Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode 12 · 1 year ago

WB S1E12: Ron Block and Mary Kay Andrews with Nancy Pearl and Virginia Stanley

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK: Ron Block and Mary Kay Andrews kickoff Library Card Sign-up Month with Nancy Pearl, America's Favorite Librarian and Virginia Stanley, Head of Library Marketing at Harper Collins.

I said but you know Mark, the people who really perform miracles every day in people's lives are librarians and someone else said Mark, you should do a librarian action figure and then someone else said and nancy should be the model for it. Yeah, I don't know, we just try and connect on a different level and if you can come great, if you can come to the party great I guarantee you're going to have a couple of laughs and you're gonna learn about our books and then we're all gonna eat some bad hotel stones and get out of the or we might all go get in the pool in the swimming pool, in our clothing in Orlando. I got about that. Listen deed we did do that didn't we did Absolutely Welcome to the friends and fiction writer's Block podcast. Five new york times, bestselling authors, one rock star librarian and endless stories joined mary Kay andrews. Kristen Harmel, Christie Woodson, harvey paddy, Callaghan, Henry, mary, Alice Munro and Ron Block As novelists. We are five longtime friends with 85 books between us. I am Ron Block. I am so glad you've joined us for fascinating author interviews along with insider. Talk about publishing and writing. If you love books and are curious about the writing world, you are in the right place. Welcome to the friends and fiction writer's Block podcast. Today we are kicking off national Library card sign up month which is the month of september to celebrate. We are going to be in conversation with two library superstars nancy Pearl and Virginia Stanley. Both have dedicated their careers to libraries and two books and readers and we can't wait for you all to get a glimpse into the world of reading from their perspectives. Libraries are indeed one of the great democratic institutions and we need them now more than ever. I am Ron block and I'm mary Kay Andrews, one of the founders of friends and fiction. Libraries are so important to authors like me because first of all You make us into readers and we can't be writers until we're readers. So I think we've done 15 months worth of interviews with authors and friends in fiction and we always ask them why what what were the influences of their becoming an author, a published author. And invariably they have a story about being taken to the library as a small child and I know that was the case with me. And of course the other thing is libraries provide the raw materials for our readers. Um If you've gone to the library, if you're a library patron then certainly you're a reader and we need every single one of those. And so you know people ask me all the time, well don't libraries sales take away from your book sales and and that's absolutely not the case. So many of my fans tell me I discovered your books. I checked out one of your books from the library and I got hooked and now I'm not just a library patron. I'm a I'm a fan and a book buyer. Very true, very true. Well our first guest today is America's favorite librarian, Nancy Pearl Nancy Pearl regularly speaks about the importance and pleasure of reading at libraries, literacy organizations and community groups around the world. She can be found on NPR's Morning Edition talking about her favorite books and also on her monthly television show, Book Lust with Nancy Pearl, which features interviews with authors, poets and other literary figures. Among her many honours are the 2011 Librarian of the Year Award from Library Journal and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Nancy is the creator of the internationally recognized program. If all Seattle read the same book which became one book one...

...city. So if you've had this in your city then you know where it came from. She was also the inspiration for the amazing Archie Mcphee Library in action Figure which we're going to dig into talking about just a little bit nancy is also the best selling author recently of a novel George and lizzie and also the fabulous collection, the Writers Library which was co authored with Jeff Swagger. She's a librarian and literary critic but first and foremost she is a reader and has spent her life promoting reading as one of the most beneficial and joyful experiences anyone can have. I can't tell you what an honor it is for me to welcome one of my personal heroes dancy pearl. Welcome nancy to the podcast. Thank you as such a such an honor to be asked to be on the show. So so happy to be here nancy. You have truly blazed a trail for many librarians and you've been a teacher and a mentor an inspiration to so many in both of those professions and the readers everywhere. Would you give us the where it all began story? Yes. And of course you might guess it all began in a library, a public library in Detroit michigan, the Parkman branch library. It was two librarians, Miss Long and Miss Whitehead who who took me in hand. They met me when I was about eight years old. I came from a family that was not a particularly happy place. My home was somewhere where I didn't really want to be. So I spent all my time at the public library and Miss Whitehead when they met me all I was reading was horse and dog books and through a kind of bait and switch where Miss Whitehead would say nancy. Do you want the brand new marguerite Henry horse book? Do you want to be the first person in this library to read that book? And of course I'd say yes give it to me Miss Whitehead. Give me that book. And Miss Whitehead would say oh but wait first I want you to read another book and she gave me books. That's how I discovered mary Poppins. Miss Whitehead was Canadian and and was addicted to british Children's literature. So you know that's where I discovered Enid Blyton and Mary Poppins and The Lord of the Rings. Um those were all books that Miss Whitehead persuaded me to read and I knew when I was 10 years old that I wanted to be a Children's library and I wanted to be someone just like Miss Whitehead who would help other kids for whom the library was was not only a safe place to be, but a place where the world opens up to you. And I have to just say I have to just put in a plug there's going to be a picture book biography called Library Girl about my childhood. And that library and those librarians coming out in september will fall of 2000 and 22 by uh yeah by Karen Henry Clark beautiful illustrations were just starting to see them in color illustrations by a Portland artist named Cheryl Murray. So I'm just thrilled about that which is so exciting. I hope I wish everybody could see the heels grimm's on my face and Ron. And these two because all of us are such library creatures. The idea that this this book will be in the world is such joyous news and plus your story I think is really influential and really an inspiration for kids everywhere. I think library has just been a refuge for so many of us in in our lives. And and they'll they'll see themselves in your book. And that that's the best compliment. I think that the book can give a young reading. I I think, you know, I hear so much from people when I give a talk or, you know, when I'm out in the world, people coming up and saying, you know, your story about the library and how the place it played, you know, in your...

