Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 3 months ago

WB S1E10: Ron Block with Monica West and Wanda Morris

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK: Ron Block talks with Monica West, Author of Revival Season & Wanda M. Morris, Author of All Her LIttle Secrets. Both are debutnovels and stunning examples of imortant Diverse Voices.

...how are you gearing up for this bigdebut in november? I you know what Ron I go back and forth because I'm stillkind of in this dream state like I got so much rejection with this book. Mhm Yeah, welcome to the Friends andFiction Writer's Block podcast. Five new york times, bestselling authors,one rock star librarian and endless stories join mary Kay andrews,Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson harvey paddy, Callaghan, Henry, mary,Alice Munro and Ron Block As novelists. We are five longtime friends with 85books between us. I am Ron Block. I am so glad you've joined us forfascinating author interviews along with insider. Talk about publishing andwriting. If you love books and are curious about the writing world, you'rein the right place. 1300:01:11.540 --> 00:01:16.310welcome to the Friends and FictionWriter's Block podcast. I am Ron Block on this episode we begin an ongoingseries called diverse voices. These are voices that give us a glimpse outsideof our own known worlds. They helped to develop empathy and understanding alongwith showing commonalities. Our guests today exemplify literary voices thathave emerged to great acclaim this past turbulent year. I'm so honored towelcome Monica West, author of Revival Season, which was released on May 25thof this year. And wanda m Morris, author of the forthcoming lead readfrom Harpercollins all Her Little Secrets, which is out november thesecond. My first guest is Monica West. This debut novel was hailed by noneother than Ann Patchett saying: tender and wise Revival season explores agirl's faith in both her family and in God, Monica West, formidable talent ismatched by her generosity of spirit, making the most winning combination Areader could wish for. Welcome, Monica. Thank you for having me. It's so goodto see you again. We have done some things before, and I just you know howmuch I love your book, thank you. It's so good to be in the room with you SoI'm excited, so Monica was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio where Icurrently am and she spent her early years reading everything that she couldget her hands on. Early in elementary school she started writing stories andnever stopped her love of reading and writing drove her to get her B. A. Inenglish literature from Duke University and her M. A. In english and americanliterature from new york university. She received her M. F. A. In fictionfrom the Iowa writer's workshop where she was a rona Jaffe graduate fellow.She currently lives in Oakland California where she is readingeverything still that she can get her hands on teaching high school englishand writing another novel. We can only hope so. Welcome once again Monica andwelcome to the friends and fiction writer's block podcast. Thanks again.Thanks for the introduction. Yes. so your book revival season has full ofso many themes that include faith family, feminism, dysfunction, abusepower and more. It transcends the notion that it is about religion andexplores universal issues for sure. Can you give us an overview of thisfantastic book? Sure. I would say that revival season is the story of 15 yearold Mary important, who is the oldest daughter of a faith healer and revivalpreacher, who basically spends this really unique summer on the road therein a car together. And so Miriam's the oldest daughter. She has a youngerbrother, Caleb, she has a younger sister named Hannah and then she's hermother and her father, who she calls papa and mama. And they spend theentire summer in this van and they travel from tent to tent in the southand the father heals people of disease and preaches sermons to standing roomonly crowds. And an event has happened the previous summer that has shakenMiriam's belief in her father, but she...

