Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 4 months 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. Fivebest selling authors and the stories novelist mary Kay andrews, ChristineHarmel, Christie Woodson, harvey patty Callahan, Henry and mary Alice Munroare five longtime friends with more than 80 published books to their creditIn 2020 they created friends and fiction to provide author interviewsand fascinating insider. Talk about publishing and writing and to highlightindependent bookstores. These friends discuss the books, they've written thebooks they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books andyou're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Hello everyone it is Wednesday nightand here we are Friends and think I'm mary Alice Munro, I'm mary KayAndrews, I'm Kristin Harvell, I'm Christie Woodson harvey and I am PattyCallahan Henry and this is Friends and fiction, five new york times,bestselling authors, endless stories to support independent bookstores. Tonightwe are so excited to welcome half of the writing duo of crisp victoria,Christopher Murray and Marie Benedict who co wrote an astounding newhistorical fiction novel titled The personal librarian. Tonight we'll behearing about their research and inspiration. We'll talk to victoriaabout co writing and how they work together to bring a very real womanBell Dacosta Green to life. Tonight is a rare pre recorded show because whileyou were watching this, we are in my hometown of Beaufort north Carolinadoing a live friends and fiction event that all of you will be able to watchlater. And of course next week we will be here alive again as always. Are youready for tonight? Well, we are always want to start our show with a hugethank you to our partner mama G's. They have been with us now for months andare traveling companion on all our book tours are goody bag swag and of courseour coverage are stocked. That's right. And I've stocked your houses and go forit with them to you guys. Let's go. You can get their delicious cheese, strawsand cookies for 20% off with the code. Fab five. It's a woman in business weall support because we love to surprise you at every turn or at least everyevery other current, Let's say we have a great night. Back in March. Pattygave us an exclusive cover reveal for her new novel, Once Upon A Broad OnceUpon Coming out, October 19 and now she has a surprise for us. A preorder giftthat well, I'm just gonna let paddy tell you about. So, once upon a timewhen 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 toher art in our facebook page but I asked her to paint a rendering using acombination of Narnia which is the cornerstone of my october book and thecover of Once Upon a wardrobe. I wanted to see what she would come up with. Ididn't tell her what to do and what she came up with is so stunning. So Alanput it up. This is Meg's Meg lost in the woods. Yes. And I can't wait foryou to meet megs in the novel. But this is a rendering that shows so much ofwhat the book is about. And when I saw the painting I knew I wanted to shareit with all of you. So we have made some gorgeous note cards with a quotefrom the book and the quote is each and every one of us is born with our ownstories and we must must decide how to tell them. So for every pre order youwill 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 theoriginal art on the postcard. So all of this will be on my website, my facebookinstagram 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. Ohmy gosh! I'm so excited for everybody...

...to get to read that book. I wasactually just on a podcast earlier tonight recommending it and saying howmuch I loved it. So I'm so thrilled and what a beautiful painting. So you allout there know that every week here at Friends and Fiction we partner withParade magazine online. Not only do we stream live to their facebook page, butwe also write a life lessons essay for them, which you can always find atparade dot com. And we always share in our newsletter to so this week Pattywrote about how our creative lives can be used as a compass. Yeah. So for along time I kept the list of these. I need to dig it up. But I call them myas in life lessons. It's about things I learned in life From writing forexample, have so many of them. But one of my favorites is when I first learnedthat as we all know, we have to know what our characters want. Right? Themore 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 havingis my life aimless and can I look at what I really want? So I want to hearfrom you ladies. Is there anything you're creative work has taught youthat you have used in your so called real life? My so called. Well I'llanswer, I think for me I've been writing for a long time and all mycreative work is pretty much based on intuition and I've learned over thelong years to trust it completely. So for example, when I choose the speciesto work with for a book, it's always a it's a lot I want to work with, butwhen I choose it it's this humming a strong sense of okay, yes, it's thisone I want to write about this one. Now timing is always important. And so thenas 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, youknow, this is some place I want to dig a little deeper and I'm sure you allknow what I mean, It's like, okay, this is the lead that I'm going to followand so in my life I just learned to trust that instinct to listening tomyself, 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 bethree 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, tomake big and little mistakes and I let them do things that terrify them and melots of times when they do something terrifying, you have to get out of yourown