Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year ago

Friends & Fiction with Victoria Christopher Murray

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The Fab Five welcomes Victoria Christopher Murray co-authored The Personal Librarian with Marie Benedict. Coming June 29th, this is the remarkable story of J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation. Victoria Christopher Murray is one of the country's top African American contemporary authors with more than one million books in print. She has written more than twenty novels, including the Seven Deadly Sins series. Hear all about their collaboration and writing and research process. https://victoriachristophermurray.com/ 

Welcome to Friends and Fiction. Five best selling authors and the stories novelist mary Kay andrews, Christine Harmel, Christie Woodson, harvey patty Callahan, Henry and mary Alice Munro are five longtime friends with more than 80 published books to their credit 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. Hello everyone it is Wednesday night and here we are Friends and think I'm mary Alice Munro, I'm mary Kay Andrews, I'm Kristin Harvell, I'm Christie Woodson harvey and I am Patty Callahan Henry and this is Friends and fiction, five new york times, bestselling authors, endless stories to support independent bookstores. Tonight we are so excited to welcome half of the writing duo of crisp victoria, Christopher Murray and Marie Benedict who co wrote an astounding new historical fiction novel titled The personal librarian. Tonight we'll be hearing about their research and inspiration. We'll talk to victoria about co writing and how they work together to bring a very real woman Bell Dacosta Green to life. Tonight is a rare pre recorded show because while you were watching this, we are in my hometown of Beaufort north Carolina doing a live friends and fiction event that all of you will be able to watch later. And of course next week we will be here alive again as always. Are you ready for tonight? Well, we are always want to start our show with a huge thank you to our partner mama G's. They have been with us now for months and are traveling companion on all our book tours are goody bag swag and of course our coverage are stocked. That's right. And I've stocked your houses and go for it with them to you guys. Let's go. You can get their delicious cheese, straws and cookies for 20% off with the code. Fab five. It's a woman in business we all support because we love to surprise you at every turn or at least every every other current, Let's say we have a great night. Back in March. Patty gave us an exclusive cover reveal for her new novel, Once Upon A Broad Once Upon Coming out, October 19 and now she has a surprise for us. A preorder gift that well, I'm just gonna let paddy tell you about. So, once upon a time when I was a young girl in college I met a friend named Karen Crawford. Now, all these years later, she is an astounding artist. I will put a link to her art in our facebook page but I asked her to paint a rendering using a combination of Narnia which is the cornerstone of my october book and the cover of Once Upon a wardrobe. I wanted to see what she would come up with. I didn't tell her what to do and what she came up with is so stunning. So Alan put it up. This is Meg's Meg lost in the woods. Yes. And I can't wait for you to meet megs in the novel. But this is a rendering that shows so much of what the book is about. And when I saw the painting I knew I wanted to share it with all of you. So we have made some gorgeous note cards with a quote from the book and the quote is each and every one of us is born with our own stories and we must must decide how to tell them. So for every pre order you will get two of these postcards, one to keep and want to give someone you love. They are large postcards and they will come with a signed book plate and the original art on the postcard. So all of this will be on my website, my facebook instagram and of course Friends and Fiction where you'll find an entry form. But I wanted to tell you all about it before I put it out into the world. Oh my gosh! I'm so excited for everybody...

...to get to read that book. I was actually just on a podcast earlier tonight recommending it and saying how much I loved it. So I'm so thrilled and what a beautiful painting. So you all out there know that every week here at Friends and Fiction we partner with Parade magazine online. Not only do we stream live to their facebook page, but we also write a life lessons essay for them, which you can always find at parade dot com. And we always share in our newsletter to so this week Patty wrote about how our creative lives can be used as a compass. Yeah. So for a long time I kept the list of these. I need to dig it up. But I call them my as in life lessons. It's about things I learned in life From writing for example, have so many of them. But one of my favorites is when I first learned that as we all know, we have to know what our characters want. Right? The more begged the want, the more vague the story as in life. So right. Right. Like when you flip that around and you say, wait, what do I want? Am I having is my life aimless and can I look at what I really want? So I want to hear from you ladies. Is there anything you're creative work has taught you that you have used in your so called real life? My so called. Well I'll answer, I think for me I've been writing for a long time and all my creative work is pretty much based on intuition and I've learned over the long years to trust it completely. So for example, when I choose the species to work with for a book, it's always a it's a lot I want to work with, but when I choose it it's this humming a strong sense of okay, yes, it's this one I want to write about this one. Now timing is always important. And so then as I, as I create the plot in the storyline and developed characters, it's that sixth sense as your pulling it all together, that you think, you know, this is some place I want to dig a little deeper and I'm sure you all know what I mean, It's like, okay, this is the lead that I'm going to follow and so in my life I just learned to trust that instinct to listening to myself, that inner voice is so important. Absolutely. You know, for me, my fictional characters, I don't want them to be cardboard, I want them to be three dimensional and totally human and flawed, screwed up people like me like, yes, so when I write them, I allow them to make terrible errors in judgment, to make big and little mistakes and I let them do things that terrify them and me lots of times when they do something terrifying, you have to get out of your own way, we'll have to roll the dice and gamble on yourself. Yeah. You know I love that and I think kind of very along very similar lines. Um you know I tend to write about ordinary women who find themselves in these tough times and they dig deep for the strength to do extraordinary things. So it took me a long time to realize I was writing journeys that weren't just journeys on the page. They were journeys that I could take two. So my lesson that I've drawn from my work I think is that we can all be extraordinary. Um even kind of in the small ways it doesn't have to be leading a resistance movement during World War Two. You can do small extraordinary things because it's the small things that add up to the big changes in the world and you just have to kind of as mary Kay said you have to have the courage to roll the dice and find your way there. I love that. That's so great. Um well I agree with everything that you guys said but I really love writing characters who find themselves in situations to which there is no right answer. Like when your back's against that wall, these are your choices. But none of them are the right one or the wrong one. There's like gray area. And so I love writing about women whose biggest challenges turn into their great teachers and put them on the path where they were meant to be all along. And I think we can all look back at points in our lives when something happened and we thought the world was ending and it ended up being the thing that it was the next write stuff on our path. So I think right, right. Yeah. It's astounding that for a long time I thought and you'll probably did to that our work was over here and our life was over here and when you let the two of them kind of meld together and learn from your characters or your work or what your work is teaching you. It's it's astounding. So I can't wait to hear what victoria has to say about it. Um And what this book the personal librarian has taught or showed her about her life. So now let's talk about our incredible guests were so sad to tell you that Marie Benedict has been...