...still wants to believe the book beginswith Miriam kind of wanting these things about her father to not be true.And then she witnesses something on this new revival season circuit wherethe book begins that let's her believe that the things that she's thoughtabout her father are no longer true. And so as the book unfolds, Miriamdiscovers some real fissures in her family and in her faith and her father.And then she also discovers some secret powers that she has that threatened toeither destroy her family or make her more powerful than she ever imagined.And so that's the kind of arc of the story as it goes. And it's a story thatI reread it to get ready for this again, and I just I'm reminded of the power ofthe characters in the book and the power of their faith in each other. Andjust really the new york Times also love this book. You were chosen as apick of the week from them and you had a glowing review in the book review andthat since we last spoke, so, congratulations on that so much amazing.I just want to tell everybody the new york Times said that redemption, asMiriam realizes comes in many guises, her moral choices must be hers alone.And in this regard she affirms her personal relationship, if not with God,that with her emerging self, how have you felt getting all of these glowingaccolades and support? It has been pretty surreal, I think that when thebook came, and it is such a good way. I think that one writes a book inobscurity and hope that it gets received when people end up reading itand for me to get reviews, like, I've been getting I am, it floors me everytime I get one, like, the moment you open a review is a moment of sheerterror. It's like, oh, they finally figured out that this book isn't reallygood and they're going to tell me that it isn't some really big media formatand that hasn't happened for me. So, I'm really lucky that revival season isgetting a ton of reviews that are really good and I am just grateful andI'm glad that people are getting it and getting what I was trying to do withthe book and it's getting to readers which is ultimately what you want froma book, so I'm grateful that the reviews are helping it get in people'shands. Yes, Yeah, and they keep coming to I keep seeing more and more peopleare discovering the book and just loving it's been so great, it's beenand it's literally moment of terror and then you're like, okay, I can breathe,you know, it's kind of like it's going to be really bad and it's not so I'mreally happy with it. Um So I want to talk a little bit if you don't mindabout Miriam. Miriam is um it's interesting a lot of books that I'veread lately to have these very young strong protagonist girls as the centerof the books, but she is no exception, watching her grow and watching herevolve and her thinking it's almost like you just feel so protective of her.What was it like to develop her and it was there a model for her character? Umnot a model that I can think of, but I think that Miriam is pieces of things Iadmire and appreciate and she's I mean I've one of the things you read in mybio as I've been a high school teacher for 13 years, and so there is asignificant amount of my life that has spent with people about this age. Andso I watched young people come into their own and discover their voice. AndMiriam is made up of that, the stuff I see in kids this age every day, um andto create her, was this really gratifying journey of, what would itlook like for this girl who has been told her whole life that there arethings that she can't do because she's she's female. There are things that shecannot aspire to think places that she can't go, uh things you can never beand what would it look like for her to...

...just kind of break all that open andkind of try to discover this for herself. So I love the journey of herawakening and I had to also explore the fear of what that means, because themore she evolves in the thinking, the more she distances herself from herfamily, and the more she feels really at odds with what she's believed herwhole life. And so it's the summer of awakening discovery that's exciting.And I had to also capture the fear and the loneliness and the isolation andwhat it looks like to then see your family through a really different lensthat you never imagine. You'd have to see them through and to see them asflawed and as human and as imperfect and what that looks like for her. Andso that's what I was kind of really working my way through. It comes shining through china, backingup a little bit from that. What we love to talk about original stories, wheredid this idea for this come from and how did you decide where to take it? Sobooks come to me, it sounds so mystical and spiritual. Books come to me andimages. And so this book came, there's an image that's in the first section ofthe book um where the first chapter is the family in this van and they'rerumbling towards Georgia. And the first, the first image I saw in the book wasof this van um kind of driving, you know, down this highway in texas. Andso I see, sorry. So I see a van first and then I kept seeing the van drivingand going somewhere down the highway. And I had and for me when I see imagesrepeatedly, I have to then think, what's the story in this image? Whatthis image trying to show me what's going on here. So I saw the image firstand then once I saw the image, I backed up and had to think about who's in thisvan. Why do they matter? What's the story? What's the conflict? And Ithought about one of the things I said, okay, well I need to have this people,these people where it doesn't feel like a regular trip to the grocery store. Itneeds to feel like this van is this claustrophobic nomadic home for thesummer. And it needs to feel like something that is everything happens inyour in this tight space, you can't escape anyone. So I wanted there to bethis intense feeling of claustrophobia. And then I wondered what it would looklike to have the person with the most power in this group, this family unit,be consistently in the same space of the person with the least power. And soonce I did, once I thought through that, the idea of religion came to me interms of what I could actually think through, in terms of who would be in avan for that long. That's when the revival idea came came forward. Andthen what it would look like to have somebody heard the father, thispatriarch, who is this domineering force of nature and he dominates overthe family and what it looks like for him to be in the car with his daughter,who for him has always just been this personality over looks and what, whatdoes it look like when you can't over I see you in the rear view mirror, Ican't overlook you. And so that's so that it started with an image and Iback filled the idea um in the setting and the plot onto the image that I wasseeing. That is amazing. Um so why revival season that seems like such anexample of faith and fervent and um just just all kinds of things um fromthe south. Um what kind of a research project was this? Oh, it was prettytremendous because though I have like I, you know, I grew up in the baptistchurch and I'm really familiar with the, you know, the baptist structure of theblack baptist church, this type of church. And I've also spent a fairamount of time in the south, this type...