way, we'll have to roll the dice and gamble on yourself. Yeah. You knowI love that and I think kind of very along very similar lines. Um you know Itend to write about ordinary women who find themselves in these tough timesand they dig deep for the strength to do extraordinary things. So it took mea long time to realize I was writing journeys that weren't just journeys onthe page. They were journeys that I could take two. So my lesson that I'vedrawn from my work I think is that we can all be extraordinary. Um even kindof in the small ways it doesn't have to be leading a resistance movement duringWorld War Two. You can do small extraordinary things because it's thesmall things that add up to the big changes in the world and you just haveto kind of as mary Kay said you have to have the courage to roll the dice andfind your way there. I love that. That's so great. Um well I agree witheverything that you guys said but I really love writing characters who findthemselves in situations to which there is no right answer. Like when yourback's against that wall, these are your choices. But none of them are theright one or the wrong one. There's like gray area. And so I love writingabout women whose biggest challenges turn into their great teachers and putthem on the path where they were meant to be all along. And I think we can alllook back at points in our lives when something happened and we thought theworld was ending and it ended up being the thing that it was the next writestuff on our path. So I think right, right. Yeah. It's astounding that for along time I thought and you'll probably did to that our work was over here andour life was over here and when you let the two of them kind of meld togetherand 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 aboutit. Um And what this book the personal librarian has taught or showed herabout her life. So now let's talk about our incredible guests were so sad totell 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 getshome safely. But we are so excited that victoria is here with us. And we stillwant to tell you a little bit about Marie because she did co author thisbook and I got to tell you about her. It's my turn marine. Then you know, umpatty and mary Alice and I had dinner with Marie a couple years ago at theSavannah Book Festival and we had such a fun dinner that night. We had, it wasa night of stars, right? We had Elizabeth. It was like it was right. Soyou know, she told us about this book at dinner and said I'm not allowed totell you, are you serious? And I forgot that. Oh my gosh, it all comes fullcircle. Yeah. So Maria is a new york times best selling author and a lawyerwith more than 10 years experience as a litigator at two of the country'spremier law firms. She found her calling unearthing the hiddenhistorical stories of women. She embarked on a new thematicallyconnected series, historical novels with the other Einstein which tells thetale of Albert Einstein's first wife. What followed were four morebestsellers about very real and very different but very fascinating women.Now, her first co written book, the personal librarian is out with talentedvictoria Christopher Murray writing as heather Tarell mary has Marie has alsopublished the historical novels, the chrysalis, the map thief and Brigid ofKildare. She go ahead Kristin. She lives somewhere, I will tell you. Shelives in pennsylvania. Pennsylvania. She does. She lives, yes, she livesright near, oh my gosh, there's a great book store. She lives near penguin, Ithink it's called the penguin bookshop. And so how do you know this? That'scrazy. 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 coauthor, victoria, Christopher Murray who is a native of queens. She earned aB. A. In communication disorders from Hampton University and an M. B. A. Fromnew york university. Victoria spent 10 years in corporate America beforelaunching an entrepreneurial company Where she managed the # one Division infinance for nine consecutive years. That's amazing, wow. And yet despitethe finance, she was once dubbed a christian fiction writer because no oneelse was writing about religious topics and victoria trail place, the literaryscene penny more than 30 novels co writing with other authors andghostwriting for top talent across the country. And victoria now lives not inpennsylvania but in Washington, D. C. Not near the penguin bookshop. Personallibrarian is co written by these women and is the remarkable story of Jpmorgan's personal librarian, Bell Dacosta Green, the black american womanwho was forced to hide her true identity and passes white to leave alasting legacy that enriched our nation. So now let's meet victoria. Mhm. Writea you been enjoying the show so much a little bit. Here we are so happy you'rehere and we have so much to talk to you about. So Christie. Why don't you startus off? Yes. Okay. So victoria, I believe I've heard that this storystarted with Marie and she contacted you about this idea. So I'm justwondering what did you think when she called you? Did you know about Bell? Sothis is a funny story. Uh actually Marie contacted, she read one of mynovels and then she contacted her agent who contacted my agent and Soma recentto page double, I mean a single space proposal. And um when my agent said Iwant you to really kind of take a look at this and see if you'd be interestedin it. The first thing I did was look up Marie there. Is it? So I said okaythis is interesting, does she know who I am? I mean does she look at a pictureof me? Does she really know who I am? Um but my agent said yes she doesvictoria. Then I read the first paragraph and of the proposal and itwas about jp morgan. And he had this...