...childhood is my story too. And, you know, librarians, libraries and librarians change the world. We make the world a better place. And I've always felt that to be a librarian, to work, especially in a public library is really to It is to is to contribute your part two to making the world better. And, you know, I was one of those kids who who was like, I wanted to do good. I wanted to do that kind of thing, and what can you do? And this is what I've done. So, I've been very lucky. Well, I would say I was lucky. Well, I I just have to interrupt. I have to just qualify that. I didn't say I would say I've been lucky from like age 40. I'm not sure that the first well, that's not true. 20. Yeah. The 1st 18 years, I would say that was not a lucky time. But following that, I've been very lucky. Yeah. We all progress. But you you've also been very generous and and one of the areas that you have focused on that has actually done so much for librarians everywhere and ultimately readers. And I think a lot of readers don't understand what's behind when they come into a library. And we say, oh maybe you'd like this or maybe this is what you'd like to read. So you can you tell people a little bit about what reader's advisory is and how you have become so passionate about that? Well, yeah, reader's advisory is um putting a reader together with a book that you as the librarian or in a bookstore. We call it hand selling what you as a librarian feel that that particular reader would enjoy. And and the way that we do that, you know, everybody reads different versions of a book, everybody is looking for something else. Something particular in every book that they read, whether it's a character that they can embrace, that they will never forget whether it's a fast moving plot, whether it's something that's light hearted and will make you smile or whether it's some kind of dark nor mystery that's going to give you shivers whatever you're looking for, it's the librarian who who we want to make sure can can understand what it is that you're looking for and find some books that will meet your particular desires in a book. True. They will come into the library where I work down there like, okay, you know what I know? You know mary Kay andrews, what else is like that, what else can you give me that same thing and what can I take to the beach? So I'm flattered one can only assume that the ultimate career highlight is having an action figure created and designed in your honor as well as well. That came about. Well you know like yeah I mean there's so much kind of happen stance in my life where I happened to be in the right place or I happened to meet the right person and there's the there's the brand new librarian action figure. So the original librarian action figure in around 2000 and two um I was at a my husband and I were at a dinner party with the owner of among the guests was the owner of a company in Seattle called Archie Mcphee which is if you've ever been in Seattle it's a it's a store that has a lot of funny things, kitschy kind of things. And at that time they were doing a series of action figures, they did Shakespeare, they did jane Austen they did an action figure of jesus. And the owner was saying that he was getting email, he was getting letters and emails from people who who were saying that the...

