Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 2 months ago

WB-S2E23 The Mutual Friend with Carter Bays

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK Ron Block and Meg Walker talk with Carter Bays about his debut novel, The Mutual Friend, and jumping from co-creating How I Met Your Mother to writing novels.

It's all sort of me like trying to ask questions about the the judgments we make on on technology and the way like you know, there's this kind of like conventional received wisdom that that you know what's going on on your foot, you know, put your phone down and pay attention what's going on in the real world. You know what's going on in your phone is less important than then being present and in the moment, in the physical world in front of you, and I kind of wanted to interrogate that notion and kind of smashes the bits a little bit, because I feel like there for so many of us, what's going on our phone is the real world, in good ways and in bad. Welcome to the friends and fiction writer's block podcast for New York Times Best Selling Authors, one rock star Librarian and endless stories. Join Mary K Andrews, Kristin Harmel, Christy woods and Harvey and Patty Callahan Henry, along with Ron Block as novelists. We are for longtime friends with seventy books between us, and I am Ron Block. Please join us for fascinating author interviews at Insider Talk About Publishing and writing. If you love books and are curious about the writing world. You are in the right place. A welcome to the newest episode of the friends and Fiction Writers Block podcast. Our favorite episodes are the ones that explore storytelling from different angles. Today is no exception, as we are talking with Carter Bays, author of what is sure to be one of the breakout books of the summer, his debut, the mutual friend, is what it's called, and you might recognize his name as the CO creator of the Smash Classic TV show how I met your mother. But before we introduce our guests, I also want to welcome my cohost, who someone that you don't hear much from on the podcast, or you don't hear much about her, but she's the glue that holds everything friends and fiction together. Meg Walker. Meg I'm so happy to have you here. It's so awesome to have you. Thank you, thank you. I'm so thrilled the step out of my back office job and joining her on the Mike Today. Roun, I'm really excited to introduce everybody to our awesome guest right on. Carter Bays is an American author, screenwriter and Songwriter. He's best known for Co creating the Smash Hitsitcom how I met your mother. So I have to say, Carter, my daughter is twenty years old and when I told her today that I was going to be talking to you, I got Major Street cred in my house. I don't know, I am saluting Major Street cred right out. How about that show has caught on so like crazily with the High School and College Age. It's like her comfort food and she and all of her friends watch it and rewatch it and rewatch it like like mad. So that that's really great to hear and thank you for having me you guys. It's very nice to meet you, Meg and hello, Ron, hey, hey, but yeah, that's it's been very cool seeing this sort of like the newer generations discovering the show, because I'm you know, we're eight years out for bit ending now and it's been a while and I actually I have three kids in my own and my oldest is about turn eleven and she's like right on the COSP of like us allowing her to watch it. I'm like super because like there's look at it's one thing to like let her watch things with, you know, somewhat adult content, but when that adult content was written by her dad, it's like add this whole other level of fickiness to it that. Yeah, so we're still we're still we're still feeling that out, but yeah, I there's definitely a it's been really cool. Like a lot of like high school kids and college kids have been discovering the show and absolutely been really fun. Yeah, very cool. The companion series how I'm at Your Father, starring Hilary Duff, recently premiered on Hulu. A native of Cleveland, Ohio and a graduate of Wesleyan University, Carter now...

