Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 11 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. Five best selling authors and the stories. Novelists, 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 In 2020 they created friends and fiction to provide author interviews and fascinating insider. Talk about publishing and writing and to highlight independent bookstores. These 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. Hi everyone. It's Wednesday night seven p.m. And that means it's time for Friends and fiction. We are so glad you're joining us tonight. I'm mary Kay Andrews, I'm Christine Harmel, I'm Christie Woodson harvey, I am paddy Callaghan Henry and just in case you're one of the new kids on the block. We are, it's Bonnie Wilbur coming today. No, sorry, sorry, false alarm. No kidding, sorry. We are friends, conviction, new york times, bestselling authors, endless stories to support India's bookstores tonight. We're so excited to welcome Vanessa Riley, whose new historical fiction novel, Island Queen has created a stir in the publishing world. We hope you will be as fascinated with her story as we are Island Queen. Uh and the research Vanessa did for this book based on the previously little known Dorothy doll kerwin Thomas who was born to an Irish planter and an enslaved woman in 1756 on the island of montserrat Endure these 90 years. She endured bondage assault abuse, eventually secured her own freedom against unbelievable odds, accumulated wealth and considerable influence and became the family matriarch of a prosperous caribbean clan. And so we're going to talk to Vanessa about all of that and she's got some exciting news that we want to share with you all tonight. Yeah. And as you all know, we always have a featured independent bookseller of the week. This week it is Foxtail book shop in historic downtown Woodstock Georgia, a top bookstore destination in the southeast for hundreds of best selling authors including mary Kay and I who didn't event there just last week still. Yeah, Foxtail boasts an eclectic mix of new books, including signed first editions, hardcovers and paperbacks in all genres. So you can visit the specially curated Friends and fiction page on the Foxtail website to shop for Island Queen by Vanessa Riley, the Low Country series by our sunday bonus guest Susan Boyer. And yes, we have a sunday bonus this week. We're so excited. And of course you also know Susan Boyle from the Low Country Book Club and you can also get our new and recent titles from those of us who are the fab five Friends in Fiction. We are so excited about that special sunday bonus episode that kristen mentioned, join us as we welcome agatha award winning and USa today bestselling author Susan Mboya, she's the author of the Liz Talbott, Low country mystery theories. Now. 10 titles strong, which includes her latest Low country boughs of holly. Susan is also the founder of the wildly popular Low Country Book Club facebook Group, which boasts more than 12,000 members. So mark your calendars for sunday, july 25th at five PM and tune in for our chat with season and we hope that so many of you because there were so many people there last night. It was so much fun. We're watching last night when the five of us appeared virtually at the Nantucket book fastball where ringmaster, what he probably felt like the Nantucket Book towards Marketing pro and Book Festival Board member Tim Ehrenberg moderated our panel. We even wrote a short story, each one of us called Fairy tales, but r ry about meeting Nantucket in different ways. If you did miss it, you'll find it on our friends and Fiction facebook page and our Youtube channel as well as the Nantucket Book Festival website and their 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, you know, and the Nantucket Book Festival...

...is such a great organization. And if you did watch it or if you do watch it and you feel like donating a few dollars to the Nantucket Book Festival, that will keep them going forward, keep them putting on these great literary events. Um, and hey, maybe they'll invite us in person. You never know. That would be really cool. I, so this week's parade? S a, as you know, we always um, you know, write a parade essay every week. One of us, we take turns. This week is by paddy Callaghan who writes about the one time as an adult that you get to choose what you're called. So here's my hint. If you're a grandparent, pay attention. I, when my daughter was discovered she was pregnant about three years ago, one of the very first questions people were asking me was what will you be called? And it hit me that it might be the first time in my life that I get to choose what someone calls me now. That doesn't mean they won't change it. I know I understand what happens with toddlers, 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 for example, 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, I love when you, yeah, sparty patty. Always party back once and forever party peach patty. But it made me think about how naming is an act of love and whether it's to someone we care about or as a grandma. So what my neck grandma name ended up being a mama, which is the Gaelic name for grandma and Megan and I, my daughter decided together and it just is so powerful and means so much to me. So I want to know either what you want to be called, what you are called or what you call your grandparents and why I want to hear from y'all. Well, I decided to do a preemptive strike because I did not want to be mama or um, any of those names. So I'm kiki. I love it. Yeah, I couldn't be PP sorry, I wanted you to be. Each eye can be kiki. Yeah. You know what the problem is with kiki though, at least for me, that was the name, That was the name. Everybody called me when I get drunk, like, like 15 years ago, you're drunk all the time with my drunk alter ego. Like I would get to, this was like back in my mid twenties, but I would have a couple too many drinks in downtown Orlando and people would say kiki's coming up to play. So that doesn't seem like what I want my grandchildren to address me. Your grandparents, what did you call your grandparents grandma and grandpa from Weymouth and grandma and grandpa from texas. So we just distinguish them by their police. Um, and my mom is grandma to know it. And I think I would like to be grandma one day too. I like, uh, I am, oh, so sweet because I'm really going to have to up my current drinking game if I'm gonna reclaim kiki. And that seems like a bad idea. It's not a good 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 my grandmother 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, me and 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 for parade awhile ago, which is kind of funny. But yeah, so I called her grandmother like my whole life, but I don't know what I want to be called. I thought about this all day and I could not come up with anything good. So She was like six months old before I came up with it. So I can't think that like I 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 um something that comes up in Island Queen. And I hope maybe we'll ask Vanessa about that when she comes on. So let's talk about her. Um Vanessa Riley is an award winning author of historical fiction and historical romance, showcasing the hidden histories of women of color and emphasizing strong sisterhood like ours and dazzling multicultural communities. Vanessa holds a doctorate in mechanical...