...of church in this type of practice ofrevivals and that being your, your life's work was something that wasreally unfamiliar to me. So I had bent as did some research, I went to somerevivals, I spent a lot of time kind of thinking through uh researching whatrevivals look like in the south and how people attend them and what the orderof service. Um so after attending some, I did a lot of research on others andjust try to put it together to make it feel really alive and really present inthe book as this backdrop of everything for a week is hanging by a thread,because no matter what happened the week before, it's a new places inNewtown. So I wanted it to feel alive and there's so much passion and fervent,you use that word fervent, there's a a nature of being fervent in that tent,but then they leave and there's a new tent in a new place with new people.And so I wanted to kind of really capture that. So, I did a lot ofresearch personally on the internet in the south to try to put all thattogether and figure out how that was going to work. That's right. And thenanybody who is listening, go take a look at the cover epitomizes the entirestory cover is such a an incredible, incredible time. Yeah, I love the cover,I've told you this before, but I will talk about it again. Um you're writingreminds me a lot of jodi PICO, and it's like, you offer really fervent, um thatseems to be my word, um, just really authentic, opposing sides of the sameissue, but also you inhabit your character so well, how did you dig in?And actually, it's almost like you're a puppet master and you're putting yourhand inside and you just make them come alive. Oh thank you for saying that. Ithink for the characters in the story started as Miriam's and it always wasand will be Miriam's for me. And so I spent a lot of time thinking through, Idid a lot of character journaling, it's first person from Miriam, so I did alot of character journaling to see where she was and what she would do andwhat she would say and what she would think. Um and then I had to surroundher with people who for better and for worse are her confidence, like hermother and her brother in some ways and Hannah, and then also reallycomplicated for like Caleb and her mother Caleb's her brother. And so towrite them, I also did a lot of character journalist from the firstperson. Um I spent, there are lots of pages on the cutting room floor thatwere about the mother about Caleb about the mother's past that even though theydidn't make it into the final version of the book, they informed myunderstanding of each of the characters. And so I feel like by understandingJoan's background, I felt like I could put that into the story in some way,have some flashbacks about that, but also help it really explain why she is,how she is um as a mother in this book and how Miriam sees her in some ways asa woman that she loves and she also feels really frustrated by. Um and thenthe father's character was hard for me because initially an early draft of thebook that I was showing when I was in Iowa, he was to simply just villainousand he had to be more real. And I had to, I had to make Miriam bad in someways because you know, I'm the part of me that part of me that love her,desperately want her just to be good and that's not realistic. And the partsof me that had to deal with the father's competing ideas could not makehim all bad. So I had to wrestle with making them real and humanizing thefather and then also developing Miriam's sides of her that are uglierthe pride and the ego and what what she...

