Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year ago

WB S1E1: Ron Block and Kristy Woodson Harvey with Wade Rouse and Elyssa Friedland

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Welcome, Summertime! Our guests for this episode are Wade Rouse (The Clover Girls) and Elyssa Friedland (The Last Summer at the Golden Hotel) where we discuss their novels and reminisce about summer memories. Hosts: Kristy Woodson Harvey & Ron Block

Welcome to the Friends and Fiction Writer's Block podcast. Five new york times, bestselling novelists, endless stories joined mary Kay andrews, Kristen, Harmel, Christie Woodson, harvey paddy, Callaghan, Henry and mary Alice Munro along with librarian Ron Block As novelists were five longtime friends with more than 80 published books between us and I am Ron Block. Please join us for fascinating author interviews and insider talk about publishing and writing. If you love books and are curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Yeah, Friends and fiction is sponsored by Mama Geraldine's bodacious food. Cathy Cunningham was a successful but unfulfilled radio executive in Atlanta one night while sipping wine and snacking on expensive cheese straws, she realized her mama Geraldine's own cheese straw recipe was far superior. The idea for Cathy's company was born Mama Geraldine's cheese straws now come in six varieties and they are the best selling cheese straw in the United States plus the cookies are melt in your mouth, delicious yummy snacks and a woman owned empire. Now that is something that we here at Friends and fiction can get behind try them. You'll be so glad that you did get 20% off on your online order at Mama Geraldine's dot com with the Code Fab five snack on y'all. Welcome to the Friends and fiction podcast writer's Block. It's the same program you've come to know and love, but now it has an added twist. If you're already subscribed, you don't need to do anything. Will now be dropping a new episode every friday right where you've always listened. There are so many books and writers to talk about and we're so excited to share them with you all. I'm Christi Whitson harvey from Friends and Fiction and before we get started, I just have to say how honored and grateful we are to have our good friend and brilliant librarian Ron Block on board to make our podcast a go to place for the best of the reading and writing worlds. Ron has been a huge cheer leader and advocate for all of the fab five when we talked about people that we wanted to partner with on this podcast. He was the name that we thought of. We are just pinching ourselves that he said yes Ron what in the world were you thinking? I'm not sure. Can I get back to you on that? Are you kidding? This is such a big honor for me and I just thrilled that you asked me and I just look forward to so much fun and really, really connecting writers and readers, which you know, is one of my huge passions. So absolutely. Well thank you for joining us. Yes. So let's get going with this. This week. We're going to celebrate summer time and we are thrilled to host today's guests wade rouse and a list of friedland. We're going to talk about summertime memories and how they can influence us right into adulthood and both writers are a blast. So get your swim goggles on, grab a sand pail. I love that. First up is our good friend Wade Rouse Weight is a celebrated memoirist whose books are noted for their humorous take on life under his pen name Violas shipment wade has now written six novels and has created legions of fans who relate to his recurring themes of friendship, family and our ongoing connection to our histories and heirlooms. Violas latest, The Clover Girls was recently published to great buzz and acclaim. There's a perfect heartwarming read to reminisce about summer camp friends and lifelong relationships. Library journal says The Clover Girls is a love letter to michigan summers and to the value of lifelong friendships, a blissful summer read. I know it was one of those books that I recommended everywhere I've been and have fought for all of my friends. It's my go to hostess gift this summer. So I was so thrilled to get to read it early and I'm so happy about all of its huge success. So wade welcome to the podcast. This book has been everywhere and so for the three or four people in the world who have not read it yet, please tell us about the Clover Girls and thank you both for having me. I appreciate I'm with my two of my favorite people in the stratosphere. Me too, I'm interrupting you, but I have to say like you and I know each other because of Ron, like we never would have, I mean we met because of Ron, we had books that published the same time. So this feels like a very full circle moment. It isn't it crazy, right? So are So yeah, I have my sand pail, I had my goggles, I'm ready. I wear you know, I wear a one piece, you know, not that age, no more bikinis, no and a vertical stripe too. You know what I yeah, for those who aren't familiar, the Clover...

