Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 month ago

WB-S2E32 Books You Should Know - Take My Hand with Dolen Perkins-Valdez featuring special co-host Nancy Johnson

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK Ron Block is joined by special guest Co-host Nancy Johnson, author of The Kindest Lie to speak with Dolen Perkins-Valdez about her powerful, poignant and timely newest work, Take My Hand.

But I read about unintentional wounding in the classroom. As a professor, you have all of this power in the classroom and you can unintentionally wound a student, and the thing that the materials said to me was that's not okay. Even if it's unintentional, it's not okay. So everything in your power not to do that, okay. So that was my first introduction to that and I've never forgotten it. And that doesn't say that it doesn't still happen occasionally, but I do everything in my power not to allow that to happen. Welcome to the friends and fiction writer's block podcast. For New York Times bestselling authors, one rock star Librarian and endless stories. Joined Mary Kay, Andrews, Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson Harvey and Patty Callahan Henry, along with on block as novelists. We are four longtime friends with seventy books between us, and I am Ron Block. Please join us for fascinating author interviews and insider talk about publishing and writing. If you love books and are curious about the writing world, you are in the right place. Welcome to a new episode of the friends and fiction writer's block podcast. I am Ron Block and I am thrilled for this one. Today's episode is part of a new ongoing series that we're going to title books, you should know, and we're hosting a very important guest in book, so we decided to invite my special guest co host to be a part of it. Welcome to my good friend Nancy Johnson, author of another book you should know, absolutely the kindest lie. Welcome to the PODCAST, Nancy. Thank you so much, Ron. It's so good to be here. I feel like it's like the band is back together again. We are, we are and when you mentioned St to books that we might want to talk about, take my hand was at the top of my list. Thrill for us to be able to talk about it's such a great and important book, so I'm so glad we get to talk about it before we dive into our conversation with today's guest. Why don't you catch us up on what you're doing, Nancy, and, hint, hint, talk about the new book. I am still, fortunately, having conversations about the first book, my debut novel, the kindest lie, and it's about an unlikely friendship between a successful black woman engineer and a poor young white boy in a dying Indiana factory town. And now I'm hard at work writing, revising, rewriting book too, and the working title of that one is people of means and it's the story of an upper middle class black mother and daughter, both of them coming of age at different moments of racial reckoning in this country, nineteen sixty during the sit ins at Fisk University, during the civil rights movement and at the time of the acquittal of the four white officers for the beating of Rodney King. So race, class and family again, so more like reading exactly. It's wonderful. I can't wait to read it. When you first told me the idea, I was like, Oh, I'm in. I wanted today, but okay. So let's go on and introduce our guest, Dolan Perkins Valdez. Dolan is the New York Times bestselling author of Wench bomb and most recently, take my hand, in two thousand and eleven she was a finalist for two n double a CP image awards and the Hudson Wright Legacy Award for fiction. In two thousand seventeen, Harper Collins released wench as one of the eight olive titles limited edition modern classics. That included books by Edward P Jones, Louise Erdrich and Zora Neil hurston. Dolan received a D C Commission on the arts grant for her second novel, bomb, which was published by Harpercollins, and in Dolan wrote the introduction to a special edition of solemn north of twelve years a slave, published by Simon and Schuster,...