...is surprised by that threatens to kindof really ruin her as well. And so I had to deal with both of thosecompeting forces in two different characters and figure out what that wasgoing to look like in the book. So I, so I did my best to kind of think thatthrough and have characters that felt like they were living and breathing,even though it's just on a piece of paper they come through again inshining shining pros. It's just beautiful. I'm just gonna complimentyou also on you talked about character development and the mom and writing thejournal out. But what you did put in the book gave us all, we needed to knowabout her background and who she was and what, what, what she was there. Umso well done. Thank you. It's a great writing tip for people. It is. So let'stalk about, sorry, go ahead. Oh no, I was saying it's it is um huge to it feels like a waste of timeif you're a writer to kind of write from perspectives that aren't your maincharacters, but it's never wasted because it helps you really feel youyou embody them. Right. Right. What surprised you the most about the wholepublishing process? I think I was unprepared once I soldthe book in february 2019. It's a long journey from publication to fromselling a book to it getting published. And there are lots of parts along theway that I know a little bit about. I worked in trade publishing atharpercollins for about six months, and so I knew a little bit of that. Um So Ikind of knew a little bit what to expect when COVID hits all 2020 andthen, you know, all the different things. I think that what was the mostsurprising aspect for me was the moment when of the process, when you're doingall your copy edits and your what they call 1st, 2nd and 3rd passes. Which isyou reading through the entire book on a pdf as it's going to be laid out andjust checking everything, checking even making sure not repeating words for mein the previous sentence or previous paragraph. But after that, at thatstage was done, I was wholly unprepared for that feeling of my book, no longerbeing mine. And then this idea of when the private becomes public was really,really, I said, wow, this is a thing like this is this is no longer mine.And I should have had a moment of kind of, I think I was so excited to kind ofget through those stages. I didn't realize what it would be tosay, wait, wait, wait, hold on. This is uh, it's done and soon it will be inthe world and other people get to have their own ideas about it. It's nolonger my project, it's everyone else's. And so that was that was the thing thatwas more surprising than I anticipated and also pretty hard for me to let thisthing that's been my baby for nine years be a thing in the world thatother people can read an experience. Yeah, I thought about that about howit's hard to let it go because it's been yours for so long, so long, a longtime. So Monica, what is next for you? So, I have a book that I'm workingthrough right now that's tentatively entitled Kept And it began. So I talkedto you earlier about images and that's how that's the genesis of the way mybooks begin. But um it started with an image of something really shiny againstsomething really matt. And so I was like, like really kind of dull. And sowhat is this for me? The van and the revival season was okay, who's in thevan? This was what, what is this shiny thing against something really dull?And so it turned into um handcuffs against a cement floor. And now thebook is making its way, it's shaping itself into, again, make turn intosomething really different, but it's shaping itself into being a book aboutthis um this cult leader um and but...

...told from the perspective of three ofhis wives, and so I'm thinking through this idea of subjugation and powerstill, I'm still kind of fascinated with power and and gender and how thatall works and patriarchy, but the three women, three of the men who are marriedto him and how they are in this community and what it looks like forthem and they have different roles in the family and why they chose him andwhy they stay and what this world looks like. So it's so yeah, so that's thebook I'm working on right now. I'm ready for that right now right nowright now right now let's anyway, Monica, you know what a huge fan I amof the book and I hope that everybody listening is going to go get theirhands on a copy of this modern classic. It's just it's worth it's worth it.It's just one of the best books of the year. Thank you so much Ron. Please getyour hands on it and I so appreciate those kind words. You're oh my God,it's so easy to work speaks for itself. Could you tell everybody where they canfind you online and learn more about you and about your work? Absolutely. Soyou can find me on twitter at Monica L West on instagram at M Lauren West andon my website is Monica West Rights, W R I T S dot com And that's whereinformation about how to buy the book, upcoming appearances and all my oldkind of because everything was on zoom, lots of recordings of old events,including my um event with Ron. All those things are, are archived andavailable for you to, to watch. So that's how you can find me. Great, well, continued success withthis and thank you so much. It's so good to see you again. So good to seeyou around. Hopefully we'll see you soon. Sounds good. Take care. Next upis a forthcoming debut author whose book I was so fortunate to read earlywanda. M Morris is gifted the world with a book that Karin Slaughter saysall her Little Secrets is a brilliantly nuanced but powerhouse exploration ofrace, the legal system and the crushing pressure of keeping secrets. Morrisbrings a vibrant and welcome new voice to the thriller space. Welcome to thepodcast wanda. Thank you Ron for having me. I am so thrilled to meet you andhave you here. Your book is just phenomenal and it's a little bit ofeverything. So I want to offer a little biography of you and then we will getinto talking about your book. As a corporate attorney. Wanda M Morris hasworked in the legal department of some of America's top Fortune 100 companies.She is an accomplished presenter and leader Wanda previously served aspresident of the Georgia chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, inwhich she established a signature female empowerment program known as theWomen's Initiative. She is an alumni of the Yale Writers Workshop and robertMckee's story seminar. She's a member of Sisters in Crime, mystery writers ofAmerica and crime writers of color. She's married the mother of three andlives in Atlanta Georgia. All her little Secrets is her debut, amazingthrilling of the moment book. So welcome. Once again one, I'm so happyto have you here. Thank you so much for having me. Yes. And of course we'll beup front about this book. Really doesn't come out until November 2nd butthere's already such a wonderful push from being the harpercollins lead readto the glowing reviews. You've been getting all of which are so deserved.You've been royally welcomed into the fold, Karin slaughter. We've alreadymentioned hank Phillippi Ryan and L affair burke. Just for starters, um thetag line in the book is everyone has something to hide and it rings so truein this book. Can you give our listeners an overview of the story ofthe book? Sure, again, thank you for having me all. Our little secret iswhat I affectionately called, My little Book of Murder in am it's the story ofuh a black female lawyer, 40 ish, um who um, seemingly has everything goingfor. She has a well paying job in...

