Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 week ago

WB S2E2: Breathing Life Into History

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK: Ron Block and Kristin Harmel talk with Historical Fiction Authors Genevieve Graham (BLUEBIRD) and Julia Kelly (Last Dance of the Debutante) about their new books and about the art of showcasing history throuh fiction. .

Yeah, yeah. This book was unique inthat it's further along in the 20th century than I've written so far. So Iactually was able to interview a woman who was a debutante in 1958 and she wasactually brought out and presented to the Queen. She didn't end up having afull season but she was able to give me a lot of detail about the training thatthey had beforehand because there would have been a very specific curtsy thatthey had to learn which you would have gone to. One specific woman madameBacani to learn. And she told me about you know, walking into the room whereyou're presented to the queen and prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh ashe was then. And there was a white dot on the floor where you would havestopped and that's where you were meant to make your currency and sort of allthe pressure that went along with that. Yeah, mm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm mm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm. Welcome tothe friends and fiction writer's Block podcast for new york times. Bestsellingauthors, one rockstar librarian and endless stories, joined mary Kayandrews, Kristin, Harmel, Kristy Woodson harvey and Patti Callahan Henryalong with Ron Block as novelists. We are four long time friends with 70books between us and I am Ron Block, please join us for fascinating authorinterviews and Insider talk about publishing and writing. If you lovebooks and are curious about the writing world, you are in the right place.Hello and welcome to a new episode of Friends and fiction writer's blockpodcast on this episode. We're chatting with bestselling authors, Julia kellyand Genevieve Graham, both of whom not only write popular historical fictionbut who also have gone out of their way the last couple of years to establishonline series promoting other writers and hasn't that been an amazing thingfor all of us watching on this side of the screen. Giulio who was raised inthe States but now lives in England is best known for her sweeping 20thcentury fiction set in her adopted country. And Genevieve, who lives inCanada has established herself as one of the foremost novelists, bringinglesser known chapters of Canadian history to light. I'm joined today byauthor and Friends and fiction Co host Kristin Harmel who also writeshistorical fiction and I know we're both really looking forward to thisdiscussion. We are thrilled to have Julia and Genevieve with us today,talking with us about breathing life into history and being good literarycitizens. I am Ron Block and I'm Kristin Harmel, Let me tell you a bitmore about Julia and Genevieve before we bring them on Julia kelly is thebest selling author of 10 novels, including the brand new, The Last Danceof the debutante, which just came out. She also hosts, ask an author withJulia kelly over on facebook where she interviews other authors live and takesaudience questions. Genevieve Graham is the bestselling author of seven novels,including the upcoming Bluebird, which comes out the first week of april likeJulia. She hosts a facebook chat series focusing on other authors in her casehistorical fiction authors, both women, not only right, sweeping immersivenovels of their own, but they help readers find other authors and books tofall in love with two and I think that's such incredible work. First uptoday is Julia joining us from England Julia, Welcome to the podcast. Thankyou so much for having me. This is very exciting. I get to see two good friendsand and hang out for a bit and talk books. We love it, we love it and Ilove, I love the term good literary citizens, I think there should be abadge that we can all wear about. So anyway, Julia, we are so glad to haveyou here. First up, can you tell our listeners a bit about the last dance ofthe debutante? I know that last year when we talked, you talked a little bitabout it and I was so excited and now it's out in the world. So everybody'sgonna get a chance to see it. Absolutely! Well, the last dance of thedebutante focuses on the fictional women of 1958 which was the last yearthat debutantes were presented to Queen Elizabeth at court. So this is the endof an era, a dying tradition. And so it focuses on a young woman named lily whois sort of at a crossroads in her life. Her family very much wants her to dothe season to be presented to go to all the balls and have a coming out party.And she's she's happy to go along with that. But she's sort of wondering whatelse there is in her life and what could be what could be lying, you know,down the road for her and through some...