...engineering and an M. S. In industrial engineering and engineering management from Stanford University. She also earned A B. S. And and M. S. In mechanical engineering from Penn State University. So she's just your basic, we kind of get some better best. You guys know. Vanessa is the author of over 20 novels. Her works have been reviewed by Entertainment, Entertainment Weekly, NPR Library Journal and the new york Times. She's received starred reviews from publishers weekly and book list, her latest releases, Our Island Queen, which we'll be talking about tonight and Earl the girl and a toddler, which I think is awesome. I know which was historical romance and a Duke the Lady and a baby, which is also a historical romance. Okay, let's tell Sean, let's bring the Nasa in. Hey, first of all, you guys are a riot of this one backstage. You guys are a riot. So okay, Vernazza welcome. You know, we, we did have a minute to chat with Vanessa in the green room and so we're so glad she's here and I'm going to put this up because this is one of the most gorgeous striking cover. I wondered a lot about, I won't ask this now, but I'm really interested in that cover and how many iterations you have to go through? A surprising, there were two iterations because it's because of the 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 change directions and uh, William morrow was just so fabulous. They, they've been looking at artists or they've been retaining them and Tanya angle out of michigan was the artist. They actually bought some of her work. She's that she's so good. Yes, she's just amazing. And so I, you know, we had the descriptions and I sent clothes, you know, because like y'all have seen, I'm a little detail oriented. So we had clothes and jewelry and the hats and just the emphasis on it and just, you know, there were probably two or three tweaks to get the clothes right to get the everything right. But to me nails it in the eyes and that hat for these spectacular um, for you all who haven't seen a, well the way you see this as you go out and buy it, but it is cutting a major side eye on this cover. Would you say that Vanessa? It's side stated, I would say side I, she's just from just from the ancillary descriptions of worthy and the reactions to me. She she had a game something going on with the game face. She had that those eyes that just penetrated the soul because of just the reactions that she had. People. You know, we got so much to talk to. Let's just jump into it. Hey, we just saw Vanessa that one of our past guests and I think one of our all time favorite historic fiction authors. Kay Quinn. Hello Rose Code. Hello Alice Network. Hello Huntress recommended your book as a great summer reading. Now, would you just give us the elevator pitch for Island Queen? Yes. So um, Island Queen is about a woman Dorothy kerwin thomas who starts her life out enslaved. And she's able to save money to not only buy her freedom and the freedom of her mother and her Children, but she goes on to build businesses across the West Indies. So from Granada to Barbados to the colony of de Moreira, where she's building luxury hotels and catering to the needs of Westerners, from people coming from Scotland and Ireland and England uh to the colonies, giving them housekeeping services and and just arts and all these different things. So she literally ends up being one of the wealthiest women in the West Indies that it alone would have been a great story, but that's just a piece of Dorothy story because of the people that she interfaces with the world in turmoil. You've got all, you know, the american revolutionary war, the french revolutionary war, the Haitian revolutionary war, um the rebellions that are all term all this turmoil that's going on in the islands. Um and then 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 you go. But she's she's just a fascinating woman. And once again, that would be enough. But then at nearing the, I...