...girls is, I'm a summer 02 are forever friends and it's about four very different girls who meet at summer camp in northern Michigan in the 1980s and become the best of friends until as we all know what happens life and adulthood begins to distance them. And one of the friends receives devastating news and reaches out to the others to return to the cherished place that they loved so much in order to recapture their friendships and their dreams and really the women that they once hoped that they could be. And you know, it's about not only are forever friends, but really the fragility of life and the ability to forgive not only ourselves but others and you know, I loved being able to parallel today's time with the 19 eighties, which is, you know, when I grew up, um, it was my jam, you know, I was all about the eighties with the aqua net and the George dish jeans and the deck shoes. So, You know, I think people that grew up in the 80s will really resonate with all the memories and feelings as well. Yeah, that's a great, great Way to put it because it's just such a wonderful book and like Christie, I've recommended it to so many people and I think I've convinced at least five or 700 book clubs to jump on and read it because there's a lot to talk about. A lot of people of a certain age, their histories, their own memories of camp. So what a great way to celebrate summer and you did run. I have to say, you know, it's it, I was on Cleveland tv and the producer is having a, during their june book club with them coming up in a week. So you really are the connector and it's, it's out of respect and love for all of my writer friends. It's just something that I love doing. Um, so your violent shipment books all feature a loving portrait of life in michigan. Tell us the appeal of the setting and and why you put that into your books. Well, for a number of reasons, you know, first of all I think michigan, if you have not visited the state is truly one of the most beautiful spots and I think not only the nation, but the world, no, the coast of michigan is very much like Nantucket or Cape Cod, even where Christie lives viewed the like michigan looks like the ocean, um, beautiful dunes and beaches and the beauty of michigan is really that along the west coast north is every, it's dotted and lined with resort towns and every single resort town is not only incredibly adorable and it's like a career in IVS print come to life, but it's filled with history. Each has this kind of quirky, unique history that just begs to be written about. And you know, I was blessed to have all the friends and fiction authors on over the course of May with me and you know, I'm not lying when I say that people like mary Kay andrews, mary Alice Munro, Christie patty kristen. You know, when you write about like they write about the south, the low country, you know, author like mary Alice influenced me greatly in choosing a location and making it as big a characters, the characters in my novels. I've always wanted the setting to live and breathe and change the characters and make people want to visit. I mean michigan is the perfect summer place. So you know, I intentionally chose michigan as the setting for every one of my books and I, you know, I try to vary every resort town and it's you know, I get to go on vacation to in the summer and all of these places. Yeah, they were friends and annoy them and drink way too much wine and talk with locals about what they love about the town in the area and do tons of research. So you know it's a blessing to live in michigan and also to be able to to live here in the summer and vacation. Mm That's so well said and I loved you know the whole the whole summer camp background and um I was reading this book. I think it was right after I had gone to family camp with my son will then my husband and some of our friends and it was rustic to say the least and I am not a rustic kind of gal. So um you know we had a good time and I made it through but I was laughing you know coming back and I always went to summer camp and I loved it. I had more of a rustic tolerance when I was younger is I think we do but I love summer camp and I thought you just really captured not only the setting of michigan but also just the feel of being at summer camp and what that feels like and what it looks like and what it smells like and you know all of those things that sometimes we forget about and they just bring back those really great memories. But the other thing that you know you...

...and I have talked about this and I thought you captured so well was the complexity of female friendship. Um and I was just sort of astounded by how well you did that you know as a man and I know that you have so many women in your life that you're so close to and you obviously you know have really taken note of those relationships because you did express that and put that on the page so so well but each of your main characters is very different. And yet they all find each other and form this lifelong bond. But I think very true to life. It's not always fun. So have you based Lisbie Rachel and Emily on real friends And which of them do you identify with the most? I did base them on real fronts and including myself. And I have to say, you know, it's it's interesting and I talked with Ron a little bit before about this when I did an event with him Cleveland. And you know, growing up, I had a lot of guy friends, had way more female friends the same way as an adult. You know, I think as a, as a gay man, women flocked to us. They want, they, you know, they tell us their secrets. Um they tell us everything about their lives might ants. My great Aunt's, my grandmother's did the same. And I think growing up I learned as a kid in the Ozarks. You know, if boys hurt each other, we punched each other even right then, you know, and you left a bruise. Women often hurt each other in a way that leaves a scar on the soul. Um, it's not visible often, but it remains for a long, long time. And so many women have shared their secrets with me about how they've been hurt both intentionally and unintentionally by other women and not just other women, but they're best friends. You know, It could be jealousy, it could be betrayal. It could be you like another the same guy. Um Things come up during friendships that you know, that don't sit well, but this sometimes and we lash out. You know, in a big part of the book is about is about forgiveness. Yeah. Therefore very different women. They're all based on people I know, you know, V is veronica, she is at supermodel from the eighties one name like Madonna or Amman. And she's based on a very dear friend of mine named Trish. She was a well Amina model in the 19 seventies and I didn't know that. Yeah, Trish was. Tricia's still stunningly beautiful and the cruelest human being in the world. Um, but you know, she got married, she had a family, she dropped out of the limelight. She ended up getting divorced. And I think, you know, during the course of that she kind of lost who she was. You know, as I write about the she lost her light and she orders is it myself or is it you know, my marriage? What what what caused that? Emily, as I told, Ron is based on my best friends are librarians and you know, I think the most intuitive impacts and the world, you know, they sometimes are quieter but can often feel everything that's going on around them. And you know, she's based on those friends. I'm Rachel is based on a friend of mine that worked for a politician, more of an extremist politician who she began to realize she was working against her own interest as a woman, I'm sorry, really wanted to delve into that and you know, Liz is kind of the real estate agent divorced, taking care of her mother who's dying. She wanted to be a fashion designer and always put that on the back burner and was always the cheerleader for everyone else. And that's based largely on myself who wanted to be a writer my whole life, cheer lead everybody on to pursue their own dreams. And at the age of 40 I thought, why haven't I ever done this? Why why aren't I making my dreams come true? And a lot of it was because I was scared to put myself first to put myself out there. So I think, you know, the very different dynamic of these very different friends comes to play. Um I hope beautifully in this novel, so it's a complex, as you said, christian, you know, it's not a picture perfect scene of friends, it's a very complex relationships when I think that you said that so well to about, you know, our fear and I think each of these women, you know, in order to move forward with the lives that they're supposed to be leading and they all come into this with if maybe not a knowing and nagging like, oh, maybe I'm not where I'm supposed to be and there...