...caught in unavoidable travel snarls. But we I know but we are sending her our love and our hope that she gets home safely. But we are so excited that victoria is here with us. And we still want to tell you a little bit about Marie because she did co author this book and I got to tell you about her. It's my turn marine. Then you know, um patty and mary Alice and I had dinner with Marie a couple years ago at the Savannah Book Festival and we had such a fun dinner that night. We had, it was a night of stars, right? We had Elizabeth. It was like it was right. So you know, she told us about this book at dinner and said I'm not allowed to tell you, are you serious? And I forgot that. Oh my gosh, it all comes full circle. Yeah. So Maria is a new york times best selling author and a lawyer with more than 10 years experience as a litigator at two of the country's premier law firms. She found her calling unearthing the hidden historical stories of women. She embarked on a new thematically connected series, historical novels with the other Einstein which tells the tale of Albert Einstein's first wife. What followed were four more bestsellers about very real and very different but very fascinating women. Now, her first co written book, the personal librarian is out with talented victoria Christopher Murray writing as heather Tarell mary has Marie has also published the historical novels, the chrysalis, the map thief and Brigid of Kildare. She go ahead Kristin. She lives somewhere, I will tell you. She lives in pennsylvania. Pennsylvania. She does. She lives, yes, she lives right near, oh my gosh, there's a great book store. She lives near penguin, I think it's called the penguin bookshop. And so how do you know this? That's crazy. And I have talked about, I've been there, I've been assigning there. How did we not meet up? I would love to tell you a little bit about her co author, victoria, Christopher Murray who is a native of queens. She earned a B. A. In communication disorders from Hampton University and an M. B. A. From new york university. Victoria spent 10 years in corporate America before launching an entrepreneurial company Where she managed the # one Division in finance for nine consecutive years. That's amazing, wow. And yet despite the finance, she was once dubbed a christian fiction writer because no one else was writing about religious topics and victoria trail place, the literary scene penny more than 30 novels co writing with other authors and ghostwriting for top talent across the country. And victoria now lives not in pennsylvania but in Washington, D. C. Not near the penguin bookshop. Personal librarian is co written by these women and is the remarkable story of Jp morgan's personal librarian, Bell Dacosta Green, the black american woman who was forced to hide her true identity and passes white to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation. So now let's meet victoria. Mhm. Write a you been enjoying the show so much a little bit. Here we are so happy you're here and we have so much to talk to you about. So Christie. Why don't you start us off? Yes. Okay. So victoria, I believe I've heard that this story started with Marie and she contacted you about this idea. So I'm just wondering what did you think when she called you? Did you know about Bell? So this is a funny story. Uh actually Marie contacted, she read one of my novels and then she contacted her agent who contacted my agent and Soma recent to page double, I mean a single space proposal. And um when my agent said I want you to really kind of take a look at this and see if you'd be interested in it. The first thing I did was look up Marie there. Is it? So I said okay this is interesting, does she know who I am? I mean does she look at a picture of me? Does she really know who I am? Um but my agent said yes she does victoria. Then I read the first paragraph and of the proposal and it was about jp morgan. And he had this...