...would say her third act, she is putting a position where the local planners in D. Moreira, which is present in Guyana are afraid of the power of these wealthy women of color. So much so that they're starting to tax them. And Dorothy is good with math. She knows that within a few generations if men are able to use laws to defraud women that they will steal her generational wealth. So she does not stop there. She does something literally coming from below the equator all the way up to London and forces a meeting and pleads the case and is able to change the world for the women like her who were in D. Moreira. God. So obviously she's fascinating and I'm always intrigued by research for a real person. I've done it and I was fascinated to read that your interest in Dorothy was planted or the seat of it was by a character in san dish in san Ditan. I never say that right. I told you I don't protect sand it in an unfinished jane Austen novel. So then you followed what a 10 year down the rabbit hole research. Can you talk to me about that kind of research and dedication? Did you ever waver? I want to hear about that deep dive into this woman, definitely. So first of all, you know, everybody in school, we we do pride and prejudice and then sometimes we'll get to Emma's, sometimes we'll get to persuasion and sense and sensibility, but we rarely get to the last book and see I was hooked. I was jane Austen was hooked on jane Austen. So I kept reading it and I get to san martin. And the wealthiest woman, I wouldn't trust my pronunciation. First of all, Southern trinidadian, we work through this. I would not, it's a problem. It's a real thing. But the wealthiest woman in san martin is a Mlada woman from the West Indies. And I was like, wait a minute this way. Since now I'm drawn to this. Um, and as I went into my writing career, it was always a question. Um, was jane Austen just being a progressive, contemporary author, you know, of her times because she she's very pro abolition. Or was she actually recording people that she saw in her present day walk. And so I'm doing this research and all of a sudden I come across this, this cartoon circus 1788 and you know, I was looking for something totally different. So one tip for all history research people. When you find something good, you better Kinko it, you better copy it, you better. You will never find it again. You never found it again. No, I know. I can't go to because I learned I've learned there are some other stories I would have told, but I didn't do that. Um so this this cartoon sketch, it's of by Gilroy and it's of Prince William, Henry, the Future King, William the fourth. And he's in a hammock, lovingly embracing a black woman. Now this cartoon 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 women great praise, he he just goes to town. He's gonna make us look stupid and haggard and just any just just horrible. But when he gets an opportunity to draw a black woman, no, he does not hold back. He's gonna give us bulbous lips and, 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's not 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, because he's trying to tell the world this is what your prince is doing in the West Indies. And literally, I followed the rich man because rich man are very well documented. 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 in Jamaica and then they're partying at all the other islands. And then he finally gets to dominica. And all of a sudden all of his friends are saying the prince is hanging out with that Mlada woman again, look how beautiful she is, look how they're dancing. Uh, and I find a name finally Dorothy kerwin and the prints are dancing at um, a lot of all I had a name and for six years I put back all the pieces together of this woman's life and she is phenomenal. I can't believe she was reduced to like a paragraph in one book and a chapter in another That gave me...

...chills. That's astounding. Did you ever waver or was your dedication during this 10 years? Kind of an unwavering dedication to this woman? I always wanted to find her, but you know, I'm always juggling other projects, of course projects and other things. Um, but I honestly never thought I'd be able to tell her story. I always thought I would have to mask her story in someone else's story, I would tell it um as you know, as Prince William's mistress or even go back and do the to Dorothy's for Dorothy Bland, who was his mistress in England and Dorothy Kerwin, 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 reasons why the world hit her story. I mean, her will is archived in the UK. So at some point in time everyone realized how phenomenal this woman was and then she's just been hidden and drawn away. So I really, I was, I was astonished. I even pitched to uh Rachel Con at William morrow, I pitched in all different ways and says, I don't wanna hear that story, don't wanna hear that one. I want to hear her story. So, I, I just feel very blessed and privileged to be able to tell Dorothy Story. Now, were you planning other books while in the meantime, because you like all of us, you know, our job is right in our books and you can take 10 years, right? No, but you know, you, because I often find when I'm looking for something else, I'll find something. Yeah, so that's why, you know, I'm always, you're always searching your building your world. I'm I'm trying to become an expert in from 17 52 18 thirties in the West Indies, as well as all the juncture points. So that would be Scotland, Ireland, and England, everything that's going on and you're facing um so I'm always building this world. So you get a piece here. The mormons actually had some of the birth records. I mean it just like random band research like oh my gosh, she followed all those trails. You know I I love how you resisted though. The temptation to kind of fictionalized her as superhuman. You instead revealed her as this fiery, passionate, intelligent, but still flawed woman. She wasn't perfect. She was she was an incredible person who was just herself, you know and we all have flaws, right? But I'm wondering, especially hearing you talk about it to patty a second ago since there wasn't as much as one would maybe hope for to go on. How did you nail her interior life? Like how did you get it? So Right, how did you discover her truth? How did you put all those pieces of her together? I think um as you become immersed in the signposts of her life. So there's documentation uh like particularly around the child Katharina, you can see Mr Photons estate is from the from the plot. I literally, you know, I went real geek on you. I have the land plots from those time frames. So I found his estate. And when I noticed that the way it was registered was as the Katharina. And so you put these pieces together and you begin to ask your questions of like what would make, what kind of relationship would she have to have with Mr Fountain for her to name this child after this estate. And so you begin to put the pieces together. And then you see little snippets in someone's diary where the cells family um that katarina stayed with the cells family and then they move on. But as me with my little antennas up I'm like wait a minute. Why would a mother whose, you can see how she's so dedicated, like for uh, for a woman of color. Uh, to register the birds is a thing. Um, in some of the islands, they would have to bring priests in in order to register the enslaved birth. Um, and then just in general when you're free or a black woman or woman of color, she was very particular in making sure every birth was registered and who she claimed was the father on each one of these documents. Right? Um, so it's just to me, I got this vision of this woman of the detail oriented nature of her life and how she would deal with different things 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 know Vanessa, I I write a lot about World War Two and a lot of my protagonists are women and I feel like there's been so much that's been lost in the telling even over the last 80 years, which is much more recent than you're writing about here about women in World War Two. Right. Are you trying to do you think that one of your missions here, especially now that you've put all this time into writing this book, is one of your missions to kind of bring these lost stories to the forefront. And do...

