Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year 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 big debut in november? I you know what Ron I go back and forth because I'm still kind of in this dream state like I got so much rejection with this book. Mhm Yeah, welcome to the Friends and Fiction 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 85 books between us. I am Ron Block. I am so glad you've joined us for fascinating author interviews along with insider. Talk about publishing and writing. If you love books and are curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. 13 00:01:11.540 --> 00:01:16.310welcome to the Friends and FictionWriter's Block podcast. I am Ron Block on this episode we begin an ongoing series called diverse voices. These are voices that give us a glimpse outside of our own known worlds. They helped to develop empathy and understanding along with showing commonalities. Our guests today exemplify literary voices that have emerged to great acclaim this past turbulent year. I'm so honored to welcome Monica West, author of Revival Season, which was released on May 25th of this year. And wanda m Morris, author of the forthcoming lead read from Harpercollins all Her Little Secrets, which is out november the second. My first guest is Monica West. This debut novel was hailed by none other than Ann Patchett saying: tender and wise Revival season explores a girl's faith in both her family and in God, Monica West, formidable talent is matched by her generosity of spirit, making the most winning combination A reader could wish for. Welcome, Monica. Thank you for having me. It's so good to see you again. We have done some things before, and I just you know how much I love your book, thank you. It's so good to be in the room with you So I'm excited, so Monica was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio where I currently am and she spent her early years reading everything that she could get her hands on. Early in elementary school she started writing stories and never stopped her love of reading and writing drove her to get her B. A. In english literature from Duke University and her M. A. In english and american literature from new york university. She received her M. F. A. In fiction from the Iowa writer's workshop where she was a rona Jaffe graduate fellow. She currently lives in Oakland California where she is reading everything still that she can get her hands on teaching high school english and writing another novel. We can only hope so. Welcome once again Monica and welcome to the friends and fiction writer's block podcast. Thanks again. Thanks for the introduction. Yes. so your book revival season has full of so many themes that include faith family, feminism, dysfunction, abuse power and more. It transcends the notion that it is about religion and explores universal issues for sure. Can you give us an overview of this fantastic book? Sure. I would say that revival season is the story of 15 year old Mary important, who is the oldest daughter of a faith healer and revival preacher, who basically spends this really unique summer on the road there in a car together. And so Miriam's the oldest daughter. She has a younger brother, Caleb, she has a younger sister named Hannah and then she's her mother and her father, who she calls papa and mama. And they spend the entire summer in this van and they travel from tent to tent in the south and the father heals people of disease and preaches sermons to standing room only crowds. And an event has happened the previous summer that has shaken Miriam's belief in her father, but she...

...still wants to believe the book begins with Miriam kind of wanting these things about her father to not be true. And then she witnesses something on this new revival season circuit where the book begins that let's her believe that the things that she's thought about her father are no longer true. And so as the book unfolds, Miriam discovers 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 to either 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 that I reread it to get ready for this again, and I just I'm reminded of the power of the characters in the book and the power of their faith in each other. And just really the new york Times also love this book. You were chosen as a pick of the week from them and you had a glowing review in the book review and that since we last spoke, so, congratulations on that so much amazing. I just want to tell everybody the new york Times said that redemption, as Miriam 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 glowing accolades and support? It has been pretty surreal, I think that when the book came, and it is such a good way. I think that one writes a book in obscurity and hope that it gets received when people end up reading it and for me to get reviews, like, I've been getting I am, it floors me every time I get one, like, the moment you open a review is a moment of sheer terror. It's like, oh, they finally figured out that this book isn't really good and they're going to tell me that it isn't some really big media format and that hasn't happened for me. So, I'm really lucky that revival season is getting a ton of reviews that are really good and I am just grateful and I'm glad that people are getting it and getting what I was trying to do with the book and it's getting to readers which is ultimately what you want from a book, so I'm grateful that the reviews are helping it get in people's hands. Yes, Yeah, and they keep coming to I keep seeing more and more people are discovering the book and just loving it's been so great, it's been and 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'm really happy with it. Um So I want to talk a little bit if you don't mind about Miriam. Miriam is um it's interesting a lot of books that I've read lately to have these very young strong protagonist girls as the center of the books, but she is no exception, watching her grow and watching her evolve 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? Um not a model that I can think of, but I think that Miriam is pieces of things I admire and appreciate and she's I mean I've one of the things you read in my bio as I've been a high school teacher for 13 years, and so there is a significant amount of my life that has spent with people about this age. And so I watched young people come into their own and discover their voice. And Miriam is made up of that, the stuff I see in kids this age every day, um and to create her, was this really gratifying journey of, what would it look like for this girl who has been told her whole life that there are things that she can't do because she's she's female. There are things that she cannot aspire to think places that she can't go, uh things you can never be and what would it look like for her to...