...personal librarian and I couldn't get past the first paragraph because I just wasn't interested in J. P. Morgan. I didn't write historical fiction. I just couldn't figure out what did Marie benedicte want with me. So my speeches, step calling saying have you read the proposal? And I said no I'm really busy. And finally after three months she said to me two pages, you cannot be that busy. So I read finally the whole thing and it was about jp morgan and his library and I just didn't care. And he met this woman and block and the last paragraph said and she was african american passing um as white and I set up in my chair. The way she played the lead was the lead. Yes, like telling me all the time that should have been the lead three months and finally my agent, what are you doing? It's two pages. You don't, you have time to read two pages. And then after that I was just, I was in, I was not be, yeah, I was so honored and then our agents put us together, I said hello Marie said hello and we were instant friends and I met a few months later we were sisters. It has amazing experience with me. But she has that effect of people, doesn't she? She does, she does and we have so much in common. So that's amazing. Well can you tell us a little bit about Bell and who she was and why you two really wanted to write this story about her? Well Marie had actually found out about Bell years ago when she was still an attorney. And she used to go to the morgan library to just get away from the attorney life during life. Um and she would go and imagine herself writing about people and and someone there at the library told her about Belda cost, agree and how she was african american. And people didn't really discover that until she passed away because she burned all of her letter. She did not want people to know because she didn't want it to affect the legacy of the library. That's what we believe. And so this, so Marie had it in her head for years to write about Bell and you will always tell you that she kind of felt Bell sitting in the corner tapping her foot with her arms coils saying, when are you gonna get me a But Marie never felt that she could write that book alone. Uh she felt that she wouldn't be able to, it wouldn't be authentic if she voted by herself and Marie and I did something the other night where I said I couldn't have written this book. Um it really did take two authors one black, one White to bring the truth of who Bell was to light. And she just has such a rich legacy because she's the daughter of Richard T Greener and in the black community, this is a man that we know, he was the first african american to graduate from Harvard uh inbox me today saying Belt Acosta Green, is that Richard T greener? His daughter. I know I was so happy to say yes it is. And so she would have never been able to hide her identity in today's on instagram. It would have been all place. Oh sure we have never on facebook, everybody, she would have never been able to do it. It was only during that time. And so she comes from, her mother's family were free blacks who lived in Washington D. C. In an area that's still known today as the Gold Coast and um so they were all educated engineers and teachers, but her father was the grandson of a slave but still very bright obviously. Um but he was an activist And he believed that this country was one day going to grow up to be what it said it was going to be, and he wanted equality for everyone. My wife was in was in the fight with him until the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was overturned. And once the Civil Rights Act of 18C, most of us didn't know about the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which have prevented 100 years of what came after it if the Supreme Court girl returned it, we live in a different...

...world, but it was overturned and then Jim Crow and everything followed. But his wife at that point said, you know what, we've been fighting, but I give up and I'm gonna take this gift that I've been given of my skin, we're gonna raise our Children as white. Um and he said no and they split up and bell was 16 at the time, which I think was such an amazing age. She was old enough to know what was going on, but too young to really make the decision about which way should she go with her mother? That was a long answer, wasn't it? It's a lot. I didn't know. That was, It plays right into my question about living a divided life. You know, she has that secret that she has to protect at all costs and her anxiety about this and also the opposite feeling of of relief for the duplicity and the divided self. It must have been, I don't know. So, um what is that word I'm looking for? Schizophrenic? No, because she was able to move freely in the world she loved. But she, in the back of her mind, she must have always feared about being given away. Tell us if you put a little bit about that victoria, you know, there is a poem by paul Laurence Dunbar. I think it was written in the late 18 hundreds or early 19 hundreds um Called We we wear a mask. That's the title we were of that. And it talks about being black in this world and having to wear a mask all the time. And so some of that I think is in our D. N. A. Uh because now we had to do it to an extreme. Um but I think some of that is wound up in our D. N. A. That in this country we we we have to wear a mass and she knew how to do it. Her mother actually taught her but our in in the black community we're constantly taught about wearing a mask and how to move through this world safely. And um if you want an education, how what you have to do, all the rules and regulations that come with being that. So she had all of, she had been given all of that. Her, there was a way that she was raised as a fleet, which was her mother's family. Um, and so they were raised to behave a certain way after a certain way. Um, but every night when she went home and she put her head down on her pillow, she was black. And there there are a lot of people that live that way, even if they're not, they don't have to be exposed. Um One of the things that Marie was surprised to find out when I was talking to her about passing because there's no one my age who's black who doesn't know someone who doesn't have a great grandmother, grandmother great to everybody knows someone who's passed uh even my grandmother, but for convenience. So not every day just for when she needed to go to the bank and they wouldn't let her, she didn't want to walk around to the back or not together or stuff like that. So everybody knows somebody. But one of the things that I told Marie that she was surprised to find out was that Bell was never afraid of being outed by a white person. Yeah, she was afraid of being outed by a black person. We all knew people who passed and we understand the shades of um of the black community. And so when I put a picture of Bell up on my facebook page, all of my things from friends say how did she pass there? Like how did she get away with that? She looks like my grandmother. Uh you know, but but for white people she looked white and so but black people know black people. So she was interesting. She was never afraid, she knew what she had to do to pretend because in the book um one of the things that we discovered during our research was they added her name. Dacosta only, she rather use bell Dacosta Green. And Dacosta was supposed to explain her her dusty complexion, you know? Um Portuguese. So um it was...