...which became a New York Times bestseller. She followed that with an introduction to Elizabeth Keckley's behind the scenes, published in Dolan is a nominee for a United States Arts Fellowship and her new book take my hand has been universally hailed with glowing reviews and on every best of list that you can imagine. The Washington Post has said of the book. Take my hand reminds us that truly extraordinary fiction is rarely written merely to entertain, and that could not be truer of this book. I was lucky enough to get a pre pub chance to read this book and it just blew me away. It's compelling, it's powerful and it's harrowing. Dolan, welcome to the PODCAST. Thank you for inviting me. I'm so glad to get a chance to talk to you and dive a little bit deeper into your story, in your background. Can you give us the overview of the book? So take my hand. Is said, in nineteen seventy three Montgomery, Alabama, at a time of transition and the deep south. It's an important year for many reasons historically. But it's also a momentous year for this family who is living on government benefits in real life, the Ralph family, many Lee and Mary Alice Relf, for two little girls who were sterilized without their families consent. So my novel is inspired by their story and by an imagined nurse who takes them on as her patients and finds herself in the middle of this absolute horrific event. And it's such a fascinating but also, like you said, horrifying, horrific story. And there are just so many atrocities that black folks and other people of Color have faced in the past in this country. And what struck me and I think hurt me the most in reading it was just the invalidation of the black body, stripping us in many ways of our humanity. And in your author's note, and then just a minute ago, you talked about the real life inspiration for this book. Can you tell us a little bit more about that origin story and how you were able to weave it into the book? Sure so. You know, I really believe that history is cyclical rather than linear and Um, so much of this to me, Um, is really relevant to contemporary times and that's probably very evident in my author's note. Um. But when I was thinking about this story at the very beginning I didn't know whether or not it would be a novel. I was just following my curiosity about the Ralph Sisters. My Dad graduated from Tuskegee University in the late nineteen sixties, so I've always had this connection to Tuskegee and I've always had this connection to Alabama. I grew up in Memphis, um, so I always say it's up the road from Montgomery Alabama. and Um, I didn't know if it would be a novel. I didn't want to tell the story from the perspective of the family, because those sisters are still alive and can tell their own story. I didn't want to tell the story from the perspective of the lawyer who argued the case, because he's also still alive and can tell his own story, but I was intrigued by this line that I found in the Montgomery advertiser where the head nurse, while defending her actions, said that it must have been okay to steralyze the girls because all of the nurses who worked at the clinic were black, and I was stunned by that line. And I never found anything in the archive about who those black nurses were. But as soon as I read that line I knew that my window into the story would be. Who were these nurses? How did they get involved in this Um? What were the consequences and the fallout of having been not only a witness but...

...in some ways a participant in this really terrible thing? Wow, and I recently read in The New York Times magazine the story of the sisters and it just broke my heart all over again. Just everything about this story. It's just unfathomable. But let's talk about civil civil towns and as your protagonists and almost she's prescient and really Um kind of is very valid for what we're going through in our country now, and we're gonna talk about that a little bit later, but Um, the other thing that struck me is that even though civil um was of the same race as the girls. There was some black class dynamics that were at play there. Can you talk about those differences? Yes, years ago, my friend and mentor, the late Randall Keenan, urged me to write about black class dynamics in the south. He was a North Carolina writer who had grown up in a very um rural family Um and was always very intrigued by class gratification among black people in the south. At the time I didn't have a book in me that addressed that, but I never forgot that he urged me to do that, Um, and so when I started this book it was just really clear to me that this was the book Randall had urged me to write. Um. I knew that because CIBIL had recently graduated from Nursing School, she would be in a different class statusphere than the family, and I decided to emphasize that by making her family more upper middle class. Her father is a physician, her mother is an a visual artist and I wanted to Um emphasize this sort of encounter between her and this very impoverished family, to really suggest Um the difficulty of doing this kind of work for her and the difficulty even of the family to accept that benevolence. Yes, and when as soon as I met Indian and Erica, I just uh, you just write them so vividly and Um, you just you just can't help but but want to be there to help as well. But I understand the whole dynamics between the family and, you know, thinking that somebody's just doing this to them and instead of trying to help them. Right, right, and it was so interesting too, just to see the that they were the same race, you know, the nurse and the girls and some of those dynamics too. But I think in addition to help vivid the characters were, also the setting of this book was incredibly vivid and for me, been working on a second book, I'm constantly trying to figure out how to do this because my next book is in Nashville in nineteen sixty and I grew up in Chicago and wasn't born in nineteen sixties. So it's but you've just done such a great job of placing US there. You know, the setting in Montgomery Alabama, nineteen seventy three and you have some family ties to that area. But how did you how do you do that? Is that about researches, that about spending time there. How do you create a setting like that that is just so palpable and real? Well, I wish I had all the answers. It's the I'm taking notes. All the answers, I would not be struggling on this next book. Um, I will say that, Um, you know, it really helps me to go to the place, even if it's a time period in the past. Okay, so, like you're from Chicago, my second book was set in Chicago in the eighteen sixties and after I had been of course, Chicago burned down after the setting of my book and so it's a completely different city. But even just going to Chicago, Contemporary Chicago, and walking the streets and seeing some street signs that were the same names of streets in the eighteen sixties helped me to feel the energy of walking around the city. Um and UH. I felt...