...you, sort of, is it your hope that other people might be inspired to do the same? And give us these lost stories of women and particularly women, we don't read about as often kind of as a result of this, I think so, um particularly there's I wouldn't call it anger, or but there's like a disappointment when you see all the things this woman, this woman went through, all the things she ends up doing. We never read about her in the history books. Um, as a, as a, as a, as a young black girl going to school and all of that you hear is an enslavement story and the victimization and, and black pain. And you see, you don't see any, any um, semblance of joy until after 1865. Um, it can do things, I think to the psyche, you've got to know that people that look like you survived and figured out ways to thrive. No one's trying to apologize for enslavement, no one's trying to inflict any guilt. But there is a, is a substance of, of, of a person. When you were able to say, you know, they, they survived the harsh things, they went through, they found love, they did what was necessary. I can do that too. I think that that we've robbed generations of being able to look at our lives and say you know what, no matter what happens I can survive this. You know patty and I were just patty and mary Kay and I were just talking about this how the past has lessons for the present. You know like you find these stories in the past that lead us to exactly where we're supposed to go in the here and now. Yeah. Um you know Vanessa, I keep thinking about your bio. That is quite a biography that as a woman, I have a lot of engineers and my family and I I can't even do math. So I am so intimidated by the fact that you are a mechanical engineer. My son in laws and a mechanical engineer and my husband's a civil engineer. My son, my my nephew is a chemical engineer. I want to know how the heck you go from that crazy right brain left brain writing romance and historical fiction and helping you know, engineer stuff. How how does that balance that? Right. And I think that's the technical term, right? Yes. I just kill your I want to kill your brain apart and go you got all of it going on right and left brain. How did that happen? You know, just that they take in school where they would tell you which quadrant. I was usually a dead center. That's kind of a um but I was good at math and writing and my mama always told me you need to pay your bills. You know uh you know this is lightning like I'm sitting with four new york times bestsellers. That's lightning striking, right? It's like that starting for us being here with you, honey, thank you, thank you. But you know as a child when you're growing up and you're like this is my career um you know mama said do math and we listen to mother, I did math extremely well. Um You know, you know they're die casting units and rapid prototyping systems and things like that from my time in general motors and working on fluid dynamics equations, We know all about that. We do, yeah, yeah, we do that to Vanessa. I other other show is called Engineers and Fiction. There we go. But nobody boxes it. But it's there. That's a shame. That's a shame. But you know, being good at engineering, you're always asking these questions and particularly how and why. So I take that directly into my research. Like you know my card catalog. My love of card catalogs comes from sleeping in libraries 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 so for me when when I write, I I want you to be immersed in the world. So I need to 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? And and particularly with Dorothy's putting story two stories, why would she move to these various islands? What is making her move? What what's happening in the geopolitical scales of these,...

...the island politics? You know, so many of them are shifting from being dutch to french to english and back and forth and all that sort of thing, what's going on that's making her do these various 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, um because we're all interested in the processes of writing, um do you do like story 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, demerara sugar comes from bing, bing, bing, bing, and then in the room, 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 get the timeline as as exact as possible. I've started using a tool called a on timeline, which is abso frankly amazing on timeline, because I can pull all my worlds 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 have earthquakes upon occasion, you get a volcano right? You've got to know all these what's going on because that can affect that could be one of the reasons why, 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 and then I have maps, because you've got to say, you know, um, one book I was reading and they got the, I don't want to say they got the math wrong, but they kind of got the math wrong because they make it sound like D Moreira and moderate are very close like you could do a day trip, there is no freaking way you can do a day trip, you've got a couple of the equator and come back. Oh wow, There there's no ways, especially by boat and you know, during that time they didn't have little power boats, Right, wow. So I, you know, I I read part of the book, physical book and then listened to this, gosh, this amazing audio book. But I was so struck by the scene when she gets to Domenica and she's standing at the wharf and the sales, the boats coming in with her father with tom and her mom and her daughter. And you made that come to life so vividly, I have to say so kudos to you for that. Well, speaking of that glorious audio book, um your narrator, Adua Ando, who has had an amazing television career, including her most recent role is Lady done more in Britain, which I don't know about you guys. But like that show kind of got me through the pandemic. I actually was thinking I was like, I really need to watch that again because it was just so good. Um but we believe that you have some big news in that regard. Can you share it with us? Yes. So when the announcement was made that I was writing this book, we got a number of production houses were very interested, but there was no book, no pressure, no pressure. 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 from Longboat Productions. They're out of the UK. They've done a few things like victoria and I love New Black and yeah, yeah and um you know, so there are all these negotiations have been going on and when Adua um did the reading, she she fell in love with the book. Um and so it's kind of like everything aligning at the right space. So uh she's coming on as executive producer. Longboat has bought the option. Longboat host victoria fee whose former of 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 Emmy nominated director for Britain. And so...

