it as long as it took, like she didn't just say like,okay, I have enough, I'm going to put...

...it on paper now and so much of herstory. Um there's disagreement. And by the way, if you all, I hope you allwill get island queen. She has great uh author notes in the back and she talksabout there's disagreement about whether or not Dorothy kerwin thomaswas or wasn't illiterate, but there were no diaries. And so Dorothy doeshas no diaries. And um so we don't know if she could read and write, um, well,not really wrong. I don't keep any diaries and I promise I'm notilliterate. I um we have some things in your voice though, kristen that's thething about, you know, um this this this, you know, these enslaved womenand who later bought they had to buy their own freedom, their their stories.That's a great thing about, you know, writers once they and we all know thisonce you get hooked into a story and a story or a story hooks you, whicheither which whichever is gonna say. Yeah, so kudos to her for pursuing thatbecause that was quite a radical. She had to go down well, you know, wetouched on this briefly, but I think there's so much to be said for findinghistorical stories that are so relevant in the present. And this is one that'srelevant. I mean, it's one that still has things to teach us, even thoughit's hundreds of years old. You know, um, I think it's an author when youcome across those stories. Yeah, it's a privilege but to tell them is an honorand just a great responsibility. And she did it so well, I mean, kristenyou've been on tour a week. Are you hanging in there? You know, I think Ijust put in our internal chat. I have eight minutes left in the tank. I'mjust fading. But you got to hear how much from people on tour you you wereable I mean, we witnessed it, people coming up to you and saying thatbecause you brought back the past, it touched them and that they had tears intheir eyes. You've heard some incredible things, haven't you? Youknow, I think we all have that's that's been the pleasure of getting out on theroad, that the joy of getting out of the road. Um, and I think I hadforgotten that, you know, because we've had such meaningful interactions onlinein these first events. Because, you know, so many wonderful things. We'vehad so many supportive members on friends and fiction who say things tous, you know, virtually, or, you know, type them to us. But there's somethingabout being face to face with someone who tells you that friends and fictionhas touched them, or that they have a family member who experienced somethingsimilar to what you've written about, or, you know, or that one of your booksgot them through a difficult period of time. But again, I think we've allexperienced that um and it's beautiful and meaningful to all of us, and we'reso we're so grateful to all of you out there. Whether you share your story inperson, whether you share your story by email, whether you share your story inthe comments and Friends and fiction. I mean, it reminds us why we do this, andit reminds us that that that's what's important. You know, you know, I waswith Kristen at her signing at Foxtail Books and then again, um in on Tybee and then um on PalmettoBluff. And I just I was struck by how many different holocaust stories do youthink you heard over the course of this tour Kristen? I don't even know that Icould count them. I mean, there are so many is so many people have have afamily connection. And the thing a lot of people have in common I think isthat they feel like they didn't ask enough while the person was still inthat I had such a good reminder. Such a good it is. But you know, a lot ofthese and I've experienced that in my own life to you don't think to ask thequestions until the person is gone. or you don't even know, you don't evenknow what the person went through until they're gone and people are talkingabout them in retrospect. And so you don't even know that there arequestions to ask. Uh, which is just yet. I mean yet another reason why I thinkit's so important to keep telling these stories, you know? So we've all gotsome summers more than half over. You guys. Who is this when I go intomourning? Who's got some vacation time planned? Well, I don't know what youwould call this vacation necessarily because I'm doing three book eventswhile I'm there. But I'm going to Highlands and cashiers august 67 andeight and listen to how fun this is. My editor. Yes, we'll be there at the sametime. I wish we were doing events together. But this is so bizarre to so my editor,my agent um is in new york. But her...

...child goes to camp like right aroundthat area and she texted me and was like I know this is so far away fromyou but I just want to tell you and we're gonna be there at the same timeso that's so cool. So I'll get to see her too. I know. I know. I actuallythink I'm gonna stay an extra night to like hang out with her some. But yeah Ilike that. So my chopped liver like I I'm kidding we have plans to see eachother. I am going to hang out obviously for real hang up without work. The isthat possible? Hang out without? No well we tried it it didn't go out. Um Iam leaving tomorrow to go visit my son who has been doing an internship inWashington D. C. And I have to say, I think this is the longest I've evergone without seeing him. He's 23 it's been almost two months. So I am tappingout for a couple of days and going to hang out with my boy in Washington D. C.O. And Kristin. I have been meaning to tell you, I got a rare ticket to theholocaust museum. Oh you know that? Have you been before? No I am. I knowit's not going to be a field but I have been profoundly especially afterreading your books wanting to go to the museum. So I am going on saturday. WellI think it's one of those experiences that if you really invest a little bitof time and it shifts you at your core forever. I know, I know. I think Ican't wait to hear what you think. we have to talk about it. We'll talk aboutit next week. I'll tell you about it next week. I am going, my husband and Iare taking the first vacation we've had in like three years. We're going toCape Cod and then to Nantucket. Yeah, so we will see our new friend tim andon Nantucket I've never been in and tuck it. Even though I wrote a storyset there, you can write another fairy tale. Yeah, we're gonna be Cape Cod,we're going flying into boston and we're gonna go to a red sox game. Sofun. Yeah. So um, it's, we've got kind of an adventure planned. It's notFrance, which is what we had hoped for, but I don't know that sounds prettyspecial. It's one of my favorite places in the world christian and I discoveredthis week that we both spent our summers on the Cape Cut. I don't knowhow I never a town apart from each other. It's so funny. Oh my God, adecade and a time town apart. But yeah, I mean, what are the odds? I mean justlike my husband went to your high school, like that's so weird. Herhusband and I went to the same high school. I know we're all connecteduniversity vacation. Yeah. No, not really. Um, Noah starts school in aboutthree weeks. Um and yes, we're gonna kind of buckle down for that. But, andI've got so many, you know, just because the forest finishing stars justcame out. I was looking at my calendar today thinking like, okay, my tour'sover. Like I can take a deep breath. I have like three virtual events tomorrownight. I mean it just doesn't let up for a while, but we are going to takeone night, not this weekend, but next weekend at Animal Kingdom Lodge, whichis our, our favorite hotel. So I gotta stand, you will get a savannah viewroom. We'll get to look out at the giraffes and zebras and um spend sometime at the pool and maybe see the under the stars movie and it'll just betwo days, but it'll be a nice little break. Yeah, well you've been a trooper.You're amazing And I love you guys. Okay. Time to go eat dinner, starving.Hi everybody. Hi, hey, thank you for tuning in, Join us everyweek on Facebook or YouTube where our live show airs every Wednesday night atseven p.m. eastern time and please subscribe to our podcast and follow uson instagram. We're so glad you're here, wow.

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