...of the women that she meets in herdebutante season that really gets thrown into relief. So, she has someambitions of her own. And the question is, is she actually going to pursuethose or will she be tugged over to the more traditional side? And of course,because it's one of my novels, there's a big Family Secret in the middle of it,because I love the Family Secret. And that sort of all unfolds. Well, lily isalso making these big decisions about her own future in in sort of a comingof age story. Wonderful. And what was it about this particular chapter inhistory that pulled you in? And and so, you knew that this was what you weregoing to tackle. You know, I've always been interested in women attransitional points in history. And I think for me, 1958 is reallyinteresting because it's far enough away from the war that a young womanlike lily wouldn't she would have been born during the war. And she wouldn'thave any memory of, maybe she would, she would know, um, some of theexperiences she had during austerity, but she wouldn't have had the sameexperiences as a woman who would have been recruited into, for instance theRennes or one of the other services. So there's sort of that and then alsoahead of her, she doesn't know this, but we know this of course that theswinging sixties and the second wave feminist movement and various otherreally significant movements in history that the sexual revolution are allright on the horizon. And so I think it's interesting this sort of idea of adying institution of major change happening even in, in Britain's elitesociety, which most, most of us would sort of never have access to. Um, but Ithink it's an interesting way of looking at a period of change inwomen's lives in Britain. Oh, that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. You knowJulia, as you know, I often write about France where I used to live and ofcourse as we've said, you write about Britain, I have to admit, I'm kind ofjealous that you get to live in this spot, you're so passionate about andthat provides such a fantastic theater for this beautiful kind of historicstorytelling. You do, could you tell us a little bit about your journey toliving there. Sure, Well it's one of the big questions I get asked becauseof course I don't sound like I'm from Britain um even though I am actuallyhalf british, which is part of the story. So my mother is english, she wasborn and raised in Liverpool and moved over to the U. S. Where she met myfather. So I was raised in Los Angeles and I've always had the want to moveover to the U. K. And it's sort of never really came about until myparents and my sister all moved my sister because she met my now brotherin law. So they're they're now married um and living in living in England,although he's Scottish, very proud Scotsman. And my parents are living inEngland as well. So I realized I was the last in new york at the last at thetime. So last in the U. S. And I moved to be closer to them and really it wasmoving to the UK that that prompted my interest in especially 20th centurybritish history. Um I was living in an area of London where there are a lot ofmemorials where there are a lot of memories of World War Two and I thinkas you learn a little bit more about the city, it's very hard not to realizehow shaped it is by the experience of World War Two, of course it was heavilybombed as a lot of cities in in the UK were. Um and so, you know, I will admit,I'm sort of guilty of walking down the street seeing a sort of sixties orseventies piece of architecture in the middle of a, you know, beautiful row ofGeorgian or victorian homes and assuming that it was bombed. But in alot of cases, that was actually what happened. So it's very hard to ignorethe history of this city and and why would you want to ignore it? It's justfascinating. And so I've really been lucky and being able to draw a lot ofinspiration from that. That's awesome. Were you writing about England at allbefore you moved there? I was I was a historical romance novelist. So I waswriting about victorian England, yep, so I wrote about victorian England andalso victorian Scotland, Edinburgh, and really loved that. That was where I didmy degree work was all in the victorian era. But moving up a series of, ofdecades, I should say, it was really interesting because you, you know, themore I think you study history and you write about history, the more yourealize that Not that long has not that much time has passed between these, youknow, distinct separate eras. So, you know, World War II, Victorian era toour our contemporary time. It really is fascinating that women whose families,you know, in in 1958 wanted them to be debutantes, they would have absolutelyhad ties to that sort of Victorian era idea of what a young woman's lifeshould be. And if you think of that contrasted with how wild things get inthe 1960s and how much more likely than women have. It really is incrediblethat some of their grandmothers and their great grandmothers must have justthought the world is going to hell in a...

...handbasket because it's just so it'schanging. Well, it's so funny to think about it that way because when peoplewrite historical fiction about our time period, right, they're going to thinklike, oh, well, not that much time passed between World War Two and Youknow, the coronavirus states or whatever. Absolute. When you hear fromtime to time, things like, um I hope I don't mess this up. But things like,you know, when, when it was the 1980s or in the 1990s, it was the samedistance from uh from the 1960s as it is now to the 1980s and you just sitthere and your brain just doesn't want to do the math. Yes. No, you're 100%right. It's so strange. But at the same time, I think it makes it veryinteresting because it feels at once very recognizable. Um but very distant,I think. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I love this whole idea now, thinking aboutwhat the future historical fiction writers are going to say about our time.A lot of it is based on tragedy, but I think that what they'll do is come upwith all of these stories of survival of people that lived through thetragedy. So it'll be kind of a repeat, I guess if you will, Yeah, it's gonna be great. HopefullyI'm around for it Julia. I want to know more about your research processbecause you are known for digging right in and almost embodying the people thatyou're writing about. And it's so thorough. So what was your researchprocess for this book? And also has your writing changed from when youlived in the States two, when you now live in the setting of of your books?Question well, thank you. Thank you. That's incredibly flattering for ahistorical novelist to here. So, I appreciate that first off, you know,this book was unique in that it's uh further along in the 20th century thatI've written so far. So I actually was able to interview a woman who was adebutante in 1958 and she was actually brought out and presented to the Queen.She didn't end up having a full season, but she was able to give me a lot ofdetail about the training that they had beforehand, because there would havebeen, you know, very specific, very specific curtsy that they had to learn,which you would have gone to one specific woman Madame Makani. Uh andshe told me about, you know, walking into the room where you're presented tothe Queen and Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh as he was then, and there wasa white dot on the floor where you would have stopped and that's where