...many other beautiful pieces that you put together, they have all been looking for something that kind of ties everything together. We, you see a and es productions of like, pride and prejudice, which is really located in uh England, London. This is tying in all the West Indies with England and London uh with London and all these different things. So it's, it's it's what they were looking for. It's a story that's going to that's already diverse from the beginning. Um and it's just, it's just to me, I think it's a, it's a great tale of perseverance and overcoming and it's just, it's gonna be exciting to see. Yeah, we're gonna stop for a minute so we can show a video, a little bit of video of the, of the audio cover and you can hear this glorious, glorious voice who narrates Island Queen? Never knew a moment. Made better standing, still. Never knew an hour made perfect by silence. It's been a long time since I'd had peace. Oh, wow. Yeah. That doesn't blow you away. Nothing. Well, I just want to ask you when you were writing this story and then you heard this audio where you like, yes, this is what I heard in my head. Or I always think that's like an odd experience to have when you've been hearing the voice of this character and then someone brings this character to life. It's another worldly experience. It's kind of like, better than what was in my head. Because my head is kind of like, you know, she's wonderful, her pronunciation, she nailed Gaelic, she nailed everything. She's Gaelic. She's switching 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 period romance stories featuring characters of color. Long before it dawned on major publishers that love comes in many hues. Was that a hard sell for you? Starting out? Yes, it was um it was um The world of historical romance when I started in 2013 was used to characters of colour is being the best friend um being the maid 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 London romances because everybody skips up to 1865. Uh and then you get Beverly, Jenkins and Alyssa cole and piper hugely. And they're telling these these wonderful romances uh in the United States from Reconstruction on right. But you were you started writing regency, is that right? Yes, I'm only written regency. So, you know, there may have been one time I did a victorian and I'm sorry about pledge, but for most part it was, it's always been regency. I just love that. I love the time period Georgian regency that just totally love it. And to me there has been such a disservice because it's a lot more progressive than what we've seen even to something as looking at Prince Prince George, right? He becomes king George the third. Um he elevated people of color into his inner circle. He hung out with like boxers and, and uh you know, uh the uh musician Bridge Tower, he saw that he was gifted. He saw he was in an abusive relationship with his father. He actually banishes his father from the country, uh sends money for his mother, so she would have an income. And it made sure that he went to uh all the, get the best violinist training. This bridge tower is like on arrival of Mozart uh level and this is what prince George and typically when you you see anything written a prince George, particularly in regency romance, he's made look like a 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't even been touched in regency. And so that's been my thing. I'm going to bring you as much. You come for the romance. You may leave it a little bit more. I love that. So Well said. Yeah. So this is where we take some questions from our audience and we have...