...lives in California with his wife, Denise Cocks Bays, and their three children. Carter serves on the board of the Armed Services Arts Partnership, which helps veterans return to civilian life through comedy and the art, and he regularly teaches a masterclass and TV writing a Columbia University. Welcome to the PODCAST, Carter. Thank you, guys. Yeah, when do you slim as we here? Oh Gosh, well, the last few days I have I this this this is probably not in the in that that bio, but I just I'm recovering from covid right now, so I'm in a hotel room away from my family for for ten days. So it's not fun. But sorry, good yeah, and other circumstances it could be great, but not in there. I mean no one. No one is knocked on the door asking me to catch a spider or help them with, you know, them fix something. So that that's been nice, but that's not I I do miss them a lot. So I want to talk a little bit about the book. I I know you know already how excited I am. We talked about it before. The mutual friend is just it's just something that everybody's going to be able to relate to and it's just going to it's going to take off. But I want to read a little something from kurkis reviews, and I'm not sure you're aware of this, but Kurkis is one of the toughest reviewers out there. So you got what is like the Academy award a start review from Kurkis, who said this is a rare thing, an original, intelligent novel that's not just a perfect summer beach read, but one that deserves serious awards consideration as well. Put Down your phone and pick it up. A major accomplishment. So concrats on that. Thank you very much. I that's the yeah, that's I'm this is my first book and I'm new to the world of book publishing. and My mother, who was for many years a librarian in Cleveland Ohio, so so Ron. You guys may have cross paths at some point in name is Martha Bays. She was the the children's room librarian and at the chicker heights public library. Very cool. But when I told her, I said like, Oh, I got a I because I am kind of, you know, like a little in school in this stuff, and I was like, Oh, I got a review from curkis and and I read this review where I read read the whole review to her and she's like Oh, that's great, that's really wow, it's such a nice review. Yeah, and then I was and I sort of add like Oh, and and they I left this out. They gave me a star. She's like you got a star. She's so excited, because she was. She was like I look, as soon as you said purkiss, I was going to ask, did you get a star, but then I didn't want to, like I didn't want to, you know, you know, ask and then you'd find out you didn't get it. So, but she was that was it. was worth it just for her reaction to that, because she was very, very excited because she's a big, a big curcisse reader. That's so cool. Yeah, so, so let's start out by having you tell us, Carter, a sneak peak of what the mutual friend is about, so we can get the ball rolling. Sure, and I this is something I've worked shop, this answer, because it's so hard, because it is it's a big it's it's a book with a lot of stuff in it. It's sort of like a big casu role of things sort of at the center of it. It's kind of about I see it as being about technology and the way the way we communicate with each other, the way we relate to each other, and the way the way we relate to each other has changed in especially like it just especially the last twenty or thirty years, like in my lifetime. I just it feels like one of those things that that we all kind of knows happened but we don't really talk about, just the fact that, like everything about the way we live our lives, the way we the way we think, the way we remember things, the way we buy our socks and fall in love, it's all it's all sort of moved over to this other place and and that's something you know this I when I say this other place, I mean like the place inside your phone or behind the screen of your laptop, and it's it's a huge shift for for human beings...

...and we're like completely unevolved for it. And yet I think we we don't give ourselves enough I don't think we pay enough attention to the fact that we're all still trying to figure out how to live in this new world. And and like, I think people my age especially like it's having having sort of straddled the cusp of like having grown up when there was a just one phone in the whole house on the wall in the kitchen, and then all of a sudden with the long chord, yeah, with the long chord that gets tangled, and so it's kind of about that. It's a lot of like it's all sort of me like trying to ask questions about the the judgments we make on on technology and the way like, you know, there's this kind of like conventional received wisdom that that you know what's going on on your foot, you know, put your phone down and pay attention what's going on in the real world. You know, what's going on in your phone is less important than then being present and in the moment, in the physical world and in front of you. And I kind of wanted to interrogate that notion and kind of smash it to bits a little bit, because I feel like they're for so many of us. What's going on on our phone is the real world in good ways and in bad but but it but, to be clear, in good ways, I mean the people. That's where again, that's where people fall in love, that's where people, you know, talk to their mom every day. You know, it's really I don't know, I wanted to like I wanted to sort of take a non judgmental look at the new way that we're living and the way that we're going to be living from now on as a species, whether we like it or not. And so this is the that's a very long, roundabout way to say it's just a book about the phone in your hand and how we're all trying to figure out what to do with so not long we did it all. One of the things we do on friends and fictions. We ask people like what is your book about, and what is it really about, and