youwere meant to make your currency and sort of all the pressure that wentalong with that. And it was wonderful to get, not only a bit of confirmationthat the research that I had done to that point was accurate with what shewas telling me, but she also was able to talk about sort of the feeling ofdoing that and what it was like as a young woman who really had been inschool before then, and um you know, that was that was her experience withthe season and then the season actually goes on beyond when the debutantepresentation stopped. So the presentation stop in 1958 but they goon for a few more years after that, in terms of the parties and what we wouldsort of think of as that defining debutante season. So these girls umstill would have had a coming out party or a coming out ball and I spoke to twowomen who had their season in 1964 and one had a very grand season, she had acoming out ball at the ritz where the Beatles were scheduled to play, butthat was weeks before then in the radio charts. And so they had to scramble tofind another band uh and she also had a cocktail party as well coming outdrinks and various other things. And so they were these women were able to tellme things that I suspect they haven't talked about for a very long time,because a lot of people hadn't, I asked them about what their experience was asa debutante or, you know, in some cases, may not have even known. Um, one ofthem, you know, I picked up the phone to talk to her, I had her name as arecommendation from somebody else, and she said, well, I don't know if I'mgonna be able to tell you anything useful, and then proceeded to just talkfor 30 minutes and detail about, you know, what sort of the rules werearound around boys and sex and you know, where she would shop and what herwardrobe was like, and I just thought, I'm just gonna listen to you and takenotes. It was wonderful. It's amazing what a treasure trove. My goodness.Exactly. Yeah. Well, that's what that kind of um, sparks another question,spark is the operative word here. I've heard from other writers, especiallychristian and patty and Christy, and, and even mary K two as you decide whatyou're writing these little things come up and they tell you a little bit more,and they spark an idea in you that you're on the right path um, to do this.Did you have more of those beyond these interviews? I did. I was very fortunate.Um, the idea came from my mother actually, she had randomly one thisbook that it has a couple of different titles, but the title that it has herein the UK is the last curtsy and it's...

...by Fiona McCarthy who became one ofBritain's most eminent biographers. And she herself was a debutante in 1958. Soshe writes a history of the season in that year and and describes in greatdetail what it was like as a debutante and then also what her other debutanteswent on to do and sort of what their lives looked like afterwards. So, I hada I had a pretty strong sense of going into into the book because I had thisone, you know, treasure trove of of information and the biography in the inthe memoir of the season. So I had this wonderful resource, but then findinglittle bits and pieces of things such as magazine articles in societymagazines, like the sketch and Tatler, just confirming, sort of how they wouldtalk about the debutantes and sort of the yeah, All of the stuff around them,not necessarily how the girls themselves felt. And, you know, ofcourse, every character has their own individual unique makeup that developsthroughout writing the story, but sort of what society thought of these women,how it's framed them. They were in a lot of cases, they were 18, they reallyhadn't done anything except go to school. They didn't really know thatmany young men and this was it sounds strange, it's very Brigitte in like,you know that that these coming out balls were really meant to introducethem to young men. But it was very much the case that, you know, while youwouldn't necessarily have judged a girl's success in this season onwhether she had an engagement as you would have during jane Austen's timeduring the regency, you still would get the sense that it was about who she met,who her friends were, who her potential boyfriends were and so sort ofunderstanding how these young women were sort of framed in society wasreally, really interesting. And so I kept getting little bits and piecesalmost like breadcrumbs along the way. And some of them have absolutely madeit into the book as well. Wow, wow, wow. You know Julia, this is kind of abroader question than just about this book. It's kind of more about your yourwork as a historical fiction novelist to me. I think that one of the mostfascinating things that historical fiction novelists do, especially thosewho specialize in writing about a particular country, is to serve almostas an ambassador for that country um to an american into a worldwide audiencebecause we're sharing not just a specific story, but we're sharing amoment in time or you know, things that are beautiful to us about that culture.Um do you see yourself that way at all as sort of an ambassador for, forEngland or for England's history? I hope so, you know, I have this funnyidentity being an expat, but also being a citizen here. So I have ties toBritain, but I would say I'm not culturally british because I was raisedamerican. So I have a very strong appreciation and love for Britain. Andof course it's my, it's my home now, some some say adopted home somewhere inthe middle maybe. So I think that is the case, what I almost feel a bit moreis that I'm sort of trying to convey that the things that you might knowabout, what the things that you think you might know about women and whatwomen did during various time periods may not actually be accurate, may notbe accurate for every person. Um and sort of shedding a bit of light on thefact that not women's women's experiences aren't monoliths, everywoman didn't have the same experience in World War Two, every woman didn'thave the same experience, you know, even as a, as a debutante. And again,it's a small group of women who would have had the opportunity to be adebutante because it was a very sort of elite society thing, but even withinthat there's different class, different personality, different experience thatyou're dealing with. And so my hope is that when people read my books thatthey get a sense that maybe history is broader than they were originallytaught or that they thought. And one of my favorite things is getting emails ormessages from readers saying, you know, I had no idea um that got even existed.And I, one of the, one of the loveliest um types of messages that you can get,I think is an author is when somebody has a personal connection to thesubject of your book and they feel like they've either learned something oryou've illuminated something for somebody. So my first historicalfiction book is The Light over London. And in that case, I'm talking about theanti aircraft gunners, which some of which were women. They worked in mixedbatteries with with men and they were up there, you know, shooting downluftwaffe planes over Britain over various parts of europe. And I've hadseveral people email me and say, you know, my mother passed, but she was agun or girl. And I wish I had asked her about what her experience was likebecause I had no idea the things that she was doing until I read your book orI've actually had women who were in the 80 s, which is what those women wereattached to, the auxiliary that they...