...midtown Atlanta. She has a great groupof friends, but everything changes. One cold, january morning when she goesinto the executive suite for a meeting with your boss and there she finds himdead and she does the unthinkable. She walks away as if she's seen nothing.The reason she does is she is what I described as very complicated wholewoman. Soon after she is promoted to replace her boss. And that's whenthings really kick off the police begin to investigate the murder and peoplestart to gossip around the company. And then she uncovers some really shadydealings inside the company. They placed her smack dab in the middle of amoral and ethical dilemma when she discovers that her brother who spentsome time on the other side of the law may also be involved in the murder. Butum, right. Uh, so you start from there, but one of the other things is that itseems we learned really early on that at least is kind of keeping her pastfrom, from her present. And um, she's kind of not wanting the brother and theother things to get mixed up in what she's doing now. So, um, that that'sanother part of the book that's just so amazing. And it leads me to talk aboutthe cover of the book, even though we are only on audio, everybody should goonline and take a look at this because the cover of the book shows the face ofthe lease a sunglasses. But within the sunglasses is a reflection of a youngerversion of herself looking looking back. And so it kind of just tells the wholestory. Your characters are so well developed and they feel very real. Canyou talk about the inspiration for them? And especially I want to just give ahug to vera. Thank you. I love your to um it'sinteresting. First and foremost, I have to give a shout out to uh ploy serpent,who is the art director who designed that cover. I want to give her thebiggest hug when the world opens up again. I love love love that book cover.Um but I think you're right. That book cover kind of says it all that um hereis a strong black female, but there is something in the past that um islingering and certainly um she is keeping a secret. And I think um if youlook at all the major characters in the book, they all have something thatthey're dealing with. Um not just the least little john who is theprotagonist of course, but you have vera you have her brother, Sam, youhave um you know, Willow, you have, I'm trying to think because all the womenin the book, at least, the the major female characters in the book um areall on a journey of sorts and kind of dealing with their journey the best waythey know how. And um the character's, to me, I really set out to write astory about, like, love and loss at a woman's journey. Um I've heard someearly reviewers um say the book reminds...