...one from Barbara Walters chick who asked what made you decide this particular person, which you addressed a little bit in san dish in. But did it have anything to do with where she was from in the West Indies? Did that kind of pique your interest or was it more about who she was in that book and that she wasn't being given her? Do? It was it was more who she was. Um, I found her in the West Indies, but she didn't stay in the West Indies. She actually did a lot of traveling to Scotland and London. Um this is all part of her sphere. I mean, there's a, there's in the book, I mentioned her travel in 1810 where she takes 18 grandkids with her because she wants them to see the world that she has opened up by gaining all of this influence. Incredible. Um, I was happy that she was in the West Indies because, you know, often as americans, we think of everything is just being islands and palm trees and every one of these colonies, every one of these islands is different and distinct based on who founded it. The french colonies of Haiti are of santo Domingo very different than what you're going to find in Granada or you find in de Moreira or or Barbados and all these different 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're there and you're going to know that this character of island and and and culture, this is this is authentic to that particular time period. Did you get to visit it? Did you get to visit the West Indies or had you been there before or felt a tie to it at all? My grand trip? Well now this is no longer a covid blessing. This was the covid destruction. Yeah, yeah. That took away the grand trip because I wanted to kind of retrace her steps. I wanted to retrace your, I will, I will because it's something, it's a bucket list to do. 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 feather a herons plum. Did I have that? Right? It's, it's a plume a feather. Um, I don't, I don't recall. It might, it might have been some, some of them because some of the best hats, particularly the ones from the one she was getting from London. They really decked those out with the feathers and the bows and everything like that. I love that. Well, I know a lot of audience members want to know this, but this is really just a selfish question for 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 have Absolutely. Okay. What I'm gonna put you on the spot, like, you just had this massive, glorious novel come out, What's next? It's like when you're in the hospital with the baby and what are you having your next one? We'll see the babies come out and she has complications. And we're working on revisions right now. Yes. So next summer you guys should be seeing Mother's Sister Warrior. The two women who helped. Yes, the two women. And by the way, if it's a title like Island Queen and Mother Sister Warrior, I didn't come up with, it's corny, I did it, My Little Secret. I've got good, I've got a good editors and a great agent and they know better, you know much better. But Mother's sister warrior is about the two women victoria Montu, also known as a bed or Pretoria and mary claire Bonaire, the two women who shaped the Haitian revolution. Oh my goodness! Oh wait, alright, so we have a question from Sharon Carlson person. She says everyone is going to know about this book if they don't already, how does that make you feel? I love that question. It's going to be such a big, it is so big and it's going to be even bigger. 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 hear her story. I always thought I had to couch it and for me to one get the opportunity to write the story and to see the reception that the story is having that people our understanding Dorothy. Um and and really feeling both her struggles, her triumphs, realizing she wasn't a superwoman, as Kristen had said earlier, she was just someone who when the moment came, she rose to that moment 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 and how we are privileged to choose our name. But I wanted to ask you a little bit about Dorothy and how chic because when the book starts, pa her irish plant, her father has called her doll, my little dolly and then Dorothy as soon as she can rises up and would you talk a little bit about claiming a name and how important that is to a character who starts out as an enslaved woman? Yes. And, and because you know, in the south here in America, when an enslaved person had the opportunity to name their child, you'll often see things like precious jewel or king or because they wanted when the masses of the plantation called that name to have that moment of respect because they know that the life that they, the enslaved person has has so little respect. So one of the things that I kind of came, you know, came to is I was because there were so many changes in her name. Uh, I wanted to theme that and so you know, dolly is, is precious to me that shows the love even though it's a complicated, crazy relationship of her father who has the means to free her but never freeze her. Um, he's, there's still love there. He, I believe that the reason she was so good at business was because he showed her things, he was proud of her um and he called her dolly because of that. So there'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 then finally you get to Dorothy and mrs thomas, right? The levels of respect that 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 all the difference when, when a name is called or chosen out of love versus disrespect. So I love how you have all those names for her and why she chooses to 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 that you wrote it, we understood it, like we understood the complexity of it. But just to see that little girl with that fire of I'm not going to wait for someone 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 of how she she was never satisfied. She just kept pushing, pushing. She has her first child at 1 15, Unfortunately, 12. Well, God yeah, just miscalculated that 12 and 14 and the ugliest, well, one of the uglier sides, as many ugly sides of enslavement, but that is the incest. Yes, the incest, wow. So back to writing tips, a couple of people who have put in questions how you spell the name of that timeline. It's E O N so A on. There you go. Okay, so aside from that genius writing tip that we're probably all going to get off and look it 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 a beautiful mind and eye on. So I have stickies and now I'm thinking you just saved 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 reinvent the world? Good. Amazing. It's amazing. I bet it's going to be better than my stickies. So I mean, it's just guessing, I'm thinking it's going to be a domestic. So could you share a writing tip other than I am that has really then meaningful for this novel more than any other. I actually ordered some of the authentic fabrics because I wanted to touch the fabric. So, like I got a piece of Oz, Newburgh Osterberg was 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 was because it was, it was very scratchy...