...were attached to. And there's one womanwho every book released emails me and says, you know, I hope you're stilldoing well. And she and I started talking because she was herself in the80 s. And so to get an email like that, and to have her to have her say you gotit right, maybe very, very nice. You still hold your breath on those emailsand go, okay, it's a good one that works. Oh my gosh, tell me about it. Iknow, but you're right, that means so much to me to to get those emails likethat. And it's interesting because I think particularly writing about WorldWar Two, a lot of the people were reaching are people who do have aconnection to that time period. But that connection, in many cases has beenlost recently. And so, reading a book set during that time period, kind ofhelps connect some dots that they hadn't been able to connect before. I Ijust I think that's so neat to along those lines, you know, um you mentioned,kind of reminding people that women's experience might not have been um whatthey thought it was, or, you know, the experience of a woman during that warwas not the same across the board. I think that one of the things that we doas historical fiction writers, that that is important is to expose peopleto experiences that are wildly outside of their own, which kind of forces themto look at things from a different perspective. Do you see that as part ofwhat you're doing and in a way, a way to do good in the world because of that.That's kind of how I see it, it's Yeah, absolutely, and I know, so for instance,you're your most recent book, forced Vanishing Stars. I think that's anthat's an incredible example of that, because you have a woman whoseexperience is just wildly different than really almost anybody else. Thatis a pretty unique experience, but, you know, I think absolutely, and I thinkone of the beauties of literature and and reading in general is just I knowit's cliche to say that readers are sort of broader thinkers, but I dothink that's true because, you know, you you take on a story and yousympathize with characters and even if they're not even if they're anti, youknow, anti heroes or something along those lines, you sort of get a greaterunderstanding of somebody's motivation and why they move through the world andmake the decisions that they make. Even in cases where there are characters whofrustrate us or who we in some, on some level we would never be like, or wewould never have an experience. Like, I think one of the wonderful things aboutreading is that it just introduces you to so many different types of people,types of cultures, experiences, and it's it's really one of the reasonsthat I love talking to readers, I love connecting with readers, I loveconnecting with authors because I think there's an inherent curiosity there andwant to just sort of explore the world a little bit more and to learn a littlebit more about about what's going on around us or what's happened in thepast, what may be coming in the future. So, I think it's a really, it's areally beautiful thing when when all of that converges in a really great book.I agree. Oh my God, I so agree. And there's your ted talk, it was a powerpoint presentation away, that I love it. I love it, but it's it's so true andespecially true. I think over the last year and a half, two years we are inwhat I think is a renaissance of women writers and their voices, voices thatwe would never have heard before are coming to the forefront, and it's justa plethora of amazing empathy and knowledge and it's just great, it'sjust I love being in it and, you know, hearing the debutantes point of view.What, Oh God, let's go. But finally, though, Julia Kristen mentioned in your authorinterview series, asking the author with Julia Kelly, can you tell us alittle bit about it how it got started and why it's important to spotlightother authors. Absolutely. Well, I I have to give credit where credit's due,I think friends and fiction is just incredible, and the community thatyou've built over there is amazing, and I think a lot of that also, it's justit's such a joy seeing all of you together, your people individually,You're so much fun altogether absolutely well and I have to say youknow I was I was in lockdown in England and we went through a series oflockdowns of course. And one of the downsides of being an author who isliving in a different country than where their primary publishing marketis. So I'm primarily published in the U. S. And in Canada. Although of course Ihave other other books out in different places or books out rather in differentplaces. One of the disappointments sometimes is that it's very difficultto get out and meet readers because of the international travel and of coursewhen nobody could travel that made it even more difficult. And so I you knowI wanted to talk to other authors because I'm nosy and I thought it wasfun and I used to be a journalist and I...