...the same thing with Montgomery, going to Montgomery, even though Contemporary Montgomery is very, very different, in nineteen seventy three Montgomery, just walking around talking to people, you know, Um, standing on the banks of the river, which is still there, which hasn't changed. Same in Chicago you can stand on the banks, you know, of Lake Michigan, and it's still the same lake that it was in eighteen sixty. So just sometimes breathing the air, eating the food, walking around. That really helps me. And of course you have to when you're doing this historical stuff, is you have to look at the old maps. You have to pour over them over and over and over again so that you know that the layout of the city intimately, so that you know, and that was how, for example, I knew how devastating it was when the freeway was built that cut right through the black business district. You look at those maps and you can see it just, you know, really devastating black neighborhoods, just going right through them. and Um, so I think pouring over the maps for sure, but also going there and just walking around aimlessly. That's great advice. Don't and I think I need to make a trip now to Nashville. I think that would definitely something's change, something stay the same. I will go with you, I'll be your research assistant. There you go. Um. So there's another thing that was in the book as I read it that I just I couldn't help but feel bad about. Um, the things that civil would do in the way she would talk to the children and the family and her mom. And I saw a recent interview that you did that you use the term unintentional wounding and it was like that was like a light bulb for me and I said that's one of the big things in this book. There's so much of that, and can you talk about that theme and and how you put it into the book? Well, I was first introduced to this idea of unintentional wounding when I first became a professor twenty years ago. I Um was reading pedagogical books about how to teach because I didn't know what I was doing and Um, I still don't really know some day, some days. But I read about unintentional wounding in the classroom. As a professor you have all of this power in the classroom and you can unintentionally wound a student and the thing that the materials said to me was that's not okay. Even if it's unintentional, it's not okay. So do everything in your power not to do that. Okay. So, Um, that was my first introduction to that and I've never forgotten it. And that doesn't say that it doesn't still happen occasionally, but I do everything in my power not to allow that to happen. So I think in this book I was really hyper aware of how civil could overstep and that's so, at twenty three years old she's in the book is not quite aware of how much power she wields in the life of this family. And one of the things that Joe Levin, who was the real life lawyer who argued this case, when I talked to him as I was working on the book, He emphasized to me over and over again you have to remember how much power the federal government had over this family. They helped him, you know in the book, Um, the agency helps him get a job, the agency helps him with housing, they get food stamps. Every aspect of their lives, from school to to food to their basic survival, is tied to their federal government assistance and that is a lot of power that civil has over them. But she's sort of not thinking about that power. She's just sort of bumbling along and trying to help and trying to do good things and and not really being vigilant about her own role in all of that.