...personal librarian and I couldn't getpast the first paragraph because I just wasn't interested in J. P. Morgan. Ididn't write historical fiction. I just couldn't figure out what did Mariebenedicte want with me. So my speeches, step calling saying have you read theproposal? And I said no I'm really busy. And finally after three months she saidto me two pages, you cannot be that busy. So I read finally the whole thingand it was about jp morgan and his library and I just didn't care. And hemet this woman and block and the last paragraph said and she was africanamerican passing um as white and I set up in my chair. The way she played thelead was the lead. Yes, like telling me all the time that should have been thelead three months and finally my agent, what are you doing? It's two pages. Youdon't, you have time to read two pages. And then after that I was just, I wasin, I was not be, yeah, I was so honored and then our agents put ustogether, I said hello Marie said hello and we were instant friends and I met afew months later we were sisters. It has amazing experience with me. But shehas that effect of people, doesn't she? She does, she does and we have so muchin common. So that's amazing. Well can you tell us a little bit about Bell andwho 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 anattorney. And she used to go to the morgan library to just get away fromthe attorney life during life. Um and she would go and imagine herselfwriting about people and and someone there at the library told her aboutBelda cost, agree and how she was african american. And people didn'treally discover that until she passed away because she burned all of herletter. She did not want people to know because she didn't want it to affectthe legacy of the library. That's what we believe. And so this, so Marie hadit in her head for years to write about Bell and you will always tell you thatshe kind of felt Bell sitting in the corner tapping her foot with her armscoils saying, when are you gonna get me a But Marie never felt that she couldwrite that book alone. Uh she felt that she wouldn't be able to, it wouldn't beauthentic if she voted by herself and Marie and I did something the othernight where I said I couldn't have written this book. Um it really didtake two authors one black, one White to bring the truth of who Bell was tolight. And she just has such a rich legacy because she's the daughter ofRichard 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 todaysaying Belt Acosta Green, is that Richard T greener? His daughter. I knowI was so happy to say yes it is. And so she would have never been able to hideher identity in today's on instagram. It would have been all place. Oh surewe 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 familywere free blacks who lived in Washington D. C. In an area that'sstill known today as the Gold Coast and um so they were all educated engineersand teachers, but her father was the grandson of a slave but still verybright obviously. Um but he was an activist And he believed that thiscountry was one day going to grow up to be what it said it was going to be, andhe wanted equality for everyone. My wife was in was in the fight with himuntil the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was overturned. And once the Civil RightsAct 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 girlreturned it, we live in a different...

...world, but it was overturned and thenJim Crow and everything followed. But his wife at that point said, you knowwhat, we've been fighting, but I give up and I'm gonna take this gift thatI've been given of my skin, we're gonna raise our Children as white. Um and hesaid no and they split up and bell was 16 at the time, which I think was suchan amazing age. She was old enough to know what was going on, but too youngto really make the decision about which way should she go with her mother? Thatwas a long answer, wasn't it? It's a lot. I didn't know. That was, It playsright into my question about living a divided life. You know, she has thatsecret that she has to protect at all costs and her anxiety about this andalso 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 beinggiven 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 18hundreds or early 19 hundreds um Called We we wear a mask. That's the title wewere of that. And it talks about being black in this world and having to weara mask all the time. And so some of that I think is in our D. N. A. Uhbecause now we had to do it to an extreme. Um but I think some of that iswound up in our D. N. A. That in this country we we we have to wear a massand she knew how to do it. Her mother actually taught her but our in in theblack community we're constantly taught about wearing a mask and how to movethrough this world safely. And um if you want an education, how what youhave 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 thatshe was raised as a fleet, which was her mother's family. Um, and so theywere raised to behave a certain way after a certain way. Um, but everynight when she went home and she put her head down on her pillow, she wasblack. And there there are a lot of people that live that way, even ifthey're not, they don't have to be exposed. Um One of the things thatMarie was surprised to find out when I was talking to her about passingbecause there's no one my age who's black who doesn't know someone whodoesn't have a great grandmother, grandmother great to everybody knowssomeone who's passed uh even my grandmother, but for convenience. Sonot every day just for when she needed to go to the bank and they wouldn't lether, she didn't want to walk around to the back or not together or stuff likethat. So everybody knows somebody. But one of the things that I told Mariethat she was surprised to find out was that Bell was never afraid of beingouted 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 theblack 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 sheget away with that? She looks like my grandmother. Uh you know, but but forwhite people she looked white and so but black people know black people. Soshe was interesting. She was never afraid, she knew what she had to do topretend because in the book um one of the things that we discovered duringour research was they added her name. Dacosta only, she rather use bellDacosta 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 sentenceyou just said about when she put her head down the pillow at night, she knewhe was black. Now you said she destroyed a lot of