...just kind of break all that open and kind of try to discover this for herself. So I love the journey of her awakening and I had to also explore the fear of what that means, because the more she evolves in the thinking, the more she distances herself from her family, and the more she feels really at odds with what she's believed her whole 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 and what it looks like to then see your family through a really different lens that you never imagine. You'd have to see them through and to see them as flawed and as human and as imperfect and what that looks like for her. And so that's what I was kind of really working my way through. It comes shining through china, backing up a little bit from that. What we love to talk about original stories, where did this idea for this come from and how did you decide where to take it? So books come to me, it sounds so mystical and spiritual. Books come to me and images. And so this book came, there's an image that's in the first section of the book um where the first chapter is the family in this van and they're rumbling towards Georgia. And the first, the first image I saw in the book was of this van um kind of driving, you know, down this highway in texas. And so I see, sorry. So I see a van first and then I kept seeing the van driving and going somewhere down the highway. And I had and for me when I see images repeatedly, I have to then think, what's the story in this image? What this image trying to show me what's going on here. So I saw the image first and then once I saw the image, I backed up and had to think about who's in this van. Why do they matter? What's the story? What's the conflict? And I thought 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. It needs to feel like this van is this claustrophobic nomadic home for the summer. And it needs to feel like something that is everything happens in your in this tight space, you can't escape anyone. So I wanted there to be this intense feeling of claustrophobia. And then I wondered what it would look like 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 so once I did, once I thought through that, the idea of religion came to me in terms of what I could actually think through, in terms of who would be in a van for that long. That's when the revival idea came came forward. And then what it would look like to have somebody heard the father, this patriarch, who is this domineering force of nature and he dominates over the 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, what does it look like when you can't over I see you in the rear view mirror, I can't overlook you. And so that's so that it started with an image and I back filled the idea um in the setting and the plot onto the image that I was seeing. That is amazing. Um so why revival season that seems like such an example of faith and fervent and um just just all kinds of things um from the south. Um what kind of a research project was this? Oh, it was pretty tremendous because though I have like I, you know, I grew up in the baptist church and I'm really familiar with the, you know, the baptist structure of the black baptist church, this type of church. And I've also spent a fair amount of time in the south, this type...

...of church in this type of practice of revivals and that being your, your life's work was something that was really unfamiliar to me. So I had bent as did some research, I went to some revivals, I spent a lot of time kind of thinking through uh researching what revivals look like in the south and how people attend them and what the order of service. Um so after attending some, I did a lot of research on others and just try to put it together to make it feel really alive and really present in the 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 in Newtown. 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 of research personally on the internet in the south to try to put all that together and figure out how that was going to work. That's right. And then anybody who is listening, go take a look at the cover epitomizes the entire story 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 writing reminds me a lot of jodi PICO, and it's like, you offer really fervent, um that seems to be my word, um, just really authentic, opposing sides of the same issue, 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 your hand inside and you just make them come alive. Oh thank you for saying that. I think for the characters in the story started as Miriam's and it always was and will be Miriam's for me. And so I spent a lot of time thinking through, I did a lot of character journaling, it's first person from Miriam, so I did a lot of character journaling to see where she was and what she would do and what she would say and what she would think. Um and then I had to surround her with people who for better and for worse are her confidence, like her mother and her brother in some ways and Hannah, and then also really complicated for like Caleb and her mother Caleb's her brother. And so to write them, I also did a lot of character journalist from the first person. Um I spent, there are lots of pages on the cutting room floor that were about the mother about Caleb about the mother's past that even though they didn't make it into the final version of the book, they informed my understanding of each of the characters. And so I feel like by understanding Joan'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 as a woman that she loves and she also feels really frustrated by. Um and then the father's character was hard for me because initially an early draft of the book that I was showing when I was in Iowa, he was to simply just villainous and he had to be more real. And I had to, I had to make Miriam bad in some ways 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 parts of me that had to deal with the father's competing ideas could not make him all bad. So I had to wrestle with making them real and humanizing the father and then also developing Miriam's sides of her that are uglier the pride and the ego and what what she...