So I really also saw the book as a cautionary tale to all of us who are doing any kind of charitable work just always be self vigilant about, you know, the big stick we carry even when we're trying to help someone. That isn't that? That's powerful. Such a cautionary tale about because I thought about the government in terms of the power dynamics, but I hadn't thought as much about civil. Uh. Is this young black nurse, you know, so young and early in her career, actually having, uh, that kind of power in the relationship with the girls and with that family. Um, we read early on in the novel about civil having an abortion in pre rovy way times. Uh. And then when I started reading your book, it was a few days after the Supreme Court overturned that landmark ruling and the timing of it just felt so surreal. And you have this novel, your novel that Addresses Reproductive Freedom Being, I think, in conversation in many ways with the moment that we are in right now. How does that feel for you as an author, and can you talk about publishing a book that feels it is so timely? It's surreal, because I always tell people I started this book seven years ago. Three Supreme Court justices. It go in no way that I think it would come out to. Two months before Roe v Wade was overturned, I was, like many Americans, Um in denial of the danger to that ruling. I thought I never thought I would see it overturned in my lifetime. But the activists who work on reproductive justice new and saw it coming, of course, and so if there's anybody who's been prophetic, it's been those Um people who really worked on this issue. Um, I would say that it was probably halfway through the book that I realized that civil had terminated a pregnancy, because it made sense to me. It was why she wanted to work in the clinic so badly, it was why the relationship between her and ty was so strained, her boyfriend Um, or former boyfriend and childhood best friend. It had been strained from the beginning and there wasn't really a reason for why she was so committed to this family planning clinic. But one day I woke up and I realized, Oh yes, she terminated a pregnancy, and I was really scared to death to include that, I'll be honest with you, Nancy, because I I just thought this is going to be I mean, and I mean like I said, this is before I knew that Roe was going to be overturned, but I thought this is going to alienate some readers, this is going to be controversial, this is going to cause people to not review me. I thought all kinds of things, and then I thought I'm going to have to have these comfortable conversations. Am I ready to have those? But I could not deny that that was true for civil in the book, and so I had to be true to what the book was telling me. Um, and you know, it really brings all of these different conversations together, I think, which have to do with not only terminating a pregnancy but also, Um, disabled women, Um, poor women, black women, Um, what are the kinds of conversations we need to be having about motherhood and who desires motherhood and who doesn't desire motherhood and who was fit for motherhood, and and also conversations around long acting contraceptives, which have been historically targeted to women of color. So there were all of these conversations that came but sort of I did not anticipate, but they all just sort of came together and this book, and it's...

...still frightens me a little bit to talk about because I think to myself, I'm not someone who I'm not a medical professional, I'm not a reproductive justice, justice activist, although I guess probably I am now with the conversations. So there's a lot I still even need to educate myself on, but I'm hopeful that it will just engender conversations that are broader than just terminating a pregnancy, because women's bodily autonomy has so has so many more facets to it seems to me. I have to ask, have there been any repercussions, because we are so divided right now in terms of ideology. I haven't seen any, UM, other I mean I you know, I could always second guess things like I don't know why I wasn't reviewed in the New York Times. You know, I don't know why, Um, I don't know, Oprah didn't pick my book. I mean, you know, those are things that I asked myself that, you know, maybe this was controversial. I know that the New York Times did do that wonderful piece on the sisters by the acclaimed journalist Linda Villa Rosa. So I don't know, but I will say that Um, from readers, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I have not received one nasty email. Knock on wood. Hopefully that doesn't happen. Um, I have I haven't received any anything from readers, which tells me that it is possible, even among people who may support the overturning of the decision, it is possible that Americans are more open to having this conversation than one would be led to believe, that it is something that actually we can discuss without Um shutting down. I think it's I think it's a discussion that we're ready to have and we should be having. Yeah, that opens the door to conversation, for sure, absolutely, and I think that's part of the importance of the book and while you may not have intended it, Um, it's really the book of today, that the book that really we can give to people to talk about in book clubs or or women's groups. and Um, I just think you were kind of ahead of your time just a little bit and Um just kind of giving us and we're going to talk a little bit later. I want to talk about the power of fiction to tell stories, but this is a perfect example of that. But I want to go back and talk a little bit about how you develop your characters. Um, what drives you to inhabit them on the page? Um, so many of them we were just immediately drawn to, like I mentioned earlier, but we're also repelled by some others. But we solidly believe their stories and we are, you know, we are in your story and we can't wait to kind of see what happens. How do you bring them to life? Well, I will say I'm a very slow writer and I think one of the benefits. There are many disadvantages, to be any many and I'm working on after trying to speak us, but one of the benefits to being a slow writer's character development. I just think the more time you're with your characters, the better you know them, the more they can reveal to you, the more you can, Um, remove things that are not true to the character. So, Um, my feeling about taking a long time is that it really helps with character development. Civil came to me quicker than any character has ever come to me. I knew her name very very early on, I knew a lot about her very very early on, and she was, Um, you know, breathlessly telling me this is what happened, this is how I felt. You know, I just knew her very early on. Other characters, you know, I think I had to take longer with Um. But you know, also I'm a southerner and I'm very close to these people. Just you know, I grew up in a black middle class community,...