...is that fear. And I think, you know, you really showed that coming back together. And I think this is something that I really love to write about two. And I think you did this so well. I think there's something about being with friends that knew us before. I think I said one time before the world got its hands on us. You know, they told us who we were supposed to be. They really know each other on this very pure level. And I think there's something about that that helps you remember who you wanted to be before everybody told you what you were supposed to be. And there's something really special about that. You nailed it on the head. I mean you did. I mean that is beautifully stated. You know, people always ask authors why did you write this book? Why did you, what's the reason behind it was a character? It was a story. And for me it's always a question that I want to answer myself that I'm struggling with, that. I think readers want answered or struggling with and and this it was what happened to our childhood friends and dreams. You know, when you look back you just what you said it so perfectly. People that knew us when I believe we were the purest essence of ourselves, before we were wounded and damaged and hurt and adulthood came to call when we were kids and we could dream, we could be anything we wanted in this world. We could be an astronaut or a movie star, maybe even author and we knew it would happen. There was no doubt that we were going to be that when we grew up and things happen and come into play. And I wanted to ask the question I asked was is it because we grow up or is it because looking back hurts too much if those things didn't come true and those friends we had, we let kind of fade away on which of those is it? So I kind of have struggled, you know, that was the question I struggled with because now in the course of the last year and a half I've had, you know, friends that have passed away from Covid, I've had, my father in law was passed boy. And I asked myself was doing enough as a friend, a family member. Just a soul to be there for everyone. And I think we've all asked ourselves that question. We certainly have. And it's really been quite a year. And, and again, I'm sorry for your loss of your family and friends. Um, but I think we've all, you know, like you said, we've all been touched by that, but I think we can grow some strength from it and move forward. You talked a lot about people the friendships in the book as though they both their lives now and their lives when they were younger and the timeline is just so beautifully woven together. What process do you use to do that? Because you have to remember each little detail about each of the characters and where they are now and where they were then and weaving them together is going to be a task to do them separately and then weave them together and you do it in a chronological order. I do it in a chronological order. I know as crusty as we interview a lot of authors and you know, I am very much a cancer. You know, I am. I don't like plots overly flooding because it reminds me of my jobs that I used to have as a beer. I'm like, look, I don't like let's do that work for the work. And my boss is used, tell me that, would you give me an outline? I'd be like, no, because I'm going to tell you about it in person. So I never loved doing that. So I really, I kind of always develop the characters and depth writing memoir. Um, I knew everybody that I was writing about friends, family, people. I loved people. I didn't so I was I knew them intimately. So I always want to approach every novel knowing every character that intimately. So I really do very end up character sketches And I just start, you know, with this, I really started with the timeline because I wanted to explore the 80s. You know, I loved what Christie said that time of innocence. You know, we were the last era before technology, you know, malls and you know, writing directions when we would drive rotary phones and pulling the cord into our bedroom, stretching it a mile. So it gets quiet time. You know, that's I think that was you know, kind of a then and now parallel that I really wanted to explore in this novel. So I knew that one of the timeline and I thought the beauty of doing that was that I could go back and see them as they were versus as they are now. You know, really show the ghosts on their shoulders back in the day. It was once I had the timeline down, it kind of...