you just say the what's it really about? So exam. What's really about? Yeah, I can back up right to say what it's about is about something that I very much relate to and I hope other people will relate to. It's just about a young woman named Alice who is trying to she has she wants to become a doctor and she has one summer to study for the mcat, the the big exam that you take, eight hour long exam that that decides whether you can get into med school, and so she really wants to get into med school, she really wants to do well in this test and she has one summer to study for it. And this is her journey of trying to study for this test. And in order to do so, she has to do battle against a dragon called distraction, and she's she's she's addicted to her phone, she's addicted to facebook and instagram and she has to manage to not do that and focus on what she's doing. But then the distractions get bigger as, as we see, the people in her life can be distractions and the whole world can be a distraction, and it's sort of about her on this kind of heroes journey and and also sort of questioning whether like whether this is the right journey for her. So there's there's there's a lot that goes on, but it's mainly that. That's that's the main structure of it's over the course of this one summer, Alice just trying to buckle down and do her work. Well, speaking of Alice, let's talk about the characters in the mutual friend. So we meet several interesting characters who represent sort of several different points of view and society, kind of similar to what you've done in your television work. So can you talk to us about how you develop the characters and what influences who they are, and how does it differ developing them for a novel versus developing characters for television? That's really interesting. I I am as far as the difference between television and and writing novels, I mean writing characters for television, I've learned so much of that process is working with it...

...all blows under. Like the big difference between novel writing and television writing, which I discover is solitude versus collaboration. And both of them have their plusses and and I love both of them, but television is such a collaborative. It's just you're just playing games with people all day long and and and and having fun and being silly with other people and and so much of like building characters and television is is working with the actors. Many actors are such a huge part of it. I mean I you know you, you you write your pilot script and then you start casting and you want to find someone that kind of matches the person that you wrote on the page. But more often than not the person that really catches your interest is someone nothing like that care character. But then you get excited about like bringing in who that person is into the character that you have on the page and finding what kind of strange hybrid you can build out of those two ingredients. Like like Neo Patrick Harris on our show was nothing like how we initially conceived Barney. Like Barney was a a yeah, Barney was supposed to be like a John Belushi Chris Farley, like a big like like a big guy that would be in different stron yeah, and we honestly like looked at every young Chris Farley in Hollywood and and saw some amazing people who are really funny, who have gone on to do amazing things in other and other projects, but for some reason none of them quite clicked for us as Barney. And then, just on a whim, we brought in Doogie howser and he who we had seen in Harold and Kumar and was hilarious in that and we sort of like our are like our our mantra was like, let's not cast anyone unless they've made us laugh, like if they haven't made us laugh, then you know, forget it. And and he really made us laugh in that movie and then he came in and did the audition and just it was just Barney. Like from day one it was like, Oh, yeah, this is the guy, this is this is who he is, and so so much of like, you know, things like, I mean I'm using his and as an example, but you know, any one of the characters on the show is kind of the same thing. But like, you know, Neil is a lover of magic and he brought magic into that character and so Barney became a magician. And like there's there's lots of things like that when you're sitting home alone and in the room by yourself writing a novel. Patrick. Yeah, I'm walking in and having it develop and take detours for you. Yeah, and that's the end. said. Right, that is a totally different experience and and one that I I just to give it credit, I loved equally and and if not more at this point in my life. Like I really the way the characters in this book sort of came to be was, I mean the whole book came to be sort of as I we were living in New York. We just moved to New York after how I met your mother. We're on the upper west side, living in the s and the Wests, and my daughters were going to school in the like the West hundred hundred fourteen, like around that area, and so I would walk them to school every day and it was like right across the street from Columbia University and it's sort of in the Morningside Heights neighborhood, which is where the whole book takes place, and so it's filled with it's so much of the book is just a slice of life of this neighborhood as I perceived it, just walking around like during the day, winning for my kids get out of school, but but on these long walks, especially the long walks home, and I when I was it was just me. I was just, you know, sort of I would I had recent point where I was ready to start creating something new and, you know, I'd finished time at your mother and had sort of taken long enough break from from creating things, because it had been ten straight years of writing and I definitely needed like a break. But I sort of reach this point where voices started coming back to me and I started like thinking about things...