...but she she didn't have to worry about, she had to dodge black people. Well wow, I was curious about how the sentence you just said about when she put her head down the pillow at night, she knew he was black. Now you said she destroyed a lot of her letters, is that right? Yes, yes. We recently Marie and I attended a virtual event at the morgan library where they found letters that she had written to her love interest, the love of her life. A married man. I was just like, okay, just bring the drama. I was very complicated, complicated his relationship because like right before she began the affair, she had lunch with him and his wife and his wife was like, have a good time, honey. I was very stressed out. I okay. I was like, what's happening here? I already has enough going on. I was dressed out. I could have gone to that lunch. Oh, I but that's to that lunch. Excuse me. I said you took us to that lunch. I wanted to and then, but I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get belt to the lunch. I really wasn't sure I was because a couple of times I wanted to go right back upstairs because it's not what we do know. Oh, she had enough going on. Oh my God, okay. But we have attended an event at the Morgan library and so many of the letters that she had written to Bernard was saved. And so we get to discover a lot. Like I like Marie and I both wish so much that we had some of those letters as we were at, that family was yeah, more insight into her and I don't think we did enough justice to how much they loved each other. I felt it. I felt I felt it it was we need those letters. Once we heard about those letters were like, oh my goodness, they she was the love of his life, he was the love of her life and we're both living with secrets. Yeah, Yeah, that's right. I forgot about his secret. Yeah. Right. It makes for a complicated life but it makes for great fiction, doesn't it? Sure does What's so interesting, we didn't have to do much for her story. It was just full of uh just interesting, intrigued because what would have happened if jp morgan knew? I mean he could have destroyed their entire family because he would have felt like she tricked him and he could have embarrassed by it. But on the other side I wonder if he did one day discover it and by then he was just going to play along. Yeah. It was not. I wondered that. I wondered that too because by then he respected her and by then he knew that his library depended on her. And by then there's a possibility I'm not going to say anything else. I don't want to give anything away of this extraordinary book. Okay, so you all know that every week we pick an indie bookstore and this week victoria you chose Is it Russ? So a Russo Russo Russo. I have mangled some bookstores uh skin I'm asking russo yes russo books in Bakersfield California which by the way is where some of my favorite music has come from the Bakersfield sound and it is a family owned store. And I have to tell you the sweetest thing. When we asked rick when our guru meg asked rick if he wanted to participate, he wrote back and said this is a genius idea not only promoting five active writers and their works but inviting other guest authors enter their community and to top it off featuring an independent bookstore. Thank you for the invite. So we already love him. Already loved him. And I hope everyone orders books from them tonight. Yeah, tell us why you chose them. You know that was when you asked me to recommend the bookstore. It was hard in in the book. It is in the moment. You are the reason why I have my career because they yes, so they Hansel your books, they know you they have been promoting you forever and ever and it was the hardest thing to do and I decided to do russo's because I don't...

I've only met him like I think once or twice but he has an employee who works there who has been so supportive of my career for 20 years. That's great. And so um I wanted to that was the reason and he's an employee. He you know he doesn't even own the store but Jason Frost is um and he's not just supportive of me, just authors and he loves to read, you know, anybody who loves to read has my heart. yeah. So that's why I chose. It was so hard though, because I could give you a list of independent who have supported me my whole career. So but thank you for doing this. This was great. Oh my God, what a Beautiful reason to choose the store too. I love that. So for all of you listening out there, you can get 15% off this week, with no code required on the personal librarian and new and recent titles from all of us. So, Victoria, a little bit earlier in the show, we talked about how our creative lives in our real lives kind of feed each other. Is there anything that this book taught you that you've carried forward in your life? You know, this book and even other books, but especially with Bell has taught me patience uh this kind of impatience with everything, like in the creative process, sometimes the writing doesn't come, you know, the C form they don't and so if you wait um if you just wait and sit and let it settle in, you, you'll come up with anything better. There's a scene in the book where she goes back for her her grandmother's funeral and that was a scene where Marie and I waited. We had a totally different scene and we knew it wasn't the right one, but we kind of waited and then we got that scene which is my favorite in the book. And um she just, all Bell did was teach me what writing has been teaching me because usually when I get near the end of the book of any book, I have no idea what's going to happen. Beginning in the beginning of my career, I used to panic and say, I don't know what's gonna happen, what does God bring this? And then I just kind of started sitting back and like usually the last three or four chapters, I don't know and I just wait, I wait and let it come and some of my best endings just kind of came to me and 2:30 AM, I wish My brain works that way at 2:30 AM and I don't even like, you know about the bills and things that are not working out right? Like I forgot to pick up the dry cleaning, I will wake up and then have to get on my phone. I'm so grateful for the phone because it used to be that I have to write it out and it would be so sleepy that in the morning I couldn't read what I'd read this. Um and so now I will do the audio, coming to me at the strangest times. Like I'm waiting, waiting and waiting and I'm out with friends and I'm like, hold up a second. Uh it never comes when I'm sitting at my desk. That's a good point. That's true. Trying the audio. That's actually yeah. Uh Victory. You know, a lot of, I mean, I'll be out walking, thinking about my dry cleaning and then the characters or something. Yeah, that's awesome. It's kind of that idea of having your mind on something else which frees up that creative space or something. Uh victoria. Is there something you hope we take away from the book that the reader walks away from um enriched in some way by reading this book? What do you hope we take away from it? You know what, heather Marie? I'm sorry, I keep blowing out. Uh We do, yeah, Marie and I had an amazing time writing this book. Not only because it's such a great book, but because we had to do the editing last summer. Um you have to do the editing during a pandemic. And so we had time to just kind of sit and at home and look at each other on zoom for three hours a day. And then we had to edit this book during all of this social unrest. And so a lot of that made its way into the book because for the first hour every single day heather and I talked just about what was going on and how we felt about it. And it had nothing to do with just talked about...