...not unlike civils in Memphis, around many Um people like her dad, people who were sort of pioneers, Um, who were in some ways the sort of first generation of this large group of black professionals. Um, Um. So I think that Um, you know, with characters it's just you have to just take time with them. You can't. That's the one thing in fiction you cannot rush. That makes total sense and one of the things that as a reader I always hope that the author is going to get it right, and you got it right. You just absolutely got it right. But I have one follow up question to that. In the real story that you based this on, the girls had their mom, but in your book that it's now it's grandma. Yes, so I made some changes, Um, because I was telling a slightly different story. So one my girls in my book are younger. There are eleven. The eighteen the real wealth sisters were twelve and fourteen. I wanted to make my girls younger because I wanted to emphasize how vulnerable they were. And, like you say, in real life they had their mother and father and emphasizing that vulnerability in my book I had the mother be deceased to show that they didn't have sort of the protection of a mother, and also their family was sort of in grief over losing her. Um. So they were struggling with how to raise these girls without their mother. In real life, Um, the Um disability of the younger sister Um may have been slightly different than mine. Um, in the in the paperwork that I looked at, I'd never found sort of a clear diagnosis and you know, in those days the diagnosis for disabled people were all over the place. Often you were, you know, incorrectly diagnosed or never really diagnosed at all. You were just um disabled. You know that, you know, a broad term. So I never really knew exactly what Um disability the sister had, but I knew I wanted my character to have a disability and my editor pushed me to define the disability. I have no idea if that is the same disability that the real wealth sister has. So there were certain things, you know, that I changed in order to create the story that I wanted to create. In real life, the actual court case was in federal court in Washington d C. I felt it very important to keep it in the Federal Court House of Montgomery Alabama, where the Middle District Court is located, because I thought that worked better for my story and for what I was trying to say about how the city was dealing with this and how it affected the family. So I think it's really important when you are Um using historically based fiction to to find and be confident in those places where you can D viate from the record. I think some writers probably try to stay too close to what actually happened, and it's okay to deviate from it. We're not journalists or history. Yeah, great, great lessons there on writing historical fiction and how to do that, and it's also just obvious the time that you put invested in these characters. So I feel so seen as a character. There is an author as well, and one who is also slow at practing a novel too. I'm slow, but on a tight deadline. Unfortunately, the best of both worlds right, right deadlines can be moved. Thank you. Thank you. I'm still blown away by how timely your novel is. We talked about the timeliness regarding Rovi Wade, but also in looking at medical experimentation on black folks. We are still in the global pandemic and I remember early on hearing people in the black community who were so afraid of getting the covid vaccine and they kept saying remember Tuskegee, remember Tuskegee, and what...