...and thinking about like stories I wanted to tell. And Yeah, I think it's it was kind of a weird mystical process where these voices just started talking to me and and I sort of saw each of these characters as kind of different sides of myself initially and and they, you know, they grew and became richer and more filled out as I as the stories came along. But like, for instance, Bill is a character that bill is Alice's brother and he's a he's a tech guy who had developed attack APP that had done very well and now he was kind of sort of living off of that and and sort of kicking around for like what the next thing he's going to do with his life is, and everyone's waiting for him to find some new thing that he's just going to get obsessed with and he kind of takes this crazy left turn where he becomes obsessed with Buddhism and he becomes he takes a class in Buddhism and and it. It's that's very much based on I mean you know that some obvious bio biographical parallels with me, but also especially he. That was something that I actually did when I I had finished how I met your mother and I'm like living in New York, I don't have a job, I am am sort of like I needed. I need a least like a year off from television. I don't want to think about television. And I I drop them off at their school, which is like right across the street from Columbia, and I just had this sort of like there's one day I just had on a whim. I was just like, I of wonderful, can like graduates? Could people that? Can people just take classes at Columbia if you're not like ing rolled there? And I looked it up and they have this general studies program that you can apply to and it's it wasn't hard to get. It took me like a an afternoon to like fill out a little, I wrote a little application and I got in and I end up that summer taking a class on Buddhism with a with a wonderful professor named Michael Mo and it was like it was like in you know, it was summer school at at Columbia at this point, so it was like in the summer is very hot, but it was like in this on this in this fifth floor classroom and it was just a wonderful experience. But it definitely like like in this case, like I build character. Is is me. But what if I could not let go of my interest in Buddhism and it? What if it just got so bad that it that it started to like ruin my life? And that's kind of what I want to give away. What happens to bill? But build takes it pretty far and so I you know, at the time it was just me like very much feeling like I need something, I need to fill the space in my life that this job that I work on for ten years took and and for that summer it was Buddhism and it and you know, the summer ended and luckily for me, I had a wife that probably wouldn't have put up with me pursuing it even longer, and I had two kids and a third one on the way to think about. So I didn't didn't shave my head or anything, but it was just going to be my next question. Yeah, yeah, but it was. But I you know, I kind of lived through bill and imagine what would that have been like if I had done that. So that says at he's such an interesting character in the book among so many interesting characters. Like I almost want to make sure I want to make an appointment with you to do like a book club with everybody who's read the book so I can ask you the questions I want to know about these specific I don't want to give anything away today, but anyway. Yeah, well, the other thing that really strikes me about the book that's different from Your TV work is there it's visual, but on the page you'd have you had your brain to the reader's brain and you have to describe what's going on to them, which I think is a bit different than being able to have somebody acted out for the them.

But the descriptions of falling down the rabbit holes with a screen in front of your face was so spot on and kind of disturbing because so many of us are guilty of that. And I saw myself going like Oh, especially after I read the book, I'm like, Oh, I'm doing it, I'm doing it all and I didn't really get to them. But but how did you pull those together? What was the UM it was a lot of work and it was a lot of like really sort of paying attention and and a lot of yeah, I credit I think I actually the class I took after I took my Buddhism class in a fall I took a class on James Joyce because I had always loved like double owners, but I've never gone beyond doubleingers in my exploration rejoice and and and I sort of knew, like I nobody, nobody reads ulysses and comes out alive unless they have like a guide with them, you know, to like, you know, show them, show them the way up the mountain. And I had a wonderful team professor named Philip Kitcher at Columbia, who you know. He took us through. We read Dubliners and then we read portrait of the artist and then we read ulysses and and we sort of stopped at Finnegan's wake and that, apparently, it was a whole other semester of mark and just finding his wake. And so I'm I'm saving that for like ten years down the road. Oh, read thinking itself. I think yeah, because it's. Yeah, I mean they're they're very difficult, challenging books, especially ulysses. But but I just got so much out of it and it really opened my eyes to like how you can what you can do with words on a page and what you can present with words on a page and specifically like just the the the way he really made a this beautiful effort to to record what it's like to think and what it's like to how the brain experiences information a moment at a time, and so at that that was definitely a big inspiration on you know, and that that I mean. That also like really inspired the book in a lot of ways, because it was I was really like, you know, I I think he you know, he's recording what it's like to think in one thousand nine hundred and twenty two, and like I sort