...racial relations. People listen to us. Everything would have been already solved because I have worked, you should have recorded it, recorded everything, we didn't know how special that time was until looking at. And so what we have talked about and what we hope is that as people read, they'll read this book together like Book Clubs will come together. You know, people say that the most segregated time in America is sunday morning um and in church, but I think there's another time, I think it's in Book clubs and so they're both together and read this because they're going to discover different things and and different takeaways. And I think it will just lead to wonderful discussions that will just help just help us move forward. That's what my greatest hope is with this book. Great. And that sort of leads into my question too, because you worked with Maria in this book and it was not your first collaboration, was it? And I just finished my first collaboration and I know that it really did a lot depends on trust not only the talent but at the individual. And can you talk about the process of collaboration a little bit, both with Marie for this book? But you said you also did other collaborations? Yes, I've done another collapse but I have another author, I am trying to say Billingsley and I always say that I hit the Guinness Book of World Records because I have two authors I have collaborated with who are my sisters. Oh, that's I think what you have to kind of find your soul mate. And I've just been blessed twice. I don't think it a third time. Yeah, too much. You really do have to trust that each one of you have each other's best interests at heart. We're just trying man. But but the blessing in this for me is that the Shonda and Marie are almost like the same person. There's one part of writing that they love that I can't stand. And then the part of writing that they can't stand. I love. So both of them absolutely love the first draft. Oh, okay. So me getting words from my head onto the page is like pulling teeth without any medication over and over it. Uh and it's just so hard for me to get words down on the page the first time unless I really, really see the scene. But then both Lashonda and Marie cannot stand. The rewriting process. Re neither bereavement process is magic. I actually agree. I love that is made. That's where every word counts and you go back and you make it better. And and neither me nor we're trying to have that kind of patience. And I think I, even though with both of them, we do write the first draft together. Um they have that's their greatest strength whereas I'm like still looking for the medication because I yeah, I need wine or something together. You know, I got to say victoria, that really is the secret. We took took Angela and I four years to figure this out because we were not under deadline at the beginning and it really was figuring out what your strengths are like you said and what wasn't. But you mentioned earlier to that this is a genre historical is one that you discovered that you really like. So will you collaborate again or you're going out on your own in this? We are collaborating again. We just okay there you are excited. We're going to write a book about Eleanor and mary Eleanor, Roosevelt and mary McLeod Bethune and their friendship so lovely. Oh, I'm so pleased, I'm so, I'm so excited about that. And so we'll be doing that. But I already talked to Marie about a couple of ideas. I had to what I have to do another solo a project. And so um I just love I love this john I am not a genre writer. I just write what's in my heart in the moment and sometimes it'll be suspend. Sometimes it would be romance. I don't know, I don't call it anything, I don't call that thing, I call it my book, my next uh but this...

I'm I'm stuck that feeling that uh that was one of the things I love the researching part of it, which is exactly what I want to talk about because the research is what gets you hooked on historical fiction. So you start to learn and see all these things rising from the past that we think don't matter anymore. Because their past and you're like, whoa, that's for me for today, right? So sometimes when we write about real people, the because I've done it too, we feel this compulsion, right? And you said Marie felt like Bell was over there tapping her foot, like waiting. I'm waiting. I remember once asking her, um you know how she knew or if she was going to keep doing this and how she knew what was next. And she said she felt there were like all these women just waiting to be written about and that when she finally picked someone, it was like it had to be done. But she also told me that you were integral in the internal life of belt in this book. And so I know that you had to dive deep for the internal Life that is so beautifully written in this book. So, can you talk to me about how your research about her translated into bringing forth her Interior Life question? That is a very good question. I write that question down and take it with me on every interview. That's a great question. Uh you know, it wasn't as hard what I loved about research, was finding out those little tidbits, like like Marie taught me about research and we both read the same biography, but then just going on the internet and finding an article that led to another article that led to another article uh for one sentence that ends up in the book, I remember spending five hours and I discovered one sentence is a lot of people were questioning her complexion and wondered if she was from CUBA. And so we put that in the book. But it took me five hours to find something interesting at her because I just love that. But eternal part I kind of I knew it. Um obviously never passed. But I have been the only person in many environments. I've been the only black person in many environments. So I could imagine what it was like for her to walk into a room and to be the only person and all the pressure, the only person of color and all the pressure of that and what it would feel like and what she felt like. I could imagine the things that her mother talked told her because my mother and my grandmother told us the same things. I can imagine what it was like to just go out into that world. So so much of bells internal thinking and then she was came from a lot of how I was raised and how this is how you have to be show the straight bells. Mother's voice was my mother's voice, tell the straight set up, turn your head, you know, um just all of those, those kinds of things. So that was actually part of the, that was kind of the easy part. Um for me why I think Marie wanted me to work with her on this project because she, she felt that that would be something that I could bring, Even though this was Marie's idea, this was a one, she was so wonderful. Marie was so wonderful. This was a 100% effort on both of our parts, every single word we wrote together, you know? Yeah. Mhm. Mhm. So I'm so sorry I'm talking and I Muted myself one of our favorite parts of just tag fail just a small one, they're probably whatever favorite parts of the show is receiving a writing tip from our guests. So victoria, you've kind of already given us some amazing ones and you have some incredible resources on your website website a module for creative writing and self editing, which I mean um you teach writing for any of you out there who are interested in that, go check out her informative website. But now we would love a...