...flowed and I'm big on structure. You know, one thing I do plot is is a structure for a novel and I try to think very uniquely about how I would approach it, you know, in this every chapter is centered around a traditional camp activity in writing letters, home, rope burn, color, war, um swim test, all of those things, but they also have a deeper meaning during the course of the book, as well as to each of the women, so I can take that threat and really we've it more deeply into their, into their interaction and looking into their backgrounds. You know, it's interesting. I have my novel that's coming out next spring as um called the buttons are tentative light. It's about, you know, if you remember grandma's buttons and they all had a history and some were stunningly beautiful, but they're all centered around different buttons which have incredibly unique histories to them. So it's a, you know, pardon the pun, it's a really great way to thread it together. So, I always try to think very cleverly about how we're going to structure a book because to me that's my linchpin. Yeah. And that's one of the things that you do so well. And you really connect with people I know, and we've done live events, the talking mainly about when we talk to the charm bracelet, people actually read the book and brought their own charm bracelets. They connect so much to the history and the heirlooms that you put in your books. Um and I know that's very important to you, but how have you felt about the reaction of your readers to that? It's, you know, that is one of those things, I think when you start writing that you don't imagine will happen, and it's one of the biggest blessings. You know, you you know, I switched from writing humorous memoir to women's fiction. I mean, total night and date transformation. And you know, I was writing about, you know, you talk about my first novel. I was writing about charm bracelets. Then I wrote about hope chests and boxes and you know, old cottages and there are things that I didn't know if the younger generation I would place that much importance on. And I went to my first events for the charm bracelet. And there were lines of readers waiting not to get their books signed only, but because they brought treasures from their lives and they wanted to show me their charms. They wanted to show me that where each one came from and the meaning behind it. Because so many readers were like my grandmother's, you know, said it before and I'll say it again. They were working for women who sacrificed everything for me and for my family and these things that we take for granted meant the world to them. You know, my grandmother did not have the money or means to go to paris, but she had the Eiffel Tower because it represented something bigger to her. She had a sewing machine because she I mean that was her passion. She had silhouettes of her Children and grandchildren with the dates on the back because that was her world. You know, these things, these trinkets means so much and to me they tell the stories of our family and where we've been and where we're going and there's a huge connection there that I hope that we don't forget, I don't think we will. Some of the people that became to those events were talking about their Children and how they were passing it down. So our job, I remember seeing the term, but it was the first time that I went to pulpwood queens, but you weren't there, were you? I was there I think right before, maybe a year before. Okay, so I was gonna say, I mean, I think we must have missed each other because obviously we would have met, but I remember thinking, oh, what a good idea. Why didn't I think of that? Because that's something that's like so important in my family. And you know, everybody has their charms and their charm bracelets and um things that are like passed down. And then also things that, you know, we're special from a certain memory and you know, it is a really that one in particular, I think it's like such a special family heirloom and those things are so fun to write about. I've written a lot about well about my grandmother's pearls for one thing, because there was something about them that I felt like it was almost like passing of the torch or something when I got them. So I think there's a really clear reason why that resonates with people. And it, it definitely did with me. That's exactly right. Except except you know, people joke with me now. My friends are like, okay, if it's the whisk by Viola Shipman, you're in trouble label, but if I want my shit one, I think that's okay. Each could be a chapter the Kitchenaid mixer by violation. I love it. Um, well, since...

...our theme today is summertime. Can you tell us about your summers as a child and how they helped create the foundation of your life today? Oh my God, how much time do you have? Oh my gosh! Summers for me, it's still my favorite season. I, I mean I love summer more than any other because growing up, my grandparents had an old log cabin and the Missouri Ozarks, I grew up in the middle of nowhere. This cabin was in the middle of nowhere and it was old luck having that My grandpa helped build. Um We had an outhouse for about a decade. I bathed in the creek, ice cold creek, I'm no telephone, no tv and I spent summers with them from Memorial Day until Labor Day. And you know, we fished and we swam and we canoed and we had inner tubes and we read in the caves that you know, hunt our cabin and it was a picture perfect quintessential childhood summer where you didn't do anything but have fun and spend time with your family and friends. And that influenced me so greatly. I mean I spent much of my adult life trying to find a cabin that mimicked what my grandparents had and we finally found it and saugatuck, michigan, you know, old night knotty pine cottage from the early 19 hundreds. Um, that just oozes history and charm. That's, you know what, that, that some of those summers as a kid to find me and they still do, you know, michigan summer? I mean my boat, I swim, I go to the beach, I barbecue, I grill, we go to all the art galleries in town, you know, we eat out, we, you know, we drink by the river. Um, it's just, I've recreated it just as an adult and probably with way more alcohol than I did as one does. And I just, you know, it just enjoying those moments, brings me full circle as a kid again And I, you know, I'm ready to get started again once this renovations done, I'm ready to go. It sounds a lot like north Carolina actually. I mean, I feel like summer is a totally different world. Like it's like a regular life. It's chopped off and like summer starts and it's so great. And I just look forward to every year so happy. You know that it's like, it's like how quickly it's like, oh my gosh, you look at the, you hear the forecast and like it's a perfect day. How quickly can I get out on my boat on the water? Exactly. When, when is everybody going to the beach 1? Who can I pick up on the boat along the way that we can just sit there all day and do nothing. And you're like, wonder what we just talked about for nine hours. I don't know. And that and that is a perfect summer day. That is why I think we write the books we do and because we try to define that season again for people. Exactly, right. Well, I need to think about relocating because that does not happen in Cleveland. No, we have great summers in Cleveland. I'm kidding you. Um So tell us what's next for you And for Viola Next up is my first holiday novel is out in october along with you Christie, so excited. It's called The Secret of Snow. Um and it's a beautiful novel. It's, you know, it's a holiday novel, but it's really a winter novel and it's, you know, based a lot of my own life again, it's about a meteorologist who gets replaced by an artificial intelligent meteorologist in Palm Springs and she gets drunk and has an on her breakdown and the event goes viral. And the only station that will hire back as in northern michigan and and one of her frenemies from college runs it and she has to return to michigan in the winter and kind of embrace all of the winter activities that she ran from because she lost her I'm younger sister when she was younger, which parallels my own experience losing my brother and how deeply the holidays were changed for my family. So it's very funny, very poignant, I'm really proud of it. So that's out in october. I have a holiday novella, the first of three that's coming out in october, it's called christmas angels. It's about a woman that was hired to decorate a widower's house for christmas and uncovers all these airline christmas angels decorate the tree with a camera from his wife. It's a lovely story about holiday too. And then and then my next the button jurors out next May, and then my first memoir in a decade is coming out next,...