of felt like, well, but in two thousand and fifteen, like there's new things to contend with, the for the brain to contend with. And what is that like? What does that experience like, and so I tried to like really, you know, do my my level best to try and capture that. It quite successful, they have to say, because if somebody could make me put down a phone, that's high print. That's I praise so much. Like your previous work of mutual friend, is laced with humor but also some stark realities about technology and since and society. So, you know, what do you hope? Just like we've been talking about, but what do you hope that your readers take away from that? Well, I I really set up very strongly to not take a side and that was something that was very important to me in writing it, I mean. And then it's something that I, you know, over a number of years writing for television, I've sort of developed some like my little pet theories on what makes a good TV show and what makes you know what what what works on TV and what doesn't. And one of those pet theories that I feel like every good TV show is a an argument, is is or a conversation. Every good TV show is like a hundred episode conversation, a debate between two parties, each stating their case and making their arguments, but like the most important element being that nobody's right and and that both sides make a strong case but nobody ends up winning in the end. Because you know that that I think you can tell a story for one episode where it's like this thing is bad. Now I think this is thing is good. No, you're right, okay, this thing is bad the end. But I think for a TV showed to continue and be...

...interesting you need to have there needs to be an unresolvable argument at the center of it. Like on how I met your mother, for instance, there was just kind of the the endless, you know, as old as time, debate between you know, be single or settle down, you know, if you'll find the person and and and settle down or go out and have have adventures and and and be free. And that's like unresolvable, like there's no there's no right or wrong answer to that. And Yeah, I just again I found myself in thinking about technology and thinking about sort of the idea of like, Oh, put down your phone, like I feel like. Well, I like, for example, and I've told the story a few times, but like my there's the the story I always think of is that there was a time when I was on a work trip to Las Vegas and my sister was there with me because she worked with me at the time, and we're walking through the casino and she's telling me some story and it's so she's very animated about this story and very passionately tell it's like some sort of like really juicy office gossip or like some dating story from her love life, something like that. I don't remember because I wasn't really paying attention. I was looking at my phone and and after a while she's sort of caught onto that and she sort of like just stopped and said like hey, dude, hello, just eyes up here, focus on me. I'm in the real world. You can you can do that, whatever you're doing on your phone. You can do that later, like can you, you know, pay attention to me? And you know, on one level it's like yeah, she's right. You know, what's going on in right in front of you is more important than than what's going on on your phone. Except in this case I was the thing on my phone was a email that I had gotten from my wife. That was a an email that the subject heading was are you sitting down? And it was a picture of a pregnancy test. So, like I was and it occurred to me. Yeah, and it was very important and it like, you know, out showed it's you know, that was, believe me, like the story of that day was not. Oh, my sister told me a great story in the Casino, right, you know, you know. So, like and it just made me realize, like, Oh, this is where this happens now, this happens on the phone, and this is how you find out this information. Like I've, you know, like how many people have you, like found out that they got engaged from facebook, you know, or like I like and it's sad and something that's in the book is like, you know, you I've found out about Sony losing friends on on, you know, on facebook. You know that. I mean it's the the moments of your life are happening there and and and so it's sort of made me feel like I feel like we need to give give that its due, give the fact that like we are kind of living our lives there. It's give it, give it the respect that it's due. In that sense that like I remember, like, you know, in one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine, when the Matrix came out and everyone was like, Oh my God, you imagine what that would be like, like living in the Matrix, and it just sort of like realized, like we're there, we're not the it's not like something that's like gonna Happen, like when they release that and of that, like facebook did that whole like metaverse thing and it's like well, that's that's that, and it looks really cool, but it's like we don't need the Meta. We're already there, like we go into our phone and that's we're in a different place than the physical world that we're normally and so, yeah, and that that sort of like I sort of like started that, sort of started cross pollinating with like things about Buddhism that I learned, about this idea of like the the the the eternal truth and provisional truth, and like the fact that there's this duality to the world. So I don't know that it all kind of became a big stew and that that's when ended up in the book. That's awesome and I would love that story about the finding out about the pregnancy, but it's a perfect allegory that you're saying is. Yeah, well, like both sides of this, like the good and the bad of it. It's I want to talk a little bit about your process for keeping the...