...writing tip if you have another one for us. I do one of the things that I try to tell all new writers is that you can't find a book in your head, you cannot. So you have to get that first draft down on paper. So I'm kind of preaching to myself when I'm saying because I said how hard it is for me and you have to get it down on paper no matter what. And I always tell people that when it's coming out of your head, that way you're giving birth and if your first draft is not ugly, you're doing it wrong. You if your first draft looks good, there's something wrong your first draft is giving birth. And everybody knows that when a baby comes out of the mama, it's not very pretty. Everybody knows the baby doesn't look good. Only the mama thinks the baby what study dads know the babys up. What happens is that the baby gets cleaned up and you put on clothes and they grow up and that's your second and your third and your fourth draft. But you tend to buy the book in your head. So just give birth to that ugly baby and we'll see the baby. You get to clean up the baby. But you gotta you can't have a baby, you can't give birth to somebody who's ready to graduate from college that I love it. It's so colorful. It's really great. I love it. Oh, I am going to replay that. We're going to be like a show clip that we I think so. I love that you're doing it wrong. I love it. I ugly first draft. Don't you know me? I love the ugly first draft because then I get all the stuff I do. Well yeah, the draft. The draft. Only A mother could love that exactly what I'm going to steal up. That's what a mother could love. You're gonna know what's ugly. I that's right. I think that's our new hashtag victoria. We love to know what our guests are reading. We always find as if are to be ripped stacks are not tall enough. But could you tell us what your loving right now? So what I'm loving right now is I'm in the middle of the other black girl and I can't figure it out. So that's why I'm loving it. But I finished a book that's probably one of the best books I've read in the last five years and it's called Yellow Wife. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. That was a wonderful book. It was brutal. That was just brutal. But it was the first book because obviously I've read I've read about that time period before. Um but I've always read about slaves kind of like over there. Yeah this was the first book. I can't tell you why. I can't explain it where I thought about my own ancestors. I have no idea why. But I actually as I was reading, started thinking oh I wonder what my great great great grandfather you know I mean I honestly this book made me think about my and I do that ever before ever have to meet Sequa all right, The friend of mine, she's awesome. Yeah, she is wonderful. There was such a good book. It was a great interview. I've been hurt at the book. She's a great writer. But this is a whole nother level on top of it. She's just a fascinating person. She's great. Yeah. I just love the way she came up with this book idea. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All right. Anyone else have any books they want to talk about tonight? Yeah, I'll mention one. So if Francesca sarah telus debut novel, Ghost of Harvard is brand new and paperback this week. It has a gorgeous new cover, it came out last year in hardcover. Um and I would highly recommend it. It's it's about a Harvard freshman who becomes obsessed with her schizophrenic brother's suicide and then she starts hearing voices. So it's really um just this really kind of intricately plotted thriller which maybe should not surprise anyone since um she is the daughter of a very skilled writer, known for her intricate plotting. She is the daughter of lisa Scottoline, e who's a great friend of our show, so Francesca's amazing. Ghost of Harvard is amazing. Out this week. In paperback, I would recommend that. Good. So, I would like to suggest preordering this book that's coming out in two weeks called The Forest of Cars. I've heard...

...that I've heard it, you know, if you all have heard much about it, but it is amazing and it is out in two weeks and I don't need to run and preorder the Forest Advantage. I hear that author has some really good friends, really, a friends, a big advance craze for a lot of people talking about it, just talking, talking, talking. But that's because we're on the show every week and I think I was talking about it. But thanks a alright everyone please stick around. Not only for our story point wine. Sit and stay after show. It's just such a mouthful. Yeah, gradually name it. You can't drink the story point and then say story points and stay after show. Or maybe you need to drink more more of the story more. That's probably that's the secrets. Yeah, but because we have one more question for victoria do not go anywhere and we want to remind all of you out there to remember to check out our podcasts. We are so excited with what is going on with our podcasts. The friends and fiction writer's Block podcast with superstar, Librarian Ron Block is every friday Now, every friday is a new episode wherever podcasts are found and we played a video last week of meg showing us how to use it and we will cop it up again on the facebook page for those of you who can't find it. This friday coming up, you will hear an incredibly special episode called Origin Stories and we talked to Chris Whitaker about his novel, we begin at the end and Amy jo Burns about her novel Shiner. You do not want to miss hearing the origin stories of these astounding novels, it's true and gosh Ron just such a great job so that you know, he's amazing, we're so lucky. So another thing that you don't want to miss and another reason we're so lucky is we have the Friends and fiction official book club, it's headed up by our friends Brenda Gartner and lisa Harrison and they have such a great schedule coming up. So they just finished a fascinating conversation with our very own mary Kay andrews about the newcomer. And next up on july 19th is the summer of Lost and Found with mary Alice Munro. And then on august 16th I will be joining them to discuss the Forest of Vanishing Stars. But you may have heard about, you may have heard a little bit, it's a great group and we hope you'll join. It's so awesome. Right? And do you guys know that we have merch now? You guys asked for it and we have it. So we've got t shirts, wine cups and coffee tumblers and all sorts of exciting things. Um we're partnering with Oxford Exchange, you can find them on our website, on Oxford exchange website and um on our facebook page and don't forget Mama Geraldine's is out there, our partner and entertaining and all things smacking, so snack on, y'all. And next week, I love when you say that, I know she's like, I want to say it is perfect next week. Don't you don't want to miss us. We'll be back on our facebook page at seven p.m. For Kristen Higgins and Calling Oakley both great stories Unpacked the Moon and the Vanishing Husband of Frick Island. And then the following week and other friends and fiction launch for a little thing. We like to call the Forest of Vanishing Stars. As usual. We have so many surprises in store for you. You guys? I'm crazy. So, okay, we are completely insane. I'm insane guys, there's going to be a musical. We're doing a Forest of Vanishing Stars musical Musical. Um, there will be singing. Um, it won't all be good by us. Yeah, they will be singing. And I'm not sure if that's a promise or a threat, but either way we hope you will be here for it for our full schedule. Please visit our website or check the sidebar on our facebook page. And don't forget that if you miss an episode you can find it on our Youtube Friends and Fiction channel. Alright, victoria, it's back to you. So it's so interesting for us to not only know about your books, but also you. And one of the things we love to know about our authors is what shaped you into being a writer. And so can you tell us a little bit about the values around reading and writing in your childhood? Oh my goodness. That's where it started for me. Uh My parents and my dad used to always say he knew I was gonna do something because when I because when they would read to me I would like stopped them and asked them...