...tentatively next june and it's called Magic Season. It's about my rocky relationship with my Ozarks father. And the only thing that bonded us was our love of baseball in the simplest cardinals and it takes place ending by ending over the last cardinal skin we watched together. That is so cool. I love that. We really do have some sort of like brain share that we don't know about because in my christmas book, there is a teenager that wants to be a meteorologist. Yes, that's bizarre, right? I mean it's not like a huge plot point or anything, but it's like definitely a part of this story. I honestly do feel like that we were separated at birth. You know, a lot of like similar life experiences and so they just like, but that's a random one, It is very random, but I think one day we'll be on a TLC show and it'll be like Christie, did you know that wade was your brother? And what's that guy's name? Tyler. Yes. Yeah. You know what I'm talking about? He can like put together our past life where we were, you know like, oh that the Hollywood medium. Yeah princess kind of more like a Maury episode. But you know, okay, well whatever we, you know what, whatever the publicity is waiting, I'll take we'll do it like we're in jerry springer episode is fun. Were there whatever? Well, uh, I fake nails for friends and fiction once I'll get them again, I don't have any problem join you have to say. People always ask what's the one job you would do if you weren't an author. I fascinated by whether meteorologist would be top of my list. I totally thought you were going to say nails. So I'm, I think whether sounds like a little more, you know, a nice tourist would be on the bottom of my list. Okay. We'll wait As usual. You have been an amazing guest. You know, you are a favorite of the Friends and Fiction crew and we're so grateful for your time today. Thank you for coming on to share about your beautiful new novel, cannot wait to read all of the amazing things that you have coming up this year. I'm so excited and I'll see you soon. Hopefully in person, I adore you both. And one day we'll be together again for summer, forever summer. It will be a blast and well, you know, boom rockets will fly. It'll be wonderful. Thank you so much weight for being on the first episode of Friends and fiction Writer's block. Thank you. It's an honor and Ron you're gonna rock this. Thank you. Bye you guys. Next up is Alyssa Friedland. Alyssa is the author of four novels and a forthcoming picture book. She attended Yale University where she served as managing editor of the Yale Daily News and is a graduate of Columbia Law School. She worked as an associate at a major firm before turning to writing full time. Alyssa currently teaches creative writing at Yale Alyssa's newest last summer at the Golden Hotel is a rich family ramp that will remind readers of Dirty Dancing and the marvelous Mrs Maisel Kirkus Reviews accurately says that the ensemble cast is full of comfortably familiar characters, almost every one of them with something they're not telling yet. The vanished history of the Catskills is evoked with love and plenty of schmaltz, high spirited party of a book. I could not have said that better. I I love this book. It was it's the Book of the Summer, It's so amazing! So, congratulations on it. And I love seeing all the buzz and attention it's getting. So tell us what it's about. Sure, well, thank you for having me super excited for this. And I love to talk about my book. So, the Pleasure last Summer at the Golden Hotel is about a hotel very much like Kellerman's in Dirty Dancing or for those people who like the marvelous Mrs Maisel, the steiner Resort, which was shown in season two. Both of those are fictitious, but they're very much based on real hotels that existed in the Catskills for decades, most notably, people talk about grossinger's the concord cultures. The Raleigh Brown's, I mean at one time there were over 2000 hotels and bungalow colonies in the Arab catering exclusively to jewish families. It was these hotels started because jewish people weren't allowed in the other hotels in the area. And originally the Catskills became a popular destination while people were developing tuberculosis in the city and...