...momentum in the book going, because you jump from care to character but you never leave them for long and the readers are just like we're just like dying to see what's next, like what's going to happen to bill or April or roxy and and, sadly, Bob. But yeah, Bo Bob is a Bob's the the the sort of somewhat toxic bachelor of the book. Who He's? He kind of represents. He's a guy in his fortis. Who's he's sort of represents. You know, I gotten married in two thousand and two thousand and ten and it was like right before the APPS came out, and I remember as the APP started coming out and getting bit, you know, like tender and all this. Like I'm remember the time and I think a lot of people who got married on the time I did felt the same thing of just like there before the grace of God go I dodged a bullet as a yeah, and like you know, and again it's the there's there's two sides to every coin and there's you know, there's so many people now that have like met there, met their love of their lives on one of those apps. So, like I you know, I'm all for it, but I try to want to explore again sort of a side of me, like, not that I'm anything like Bob Really, but like just the idea of, like, well, what if I hadn't met my wife and I just got these apps and just or someone like me just marinated in these APPS for ten years, fifteen years, like what would that do to a person? So that was that was kind of the idea for that. Okay, sorry, I but I'll know I'm going way out sudday here, because that's what we love that you're asking about how I like keeping all these different threads going and that just I think that's a skill that goes back to writing for television, just because that is kind of like, you know, you write your a story, your B story, your C story, and I'm just I mean that in all the fun of writing for me has always been about like laying tracks and springing them and and and sort of knowing thing, knowing an event is going to happen and writing towards it and getting us there the most securest way and then surprising you when you get there. And so I it was it was definitely challenging with this many characters and and this kind of collapse timeline, just one summer, like all these different things happening, which was kind of like the sort of the goal of the book was to give you this feeling of like just the the the depth of information within a collapsed timeline, like the fact that you know we're in this world, but there's just so many trillions of ones and Zeros and so much information all at once, sort of you know, on any given block in New York City there's ten stories happening at the same time, and so that it took a lot of like I had to use like some real like like calendar software to like keep track of everything. There was a lot of like, yeah, a lot of the color coating and stuff. But so about your process, I mean we talk a lot on friends of fiction about whether people outline or don't and whether you know they like to plot things out ahead of time or fly by the seat of their pants. So do you know yourself a plotter or a panzer? Did you outline this entire book or did you let it sort of fly at you as it came? I'm very much a plotter, very much I love outlining outline is I think it's a die and I try to, like you, always want to hit the sweet spot of like an outline where you kind of know what's going to happen but you don't know how it's going to happen, so you can still surprise yourself in the moment. And there's plenty of stuff that happened that way. I mean like and and and sometimes, like you'll be writing and a thing will happen and it will actually like it'll it'll force you to like Redo your whole outline, but you're so excited about it. Like there's a I don't want to see what it is, but there's some trouble that that bob gets into on one of his one of his many a tinder dates halfway through the book. That that be the choice that he makes, a choice that's a very unfortunate choice for him and and...