...about the words and how did they get on the page? And he would be like can you just listen to this? Uh My I got my first library card when I was seven years old and that was the greatest gift ever. My parents would take us to the library once a week every Tuesday. I still remember that and I was determined to read every single book in the Children's section. What changed my life was also when I was seven years old. After being just wanting to read all the time, I decided to write and I wrote a play. And people, I wrote my first masterpiece when I was setting in and people say how can you write a masterpiece when you're seven then you can if you plagiarize I plagiarized all the masterpieces. It was called Betty and the Witch. And she was a little girl who wore school uniform with the red hood and she had three bears for brothers, three pigs, the sisters and next four there were seven little people. I wasn't gonna spill everything. I love Brick Road. Oh my gosh, I but I had a good witch in a bag with of course I was in the second grade, gave it to my teacher was 20 pages. It had music, everything in there and the entire skin grade performed it as a play. I caught by surprise sleep's pieces of it. I remember her saying since I wrote it that I could choose the part I wanted to play. And then I remember in the assembly when afterwards over she introduced me to the parents and everybody else that was in there as the writer. And that was when I became a right. I just say that's pretty impressive. That's a whole lot more than I got. Do you want to be a writer when you grow up? You were a writer was reduced to play because all the other masterpieces were good. So together, nobody put them together before God together. So, I see Gloria, That's amazing. We had the library patty. She had the library. Everybody would you think mary Allison that it's 99 point, I think. So, what do you say? Everybody? What a great affirmation that teacher get you. Yeah. Like, so I said to my mother, I just so wish I could find mrs Asness, You know? I don't know. But I just so wish that she knew which thing for that little girl. Yeah. It took me a while to get there. But from that day, I knew I was going to be a writer. I knew it. I knew amazing. I was going to get there. I didn't know I didn't know the path. Yeah. But you know that's awesome, incredible victoria. You are astounding and we're so happy that you came to talk to us and talk about the personal librarian and to all of you out there. We encourage you to grab the personal library and yeah, it's an astounding book, preferably from our bookseller, the week russo books, which I just said correctly and the thing is on our facebook page under announcement and Marie we hope you get home safely. Yes, we missed you tonight. We missed you. But you were here in spirit with here with victoria. So victoria, thank you so much for being with us. Thank you for coming. This was so much fun. Who could have imagined. This was so much money. This was great fun. Great. Thank you. You're you're so interesting. So next up is our story point sip and stay where you never know what will happen next. So we'll see you in a minute and come back next week. Same time, same place as we welcome Kristin Higgins in Colleen Oakley. And then the following week the guest Forest Vanishing. So goodnight y'all? Thank you. Good night victoria tonight with you. Yeah. Oh my gosh, that was so amazing. And she did a great job with Marie gone. She carried beautifully patty. Good. You did a wonderful hosting job. We got to where I already lived. But you know, Oh, okay. Okay. Before we get started in our story, points up and stay after show with our story point wine. Where's my glass? All of you out there have followed them on instagram and facebook.