her letters, is thatright? Yes, yes. We recently Marie and I attended a virtual event at themorgan library where they found letters that she had written to her loveinterest, the love of her life. A married man. I was just like, okay,just bring the drama. I was very complicated, complicated hisrelationship because like right before she began the affair, she had lunchwith him and his wife and his wife was like, have a good time, honey. I wasvery stressed out. I okay. I was like, what's happening here? I already hasenough going on. I was dressed out. I could have gone to that lunch. Oh, Ibut that's to that lunch. Excuse me. I said you took us to that lunch. Iwanted to and then, but I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get belt to thelunch. I really wasn't sure I was because a couple of times I wanted togo right back upstairs because it's not what we do know. Oh, she had enoughgoing on. Oh my God, okay. But we have attended an event at the Morgan libraryand so many of the letters that she had written to Bernard was saved. And so weget to discover a lot. Like I like Marie and I both wish so much that wehad some of those letters as we were at, that family was yeah, more insight intoher and I don't think we did enough justice to how much they loved eachother. I felt it. I felt I felt it it was we need those letters. Once weheard about those letters were like, oh my goodness, they she was the love ofhis 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 makesfor a complicated life but it makes for great fiction, doesn't it? Sure doesWhat's so interesting, we didn't have to do much for her story. It was justfull of uh just interesting, intrigued because what would have happened if jpmorgan knew? I mean he could have destroyed their entire family becausehe 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 hewas just going to play along. Yeah. It was not. I wondered that. I wonderedthat too because by then he respected her and by then he knew that hislibrary depended on her. And by then there's a possibility I'm not going tosay anything else. I don't want to give anything away of this extraordinarybook. Okay, so you all know that every week we pick an indie bookstore andthis week victoria you chose Is it Russ? So a Russo Russo Russo. I have mangledsome bookstores uh skin I'm asking russo yes russo books in BakersfieldCalifornia which by the way is where some of my favorite music has come fromthe Bakersfield sound and it is a family owned store. And I have to tellyou the sweetest thing. When we asked rick when our guru meg asked rick if hewanted to participate, he wrote back and said this is a genius idea not onlypromoting five active writers and their works but inviting other guest authorsenter 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 hopeeveryone orders books from them tonight. Yeah, tell us why you chose them. Youknow that was when you asked me to recommend the bookstore. It was hard inin the book. It is in the moment. You are the reason why I have my careerbecause they yes, so they Hansel your books, they know you they have beenpromoting you forever and ever and it was the hardest thing to do and Idecided to do russo's because I don't...

I've only met him like I think once ortwice but he has an employee who works there who has been so supportive of mycareer for 20 years. That's great. And so um I wanted to that was the reasonand he's an employee. He you know he doesn't even own the store but JasonFrost is um and he's not just supportive of me, just authors and heloves to read, you know, anybody who loves to read has my heart. yeah. Sothat's why I chose. It was so hard though, because I could give you a listof independent who have supported me my whole career. So but thank you fordoing this. This was great. Oh my God, what a Beautiful reason to choose thestore too. I love that. So for all of you listening out there, you can get15% off this week, with no code required on the personal librarian andnew and recent titles from all of us. So, Victoria, a little bit earlier inthe show, we talked about how our creative lives in our real lives kindof feed each other. Is there anything that this book taught you that you'vecarried forward in your life? You know, this book and even other books, butespecially with Bell has taught me patience uh this kind of impatiencewith everything, like in the creative process, sometimes the writing doesn'tcome, you know, the C form they don't and so if you wait um if you just waitand 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'sfuneral and that was a scene where Marie and I waited. We had a totallydifferent scene and we knew it wasn't the right one, but we kind of waitedand 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 usuallywhen I get near the end of the book of any book, I have no idea what's goingto 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 justkind 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 bestendings just kind of came to me and 2:30 AM, I wish My brain works that wayat 2:30 AM and I don't even like, you know about the bills and things thatare not working out right? Like I forgot to pick up the dry cleaning, Iwill wake up and then have to get on my phone. I'm so grateful for the phonebecause it used to be that I have to write it out and it would be so sleepythat in the morning I couldn't read what I'd read this. Um and so now Iwill 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'strue. Trying the audio. That's actually yeah. Uh Victory. You know, a lot of, Imean, I'll be out walking, thinking about my dry cleaning and then thecharacters or something. Yeah, that's awesome. It's kind of that idea ofhaving your mind on something else which frees up that creative space orsomething. Uh victoria. Is there something you hope we take away fromthe book that the reader walks away from um enriched in some way by readingthis book? What do you hope we take away from it? You know what, heatherMarie? I'm sorry, I keep blowing out. Uh We do, yeah, Marie and I had anamazing 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 theediting during a pandemic. And so we had time to just kind of sit and athome and look at each other on zoom for three hours a day. And then we had toedit this book during all of this social unrest. And so a lot of thatmade its way into the book because for the first hour every single day heatherand I talked just about what was going on and how we felt about it. And it hadnothing to do with just talked about...