...is surprised by that threatens to kind of really ruin her as well. And so I had to deal with both of those competing forces in two different characters and figure out what that was going to look like in the book. So I, so I did my best to kind of think that through 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 in shining shining pros. It's just beautiful. I'm just gonna compliment you also on you talked about character development and the mom and writing the journal out. But what you did put in the book gave us all, we needed to know about her background and who she was and what, what, what she was there. Um so well done. Thank you. It's a great writing tip for people. It is. So let's talk about, sorry, go ahead. Oh no, I was saying it's it is um huge to it feels like a waste of time if you're a writer to kind of write from perspectives that aren't your main characters, but it's never wasted because it helps you really feel you you embody them. Right. Right. What surprised you the most about the whole publishing process? I think I was unprepared once I sold the book in february 2019. It's a long journey from publication to from selling a book to it getting published. And there are lots of parts along the way that I know a little bit about. I worked in trade publishing at harpercollins for about six months, and so I knew a little bit of that. Um So I kind of knew a little bit what to expect when COVID hits all 2020 and then, you know, all the different things. I think that what was the most surprising aspect for me was the moment when of the process, when you're doing all your copy edits and your what they call 1st, 2nd and 3rd passes. Which is you reading through the entire book on a pdf as it's going to be laid out and just checking everything, checking even making sure not repeating words for me in the previous sentence or previous paragraph. But after that, at that stage was done, I was wholly unprepared for that feeling of my book, no longer being 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 of get through those stages. I didn't realize what it would be to say, wait, wait, wait, hold on. This is uh, it's done and soon it will be in the world and other people get to have their own ideas about it. It's no longer my project, it's everyone else's. And so that was that was the thing that was more surprising than I anticipated and also pretty hard for me to let this thing that's been my baby for nine years be a thing in the world that other people can read an experience. Yeah, I thought about that about how it's hard to let it go because it's been yours for so long, so long, a long time. So Monica, what is next for you? So, I have a book that I'm working through right now that's tentatively entitled Kept And it began. So I talked to you earlier about images and that's how that's the genesis of the way my books begin. But um it started with an image of something really shiny against something really matt. And so I was like, like really kind of dull. And so what is this for me? The van and the revival season was okay, who's in the van? 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 the book is making its way, it's shaping itself into, again, make turn into something really different, but it's shaping itself into being a book about this um this cult leader um and but...

...told from the perspective of three of his wives, and so I'm thinking through this idea of subjugation and power still, I'm still kind of fascinated with power and and gender and how that all works and patriarchy, but the three women, three of the men who are married to him and how they are in this community and what it looks like for them and they have different roles in the family and why they chose him and why they stay and what this world looks like. So it's so yeah, so that's the book I'm working on right now. I'm ready for that right now right now right now right now let's anyway, Monica, you know what a huge fan I am of the book and I hope that everybody listening is going to go get their hands 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 get your 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 can find you online and learn more about you and about your work? Absolutely. So you can find me on twitter at Monica L West on instagram at M Lauren West and on my website is Monica West Rights, W R I T S dot com And that's where information about how to buy the book, upcoming appearances and all my old kind of because everything was on zoom, lots of recordings of old events, including my um event with Ron. All those things are, are archived and available for you to, to watch. So that's how you can find me. Great, well, continued success with this and thank you so much. It's so good to see you again. So good to see you around. Hopefully we'll see you soon. Sounds good. Take care. Next up is a forthcoming debut author whose book I was so fortunate to read early wanda. M Morris is gifted the world with a book that Karin Slaughter says all her Little Secrets is a brilliantly nuanced but powerhouse exploration of race, the legal system and the crushing pressure of keeping secrets. Morris brings a vibrant and welcome new voice to the thriller space. Welcome to the podcast wanda. Thank you Ron for having me. I am so thrilled to meet you and have you here. Your book is just phenomenal and it's a little bit of everything. So I want to offer a little biography of you and then we will get into talking about your book. As a corporate attorney. Wanda M Morris has worked in the legal department of some of America's top Fortune 100 companies. She is an accomplished presenter and leader Wanda previously served as president of the Georgia chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, in which she established a signature female empowerment program known as the Women's Initiative. She is an alumni of the Yale Writers Workshop and robert Mckee's story seminar. She's a member of Sisters in Crime, mystery writers of America and crime writers of color. She's married the mother of three and lives in Atlanta Georgia. All her little Secrets is her debut, amazing thrilling of the moment book. So welcome. Once again one, I'm so happy to have you here. Thank you so much for having me. Yes. And of course we'll be up front about this book. Really doesn't come out until November 2nd but there's already such a wonderful push from being the harpercollins lead read to 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 already mentioned hank Phillippi Ryan and L affair burke. Just for starters, um the tag line in the book is everyone has something to hide and it rings so true in this book. Can you give our listeners an overview of the story of the book? Sure, again, thank you for having me all. Our little secret is what I affectionately called, My little Book of Murder in am it's the story of uh a black female lawyer, 40 ish, um who um, seemingly has everything going for. She has a well paying job in...