...thought you know maybe I could dust offsome of the old interviewing skills and and christian was very kind and was mymy very first guest and it was like you've been doing it for years. Wellagain inherent nosiness. Um I love that. That's so honest. Yes. Well you knowand I'm one of the things that I really love is obviously getting to talk aboutnew books and all that and I love talking about writing process withpeople and the business of writing and so many conversations can take off inso many different directions and I just it's just been a real joy to interviewall of these wonderful people, most mostly female authors because I domostly stick in historical fiction, which just as you said, has anincredible number of just phenomenal women writers writing in it right now.Um it's just been so much fun and I have to say it's also meant that I ammuch more current than I usually am on the books that I'm reading at themoment. And that's been a joy to. That's probably a pile of mile high.Like all of ours, it is Julia. Thank you so much for joining us to all ofyou out there. Make sure to check out Julius The Last Dance of the debutante,which is out now and head over to facebook to search for and follow Askan author with Julia kelly, you won't be sorry Juliet was so nice chattingwith you today. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much forhaving me. Next up. We welcome best selling author Genevieve Graham to thefriends and fiction writer's block podcast, Genevieve, it's wonderful tohave you with us. Oh, it's great to be here. Thank you so much for having me.Oh, we're thrilled. We're so glad you're here. Do you think you couldstart off today by telling us about Bluebeard, your new historical fictionnovel, which I believe will be out this april I would love to. Yes, I youprobably have already spoken of it that I write Canadian historical fiction.And so this is another foray into parts of Canadian history that we don'treally know much about. It opens up in World War One in one of the clearancecenter hospitals where my main character, Adele is one of the nursingsisters and the Canadian nursing sisters who are blue gowns and we'resort of flipping around not only helping them heal but also helpingtheir hearts. And they they were sort of known as um you know, Angels ofMercy, but they were also known as blue birds because of their gowns. And sheis about to meet who could it be possibly romantic interest. And she'sgoing to meet a wounded a wounded gentleman named jerry who has beenworking or fighting underground as a tunnel. Er Yet another thing I'd nevernever heard of with with our military. So he digs underground and he has beenwounded and they're going to meet. But then I'm gonna go right into um 1918.So the end of the war where they both end up living in Windsor Ontario rightacross from Detroit and they both get involved in the rum running campaignand turns into a bit of a rough adventure. Oh, it sounds so good. Ican't wait to read it. I know. Yeah. You just did a cover reveal recentlyand the cover is absolutely gorgeous and so excited about it. Yeah, it'sbeautiful. So in just a minute, we're going to get into talking a little bitabout why you write about Canada. But first I wanted to ask you why this timeperiod in particular. I don't think I've I mean, I've read about World WarOne, but just over one in prohibition or just such interesting things towrite about. And you know, there's such they're in such close proximity to eachother and it sounds like you've blended them together in such an interestingway here. What made you decide to focus on that time period? Well, I mean,we've seen so many stories based on World War Two and I don't think that'sover. I think there's so many more World War Two stories that my littlebit of a spoiler, my next book is going to be World War Two, but I love alldifferent periods of history, but I think early 20th is my favorite, that'smy passion. And when I started I live in nova Scotia and around here, rumrunning and bootlegging is is pretty widely known. Most people know somebodywho did it and they were always telling me around here, you should write aboutthem. But when I started to dig into it and learn about Windsor Ontario and thefunnel into Detroit and how exciting all that was. Um starting toinvestigate then I thought, well this ties into World War One just before andall these poor broken people coming back and having to fit into society andsomewhere along the line there? I just had to write about spanish flu? I don'tknow why, you know, growing that along the way. So it all just, it just fallstogether. And when you find a part of history that deserves to be told andthis, I think also I'll admit that I was watching Peaky Blinders at the timeand that the whole, that whole...

...underworld is intriguing to me. I loveit. I do too. And I, I am, I guess I'm like a lot of other people. I loveDetroit and I especially love the Riverwalk that looks over to Windsorand I'm so excited to actually read a book about the history of that becauseI've often wondered like what's the connection and what's the thing? Sothis is intriguing to me and I'm sure many, many others you're well knownhere in the States, but you are an absolute superstar in your home countryof Canada. You are, you're well known for taking lesser known chapters inhistory and creating beautiful drawing historic worlds around them. But in away, you've become a national history teacher, you're teaching your Canadianbrothers and sisters more about their past with pride and reverence. But thenovels are so immersive and entertaining that the learning part, itfeels almost secondary until they close the book and realized suddenly thatthey know something new and important about their own history. Did you setout to do that when you began your writing career? Or is it something thatkind of came up as you went along naturally came out kind of started,came out of the blue. But so did my, my whole writing career came out of theblue. I never expected to be doing any of this. I started writing originallyabout Scottish history. I was I was a groupie, obsessive groupie of Outlanderand all things to do with Scottish history. And I started writing all that.And it wasn't until my family and I moved here to nova Scotia whichtranslates as new Scotland, that I started looking around me and realizingthat yes, I know about Scottish history now, but I know nothing about thisplace where I live and I need to learn, you know who I am. First of all, and Iam not a historian. I slept through history class and it wasn't until laterthat I realized I really knew nothing about who we are and I'm a historicalfiction lover. But everything I've read has mostly been based in europe orEngland or Scotland or in America and not here. Um, so when I started lookingat Canadian history, I started with right here in Halifax, the Halifaxexplosion of 1917, the largest man made explosion the world has ever seen tillHiroshima. And we don't even know anything about it. So I started to lookinto that and it caught on because well everybody west of here was like, I'venever heard of that before and people were saying how come we never heard ofthat And so more and more I found more Canadian stories that