...and itchy and they would have to beat it on the rocks. But just I wanted to feel, you know, the textile. So any time you can get just a sample of the fabrics, because like, I have samples of silks and satins and you you flip it and you watch how the, how light just changes 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're describing and writing. I love beautiful. So we are reading and loving your 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 lot about that one. She's always amazing and recently got this one but I haven't gotten that far into it. Uh Sonny Houston. That is the best cover. I love that 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 finishing the 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 women from 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 the orphan 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 of time. But so don't go anywhere and you can leave questions on the facebook page and hopefully Vanessa will go in and answer some questions. Uh we have a couple of things we want to tell you about. Uh we have a question. So uh we have one more question for, you know, don't do not leave. So everyone, I'm always here to remind you about our podcast because I am so proud of them and it's just been such a great journey we've brought Ron Block on and then super clever with Writer's Block podcast. So not only do you get the Wednesday night shows in the podcast, but then the Writer's Block podcast where we join Ron to interview all kinds of authors and publishers and people in the industry. Last week Ron interviewed M. J. Rose and pauline hubert and this coming friday, we celebrate cooking where Ron talk to Vivian Howard about her. Were you there to Christine Ron and Christie talk to Vivian Howard about her new cookbook? This, I love this. This will make it taste 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 and fiction official book club yet you are missing out. So the group which is separate from us and is run by our friends, Lisa Harrison and Brenda Gartner is now more than 7000 members strong. This Friday. I know, isn't it this 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 folded in half time. Like it. Yes, but one year, one year this week, so they're going to be hosting a live online party on friday at seven p.m. Eastern and of course you are all invited. And then on august 16th I'll be joining the Book Club to discuss the forest Vanishing stars, my brand new novel and we will have plenty more fun events in store, coordinated by the wonderful lisa and Brenda. So join now if you haven't, we will see you on friday and happy one year anniversary to the Book Club. Happy anniversary. Book and do not forget on sunday we have the joy of talking to Susan Boyer of the Low Country Book Club on our sunday bonus here at five p.m. The next week join us as patty host, Christina baker klein, as we earlier mentioned, whose new york times, bestselling the exiles was just released in paperback week after week. Week after next, Kristen will host Lauren Willig, whose new book is Band of Sisters and you know that we got so many great authors coming up, so check the sidebar on our facebook page on our website to see who else is coming up and speaking of great teaming up, you know that mary Kay patty and I all have winter books coming out in september and october well if you didn't, you do now is a bad by popular demand. We have signed first, we have a signed first edition winter Wonderland subscription...

...box, you can order now, they're Nantucket booksellers or look for the link on our website to get not only autograph first editions of upcoming new holiday novels by us, but also a Q. R. K. For exclusive access to private recorded presentation with us. Talking about 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 hot chocolate have much more that I love it. I'm so wishing I had written a winter book. I feel so left out every time you guys see what have you been doing? I am. I know nothing, obviously nothing exactly. All right back to Vanessa Vanessa. We are fascinated with how an engineer becomes a novelist and we wonder, yeah, kind of where this all started. What were the values around reading and writing in your childhood? And do you think that they influence the writer you became? Oh absolutely. My mother, she stressed the classics and we were talking about, you know, Wadsworth and Shakespeare and uh you know, she made sure we had a book that was always a thing. You have a book in your hand or you better be doing a chore, have a book in your head or you better be doing that word. So I I really thank her for that. My father was where I get the love of history because he would weave these tales of of Trinidad um of his childhood that were just so magical and just felt so I wanted to know more, I just wanted to know more. Um so yeah, you you have to get 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 you have to pour into yourself. You have to pour into these kids and and that's what good books do. Yeah, you're absolutely right. And then we cannot thank 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 want to remind everybody they can order the Island Queen from tonight's bookstore partner Foxtail Book Shop. And the link is on our page and I think we're gonna all be waiting anxiously for that next book. That's in rewrites and the adaptation of Island Queen Vanessa. So, great to meet you tonight. You're amazing. Thank you for coming. This was so much fun. Thank you ladies, Good night, Good night, wow, just wow! Okay, y'all, We'll see you in a minute at the story point after show where we will wolf break that down. That was incredible and powerful. And come back on sunday for our bonus episode with Susan's Boyer at 45 p. M. four p.m. My time Central 10 p.m. Eastern time and next week, same time. Same place right here with us as we welcome Laura Willig and don't forget to go check out our new winter subscription and we'll be telling you more about it as the weeks go by. Good night y'all. Welcome to our story. Points, sip and stay after show. The wine loves stories as much as we do. You know with the woman winemaker who talks about things like what's wine without a story? I mean, I say what's a story without one? But you you don't fix their logo for them. But you make that maybe I am leaning into the kiki side of me always be editing. But listen here on Friends of Fiction, we say what is anything without a story. And since we've been together for various events over the summer, we can tell you that our stories are richer and funnier. Once we uncork 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 the weekend, 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 a guest and that is quite a book. And to think about, you know, that really is just it's so inspiring to think about, you know, that you can continue on your path and be writing your stories while getting these little snippets about something new that you want to write, Finding that these breadcrumbs that she just followed until she had all the pieces and 10 years of not giving up on a 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 her story. Um there's disagreement. And by the way, if you all, I hope you all will get island queen. She has great uh author notes in the back and she talks about there's disagreement about whether