...they had to get out of the city and breathe clean air. And that really stuck in decades. For decades and decades. It was the peak place to go with your family for the whole summer. I mean, it was a different time in a different culture then where people could take off 67 weeks from their jobs and the whole family would go Often, the mother and the Children would go and the husband would drive up on the weekends and people speak people who really did this for decades. I can't explain how fondly they speak of this time in their lives. I have never met someone since this book has come out, thankfully. It's already been in thousands of people's hands and they, woman Comey was the most special time of their lives. I've yet to hear claims. So specifically in my book though, the hotel, the Golden Hotel is co owned by two families, the Wine Golds and the Goldman families. It was founded in 1960 which was important to me to have it be newer than the other hotels in the area because that enabled me to have three generations. The oldest one, not only being the senior members in the family, but the ones that actually built it brick by brick and piece of plywood by plywood because I wanted them very much to have the feeling of ownership and that their heart and soul was in every square inch of the hotel because that makes the juxtaposition that much greater when you look at the way the grandchildren take the hotel for granted. So the hotel is very much on its last leg, furniture is duct taped together. The Catskills are out of favor. It's the only one in the area standing. It has still some of its old regulars and really old regulars concierge just mill and it's really probably time to close its doors, which everyone wants to kind of ignore until an offer comes from a casino developer to buy the place and put a casino up in its place on the same spot, which happened at the concord, which is now resorts World Casino, which is like a kind of cheesy casino off the interstate. And the two families convene at the hotel in june for a week to decide what to do with the hotel. And everybody there, there's a big cast of characters in this book and everybody there has an opinion about what should happen to their beloved Golden Hotel. Uh yeah, but a great premise to it, I just interject this has nothing to do with anything. But when I was in high school, I grew up in a central new york and we started to have a future business leaders of America conference. We would go to the concord and I just remember looking around in the concord going like this is a world I know nothing about. And so I just got such an insider view of it from your book. So thank you for that. I'm so glad I got. I read a review today where this made me so happy because the reader said you made me nostalgic for a place I've never been. I don't love that. That's an awesome compliment. It is, that's a paperback blurb, that's so well said. And you know, we're talking about summertime on this episode and we had wade rouse on as well, and we were just talking about those things that you do in the summer, that your traditions that you go back to again and again, that you do feel so nostalgic for, and you've really captured that feeling so, so well. And I also just these families are absolutely incredible. And the Goldmans and the Wind Golds in particular, are written with so much familiarity. So, did you face these characters upon your own experiences or anyone in your circle of friends or family or where they just out of your imagination strictly, they're really out of my imagination, to be honest, I definitely did research for this book and I spent with one of the women who was part of the grossing her family, she's really advanced in age now, but her mind is sharp as a tack and she told me some really great stories. So that was good for like hotel fodder and I kind of got a sense of what it was like to be like royalty sort of at the hotel, if you're in the owner, you're like a hotel Brett. And she told me about that and what it was like raising her kids there and how they ran around, you know, going into the freezers and stealing the ice cream. So I got a lot of food from her. But as far as who the characters are, that really just came from my imagination. It's like what I do when I get in bed at night, I just let my mind wander. I love it so incredible. And just some of the scenes like Louise getting up in the beginning, just like a song to everybody and everybody has their traditions and their reactions. They're all rehearsed and it's just, I don't know, it takes you back to another time, but you've captured the Summers in the Catskills perfectly from what I've read and seen. But beyond the research of the people and things. Did you do other research about the hotels and you got...

...it just right, because all the, all the different summer things shuffleboard and the main thing for me was the bountiful platters of food. I did go to the Catskills. I mean I'm young. So I went in, it was like at the end, sort of like the start of the end, I would say I had to ask my parents either went in the, I would say I went in the early nineties two cultures. We went three times. I was one of the big ones and there's actually an amazing documentary available on amazon prime called Welcome to Cultures and all about the culture, family. And it's about the demise of the hotel and they interviewed the different family members about like they had this booming property that people used to, you know, put their name, you know, cue up a year in advance to be able to get a choice room and then suddenly the Catskills are out of fashion. Everybody's going to paris for the weekend and they had no choice but to close eventually they couldn't afford to maintain these were vast properties so that documentary was helpful. I read a few nonfiction books, um, not cover to cover, but you know, I read that the chunks that were relevant to me about Sullivan County, specifically in the Catskills. And just so I have to make sure I had my historical details correct. People are very sentimental about this place. Like walter. Certainly connect many people who have nothing to do with the Catskills and never been there and had no idea what it was historically are reading the book. There are some diehards who spent every summer of their lives there and I don't want to make any obvious mistakes, you know? So I did my homework and speaking with funny Grotzinger about grossinger's and watching the documentary, reading the books, I went to a lecture at a local synagogue. That happened to happen. I went up to the Catskills for a weekend And I spoke with an owner of like a hipster resort, which is sort of what's there now. Not exactly in the area where all these Jewish resorts were, but like 30 minutes away, the Catskills are having something of a comeback and much more like a place where you get a craft here and you have like locally sourced vegetables. It's not like heaping platters of gelatinous desserts, you know, it's different now, but the Catskills might be cool again, I think they are sort of cool again, but it's not, it's like where you go for four days for a long weekend. It's certainly like, we're not where you plop yourself For, you know, six weeks at a time. That's cool. That's really interesting. It kind of sounds like Asheville north Carolina, like the scenes very like cool and lots of craft beer and like all the things that you were talking about and lots of readers. So that's a good thing. I haven't heard that Nashville is awesome. Yes, it's very cool. It's very cool spot. Um well, the characters in this story are all just so fully realized. They've got these amazing backstories and habits and secrets. So, charlie is my favorite. Each could really be a full novel or have their own full novel. So how did you approach like creating these characters weaving their stories together and is there one in particular that you connected the most with? I probably connected the most with Amy, not that my husband deals OxyContin, just thankfully, she's a mom of Children and she's busy, she's kind of, you know, super busy with taking care of everyone else's needs and making sure there is okay and making sure her Children are okay. That there's a little bit of like where is the time for Amy, which I think is a classic for middle age, the sandwich generation Sure all, which is where I am. So I probably connected with her the most, which is maybe the easiest to write, but I think I am partial to Phoebe, I really like Phoebe, she's the her those are listening that haven't read the book, she is a bombshell influencer that has, you know, 50,000 followers who just want to know every sip of latin she takes and wherever with tattoos she's getting and she's like very much on the cutting edge and she's monetizing this, you know, cool hip lifestyle she leads and she's like very easily underestimated and I have a fun for writing about women who can be underestimated, I love that and I love her instagram handle Phoebe Phoebe Phoebe, I think one of the grandparents like, what does that even mean? Like who says she's not free to be Phoebe and he was like so classic, like the generations just don't understand each other, they don't, and speaking of generations, I wanted to know more about you bringing three generations to the same place and they all have different relationships with the hotel and the family legacy and they have some similarities among them but very different views of of what life at the hotel is like and what owning it is. Can you talk about how you structured all that together and the different viewpoints? Well it was important to me...