...racial relations. People listen to us.Everything would have been already solved because I have worked, youshould have recorded it, recorded everything, we didn't know how specialthat time was until looking at. And so what we have talked about and what wehope is that as people read, they'll read this book together like Book Clubswill come together. You know, people say that the most segregated time inAmerica is sunday morning um and in church, but I think there's anothertime, I think it's in Book clubs and so they're both together and read thisbecause they're going to discover different things and and differenttakeaways. And I think it will just lead to wonderful discussions that willjust help just help us move forward. That's what my greatest hope is withthis book. Great. And that sort of leads into my question too, because youworked with Maria in this book and it was not your first collaboration, wasit? And I just finished my first collaboration and I know that it reallydid a lot depends on trust not only the talent but at the individual. And canyou talk about the process of collaboration a little bit, both withMarie 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 sayBillingsley and I always say that I hit the Guinness Book of World Recordsbecause 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'vejust been blessed twice. I don't think it a third time. Yeah, too much. Youreally do have to trust that each one of you have each other's best interestsat heart. We're just trying man. But but the blessing in this for me is thatthe Shonda and Marie are almost like the same person. There's one part ofwriting that they love that I can't stand. And then the part of writingthat 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 pullingteeth without any medication over and over it. Uh and it's just so hard forme to get words down on the page the first time unless I really, really seethe scene. But then both Lashonda and Marie cannot stand. The rewritingprocess. Re neither bereavement process is magic. I actually agree. I love thatis 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 thinkI, even though with both of them, we do write the first draft together. Um theyhave that's their greatest strength whereas I'm like still looking for themedication because I yeah, I need wine or something together. You know, I gotto say victoria, that really is the secret. We took took Angela and I fouryears to figure this out because we were not under deadline at thebeginning and it really was figuring out what your strengths are like yousaid and what wasn't. But you mentioned earlier to that this is a genrehistorical is one that you discovered that you really like. So will youcollaborate again or you're going out on your own in this? We arecollaborating again. We just okay there you are excited. We're going to write abook about Eleanor and mary Eleanor, Roosevelt and mary McLeod Bethune andtheir friendship so lovely. Oh, I'm so pleased, I'm so, I'm so excited aboutthat. And so we'll be doing that. But I already talked to Marie about a coupleof ideas. I had to what I have to do another solo a project. And so um Ijust love I love this john I am not a genre writer. I just write what's in myheart in the moment and sometimes it'll be suspend. Sometimes it would beromance. I don't know, I don't call it anything, I don't call that thing, Icall it my book, my next uh but this...

I'm I'm stuck that feeling that uh thatwas one of the things I love the researching part of it, which isexactly what I want to talk about because the research is what gets youhooked on historical fiction. So you start to learn and see all these thingsrising from the past that we think don't matter anymore. Because theirpast and you're like, whoa, that's for me for today, right? So sometimes whenwe write about real people, the because I've done it too, we feel thiscompulsion, right? And you said Marie felt like Bell was over there tappingher foot, like waiting. I'm waiting. I remember once asking her, um you know how she knew or if she wasgoing to keep doing this and how she knew what was next. And she said shefelt there were like all these women just waiting to be written about andthat when she finally picked someone, it was like it had to be done. But shealso 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 sobeautifully written in this book. So, can you talk to me about how yourresearch about her translated into bringing forth her Interior Lifequestion? That is a very good question. I write that question down and take itwith me on every interview. That's a great question. Uh you know, it wasn'tas hard what I loved about research, was finding out those little tidbits,like like Marie taught me about research and we both read the samebiography, but then just going on the internet and finding an article thatled to another article that led to another article uh for one sentencethat ends up in the book, I remember spending five hours and I discoveredone sentence is a lot of people were questioning her complexion and wonderedif she was from CUBA. And so we put that in the book. But it took me fivehours to find something interesting at her because I just love that. Buteternal part I kind of I knew it. Um obviously never passed. But I have beenthe only person in many environments. I've been the only black person in manyenvironments. So I could imagine what it was like for her to walk into a roomand to be the only person and all the pressure, the only person of color andall 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 mymother and my grandmother told us the same things. I can imagine what it waslike to just go out into that world. So so much of bells internal thinking andthen she was came from a lot of how I was raised and how this is how you haveto be show the straight bells. Mother's voice was my mother's voice, tell thestraight set up, turn your head, you know, um just all of those, those kindsof things. So that was actually part of the, that was kind of the easy part. Umfor me why I think Marie wanted me to work with her on this project becauseshe, she felt that that would be something that I could bring, Eventhough this was Marie's idea, this was a one, she was so wonderful. Marie wasso wonderful. This was a 100% effort on both of our parts, every single word wewrote together, you know? Yeah. Mhm. Mhm. So I'm so sorry I'm talking and I Mutedmyself one of our favorite parts of just tag fail just a small one, they'reprobably whatever favorite parts of the show is receiving a writing tip fromour guests. So victoria, you've kind of already given us some amazing ones andyou have some incredible resources on your website website a module forcreative writing and self editing, which I mean um you teach writing forany of you out there who are interested in that, go check out her informativewebsite. But now we would love a...