...it's a choice that that totally like change where I was going to go with everything else. But it I'm glad he made that choice. I think I'm sure he's not glad you did, but or maybe he is. I don't know. I being very, very vague about it. Don't don't spoil it. Well, that's one of the things I loved about the book is he you get to know these people and you think you know what their decisions are going to bring or what they're going to do next or how they're going to proceed, and then, on a left field, Oh wait a minute, I didn't see that coming, and you but you then you understand it really quickly why they did that, and so it just makes for a richer book with a lot more character development. So yet kudos on that. Thank you. Yeah, it was. It was I and I sort of I would credit that to just taking my time with it like it really was. I'm so I've been so used to writing television, where you have an idea and then a month later it's done, it's on TV and you're never going to get another shot at it. And after many years living like that and writing things kind in the moment and then you're stuck with it forever, I wanted to see what it's like to just like work on a project and keep working on it and and not release it into the world until it's completely ready, until it's so this is, you know, I feel like this. This book is like a few seasons worth of how I'm your mother, at least like in terms of mental stuff that went into it. Any how, I met your mother. Units is one novel. I don't know. Yeah, it's about it's at least half a hour I met your mother, I think. But yeah, so, how did you get your start as a writer, and is that which you always thought you wanted to be? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? Um, I sick. I always knew that stories were just how I dealt with the world and how I how I organized the world in my mind. I love stories. I always love stories, whether it's like stories around the campfire summer camp or like, you know, the afternoon reruns of Charles and charge I would watch in high school. You know, it's it's I always knew that that that was what I wanted to do and really just finding the way to tell stories that best suited me was kind of the was the big challenge, I think. And I was really into playwriting. I got I got the theater bug in high school, which is a great time to get into theater, because high school theaters the best theater there is and and it really that that was that really like give gave me the confidence to really explore writing. Then I got to college and I got really into fiction and I really and I thought the fiction was going to be I wrote like a you know, I've got my bottom of the drawer novels around somewhere that from from from my college years that maybe we'll some day see the letter day. But then the summer between junior and senior year, I didn't have anything to do with myself and I knew that graduations coming and I was really like not even close to knowing what I wanted to do with my life. And I got this internship at MTV in there in in Times Square, like at their headquarters in Time Square, which is a huge deal for a kid from Cleveland. Like I'm living in New York for the summer, going going to work at Times Square, which you know, as every clevelander knows, is the coolest part in New York, right there in the middle of I don't know about anymore, but yeah, yeah, but no, it was. It was very it was exactly so fun and it was like the era of like it was like before Carson daily, but it was like they were there. was like I don't know, it was it was just a very it was. It was really fun time on the real world. It did had kind of hit and it was me and actually Craig Thomas, my my writing partner of many, many, many years. He also went to less and he also got the same internship and over...

...the course of that summer was when we both sort of discovered. We kind of discovered three things. We discovered that we were best friends, so that was exciting. We discovered that we we had been playing in a this is, this is I'm taking along detroiar. We've been playing in a band together, but we didn't really know each other too well. Like it was a big band. There's like ten people in the band. Was One of those kind of college bands. So we hadn't really gotten close. But then over the course that summer we started making more and more music together and we just discovered that we, in addition to being best friends, we love making music together and we also discovered that we love writing together. And and we were in working in the Development Department at MTV and and the the mission of the Development Department that particular summer was that MTV was getting in descripted programming, getting away from just doing videos and they wanted to figure out what was the MTV Sitcom? That was sort of the the the headline and and it is a very like, sort of mystical question. What is the MTV Sitcom? And and you know whatever that means, the kind of a new frontier. It was a totally new frontier. The answer, and I'll just to jump ahead, the answer ended up being, I believe, the OSBORNS. Yeah, like that's a great show, and it was, and we want to think about it. It's like, if that's the question, then that that is the perfect answer, because it really was like it had rock and roll, but it was also like but, but, but, yeah, I craig and I sort of both realize that we both love Sitcoms, and so we were like, Oh, let us take a hack at it and we wrote a couple scripts together. That sort of like our idea of like this is this, this seems like this could be good. And none of them, you know, made it on the air or anything, but we