...midtown Atlanta. She has a great group of friends, but everything changes. One cold, january morning when she goes into the executive suite for a meeting with your boss and there she finds him dead 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 whole woman. Soon after she is promoted to replace her boss. And that's when things really kick off the police begin to investigate the murder and people start to gossip around the company. And then she uncovers some really shady dealings inside the company. They placed her smack dab in the middle of a moral and ethical dilemma when she discovers that her brother who spent some time on the other side of the law may also be involved in the murder. But um, right. Uh, so you start from there, but one of the other things is that it seems we learned really early on that at least is kind of keeping her past from, from her present. And um, she's kind of not wanting the brother and the other things to get mixed up in what she's doing now. So, um, that that's another part of the book that's just so amazing. And it leads me to talk about the cover of the book, even though we are only on audio, everybody should go online and take a look at this because the cover of the book shows the face of the lease a sunglasses. But within the sunglasses is a reflection of a younger version of herself looking looking back. And so it kind of just tells the whole story. Your characters are so well developed and they feel very real. Can you talk about the inspiration for them? And especially I want to just give a hug to vera. Thank you. I love your to um it's interesting. 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 the biggest 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 here is a strong black female, but there is something in the past that um is lingering and certainly um she is keeping a secret. And I think um if you look at all the major characters in the book, they all have something that they're dealing with. Um not just the least little john who is the protagonist of course, but you have vera you have her brother, Sam, you have um you know, Willow, you have, I'm trying to think because all the women in the book, at least, the the major female characters in the book um are all on a journey of sorts and kind of dealing with their journey the best way they know how. And um the character's, to me, I really set out to write a story about, like, love and loss at a woman's journey. Um I've heard some early reviewers um say the book reminds...

...them of john Grisham's the firm and I think that's a wonderful compliment. They didn't set out to write legal stories. I really wanted to write women's stories. And I think that that's what this book is at the heart of it is a story about love and loss and 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 of an 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 they worked hard and they dug in and they didn't give up despite the fact of being marginalized and, you know, pushed to the side, they still got up every day and did what needed to be done um police and, you know, her travails and her journey as well. Um you know, some of her experience comes out of some of my own lived experiences. Um you know, I I've worked for companies that were not very nice, two women and people of color, and despite the fact that, you know, they said, oh, we're family and welcome to the family and they tried to ingrain this and the employees, what they said didn't necessarily match with how they treated their employees, and so I took little bits of that and tried to incorporate it into um the storyline. Um I certainly 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 tell me, um created this kind of world that um was inhabited by people that were just trying to live their lives, but they were caught up in circumstances and murder and mayhem and all sorts of things, but just people like you and me trying to just be a good person or do the right thing and still caught up in a bad situation. I think that's what makes this book so much more than just a thriller. I think that it's hard, it really is women's stories but it's them persevering and doing the right thing despite the misogyny, despite the racism, despite the abuse and mistreatment. And it's just it's such one of the things in the book that really stayed with me. It's like this is their story of their journey and it has to come from somewhere. You do know that people will be coming out of the woodwork saying you based that character 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 seems that I can tell I can already sense people say was that so and sell that group based you know Rudy's character on or you know somebody's character and so I I fully expect that. So in addition to all of the real solid character development you have kept the pace, the thrilling pace of the book up all the way through, right up to the end. How did you manage to keep it and maintain it at such a high level? And I also want to know like how how you what your process was. Did you outline or did you write it as you went along? Um Well to begin with, I am um a plotter or you know an outline. Er I...