...jesus action figure was performing miracles in their lives. And and I said um but you know that Mark the people who really perform miracles every day in people's lives are librarians and someone else said, Mark, you should do a librarian action figure and then someone else said, and nancy should be the model for it. And so you know, then the conversation went on of course to other things. And as we were leaving that night driving back home, my husband said his four favorite words to me. Now I know that every husband has his own four favorite words. I doubt anyone else has these particular four favorite words. My husband's four favorite words to me are nancy think this through. He said, he said, do you really want to be a five inch plastic, non biodegradable action? You know, a little toy. And I said, you know, as I always respond to things like this, I said, oh don't worry about it will never happen. And a year later Mark, the owner of Archie Mcphee and its parent company accoutrements called me and said, can you come to Michael T. O. To be digitized. Now, Mukilteo is a small town north of Seattle. And I always thought if I were going to write A memoir, which I'm not going to do. Um it would, it would start with those words. I went to Michael T. O to be digitized, wouldn't that be great. And um and it came out of the library action figure came out in 2002. The action of course was if you had the arm and just the right position and you push the button in the back very slowly the arm would come up and make like a shushing motion. Now I'm sad to report that in the world in the world there are probably 47-48 librarians with no senses of humor who have no sense of humor and they were very offended by the shushing not not understanding what a um you know what attribute it was and you know the wink that that we were that was accompanying the librarian action figures. So that action figure went through several iterations coming out in september 2000 and three which was the same month that my first book list book came out which is all book recommendations and the newest iteration is really the librarian in a cape and um fighting against illiteracy and anti intellectualism and censorship so it truly is a superhero making the world better one reader at a time. Yeah so just like the D. C. Comics as they progress and they grow with the times. So as the library in action figure and the earliest ones were like the barbie dream house. They had a book card and they had books and all these things to go along with it. It was awesome. Yes. Yes. Ok so you mentioned the book lust books and you put out several of those early in your career but then you kind of jumped into the novel writing and um we you know it wasn't as if you didn't have enough to do, you decided to become a novelist and you created George and lizzie, which Caroline leavitt called. As sparkling as Prosecco, as jubilantly quirky and inventive, a love story as you could ever want at a jigsaw puzzle. You never want to finish, tell us about how the book came to be and how your years of being a book expert played into its creation. Well, I would not have written George and lizzie and this goes back to something mary Kay said at the beginning of the show, I would not have written George and lizzie had I not been a reader and I wrote George and lizzie because you know when you're a reader there, there comes times in your life when they're like troughs, when...

...you can't find anything good to read, you know, and your and those happened to me fairly frequently and you know, I wander the shelves in my house looking for something to read or reread or I go to the bookstore, I go to the library and I just couldn't find a book that met all my particular what I needed in a book and what I need in a book is a really you know, a little bit of quirk a character that um I love and I need good writing and I couldn't find anything that exactly did that I'm sure there were plenty of books out there, but nothing was fulfilling that need And one night um I just it was like these two characters came into my head and one of them was lizzie and the other was George. And at the beginning that's all I knew about them. And every night I would find out a little bit more about them. I would tell myself stories about their lives about how they met about who they were. And over a period of many years I never thought I would write a novel. I was very happy reading other people's novels but over several several years and mary Kay can talk about you know how long some writing takes. I didn't devote all day to it. I it was it was just something I just so much enjoyed spending time in my head with George and lizzie and I just one day sat down and wrote the first sentence. The first sentence I wrote was uh you know, I typed out how they met and that's how the book begins, how they met. And then it goes back in the quirkiness comes from the character of Lizzie. George is really um it's not autobiographical at all. But the characters in it are very you know, I think as an author you borrow you borrow a little bit from this character from this person, you know you borrow a little bit and George I have to say is a lot like my husband joe. Um so whenever he's a little bit annoyed with me, I I just, you know, ask him, well, you know how many writers do you know, who wrote a novel in their seventies and the hero of the novel was based on their husband? You tell me that I bet you can't be mad at me after that. Um and you know, I sometimes think, I mean there were characters in that book because I love finding out about people's lives. I love learning things like that. There are characters in the book that I sometimes think, you know, I'd like to write more about lizzie's first high school boyfriend, for example, a guy named Maverick. Um and then I think oh that's a lot of work. You know, maybe I'll read another fuck instead. So I'm not sure what's going to happen. That Maverick was such a great character though. I loved it. Yeah, yeah, I'm going to have to get that one. Well, you know, you didn't just sit around after that book was published. You followed the success of George and lizzie right, with the right the writers library, the authors you love on the books that changed their lives. A collaboration with playwright Jeff Swagger, which publishers weekly gave a starred review saying Pearl and Swagger bring boundless enthusiasm and curiosity. This eclectic and probing book of interviews Now tell us how that treasured book came to life? Well that Treasury book came to life because Jeff Schwager, who I had met because he interviewed me for a project he was doing for the Washington state, jewish historical society of notable jewish women in the state of Washington. And I was honored to be one of those. And we really hit it off. We discovered we...