...them of john Grisham's the firm and Ithink that's a wonderful compliment. They didn't set out to write legalstories. I really wanted to write women's stories. And I think thatthat's what this book is at the heart of it is a story about love and lossand resilience and hope and the characters really kind of come out of,you know, people I've known. Um the character vera for example, is kind ofan amalgam of like my mother and my grandmother and my aunts and you know,those women who were strong and, you know, they got up every day and theyworked hard and they dug in and they didn't give up despite the fact ofbeing marginalized and, you know, pushed to the side, they still got upevery day and did what needed to be done um police and, you know, hertravails and her journey as well. Um you know, some of her experience comesout of some of my own lived experiences. Um you know, I I've worked forcompanies that were not very nice, two women and people of color, and despitethe fact that, you know, they said, oh, we're family and welcome to the familyand they tried to ingrain this and the employees, what they said didn'tnecessarily match with how they treated their employees, and so I took littlebits of that and tried to incorporate it into um the storyline. Um Icertainly didn't use any one particular person story or journey, but really,kind of um from a very vivid imagination as my mother used to tellme, um created this kind of world that um was inhabited by people that werejust trying to live their lives, but they were caught up in circumstancesand murder and mayhem and all sorts of things, but just people like you and metrying to just be a good person or do the right thing and still caught up ina bad situation. I think that's what makes this book so much more than justa thriller. I think that it's hard, it really is women's stories but it's thempersevering and doing the right thing despite the misogyny, despite theracism, despite the abuse and mistreatment. And it's just it's suchone of the things in the book that really stayed with me. It's like thisis their story of their journey and it has to come from somewhere. You do knowthat people will be coming out of the woodwork saying you based thatcharacter on me it's going to happen. I'm sure that that probably will happen.I I feel very certain at least with some of the scenes the office seemsthat I can tell I can already sense people say was that so and sell thatgroup based you know Rudy's character on or you know somebody's character andso I I fully expect that. So in addition to all of the real solidcharacter development you have kept the pace, the thrilling pace of the book upall the way through, right up to the end. How did you manage to keep it andmaintain it at such a high level? And I also want to know like how how you whatyour process was. Did you outline or did you write it as you went along? Um Well to begin with, I am um aplotter or you know an outline. Er I...

...know there is this concept of panthersvs. Plots and I am definitely like a plotter on steroids. I don't writethese long, lengthy um you know, outlines, but what I do is I forexample, with this book, um I always had to scenes in mind. Andinterestingly enough, I wrote those two scenes when I started this book at thevery beginning and throughout all the revisions and all the edits. Um thosetwo scenes never changed. And they were the opening scene where least goes tothe executive suite define it ross. And then there's a pivotal scene thathappens in the middle of the book. And those two scenes never changed. What Idid is I knew that I wanted this character. It was so complicated thatshe would do something so unusual. I mean who sees a dead body and doesn'tcall the authorities? You've got to have something really deep going on.Right. Um and so I um kind of plotted out the book around those two scenes. Iknew that it was going to be a book, not just about this, this lawyer, butit was going to be this book about this woman and the family and the women whoinfluenced her. Um so what I did is I kind of make an outline and then Istarted to write the book when I find myself getting kind of off the outline,I go with that I kind of follow those trails because those are the scenes andthe storylines that kind of leads you to really interesting places. Um andwhile I don't know how the book will end, um that's okay because I like thatidea of writing towards the unknown. Um I I had no idea how this book was goingto end. Um as for the pacing, it's really interesting. I think it's justbecause I like books that keep a nice pace that I'm turning pages and I'masking questions continually and um I enjoy reading books like that, enjoyauthors who who write that way and you know, maybe it was kind of osmosis orsomething, but um I enjoyed that. And so I wanted to make sure that my bookhad did in fact my first read through this book was in a online format, itwasn't even a physical version yet. And I kept scrolling and scrolling,scrolling. What what happened? I don't know, I just had to keep going andgoing and I read it really quickly. But um anyway, so I did my research alittle bit and I have found out that a lot of people in your life didn't knowyou were working on this project. And so can you use that as a springboard tokind of tell everybody, because I love this story about how this book came tobe and how long it took. Sure. Um someone recently asked me howlong did it take you from start to publication of all their little secrets.And I sat down and I calculated and Ron it was actually 13 years to thisNovember. And now all of that time wasn't writing because I started thebook 13 years ago and I got The majority, I'd say I got about 60, ofthe book um completed.