...writing tip if you have another one forus. I do one of the things that I try to tell all new writers is that youcan't find a book in your head, you cannot. So you have to get that firstdraft down on paper. So I'm kind of preaching to myself when I'm sayingbecause I said how hard it is for me and you have to get it down on paper nomatter 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'redoing it wrong. You if your first draft looks good, there's something wrongyour first draft is giving birth. And everybody knows that when a baby comesout of the mama, it's not very pretty. Everybody knows the baby doesn't lookgood. Only the mama thinks the baby what study dads know the babys up. Whathappens is that the baby gets cleaned up and you put on clothes and they growup and that's your second and your third and your fourth draft. But youtend to buy the book in your head. So just give birth to that ugly baby andwe'll see the baby. You get to clean up the baby. But you gotta you can't havea baby, you can't give birth to somebody who's ready to graduate fromcollege 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 Ithink 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 thestuff I do. Well yeah, the draft. The draft. Only A mother could love thatexactly what I'm going to steal up. That's what a mother could love. You'regonna 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 beripped stacks are not tall enough. But could you tell us what your lovingright now? So what I'm loving right now is I'm in the middle of the other blackgirl and I can't figure it out. So that's why I'm loving it. But Ifinished a book that's probably one of the best books I've read in the lastfive years and it's called Yellow Wife. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. That was a wonderfulbook. It was brutal. That was just brutal. But it was the first bookbecause obviously I've read I've read about that time period before. Um butI've always read about slaves kind of like over there. Yeah this was thefirst book. I can't tell you why. I can't explain it where I thought aboutmy 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 knowI mean I honestly this book made me think about my and I do that everbefore ever have to meet Sequa all right, The friend of mine, she'sawesome. Yeah, she is wonderful. There was such a good book. It was a greatinterview. I've been hurt at the book. She's a great writer. But this is awhole 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 isbrand new and paperback this week. It has a gorgeous new cover, it came outlast year in hardcover. Um and I would highly recommend it. It's it's about aHarvard freshman who becomes obsessed with her schizophrenic brother'ssuicide and then she starts hearing voices. So it's really um just thisreally kind of intricately plotted thriller which maybe should notsurprise anyone since um she is the daughter of a very skilled writer,known for her intricate plotting. She is the daughter of lisa Scottoline, ewho's a great friend of our show, so Francesca's amazing. Ghost of Harvardis amazing. Out this week. In paperback, I would recommend that. Good. So, Iwould like to suggest preordering this book that's coming out in two weekscalled The Forest of Cars. I've heard...

...that I've heard it, you know, if youall have heard much about it, but it is amazing and it is out in two weeks andI don't need to run and preorder the Forest Advantage. I hear that authorhas some really good friends, really, a friends, a big advance craze for a lotof people talking about it, just talking, talking, talking. But that'sbecause we're on the show every week and I think I was talking about it. Butthanks a alright everyone please stick around. Not only for our story pointwine. Sit and stay after show. It's just such a mouthful. Yeah, graduallyname it. You can't drink the story point and then say story points andstay 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 morequestion for victoria do not go anywhere and we want to remind all ofyou out there to remember to check out our podcasts. We are so excited withwhat is going on with our podcasts. The friends and fiction writer's Blockpodcast with superstar, Librarian Ron Block is every friday Now, every fridayis a new episode wherever podcasts are found and we played a video last weekof meg showing us how to use it and we will cop it up again on the facebookpage for those of you who can't find it. This friday coming up, you will hear anincredibly special episode called Origin Stories and we talked to ChrisWhitaker about his novel, we begin at the end and Amy jo Burns about hernovel Shiner. You do not want to miss hearing the origin stories of theseastounding novels, it's true and gosh Ron just such a great job so that youknow, he's amazing, we're so lucky. So another thing that you don't want tomiss and another reason we're so lucky is we have the Friends and fictionofficial book club, it's headed up by our friends Brenda Gartner and lisaHarrison and they have such a great schedule coming up. So they