...know there is this concept of panthers vs. Plots and I am definitely like a plotter on steroids. I don't write these long, lengthy um you know, outlines, but what I do is I for example, with this book, um I always had to scenes in mind. And interestingly enough, I wrote those two scenes when I started this book at the very beginning and throughout all the revisions and all the edits. Um those two scenes never changed. And they were the opening scene where least goes to the executive suite define it ross. And then there's a pivotal scene that happens in the middle of the book. And those two scenes never changed. What I did is I knew that I wanted this character. It was so complicated that she would do something so unusual. I mean who sees a dead body and doesn't call 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. I knew that it was going to be a book, not just about this, this lawyer, but it was going to be this book about this woman and the family and the women who influenced her. Um so what I did is I kind of make an outline and then I started 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 and the storylines that kind of leads you to really interesting places. Um and while I don't know how the book will end, um that's okay because I like that idea of writing towards the unknown. Um I I had no idea how this book was going to end. Um as for the pacing, it's really interesting. I think it's just because I like books that keep a nice pace that I'm turning pages and I'm asking questions continually and um I enjoy reading books like that, enjoy authors who who write that way and you know, maybe it was kind of osmosis or something, but um I enjoyed that. And so I wanted to make sure that my book had did in fact my first read through this book was in a online format, it wasn'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 and going and I read it really quickly. But um anyway, so I did my research a little bit and I have found out that a lot of people in your life didn't know you were working on this project. And so can you use that as a springboard to kind of tell everybody, because I love this story about how this book came to be and how long it took. Sure. Um someone recently asked me how long 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 this November. And now all of that time wasn't writing because I started the book 13 years ago and I got The majority, I'd say I got about 60, of the book um completed.

And then I put it away because I convinced myself Nobody is going to want to read a book about a 40 ISH Black woman who works with really awful people who do really awful things. Like people 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 short stories 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 um about um maybe about five or six years ago I had a health scare and I thought to myself, you know what life is short and if this is something that I really enjoy and I really want to do, I ought to do it. And I always knew I wanted to write a book. I always knew I wanted to to make this a career. Um, so I pulled that manuscript back out and it was bad, but that was okay because I could make it better, right? And um during this time, I didn't tell anybody that I had written this manuscript and put it away when I pulled it back out, until no one that I had written it. And um finally when I started to query and that was a whole another process. I mean That would be a whole another conversation. I think I probably have maybe about 60 or 70 rejection letters because I queried agents. I got rejected. A query more agents. I got rejected. But that just told me I needed to learn how to write a book. And so I workshop that did workshops and I am I studied at the Yale Writers workshop. I did pitch wars which is an online mentoring um contest and I did all those things that would help me learn how to write a book. I learned about characterization, I learned about pacing story structure and I guess it's probably about three or four years ago I finally told my husband that I had written this book and I told him only because I won a contest, a burst of first, how is it the best first sentence? Um that is put on by thriller fast, and I was like I should probably tell my husband at least, right, But I told my husband told my Children, I did not tell the rest of my family, like brothers 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't mad, they weren't mad, but they were kind of like well why didn't you tell me? And it's so funny because now I get all this, you know, I've always wanted to write a book too and I'm like sit down and do it, you can do it if I can do it. Oh my gosh, I love that story. I love it. I love it. Um, so I want to change gears just a little bit because the book does talk so seriously about racism in corporate culture and really in society in general and for me it was just a sad reminder um of that's still the world that we live in. We always hoped for something different. And it's just not the the scene where releases shopping with her friend at the...