And then I put it away because Iconvinced myself Nobody is going to want to read a book about a 40 ISHBlack woman who works with really awful people who do really awful things. Likepeople read books to escape, who wants to escape to this world I had created.So I put the book away for like seven or 8 years. I mean, I didn't touch it,but I've always liked to write, so I was doubling and dabbling in shortstories and journaling nothing that I ever put out for public consumption.But I just knew, I don't think that that's going to be anything. And umabout um maybe about five or six years ago I had a health scare and I thoughtto myself, you know what life is short and if this is something that I reallyenjoy and I really want to do, I ought to do it. And I always knew I wanted towrite a book. I always knew I wanted to to make this a career. Um, so I pulledthat manuscript back out and it was bad, but that was okay because I could makeit better, right? And um during this time, I didn't tell anybody that I hadwritten this manuscript and put it away when I pulled it back out, until no onethat I had written it. And um finally when I started to query and that was awhole another process. I mean That would be a whole another conversation.I think I probably have maybe about 60 or 70 rejection letters because Iqueried agents. I got rejected. A query more agents. I got rejected. But thatjust told me I needed to learn how to write a book. And so I workshop thatdid workshops and I am I studied at the Yale Writers workshop. I did pitch warswhich is an online mentoring um contest and I did all those things that wouldhelp me learn how to write a book. I learned about characterization, Ilearned about pacing story structure and I guess it's probably about threeor four years ago I finally told my husband that I had written this bookand I told him only because I won a contest, a burst of first, how is itthe best first sentence? Um that is put on by thriller fast, andI was like I should probably tell my husband at least, right, But I told myhusband told my Children, I did not tell the rest of my family, likebrothers and sisters and extended family until um the preorder like what?Uh huh. So I got all these girls like you look kind of like like a real book,a book book um and people have been so supportive, very very so they weren'tmad, they weren't mad, but they were kind of like well why didn't you tellme? And it's so funny because now I get all this, you know, I've always wantedto write a book too and I'm like sit down and do it, you can do it if I cando it. Oh my gosh, I love that story. I love it. I love it. Um, so I want tochange gears just a little bit because the book does talk so seriously aboutracism in corporate culture and really in society in general and for me it wasjust a sad reminder um of that's still the world that we live in. We alwayshoped for something different. And it's just not the the scene where releasesshopping with her friend at the...

...boutique is just, it broke my heart andsaid that it's still going on and I see it, I see it but like talk about whatyou hope to convey through that in writing the book, I guess I set out first and foremost toyou know, kind of exposed, I think that people, you know, kind of live in thisworld where you know, we've had a black president and we see successful, youknow, black executives and people of color, but still there's thisundercurrent um and I dare say over you know, the last four or five years thatundercurrent has grown stronger. That you know, indeed this is not a placewhere everyone is on equal footing. And you know, for example that thatshopping scene um really hit home for me because I've had examples like that,not just one or two either. And you know, I often think to myself that youknow, we all kind of walk around in, you know, thinking, look, you know, Igo to work, I work hard, I pay my taxes, I do everything and still I can't gointo a store without the assumption that I am something other than what Iam or I can't work in an executive office with you know, an educationalpedigree without sitting in a meeting and being second guessed or dismissed.I mean I think a lot of women have had that experience where you sit in themeeting, you make a suggestion. Everybody dismisses the idea of fiveminutes later, a white male says the same thing and everybody is likerallying around the idea and you're like what just happened? Um Yeah, likeI just said that, but what happened? And so I think with this book I wasfirst and foremost trying to expose that. Yeah, this indeed happens. And myhope is that as people start to discuss the book and you know, while it has umyou know the thriller aspects, I hope that they will discuss the more serioustheme of Yeah, this is still very prevalent in our society is still veryprevalent in um the C suite as well. I read an article recently that there'slike 3% of the executive um employees in major Fortune 100 companies Areblack, only three and I'm like yeah it's a Forbes article and I thought tomyself that's insane, totally insane, really insane, totally insane. Um Andso I don't think that I was grabbing things from out of the sky when I setout to expose these types of things. They're actually what we are living umin this, you know, so called post Obama age. Um And again like I said over thelast few years um I think that undercurrent has only grown, I fullyagree with you the one brightness if there is any. I feel like there's arenaissance in books like yours coming out that are really exposing andtalking about and it doesn't have to be a book, like a cast or 400 souls thatwe can learn from. Its the thrillers and it's the things that are moreaccessible and people get it by osmosis through these. So I'm really grateful.So When you say your book took 13 years, maybe it needed to wait for just theright time. It's a book of right now. Yeah, exactly. I think that'sabsolutely right that it has come in. It's time. I certainly hope that, likeI said, I like the thriller genre, like...