Right, well now we're going to prove the power friends and fiction readers and I want you to all go visit story Point wines dot com and click on story point insider and sign up for their email newsletter list. They'll send you all kind of information on wines, news events and who knows, maybe someday there'll be a, I don't know, friends and fiction event. So visit story point wise and click story point insider and I have to say patty. Speaking of story point, it's been hot. We've all had a lot of hot weather. My that story point chardonnay. No, it's good yummy. Oh, oh, I know, it's so good. I'm not because I have a cold but otherwise I'd be guzzling right now. It's so good. It really is one of my favorites. Your cold is still hanging on. It's a lingering never much, never letting go. That's too bad. Right, Probably just saying that moving, saving it for all of you. I'm gonna I'm gonna blow you a kiss from far away love over here. I'm trying my best. I'm drinking that emergence not story point wine. I'm drinking emergency, you know, those things. Yeah. Well mr everything. I woke up saturday, sunday morning, not feeling great. And so I started, you know, basically super charging him with the emergency. Yeah. A sponsor. A Yeah. You know, usually every morning, I don't know what's out there now. I lots of us, several of us start out writing like at seven in the morning and he's been very sweet. I don't drink coffee. I'm a weirdo. I have a diet coke in the morning. So usually he goes down and gets my diet coke for me this morning. I went down and got him a cup of tea and was he really sit then he's not really sick. He just doesn't feel awesome. This is a corker. Uh crazy. This weather is so crazy, it's the weather. And we have also all been cooped up in our houses for a year and now we're out in the world has like no immunity to anything that we forgot how to be human beings. Today was the first day of summer. What did you guys do for the first day of summer? Oh set my house pretty much today was not work. Yeah. Going to 11 different grocery stores and prepared food places and have my car washed and um trying to find topological, which I did. I did. You guys chica The reason for those of you out there who are confused about Christie's sudden need for food is that she is stalking our houses for the live event in Beaufort this week because I love them and we love you back and I want them to eat lots of good food. Although I suspect she's trying to make up for the lack of monogram sheets. Is there a I aren't going to actually be monogram what he was not writing this morning and we patty and I decided that she was out getting the uh, was it portals or frette sheets? It was Porta. Porta monogram sheets for us. Our sheets. Okay. It's not nothing is too good for you guys. I hope you have room in your suitcases to take them back with you. So we're so excited to come to your town. It was a super way stand together that we just dispose of our monogram on them. Okay, So I do have to say I want to go back to victoria for a second because I have to say that her talking about the interior life Belda cost and knowing what that felt like and what it might mean to. And I hadn't heard that phrase until I read the book but passing like it's a it's a free, there's a famous, there's a famous old movie think Eartha Kitt stars in it and she's passing something like I know, I know which one you think. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. I know. But honestly I was jennifer. Oh my gosh, I know the movie you're talking about. I'm working with app on I M D N. I am. Uh But you know the other thing I love that she talked about was how cool would it be if book clubs, which I mean...

...we have, my book club is largely white, but one we have a one black woman in our group. Then we've all been friends for millions of years. We were together at the paper. And wouldn't it be cool if Book clubs, black and white? Book clubs could come together to read this book together. Yeah. Read a book like this or The Vanishing Half or any of those books? Or The Yellow Wife. That would be, how cool would that be? Yeah. Yeah. And just that when she was talking about the Lost Letters and help out burn the letters. Um and how much it would have helped them to write the story if they had had those letters. Um but yet when you read the book, it's like they did have the letters. So. Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely, yeah. Letters would have been great to have. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I felt that the whole time I was writing about louis, I was like, why are you burning letters? Like nothing is going to write about. You needed Vanderbilt and her sisters burned all of their letters when they were, did they? You know, So I understand that. I kind of understand why people do it, but when you think about posterity, it's such a loss, you know? But I do understand why people would have the inclination to want their privacy. Uh I still have all the all the letters that tom and I wrote to each other in college and they're searing intellectual studies about, I don't have enough money to call you. So, getting a ride home. I love it's good. No, I just think I just love letters so much. Like I I feel like I write them and like a lot of my books, I just love letters. I think they're amazing now. Not that I write them to people in real life as much as I should, but I really do love them. I save all of them. Like I have, there was this one I got from friends of fiction person today and I was like so long and so well written and it's like, oh my gosh, like this is so beautiful and you can see this forever. You know, I found when I was passing out all this memorabilia from my kids when they came, um, I found a letter that my father had written to me when I was young and he, even when he passed saved letters that I had written to him. Um, and you know, you forget how you are at that age too. You know, the letters and it does, you're right. Maybe we should all write letters more often. I don't know that sometimes I go back and read like my old journals and I'm like, oh God, the journals are weird diary. I don't think in my will that my journals must be burned upon. I'd like to go back and look at them to see you know maybe what my goals had been or how far I'd come or dot com or what I thought in seventh grade, but nobody else needs to know that the only time I kept a journal for any length of time, I think I was a high school junior and my boyfriend who was a senior broke up with me. And so the entire year was this incredible agonizing thing about why did he, why didn't like? And then it was all part of it was like how much I hated my brothers and I wouldn't break walk with me. And I was reading, I was reading like sappy. I I think I wrote sappy poetry. There had to be poetry bathing in my agony and my history. Let's be honest girls, back in the day when we were like 8, 12, 13, they were journals. They were Diaries. Dear diary Mom. Yeah, Mom was literally, I think like a black and white composition book. I didn't have a diary, but I kept them. We have bookshelves. I shared a room with my, with my little sister and I hit it on top of those bookshelves. And when um, my parents moved, my mom being, my mother just shoved everything into a box. It's here somewhere. I don't find it. I have the coolest thing and I didn't even realize this, but I used to go to camp every summer. And so my friends and friends, like my guy friends, like people who you would not think would like write you letters at camp. Like I clearly on pain of death was like, you will write me letters at camp or I mean I have these most amazing letters from all of my friends and they used to keep notebooks when I was gone and they would write like there was a party and I wasn't there, they would write me notes and I have to have these notebooks of like everything that was going on. I was at camp like this is the coolest thing ever. I should like use some of these younger. I was just thinking when who said it? I think Christie said dear Diary. I'm like that's a good book title. Dear...

...diary. Alright ladies kid, that's that, that was done. Okay. That one's got a few readers, you have to have a lot of art to do that one. Uh All right. All right, ladies, quite a night, What a night that was used to get some of us have to get up and catch a plane in the morning. A lot of I have to drive to Southern Pines and then before I knew what time is your Southern Pines like? 11 o'clock or 12 o'clock. So it's um, so all I know is I'm there to like 3 30. So then I get in the car and drive to bow for taking care of the Sky club patty. I see at the airport. 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. Yeah.

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