or not Dorothy kerwin thomas was or wasn't illiterate, but there were no diaries. And so Dorothy does has 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 not illiterate. I um we have some things in your voice though, kristen that's the thing about, you know, um this this this, you know, these enslaved women and 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 this once you get hooked into a story and a story or a story hooks you, which either which whichever is gonna say. Yeah, so kudos to her for pursuing that because that was quite a radical. She had to go down well, you know, we touched on this briefly, but I think there's so much to be said for finding historical stories that are so relevant in the present. And this is one that's relevant. I mean, it's one that still has things to teach us, even though it's hundreds of years old. You know, um, I think it's an author when you come across those stories. Yeah, it's a privilege but to tell them is an honor and just a great responsibility. And she did it so well, I mean, kristen you've been on tour a week. Are you hanging in there? You know, I think I just put in our internal chat. I have eight minutes left in the tank. I'm just fading. But you got to hear how much from people on tour you you were able I mean, we witnessed it, people coming up to you and saying that because you brought back the past, it touched them and that they had tears in their eyes. You've heard some incredible things, haven't you? You know, I think we all have that's that's been the pleasure of getting out on the road, that the joy of getting out of the road. Um, and I think I had forgotten that, you know, because we've had such meaningful interactions online in these first events. Because, you know, so many wonderful things. We've had so many supportive members on friends and fiction who say things to us, you know, virtually, or, you know, type them to us. But there's something about being face to face with someone who tells you that friends and fiction has touched them, or that they have a family member who experienced something similar to what you've written about, or, you know, or that one of your books got them through a difficult period of time. But again, I think we've all experienced that um and it's beautiful and meaningful to all of us, and we're so we're so grateful to all of you out there. Whether you share your story in person, whether you share your story by email, whether you share your story in the comments and Friends and fiction. I mean, it reminds us why we do this, and it reminds us that that that's what's important. You know, you know, I was with Kristen at her signing at Foxtail Books and then again, um in on Tybee and then um on Palmetto Bluff. And I just I was struck by how many different holocaust stories do you think you heard over the course of this tour Kristen? I don't even know that I could count them. I mean, there are so many is so many people have have a family connection. And the thing a lot of people have in common I think is that they feel like they didn't ask enough while the person was still in that I had such a good reminder. Such a good it is. But you know, a lot of these and I've experienced that in my own life to you don't think to ask the questions until the person is gone. or you don't even know, you don't even know what the person went through until they're gone and people are talking about them in retrospect. And so you don't even know that there are questions to ask. Uh, which is just yet. I mean yet another reason why I think it's so important to keep telling these stories, you know? So we've all got some summers more than half over. You guys. Who is this when I go into mourning? Who's got some vacation time planned? Well, I don't know what you would call this vacation necessarily because I'm doing three book events while I'm there. But I'm going to Highlands and cashiers august 67 and eight and listen to how fun this is. My editor. Yes, we'll be there at the same time. 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 around that area and she texted me and was like I know this is so far away from you but I just want to tell you and we're gonna be there at the same time so that's so cool. So I'll get to see her too. I know. I know. I actually think I'm gonna stay an extra night to like hang out with her some. But yeah I like that. So my chopped liver like I I'm kidding we have plans to see each other. I am going to hang out obviously for real hang up without work. The is that possible? Hang out without? No well we tried it it didn't go out. Um I am leaving tomorrow to go visit my son who has been doing an internship in Washington D. C. And I have to say, I think this is the longest I've ever gone without seeing him. He's 23 it's been almost two months. So I am tapping out 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 the holocaust museum. Oh you know that? Have you been before? No I am. I know it's not going to be a field but I have been profoundly especially after reading your books wanting to go to the museum. So I am going on saturday. Well I think it's one of those experiences that if you really invest a little bit of time and it shifts you at your core forever. I know, I know. I think I can't wait to hear what you think. we have to talk about it. We'll talk about it next week. I'll tell you about it next week. I am going, my husband and I are taking the first vacation we've had in like three years. We're going to Cape Cod and then to Nantucket. Yeah, so we will see our new friend tim and on Nantucket I've never been in and tuck it. Even though I wrote a story set 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. So fun. Yeah. So um, it's, we've got kind of an adventure planned. It's not France, which is what we had hoped for, but I don't know that sounds pretty special. It's one of my favorite places in the world christian and I discovered this week that we both spent our summers on the Cape Cut. I don't know how I never a town apart from each other. It's so funny. Oh my God, a decade and a time town apart. But yeah, I mean, what are the odds? I mean just like my husband went to your high school, like that's so weird. Her husband and I went to the same high school. I know we're all connected university vacation. Yeah. No, not really. Um, Noah starts school in about three weeks. Um and yes, we're gonna kind of buckle down for that. But, and I've got so many, you know, just because the forest finishing stars just came out. I was looking at my calendar today thinking like, okay, my tour's over. Like I can take a deep breath. I have like three virtual events tomorrow night. I mean it just doesn't let up for a while, but we are going to take one night, not this weekend, but next weekend at Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is our, our favorite hotel. So I gotta stand, you will get a savannah view room. We'll get to look out at the giraffes and zebras and um spend some time at the pool and maybe see the under the stars movie and it'll just be two 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 every week on Facebook or YouTube where our live show airs every Wednesday night at seven p.m. eastern time and please subscribe to our podcast and follow us on instagram. We're so glad you're here, wow.

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