...boutique is just, it broke my heart and said that it's still going on and I see it, I see it but like talk about what you hope to convey through that in writing the book, I guess I set out first and foremost to you know, kind of exposed, I think that people, you know, kind of live in this world where you know, we've had a black president and we see successful, you know, black executives and people of color, but still there's this undercurrent um and I dare say over you know, the last four or five years that undercurrent has grown stronger. That you know, indeed this is not a place where everyone is on equal footing. And you know, for example that that shopping 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 you know, we all kind of walk around in, you know, thinking, look, you know, I go to work, I work hard, I pay my taxes, I do everything and still I can't go into a store without the assumption that I am something other than what I am or I can't work in an executive office with you know, an educational pedigree 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 the meeting, you make a suggestion. Everybody dismisses the idea of five minutes later, a white male says the same thing and everybody is like rallying around the idea and you're like what just happened? Um Yeah, like I just said that, but what happened? And so I think with this book I was first and foremost trying to expose that. Yeah, this indeed happens. And my hope is that as people start to discuss the book and you know, while it has um you know the thriller aspects, I hope that they will discuss the more serious theme of Yeah, this is still very prevalent in our society is still very prevalent in um the C suite as well. I read an article recently that there's like 3% of the executive um employees in major Fortune 100 companies Are black, only three and I'm like yeah it's a Forbes article and I thought to myself that's insane, totally insane, really insane, totally insane. Um And so I don't think that I was grabbing things from out of the sky when I set out to expose these types of things. They're actually what we are living um in this, you know, so called post Obama age. Um And again like I said over the last few years um I think that undercurrent has only grown, I fully agree with you the one brightness if there is any. I feel like there's a renaissance in books like yours coming out that are really exposing and talking about and it doesn't have to be a book, like a cast or 400 souls that we can learn from. Its the thrillers and it's the things that are more accessible 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 the right time. It's a book of right now. Yeah, exactly. I think that's absolutely right that it has come in. It's time. I certainly hope that, like I said, I like the thriller genre, like...

...the pace. I like the whole quality of what you get in a thriller. But I like to think that all Her Little Secrets is a different sort of thriller because it is one woman's story that is so fast and so different from somebody else kind of running down, you know, and chasing bad guys down. If this is a black woman who's dealing with all sorts of issues and we don't even get into her backstory and that whole set of issues, but it brings to bear that black female authors have a place in the thriller genre and I didn't always see that, which is one of the reasons why I set out to write this book, because I loved Joseph Vitner and john Grisham 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 and you know, we're out there and I think that those are the kind of stories that everybody can relate to. I get more comments from women who say, you know what 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 are like, yep, I worked with a jerk just like that. So I think, I think a lot of people can relate to this story, I really do. And I was interviewing another author recently who was in The LGBT Community and what he said is Rings True. Also for you, there used to be tables in the bookstores that were simply either gay or african american I think, but they all just want to place at the thriller table regardless of who wrote them. So that's where we're going to find you. I know that's true, thank you. How are you gearing up for this big debut in november? I you know what Ron I go back and forth because I'm still gonna end this dream state, like I got so much rejection with this book and when I finally met this very lovely woman, Lori Galvin who's my agent at Evita's Creative Management. She is just a dream agent. And when I finally found this woman who said you know what? This is a really good story. I was kind of like okay, like I knew it was, but really are you serious? You lying to me? Are you lying to me? And so I see these things kind of happening. I meet you, I meet great people Library Journal just recently gave me a very lovely quote, an endorsement for the book. And if I could make a shameless plug, I was actually on the cover of the august issue of Library Journal and I keep looking at the picture going what like really! And so it is all so very, very wonderful. People have been extraordinarily generous with their compliments and I am just hoping that it resonates and that people gain a new appreciation one for black female thriller 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 and what goes on in corporate America and those faces So true, so true. And I have a feeling that this is going to be a big hit, I think being elite, read from harpercollins and all of the buzz about it, it's going to be just what you just described is going to be wonderful. So, I can't thank you enough for giving our listeners an early peek...

...at this important through right of a book and the important themes that it represents, just going to be universal and people are going to eat it up. But where can people find out more about you and what you're working on? Absolutely, I am on all the social media facebook twitter instagram and you can also find me on my website, wanda Morris writes dot com. Excellent, excellent. Thank you again for being here wanda. I cannot wait for the world to get a hold of this book, All her Little 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 Monica West and wanda and Morris are shining examples of new voices that we need and desperately want to hear in books these days. Talking about and sharing their stories to publication has been a huge honor for me and I hope you will all get your hands on a copy and devour them the same as I did. Thank you for listening and as always, please share the podcast with a friend. Thank you for tuning in to Friends and fiction writer's Block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe, rate and review on 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 see our live Friends and fiction show that airs at seven p.m. Eastern Standard Time. We are so glad you're here.

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