moved on andBluebird is my seventh um of Canadian historical fiction. And there's there'sno end in sight for the Canadian stories that we don't know. And so forme it's I tell these stories because I need to learn about them selfishly. Andthen I see the books sort of like a film which makes it easier for otherpeople to learn alongside me. And I feel so privileged in doing what I do.I never expected to be doing this. That's so cool. I in doing my researchon you and stuff. The people in Canada just look up to you so much and yougive them so many reasons to be fascinated and proud of their nationalheritage. How does that feel? It feels amazing. Um I mean, again, coming fromsomebody who slept through history class and I understand it. I think, Ithink what I've given them is something that they have actually been wantingfor a long time but not knowing how to how to find it or how to ask. Iremember in high school, we talked about the war of 1812 and the plains ofAbraham and the fur trade. Everybody remembers the fur trade up here. Butthere's so much more. And when I open up doors to these parts of our history,they just they want to know more. So what else did I miss? You know what,why haven't I learned this and now that I can, what more can I learn? And and Ilove that it's not only inspired me to to find out more, but the others, thereaders are looking into it and I never imagined I would be a teacher, um notof history anyway. And so it's it's it's wonderful. I and and it's becomevery emotional as well because some of the stories have really touched peoplepersonally and it's really changed the way I look at history and and I I justfeel so fortunate. That's amazing. You know, you're sowell known and so popular in Canada. But of course, you have a largeworldwide audience to can you talk a bit about how your story's let youserve almost as an international ambassador for Canada. Oh, I love that.That's beautiful. I'm learning more about every time I read one of yourbooks, I think I have a deeper appreciation for Canada and Canadianhistory. So I feel I've always felt very warmly about Canada. But I thinkit gives me more warmth because I have more knowledge. So I think that's abeautiful thing that you're doing for the world in representing your countrythat way. Can you talk a bit about that. Well, I think that by doing this, I'mshowing people that we are actually up...

...here we are actually doing. You know, Idon't know what it is about Canadians. And we're always being said, oh, you'realways saying sorry sorry for that. And you know, are we apologizing for ourhistory? By not telling it? Who knows? But by doing this, I'm showing peoplethat we are here. And well, most of my books more and more, they're startingto expand. But most of them started off here just exclusively Canada. But nowI'm able to take Canadian people and movements and events and and spreadthem across the borders and all different borders. Um I wrote about thebritish home Children in the United Kingdom. Um Bluebird is going to crossover to the States and they're they're all starting to expand. And I thinkit's just we're so quiet up here. I don't really know why because I couldtalk forever, but we're pretty quiet. And so now we're finally saying, okay,we actually have a pretty cool history, like the Klondike gold rush. That'samazing history. There's so much there to talk about. So yeah, it's it's again,it's an honor for me to be able to do this. But then to be able to extend ahand out to two international readers is a thrill. I love it. You know, oneof the things we were talking to Julia about a few minutes ago was how one ofthe powerful things about historical fiction when it's well done like yoursalways is is that it puts us in the shoes of someone in a different timeand place who we maybe don't think we have anything in common with. And yetwe discover through the power of story that across national borders, acrossgenerations, across all of these things that we think separate us. We actuallyhave a lot in common because we're all human wherever we are in time and place.Right? Genevieve, can you talk a bit about the power of books like yours toconnect us and remind us all of our shared humanity, whether we're inCanada or elsewhere in the world, kristen you know this as well as I doabout the power and the responsibility of historical fiction. I think it's soimportant that when we learn these stories, we tell them in a way thatpeople will remember the history and um you're talking about how you identifywith different people from all different times and different places. Afriend of mine said to me recently, I'm not really into like World War One kindof stuff because it seems so long ago. But all of a sudden I feel like I'mthere and I'm walking in the streets and I think that's what we are doing.We're trying to bring everything into a space in people's mind where they feellike they're they're part of it. Um I think historical fiction for me, it allstarts out sort of as a black and white photo of the basic history, which isit's not very approachable. You know, it's very distant in the past doesn'treally matter. And then I I love the metaphor of the colorized photos. So asI do research that photo, the black and white starts to fill in with all thesecolors and you start to see people's skin color and eye color and hairs andwhat you're wearing and all the different things that make them human.And the more you research, the more you fit in and the more your reader can fitin and for remembering history, it's so important that it makes an emotionalimpact. And my my really terrible metaphor is that if you see a car crash,you're gonna remember it for a couple of days. But if you know somebody inthat car crash, you're never gonna forget it. So, here I am writing, youknow, we put, wow, just always writing car crashes, You do them very well. Youyou've touched a bit about your research process here, but there's alsoprobably not a lot of historical documents to follow with us. So wheredo you find these stories and how do you decide to bring them to life inyour books? Yeah. And it's hard for me to find a lot of this stuff because Iam not a historian. And so archives are a new thing for me and I'm alwaysdigging and faking it along the way when I look for stories, I'm constantlyfollowing different blogs and different, you know, instagram facebook, all thesedifferent places that are focused on historical places and periods and I'llread through them all the time. And if something Canadian comes up or or atleast trying to Canadians, it'll come up and I'll start reading into it. Sofor me it has to have a couple of, a couple of, a couple of factors to makeit worth my while for for at least a year of research. Um the first would behas to be something that we don't really know much about because I don'twant to tell the same old story over and over again. Um it has to besomething that hooks me emotionally because I will have to care about it ifI'm gonna, I'm gonna put everything I have into it. But it also has to be astory in which I can insert a fictional, believable fictional story becausethere are a lot of amazing stories that need to be told. But you can't reallyput as much fiction into it believably.