...the pace. I like the whole quality ofwhat you get in a thriller. But I like to think that all Her Little Secrets isa different sort of thriller because it is one woman's story that is so fastand so different from somebody else kind of running down, you know, andchasing bad guys down. If this is a black woman who's dealing with allsorts of issues and we don't even get into her backstory and that whole setof issues, but it brings to bear that black female authors have a place inthe thriller genre and I didn't always see that, which is one of the reasonswhy I set out to write this book, because I loved Joseph Vitner and johnGrisham and you know, all these people who write these fast moving thrillers,but I didn't see smart, sophisticated black women in these types of books andyou know, we're out there and I think that those are the kind of stories thateverybody can relate to. I get more comments from women who say, you knowwhat I read your book and I know exactly what you mean about blah, blah,blah, blah, blah, and they are not black women, these are women who arelike, yep, I worked with a jerk just like that. So I think, I think a lot ofpeople can relate to this story, I really do. And I was interviewinganother author recently who was in The LGBT Community and what he said isRings True. Also for you, there used to be tables in the bookstores that weresimply either gay or african american I think, but they all just want to placeat the thriller table regardless of who wrote them. So that's where we're goingto find you. I know that's true, thank you. How are you gearing up for thisbig debut in november? I you know what Ron I go back and forth because I'mstill gonna end this dream state, like I got so much rejection with this bookand when I finally met this very lovely woman, Lori Galvin who's my agent atEvita's Creative Management. She is just a dream agent. And when I finallyfound this woman who said you know what? This is a really good story. I was kindof like okay, like I knew it was, but reallyare you serious? You lying to me? Are you lying to me? And so I see thesethings kind of happening. I meet you, I meet great people Library Journal justrecently gave me a very lovely quote, an endorsement for the book. And if Icould make a shameless plug, I was actually on the cover of the augustissue of Library Journal and I keep looking at the picture going what likereally! And so it is all so very, very wonderful. People have beenextraordinarily generous with their compliments and I am just hoping thatit resonates and that people gain a new appreciation one for black femalethriller authors. To that it starts some real dialogue on how we can change.Or at least we can start to minimize what is going on in the C suite andwhat goes on in corporate America and those faces So true, so true. And Ihave a feeling that this is going to be a big hit, I think being elite, readfrom harpercollins and all of the buzz about it, it's going to be just whatyou just described is going to be wonderful. So, I can't thank you enoughfor giving our listeners an early peek...

...at this important through right of abook and the important themes that it represents, just going to be universaland people are going to eat it up. But where can people find out more aboutyou and what you're working on? Absolutely, I am on all the socialmedia facebook twitter instagram and you can also find me on my website,wanda Morris writes dot com. Excellent, excellent. Thank you again for beinghere wanda. I cannot wait for the world to get a hold of this book, All herLittle Secrets. Everybody, thank you so much from. Thank you for having me.Course I want to thank my guest today for joining the podcast. Both MonicaWest and wanda and Morris are shining examples of new voices that we need anddesperately want to hear in books these days. Talking about and sharing theirstories to publication has been a huge honor for me and I hope you will allget your hands on a copy and devour them the same as I did. Thank you forlistening and as always, please share the podcast with a friend. Thank you for tuning in to Friends andfiction writer's Block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe, rate and reviewon your favorite podcast platform, tune in every friday for another episode,and you can also join us every week on facebook or Youtube where you can seeour live Friends and fiction show that airs at seven p.m. Eastern StandardTime. We are so glad you're here.

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