sort of discovered like Oh, we love this form, we love we love writing together, we love collaborating in this way and we also love writing jokes and writing, you know, stories about characters and and that sort of lit the fire for us and then after that we we graduated and we ended up we end up getting work at David Letterman, which was tremendous fun. was like I was I always call it my comedy MFA, because I was there for four and a half years and like really just learned how to write a joke and learned how to like write for an audience and, you know, learned a ton of really valuable stuff. But at the end of that experience, Craig and I knew like that our future was writing half hour comedy, and so we moved to Los Angeles and the rest is kind of history. It totally is totally sounds like the best summer ever. I'm right. Oh my God, it was. Yeah, it was the best. So much. You wrote so, so much together and you now done the book by yourself. Did the two of you planning anything else for the future? We are. We have. Yeah, I sort of took this did did this little this is kind of like my little solo album, this book, and then we're back to get in the band, keeping the band together. We we have a and Craig is kind of more at the forefront of this, but we're both we both developed it. We have a movie musical that we've been developing from many, many years. It's called Molly in the moon and it's something that that it's very personal, it's very like magical and fantastical and it's sort of it's very much it's based on Craig's experience with his son who was born. When he was born in the hospital, he they discovered that he had a severe heart condition, among many other things, and had to go into the Niki immediately after he was born and they spent five weeks in the hospital sort of experiencing this this just this awful experience that was so terrifying and luckily had a happy ending where when Elliott, their son, came home. And this this happened during the third season of how met your mother, and so it took many years for, I think, Craig to be ready to tell...

...a story about it, but we created this story and it's something we're extremely proud of and we try to get it and made as a movie for a number of years and now we're pitching it as a television series. But it's got it's got it's a musical, so it's got all original music by Craig and I and we're tremendously proud of it. So I really hope that something happens with it eventually. Yeah, I did a little digging before we came on the air about it and I'd like the premise is just so original and I can't whatever form it comes in, I can't wait to see it. Yeah, well, I hope so. Well, Carter, congratulations on the release of the mutual friend. It releases on June seventh, so everyone listening, there still time for people to pre order it and be the first to get your hands on this unique and utterly absorbing story. So, as we let you go, tell us where we can find out more about your work and how all of our listeners can keep up with you online. Sure, okay. Well, I'm at on twitter at Carter Bays. One Word Carter Bays. I'm on Instagram at Carter L Bays, because whoever at Carter Bays was on instagram got there probably the day before I did and I guess harked himself there. So at Carter Bays, if you're listening, let's talk please. Really is my name, but it just my name, L I mean my middle name, my middle initials L. I used to. I used to use it like if you somehow dug up old David letterman credits, you'd see like written by Carter l bays. But it's been many years since I dropped the L. So, but that's my instagram, Carter l bays, and Carter Bayscom is my website. So great, good follow them anyway. So thank you so much for being here. This has been a riot. The book is so, so good and I can't wait for people to get their hands on it. It's it's really good to resonate with people and take it to the beach, but but be prepared for a lot to sink into your brain about this and about society. It's just a perfect mix of everything, so I hope. So I just did say it like I kind of wrote it as a I wrote it with the goal of it sort of being two books for the price of one, like I try to write like a like the first time you read it is like Your Beach Read Book and you read it and it's like just a I feel like it's a great store and and you laugh, you'll cry. It's just perfect for just taking the beach but it's definitely a book that I think, I hope you write, when you finish it, you go back and start reading it again and see all the stuff that you did see the first time, because there's there's lots of twists and surprises along the way. Yes, said I read a lot of books in this book really stayed with me since I first read it, so that's that's usually a good sign. Awesome. Thank you all right. Well, good luck with it. All right. Thank you, guys. This is this is a lot of fun and thank you to our listeners. As we reach the one year anniversary of the friends and fiction writers block podcast, we want to say how much we appreciate you listening in each week as we explore storytelling with fascinating guests like Carter. As always, a new episode will drop next Friday and if you would, please share us with a friend. Thank you for tuning in to the friends and fiction writers block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe, rate and review on your favorite podcast platform. Tune in every Friday for another episode, and you can also join us every week on facebook for Youtube, where our live friends and fiction show airs at seven PM Eastern Standard Time. We are so glad you're here.

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