...that the owners were attached very much to the old ways but I didn't want them to be oblivious. Like it was important to me that they were savvy people as well. I didn't want these clueless old people that could be just very easily dismissed and think like yes they pine for the days of shuffleboard and martinis but they are aware that that's not realistic and that's not where the world is trending, they just might think it was better back then, but they don't believe they know that things have to change if the hotel is to survive. So that was important. I think the middle generation for me was really just about capturing like almost everyone in an inflection point in their lives. And all three of the middle generation meaning like the two twin boys, the wine gold boys and Amy Goldman are all sort of at various states of midlife crisis and Amy's life is completely upended with her marriage falling apart and and Peter is just you know worked himself to the bone to the point he lives in the office. He easily could see himself dying in the office and he's sort of wakes up and says what am I doing with my life? And then brian is living in this podunk town and and the place where used to be the hero and kind of feels like is this like have I copped out you know how I think in the easy road and they're so all three in the middle are in these inflection points, although their story lines are all very different, but they share that uh middle aged crisis moment together and then the kids are kids, they're your twenties, their self absorbed there. They mean well, but they live in a completely different world and that's okay because that's not their fault. Like they grew up with phones in their faces and they are responding in kind and that that's who they are and they are. But again, like, I don't ever want to just say, oh all the youngest, they're all similar and all the middles are all similar because within the generations, they have very different personalities. So you have to have like common themes among the generations, but make sure that their personalities and their life circumstances could each stand on their own and felt unique. Well, I think those, you hit on a lot of things just in that that really create this atmosphere of just humor in this story. There's so many, there's so many things and about this book that are just blisteringly funny, which is the best possible thing for a summer read. I mean, I can't think of anything better than sitting on the beach with like a really funny, great rich book with these amazing characters. And but there are also a lot of very real issues like at the core of this story. And I think you balance that so, so well, so was that something that you were thinking about when you were constructing this story about having these issues over laid with this you or was it just something that kind of came to pass as you were writing it? And were there issues that you wanted to tackle going into this story or did it just sort of happened as it went along? I would say that as far as the humor but with like, you know, serious issues as well is just sort of the way that I write in general. And my previous book, The Floating Feldman's very similar. Yeah, similar balance between like you have a mother with, like in that book, mother with like a serious addiction problem. Uh many, many other issues like someone very sick with cancer. I mean like a heavy stuff and yet there's a delay of humor throughout and Golden Hotel is very much the same. I think it's just who I am as a writer. I think over time honed my voice and I think that's what I do best and I want to stick with it. It's like where I think I can differentiate myself I guess. And you know, there's so many great books out there. I'm not, not to imply that I do it as a marketing decision by any means. It's just what I think I do best and that's what I want to put out into the world because that's sure like to read the most. And so I don't think that I don't think everyone can write humor and I teach writing also. So this is something like as a writing teacher, I think it's important to not be caged in and you shouldn't like feel that you, you can never go from writing a thriller to a romcom. I mean, some people have tremendous range. Some people are more comfortable once they choose their lane that where they can shine and I feel like I'm someone who took me some time to find my lane. I think I found my lane. This is where I'm going to stay because I'm like, I'm exactly a humanitarian as an author, but like bringing africa to people is a gift. And so like no matter how little money I make or how hard the job is, you know, like the fact that I'm making people laugh this summer, let's not forget they were coming out of the...