...are your thoughts on that and and that connection to your work here? Well, I definitely think there's a history of why black people are skeptical of the vaccine. And do you remember when they first roll the vaccine out, they had a black nurse on television getting the shot, which was a terrible idea because we have this history of being the first to get things that are experimental, and you know, of course, in my book it's Depo Provera. So I think that Um, when people here about Um Black folks skepticism about Um drugs and things like that, they should know that there's a history of that. And not only are we skeptical about experimental drugs, black people in general can be very skeptical about medical care because the history of us not being seen in examination rooms and over the time that I toured in person with this book, I heard so many stories from black women about going into the doctor's office and not being seen by their doctors right, the doctor not making eye contact or the doctor not hearing them. And of course we've heard Serena Williams story about a doctor not hearing her when she said told the doctor she was sick of Serena Williams can't get medical who again? Who Can? And so I'm really Um hopeful that we will continue to talk about Um, the ways in which the medical community continues to fail black folks. And you know, and of course I'm particularly interested in black women because, as you know, um we still suffer disproportionately from matern on mortality rates and infant mortality rates and Um, you're in fibroids and all of these things that affect black women. I think Um need to be addressed and so I'm really hopeful, and who knows what will happen, that I'm really hopeful that medical schools will require their first year students to read this book or Nursing Schools require their first year nursing students to read this book. It's very important when you walk in that room and there's a black woman sitting across from you. You need to slow down and pay attention exactly and it should be required reading. I agree. I yeah, I went to the dentist recently and I talked to my dentists about pain and I don't have a higher, you know, tolerance for pain than other people and she hadn't heard about any of this. And so there just needs to be so much training and I think your novel could open some of those conversations in the medical community. That's right. And that bias your dentist could have and not even realize it. Right, unless you know this history and can pay attention, you may do even realize that you assume that black patients don't need as much pain medication. Isn't that something? Isn't that? Yeah, it's disgusting. Um, well, I'll just gonna follow that up a little bit with so Nancy knows this. We've had this conversation, but in my life, of course, as this white rural man, I didn't know a lot of these things. So in the last few years literature has really opened up to tell these stories that need to be told and the stories that we need to hear. So that we can understand and we can help, and we not just help but just kind of like understand and move forward and and try to not do what we've been doing all this time. But I want to ask you both why do you think it's so important to revisit and retell our atrocities from the past, and why is fiction a great vehicle to do that? Let's start with you, Dolan. Well, for a long time I have you know, I live in Washington D C and I'm surrounded by lawyer and politicians and policy makers and living in that environment you can...

...become a little skeptical about the power of literature right to really make no lasting change, you know. But I in recent years, as I have seen our institutions fail us in so many ways, I have become even more convinced at the power of literature, and not just literature art, but literature definitely to change and transform society and I think that in times when institutions fail us, that is when artists are the most important. Right this is a critical moment. I recently spoke to some m f a students Um at the Vermont Studio Fine Arts and I was telling them this is the this is your moment. This is the most critical moment for the of us in the arts, and it's also a really important moment for those of us who consume art. It's important for us to be consuming a broad array of art, not just in terms of diverse representation, but also um different kinds of art. We should all be going to plays, we should all masked, of course, we should be going to the theater, we should be going to see Um dance performances, we should be hearing the symphony, we should be hearing jazz, we should be reading books, all of that, because this is what can transform our hearts. And, like I said, I have not received one nasty email. People really want to be good people, they really do, and I and I think that that faith in humanity is what art gives us. Well, yeah, your first totally agree. Totally agree with you. Um, don't, and I think it's just such a great time to be an author and to be an artist in this country right now. I also think that a careful, um accurate study of our past really gives us a blueprint for understanding the lasting impact that racism has on us, and there's a reason, I believe, that so many now want to ban certain books and want to limit and curtail what is being taught in our schools, how our history is being taught, because I think when you address those issues, it forces us to have to acknowledge them and do something about it and rectify it and also understand that these were not just horrific things that happened in our past, but that there's a legacy uh that is impacting where we are and who we are today, and I think fiction is just a great vehicle to have these kinds of conversations. I always say that Um, when George Floyd was murdered, you had so many people, particularly White America, doing anti racist and reading, and a lot of that was nonfiction, and there's certainly a place for that and I was reading a lot of that nonfiction too, but sometimes that work made people defensive. That's not me, you know, you're not talking about being are you trying to preach to me? But there's something about fiction and about novels I think that people are able to sink into character and story and they're just able to understand and walk in the shoes kind of like what you've talked about, and we've talked about a lot ron just be able to walk in the shoes of somebody else is a life that you never would have experienced any other way, if not, if if you have not read this in a novel. And so I just think that's the power to open up these kinds of conversations. Oh my God, yes, exactly right. And unfortunately it took the George Floyd incident to really open up the floodgates for all the creative people who have historically really been the voices of of everybody who needs to be heard. But something like that just kind of opened...