And uh and so those are sort of, that'smy checklist for those things. Um and then when I start to research, I sortof have different levels, I start with the basic um nonfiction books going tothe library librarians always know what I'm writing about before anybody else.And then, and I'll come out with arms full of them. And then then I get intothe internet and I'll start looking for, you know, basic um, web pages of peoplethat that focus on those specific things. And um I'll move along that waydigging as we all dig. And then I will go into the archives, I will brave itin there and I'll start digging there too. But what I have recentlydiscovered is the power of going into specific facebook pages and meeting thepeople who truly are connected with these stories. When I wrote TheForgotten Home Child, the the british Home Children have an advocacy groupthat has a facebook page of thousands. And when I told them what I wanted todo, they said, please, we'd love to tell the story. And I know at one pointI had written a survey for these people and that the first page was asking thebasics name and date of birth and whatever they had there. But the secondwas, what do you remember about this home child from your ancestry? And whatcan you tell me about? Can you give me an adjective to describe those kind ofthings? And I thought I would get a couple of responses. I didn't thinkmuch of it. And I got over 201 week and it's just it's such a treasure becausethese people are dying to tell their stories and they're just waiting forsomebody to come along and say, let me in, tell me whatever you've got, I wantto hear it. So, um, it's become very, very personal. The research recently,Letters across the Sea, I joined a group of it has to do with the battleof Hong kong and the Canadians that were forgotten over there in pow camps.And when I, I spoke with some of the descendants of these people, you know,they're talking about their dads and their uncles and their brothers and,and it's so personal and they want the stories out. So I'm happy to tell them.That's so cool. And what, what a great testament to the power of good onsocial media. That is. I just really, we always hear about such a horriblebad things, but there's so much good there too. And so I appreciate, Iappreciate it from that angle. Um, so you have a tagline and it's called,It's, it says breathing life into history one story at a time. Can youtalk about what that means to you and why you think it's important? I thinkwhat it what it means is bringing to life those black and white photos. WhenI wrote letters across the sea, I had seen the historical plaque in downtownToronto that relates to the Christie pits riot, which was one of the pointsthat I discussed in that book. I have seen it. It's just a metal plaque havewalked past it hundreds of times and never looked at it. And then when Istarted to read it, that plaque started to make so much sense. It started topull so many ideas together. And, and I started to see the people that are init. And I think once you've got that history and you research it enough, itdoes bring it to life. And, and, and it's these people become important tothe readers. They become um, you know, somebody that you that you love or thatyou hate, somebody that you identify with. And, and it just when you bringit to life that way through the research and through thecharacterization, they're not going to forget it. It's not, it's not dead oldblack and white photos anymore. It's somebody who existed. That's awesome.Isn't that great. So finally Genevieve, we wanted to talk to you a little bitabout the historical fiction chats you do on your facebook page with otherauthors. Can you tell us a bit about how and when you got started and whatwe can expect if we tune in The silver lining of COVID for me was that beforethat came along, I would never put myself in front of a camera. Notwillingly, not voluntarily and both. In 19 in 2020 when the forgotten hometowncame out in March The world went into Lockdown one week after my book cameout. And it happened exactly the same with letters across the sea in 2021. Soone week and I was staring through these, these bookstore windows justwanted to touch them and and to speak with people and I couldn't do a thing.And I started thinking about different ways I could reach around and mypublisher had me read a chapter which they shared and I thought well yes,that way I'm reaching and I started to work up the courage to do it. And thenI of course was not the only one to have that happening. And there's somany people around me that were putting out books that nobody knew about and Iwanted to learn about these books and I wasn't gonna be able to see them inbookstores. So I, I started to reach...