...worst year ever. You know, yes, Back out and they can sit on a beach and just burst out laughing like what a gift. I am a huge laugh for like in my real life. Like it's not hard at me to laugh. I'm actually funny. I find a lot of other people funny laughter is like, it's such a gift and like it is the best medicine. It's how I cope with problems in my own life and finding humor. So I just I try to balance like, there are serious things like a mother, you know, like mother and daughter having like a really big fight and their relation looks like it's coming apart in this night and like the mother maybe can't help herself and she has to be like, oh, I can't take it anymore. That shade of lipstick is horrible on you. And then you have your comic relief where like, they're having a serious moment and then you're like, you know, the mother just can't help herself. Like she can't let her daughter go out with lipstick that she thinks isn't flatter into her skin tone. Like ultimately mother daughter issues are very universal and check that. And uh I do look for the humorous moments they see and they also come to me fairly easily. Yeah, that is a gift. You said it just right. It's a gift because striking that balance and creating something like this, and also this is the perfect time for us to read this because we have all been through a lot of last year and that's probably why I resonated with this so much. It's like you get the struggles and the trouble, but then you can laugh your face off certainly that you got there. Trust me. Um so the book's been compared to dirty Dancing and mrs Maisel, but also even Shits Creek, believe it or not. Do you think those are fair comparisons? I do. I really do. I think that Dirty Dancing, first of all, I want to like, I'm just so grateful for Dirty Dancing because I I think that my descriptions are good, but the fact that people have dirty dancing as a visual that they can conjure while they're reading is really helpful because for those people who have no connection to the Catskills and have no idea and they're like, oh Kellerman's because who hasn't seen dirty dancing? Everyone has? I'm grateful for that. I think mazel certainly in capturing like that particular period of time, which is not where the book is set because the book is set in modern times, but it certainly, I think like if you think of the older generation as the Tony shaloub character in mazel and the traditional father, I would agree with that and she's very funny. Like, and when I speak, when I go back in the days where I used to do live events, like be like you're sucking midge Maisel, like they thought I was funny, like, I'm like little dark haired girl. Also we have we're both funny, you know, so I that comparison I would get a lot, although apparently I went to hear Rachel Brosnahan speak and she claims to not be remotely funny in real life, but I'm similar to her on air persona and uh and Shits Creek, I think that's really a plot comparison because that's like a hotel that's completely falling apart on a family forced to be together and fixing the hotel and the force togetherness is what brings them closer. And so, like, from a plot perspective, there's a lot to compare between Golden Hotel and Shits Creeks, that all I can see them all, they all make sense to me, and they're all very flattering comparisons. Yeah, yeah, well, since we were talking about Summertime today, do you have a favorite summer memory that's influenced you as just your life in general, or your life as a writer? I went to sleep away camp every summer as a kid for eight weeks and I went in the book. But yeah, I went in the berkshires and I would say that a lot of that made its way into the book. I'm really thinking about that now for the first time, but I realized that the, my camp was very run down, it was really like pretty gross. It just was not a fancy camp. Some of the camps, it happened to be enough for profit camp run by a religious organization and well, I'd say competed, it didn't couldn't compete with the for profit camps that had clean bunks and not that not that a clean bunk should be such an amenity, but like they had like, you know, tennis courts without cracks and boats without holes on the bottom. And like, you know, they were well maintained, they were run like businesses because they were there for profit. My camp was always um not for profit, it still is and it's like dusty dirt road and I'm telling you this camp has no spots by like I mean Covid it didn't run last year but like you have to sign up for camp let's say by october for the summer if you're not there by october 15th, you can't get a spot for your child because turns out kids don't care if they have a nice new fresh tennis court and they don't care...

...how clean the bunk is. It's the spirit, it's the atmosphere, it's like its position and this camp was very long on tradition and very short on amenities and yet oversubscribed every year. Everyone is still close and it's still super popular Anyway. Long winded way of saying that I really, really enjoyed going there and much like the golden hotel of the 60s and 70s. Like you didn't need to have you know like absolutely ridiculous like instagram mobile movable art installation in your lobby that changes it. Who had a deck of cards sitting on a table in the card room and that was enough. And that was very like my camp. Uh huh. That's awesome. So what can we look forward to from you next? I have another book coming out next year uh out in the fall of 2022. It's called most likely. And it's a The departure plot wise but not a departure in tone. I will say again, it's serious issues with an overlay of humor. This one is about four women who are there each 43 years old. About you know, 42, 43, They've all graduated from the same class in high school, they were best friends. They return to their high school reunion For their 25th high school reunion and they're a little drunk and a little tired and they pull out the yearbook and they see their senior superlatives and they have not quite accomplished what who did as most likely to do and kind of in a drunken moment of desperation there. Like we got to change our lives and they set out, you know, to support each other and try to make, you know, until the next year, you know, to to make their dreams come true. But of course along the way with husbands and ex husbands and Children and mortgages and real life setting in and parents and lots of complication and drama and humor, like it's not so easy to wake up and be like, yes, I am going to go from a stay at home mom and I'm going to run for president. You know easier. So I love that. I'm looking forward to like, what does it mean to have it all and what's it like to take stock of your life when you hit this Inflection age And uh, do we even know that we would have been happier if those things had come true? So that looks like that question. That that's good. Look forward to that. So I'm going to thank you so much Alyssa for joining us. I want everybody to get a copy of the last summer at the Golden Hotel. You will love it And it's, it's sure to be in a lot of beach bags this summer. So congratulations on it and thank you so much for joining us. It's been amazing to hear about the book and to meet you and hopefully people will run out and grab a copy. Hope so. Thank you so much for having me. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. All right. Bye bye, Ron by. Thank you for tuning in, join us every week on facebook or Youtube, where our live show airs every Wednesday night at seven p.m. eastern time and please subscribe to our podcast and follow us on instagram. We're so glad you're here.

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