...it. And then all of a sudden, as a librarian, all of a sudden all of the forthcoming books where all of these things and I was kind of like, I've got to read these, I've got to read them all and we have to share them with people and we have to tell the stories. And, Um, take my hand is just such a great example of one. In fact, I put it in somebody's hands yesterday. I said you have to read this book. You run. I appreciate that and I love what you just said, Nancy, and of course I'm biased. I don't like to like, you know, offend my nonfiction friends, but I agree there is just something about fiction that creates that bond of empathy that, to me, I just don't think anything else can do the way fiction does right, right, something special about empathy. That's definitely the word. So we have just really enjoyed this book. Take my hand, and of course we all want to know what is coming next from you, Dolan, and also if you can wreck amend any books that you're reading right now, fiction or nonfiction, will we'll take you the way, how even though it's friends and fiction. But I wish I could be as sort of together about this next book project as you are, Nancy. I'm the minus, sort of all over the place. It's in shambles, but I am working on something. I am on deadline, but the deadline has passed. That's why I say the headlines are made to be moved. I love the woman they go. I'm reading, and I don't think it's out yet, but I'm reading an advanced copy of Randall Keenan's collection of essays called black folk could fly, which tr Jones wrote an Intro to, which I love and just love, Love, love. I just finished a short story collection called sleeping alone by Rue Freeman. That is absolutely gorgeous published by Gray Wolf Press, and I also have a couple of books on my pile there next on my list. One is Harry Sylvester Bird by Chanello a peron to and big girl by Mecca Jamilla Sullivan. So those are up next on my nightstand. That's great. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of those. Yeah, what about you, Nancy? Do you have a book that you've recently read that you're dying to tell people about? Trying to think which one. The one that I'm always talking about is razorblade tears, my essay cosby. So it's a thriller and I'm just such about the fan of that book and his book came out in one the same year my book came out, and I'm like, his book was my favorite book. So that's saying a lot for me to say that. You know. I mean, his book was just the one I most highly recommend and it's dealing with friendship and fatherhood and homophobia and even though it's a thriller, it's more of a literary thriller and I still think about the two characters in that book. I can buddy Lee the two men in that book. So much so I just know that's a special one when those actors stay with you. They absolutely do, and I'm right there with you for that one. Raised blade tears was one of my favorite books last year, so if anybody hasn't read that, he was a guest on the podcast last year too. It was great. I need to check that one out talking to him. So, Dolan and Nancy both tell everybody where they can find you on social media. I'll start then. So my website is Nancy Johnson Dot Net and you can find me on facebook at Nancy Johnson author, and then on Instagram and twitter my handle is Nancy Jay author and I'm just always excited to connect with readers. So look me up. I'm how about for you, Dolan? So I'm most active on instagram and twitter. Twitter is just my first name, Dolan. INSTAGRAM is my full name, Dolan Perkins bad is. So yeah, and if you go to those you can look at my link tree and find me elsewhere too. But those are my two favorite I love and you both are so active and fun on...

...there, but also very serious when you need to be. So it's a great, great mix and rounded rounded out. So thank you very much. Nancy for Co hosting with me today. This has been really special and really important and the kindest lie is out there in the world and I still put that in people's hands all the time. So it's wonderful. And Dolan, I can't thank you enough for joining and I just loved getting a deeper dive in to take my hand. It's such an important book and I want everybody to read it and talk about it and learn from it. Just listen to the voices in the book and it will open your heart, it'll break your heart in a little in your hearts at the same time. So best of luck with whatever else is coming your way and thanks for being here. Thank you, and thank you all for tuning in. This has been such an important, educational and powerful conversation. retelling history through a modern lens is so vital to our understanding and advancement as a society and building empathy. Please visit our bookshop dot org store to support indies and by both Dolan and Nancy's books as always. On behalf of Mary Kay, Patty, Kristen and Christie. Please know how much we appreciate our listeners. We'll see you next week. Thank you for tuning in to the friends and fiction writer's block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe, rate and review on your favorite podcast platform. Tune in every Friday for another episode, and you can also join us every week on facebook or youtube. Where are live? Friends and fiction show airs at seven PM Eastern Standard Time. We are so glad you're here.

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