justfinished a fascinating conversation with our very own mary Kay andrewsabout the newcomer. And next up on july 19th is the summer of Lost and Foundwith mary Alice Munro. And then on august 16th I will be joining them todiscuss the Forest of Vanishing Stars. But you may have heard about, you mayhave heard a little bit, it's a great group and we hope you'll join. It's soawesome. Right? And do you guys know that we have merch now? You guys askedfor it and we have it. So we've got t shirts, wine cups and coffee tumblersand 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 ourfacebook page and don't forget Mama Geraldine's is out there, our partnerand entertaining and all things smacking, so snack on, y'all. And nextweek, I love when you say that, I know she's like, I want to say it is perfectnext week. Don't you don't want to miss us. We'll be back on our facebook pageat seven p.m. For Kristen Higgins and Calling Oakley both great storiesUnpacked the Moon and the Vanishing Husband of Frick Island. And then thefollowing week and other friends and fiction launch for a little thing. Welike to call the Forest of Vanishing Stars. As usual. We have so manysurprises in store for you. You guys? I'm crazy. So, okay, we are completelyinsane. I'm insane guys, there's going to be a musical. We're doing a Forestof Vanishing Stars musical Musical. Um, there will be singing. Um, it won'tall be good by us. Yeah, they will be singing. And I'm not sure if that's apromise or a threat, but either way we hope you will be here for it for ourfull schedule. Please visit our website or check the sidebar on our facebookpage. And don't forget that if you miss an episode you can find it on ourYoutube Friends and Fiction channel. Alright, victoria, it's back to you. Soit'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 youinto being a writer. And so can you tell us a little bit about the valuesaround reading and writing in your childhood? Oh my goodness. That's whereit started for me. Uh My parents and my dad used to always say he knew I wasgonna do something because when I because when they would read to me Iwould like stopped them and asked them...

...about the words and how did they get onthe page? And he would be like can you just listen to this? Uh My I got myfirst library card when I was seven years old and that was the greatestgift 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 inthe Children's section. What changed my life was also when I was seven yearsold. After being just wanting to read all the time, I decided to write and Iwrote a play. And people, I wrote my first masterpiece when I was setting inand people say how can you write a masterpiece when you're seven then youcan if you plagiarize I plagiarized all the masterpieces. It was called Bettyand the Witch. And she was a little girl who wore school uniform with thered hood and she had three bears for brothers, three pigs, the sisters andnext 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 ofcourse I was in the second grade, gave it to my teacher was 20 pages. It hadmusic, everything in there and the entire skin grade performed it as aplay. I caught by surprise sleep's pieces of it. I remember her sayingsince I wrote it that I could choose the part I wanted to play. And then Iremember in the assembly when afterwards over she introduced me tothe parents and everybody else that was in there as the writer. And that waswhen I became a right. I just say that's pretty impressive. That's awhole lot more than I got. Do you want to be a writer when you grow up? Youwere a writer was reduced to play because all the other masterpieces weregood. So together, nobody put them together before God together. So, I seeGloria, 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, whatdo 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 littlegirl. Yeah. It took me a while to get there. But from that day, I knew I wasgoing to be a writer. I knew it. I knew amazing. I was going to get there. Ididn'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 totalk 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 astoundingbook, preferably from our bookseller, the week russo books, which I just saidcorrectly and the thing is on our facebook page under announcement andMarie 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 youso much for being with us. Thank you for coming. This was so much fun. Whocould have imagined. This was so much money. This was great fun. Great. Thankyou. You're you're so interesting. So next up is our story point sip and staywhere you never know what will happen next. So we'll see you in a minute andcome back next week. Same time, same place as we welcome Kristin Higgins inColleen Oakley. And then the following week the guest Forest Vanishing. Sogoodnight y'all? Thank you. Good night victoria tonight with you. Yeah. Oh my gosh, that was so amazing. Andshe 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 aftershow with our story point wine. Where's my glass? All of you out there havefollowed them on instagram and facebook.