...out and invited people like Kristen tocome and chat with me. And I think what I, what I get to do in their number oneis I get to meet people that I just idolized. And that like with meetingKristen it was like I actually get to talk to her and we get to be friendsand it all came from this working up the courage to do it. Um I've met somany amazing people. I think I have 30 of those interviews now and I have themon my facebook page and on my youtube. Um what I think I do a little bitdifferently is that I'll introduce the author, but right away we launch intothe first chapter of their book so that my listeners, my readers can get a feelfor what kind of book this is going to be. And it's just going to pull me inand it's it's more personal. We all know when the author is reading thatchapter because you can feel what they feel. And then we start talking about,you know, inspiration behind it. And we sometimes get into writing process.Sometimes we just get silly um, because we are silly, authors are silly, wespend far too much time being serious. So it's I, I really love doing it andI've been doing it with historical fiction books that are about to comeout and I haven't done any while. I'm gonna have to, I'm gonna have to startcalling people up and finding out what is coming up soon. Oh, sorry. No, no,it's just it's just a lot of fun for me. And I think um, my I know my readerslove it. They're just always waiting and waiting for to see the next one.Well you do such a good job with it and in fact I should share that. Not onlydo you do a good job with the interview, but you also provide pronunciationassistance when people like me are reading our chapters for the first timeand realize midway through that we don't know how to say some of the wordsthat are in other languages and Genevieve just steps right in so I dowhat I can I aim to please. But I will admit that I have read my own chaptersand walked right over the Gaelic. We're not going to touch the Gaelic Genevieve. Let me also ask, you know,you talked about what what you're getting out of talking to these otherauthors. You know, just the joy of being able to chat with them and get toknow them. But it's it's important work to you're doing those authors like me aservice as well, because you're giving us a platform to reach readers. Why isit important to take this spotlight that you've earned through so much hardwork and dedication and share it with other authors like me, because otherauthors like you are the ones that got me to this point. And it's I think whenI started out in this crazy business, I figured it was all going to be a bigcompetition. You know, we'd be duking it out for who's gonna sell, but it'snot like that. And if you if you're brave enough to reach out and putyourself out there not only with your books, but in in things like this whereyou're speaking your mind and your heart, then you're starting to showpeople that it's not a competition, it's a community and we can all boosteach other up. I have never felt so supported in my life as I have with theauthors that I've gotten to know along the way. And I try really hard to speakwith bestselling authors, but also ones that we don't know. And I haveintroduced quite a few that um, I had never heard of before. I just I wasgoing through a list that said, what's coming out soon and I thought, oh, I'venever heard of that one. And it may be those people don't have a chance tospeak. And I am fortunate enough to have a nice number of readers who willfollow me and who will learn about these people. And I like to think that,you know, they're they're enjoying a little bit more fun, a little bit morerecognition. Um, just by coming on and being brave enough to talk. Well, it isabsolutely felt like a benefit to me both in terms of being able to reachreaders, but also in terms of being able to just have a lovely conversationwith you. I'm also very glad that we've gotten to know each other and gettingto be friends. I'm going to interject as a reader all of us all of theappreciation I have for all of this. Uh the support it was a surprise to meamong all of the writers and and the support that they all give each otherand I just feel like I'm the recipient of all this golden Rain. It's not justin my world of historical fiction, our world, it's other ones too. I havepeople friends that are in the thriller and suspense genre that are alwayspushing each other's books and pushing our books. And it's just it's awonderful community to be in your right and Ron I have to point out that you'redoing the same thing. You're not you're not writing books necessarily like weare, but in your in your work as a librarian and hosting this podcast andall of the other hosting work. You do, you know, I think we're just all doingthis thing that we love and and one of the wonderful things we're able to dowith it is to spread the love about books and about this whole greatliterary community. Yes, yes, yes, agreed. And I think also doing theseevents brings the readers closer to us.

They know that we're not just some faraway name on the on the spine of a book. We are we're here and we are lookingfor input and you know, it's I think it brings everybody together. You areabsolutely right. Well, we can't thank Genevieve and Julia enough for the workthey do, bringing history alive for the time they spend promoting other authorsand of course for joining us here today, I write historical fiction too as we'vetalked about and I have to say I'm so proud to be part of a community thatincludes these two women because they're doing such wonderful work forreaders and other writers alike. Thank you so much ladies for being suchwonderful storytellers and such good literary citizens. It makes me proud tostand alongside you. Thank you so much Kristin. Thank you for having us onhere. Yes. And to all of you out there we hope you'll run not walk to yournearest bookstore to pick up Julia kelly is the last dance of thedebutante and that while you're there you'll also preorder Bluebird. Pleasedo also check out ask an author with Julia kelly, which is its own facebookgroup as well as Genevieve's facebook page where she regularly interviewsother authors. You can learn more about Julia at Julia kelly writes dot com andyou can learn more about Genevieve and Genevieve graham dot com. Thank you allfor tuning in to the Friends and fiction Writer's Block podcast. Ifyou're enjoying our conversations, please tell a friend, we will see younext time. Remember you can always find all the books by every Friends andfiction writer's Block podcast. Guest past and present in the friends andfiction bookshop dot org. Shop all sales place there, helped to fundfriends and fiction and a portion of each and every sale goes straight intothe pockets of indie booksellers nationwide. Since its inception,bookshop dot org has raised more than 16 million for indie bookstores shops,small shop local from the convenience of your screen with bookshop dot organd tell them friends and fiction sent you. Thank you for tuning in to theFriends and fiction Writer's block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe,rate and review on your favorite podcast platform, tune in every fridayfor another episode, and you can also join us every week on facebook orYoutube, where our live Friends and fiction show Airs at seven p.m. EasternStandard time, We're so glad you're here.

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