Right, well now we're going to provethe power friends and fiction readers and I want you to all go visit storyPoint wines dot com and click on story point insider and sign up for theiremail newsletter list. They'll send you all kind of information on wines, newsevents and who knows, maybe someday there'll be a, I don't know, friendsand fiction event. So visit story point wise and click story point insider andI have to say patty. Speaking of story point, it's been hot. We've all had alot 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 beguzzling right now. It's so good. It really is one of my favorites. Yourcold 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 allof you. I'm gonna I'm gonna blow you a kiss from far away love over here. I'mtrying my best. I'm drinking that emergence not story point wine. I'mdrinking emergency, you know, those things. Yeah. Well mr everything. Iwoke up saturday, sunday morning, not feeling great. And so I started, youknow, 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 lotsof us, several of us start out writing like at seven in the morning and he'sbeen very sweet. I don't drink coffee. I'm a weirdo. I have a diet coke in themorning. 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 notreally 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 beencooped up in our houses for a year and now we're out in the world has like noimmunity to anything that we forgot how to be human beings. Today was the firstday of summer. What did you guys do for the first day of summer? Oh set myhouse pretty much today was not work. Yeah. Going to 11 different grocerystores and prepared food places and have my car washed and um trying tofind topological, which I did. I did. You guys chica The reason for those ofyou out there who are confused about Christie's sudden need for food is thatshe is stalking our houses for the live event in Beaufort this week because Ilove 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. Isthere a I aren't going to actually be monogram what he was not writing thismorning and we patty and I decided that she was out getting the uh, was itportals or frette sheets? It was Porta. Porta monogram sheets for us. Oursheets. Okay. It's not nothing is too good for you guys. I hope you have roomin your suitcases to take them back with you. So we're so excited to cometo your town. It was a super way stand together that we just dispose of ourmonogram on them. Okay, So I do have to say I want to go back to victoria for asecond because I have to say that her talking about the interior life Beldacost and knowing what that felt like and what it might mean to. And I hadn'theard 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 andshe'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, Iknow 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 coolwould 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 friendsfor millions of years. We were together at the paper. And wouldn't it be coolif Book clubs, black and white? Book clubs could come together to read thisbook together. Yeah. Read a book like this or The Vanishing Half or any ofthose 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 helpout burn the letters. Um and how much it would have helped them to write thestory if they had had those letters. Um but yet when you read the book, it'slike they did have the letters. So. Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely, yeah. Letterswould have been great to have. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I felt that the wholetime I was writing about louis, I was like, why are you burning letters? Likenothing is going to write about. You needed Vanderbilt and her sistersburned all of their letters when they were, did they? You know, So Iunderstand that. I kind of understand why people do it, but when you thinkabout posterity, it's such a loss, you know? But I do understand why peoplewould have the inclination to want their privacy. Uh I still have all theall the letters that tom and I wrote to each other in college and they'researing 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 somuch. Like I I feel like I write them and like a lot of my books, I just loveletters. I think they're amazing now. Not that I write them to people in reallife as much as I should, but I really do love them. I save all of them. LikeI have, there was this one I got from friends of fiction person today and Iwas like so long and so well written and it's like, oh my gosh, like this isso beautiful and you can see this forever. You know, I found when I waspassing out all this memorabilia from my kids when they came, um, I found aletter that my father had written to me when I was young and he, even when hepassed saved letters that I had written to him. Um, and you know, you forgethow 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 goback and read like my old journals and I'm like, oh God, the journals areweird 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 hadbeen or how far I'd come or dot com or what I thought in seventh grade, butnobody else needs to know that the only time I kept a journal for any length oftime, I think I was a high school junior and my boyfriend who was asenior broke up with me. And so the entire year was this incredibleagonizing thing about why did he, why didn't like? And then it was all partof it was like how much I hated my brothers and I wouldn't break walk withme. And I was reading, I was reading like sappy. I I think I wrote sappypoetry. There had to be poetry bathing in my agony and my history. Let's behonest 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 blackand white composition book. I didn't have a diary, but I kept them. We havebookshelves. I shared a room with my, with my little sister and I hit it ontop of those bookshelves. And when um, my parents moved, my mom being, mymother just shoved everything into a box. It's here somewhere. I don't findit. I have the coolest thing and I didn't even realize this, but I used togo to camp every summer. And so my friends and friends, like my guyfriends, like people who you would not think would like write you letters atcamp. Like I clearly on pain of death was like, you will write me letters atcamp or I mean I have these most amazing letters from all of my friendsand they used to keep notebooks when I was gone and they would write likethere was a party and I wasn't there, they would write me notes and I have tohave these notebooks of like everything that was going on. I was at camp likethis 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'mlike 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 ofart to do that one. Uh All right. All right, ladies, quite a night, What anight that was used to get some of us have to get up and catch a plane in themorning. A lot of I have to drive to Southern Pines and then before I knewwhat 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 tobow for taking care of the Sky club patty. I see at theairport. Thank you for tuning in, Join us everyweek on Facebook or YouTube where our live show airs every Wednesday night atseven p.m. eastern time and please subscribe to our podcast and follow uson instagram. We're so glad you're here. Yeah.

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