...both of course, love to read. And we would get together and we would talk about books, the books, we love the books we didn't love. And he said, um one day he said, you know, I have this idea of doing like a coffee table book of authors, libraries, their personal libraries. And I said, you know, I said, what do you think you want to work on it together? And I said, well, no, I don't, you know, I'm not a coffee table book kind of person. Um you know, I said, I'd love to go out and talk to the authors about the books that they love. Um I think that would be really, really interesting and how they became like you're doing on this show. And and my agent victoria Sanders loved that idea. Um and so we we traveled around this was pre Covid seems weird now. Um but we we flew around the country going to authors homes, mainly interviewing them in their homes. Um some in bookstores, one of the Center for Fiction in Brooklyn, which was wonderful. And ended up with 22 interviews Of 23 authors. And the 20 is that discrepancy is because we interviewed, I yell at Waldman and Michael Chabon together um in the dining room of their home while they were eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches, which they offered him to me and Jeff, but we had already eaten, so we were just drinking tea and it was a delight to talk to. You know, it's a very diverse book. Um authors from the american Ethiopian writer Masum and geese to to um well to Michael chabon, to Jonathan, lead them to Charles, johnson, the national Book Award winning writer of the Middle Passage. Um Susan choi who just won the National Book Award uh as well, and and and many others um T C Boyle, Oh gosh, we just had a great time. We just had a great time. Every serious, just fit. Um It was just it was wonderful, it was just wonderful hearing the books that they loved and and writers like tom Boyle actually took us around his house. So we could look at his bookshelves. And if you love a writer, if you love an author's books and you're looking at the books that they've loved and they have books on their shelves that you have on your shelf, that's a really lovely bond, I think with anybody. But it was just, you know, to meet these writers who were great heroes of mine. And Jeffs was terrific. Yeah. You know that I'm sorry, an answer, but that begs the question, was there a book on those authors, bookshelves that overlapped your own favorite? Maybe more than once. Yes, often, uh often. And one of them was on tom boils bookshelf called The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by bob Shacochis, which was a finalist, I believe for the Pulitzer when it came out. It's one of my all time favorite books. It's it's a tough read in the sense that it's not always a happy book. Um but it's a book that's so well worth reading. And so many of the writers talked about, one of the earliest books that they loved was Watership Down. And and these were writers as diverse as Michael chabon and Madeline Miller, um the author of CRC and uh, you know, um how wonderful is that? So books really connect people. And I've always said when you find somebody who loves some of the same books that you love, because nobody is going to love all the books that you love? I mean, that's a connection for life, definitely. It is those are the...

...people who can't wait to get together again with. Did you read this? Did you read this? You know this? Yeah, I love it. I love it. So I'm going back to libraries just a little bit, What do you see as the future of libraries. We've been through a lot of changes the last year or so. And and we have had to regroup in libraries as we always do. But really this is a big challenge. But what do you think of the future of them out? Yes. Um you know, I think, I think the libraries are the heart of the city. The university library is the heart of the university. I think a city without a public library is is a city that is lacking in a fundamental aspect of its being. I think, you know, librarians and libraries have always risen to the challenge of society's issues. Um when we think about the great influx of immigrants in the early 20th century, coming mainly from eastern europe at that time, and how the library offered classes in english learning english, how librarians supported these, the immigrants who came in and helped them become americans. Um my so librarians have always risen to the occasion as I said. However, big city libraries and big city libraries are not, they're not staffed by train. I mean, some libraries have trained social workers on staff, but librarians are not trained to be social workers. Um You know, librarians are trained to open the world to the people who come into the library and should not be expected to to house to house the homeless. That's a city's responsibility. And the fact that libraries are being forced to do that at the at the cost at the expense of doing things that only librarians can do. Makes me very sad indeed. So, you know, there is nothing that makes a society more civilized than a society of readers. Reading develops empathy, Reading helps you expand your understanding of the world and library libraries, library boards who decide on policy. Library directors should not lose sight of the traditional role of libraries just because it's traditional doesn't mean that it's bad. Right. So well said, thank you, thank you. I think all of us have looked around at the incredible challenges that face libraries and especially, you know, I live in Atlanta a big city and and I see that challenge in the Atlanta County library system too. But let's talk about the thing that you do love to do, which is give book recommendation. Think of anybody, I'd rather hear a book recommendation more from then from America's library water, some recent favorites that you recommend. Well, one of my favorite books which I just finished recently and loved it is the last revival of Opel and ned by Dawnie Walton. Um It's a first novel. It's um it's the story of The first, maybe the only interracial rock duo in the 1970s. It's written in a very interesting way as a series of interviews by the editor of a music magazine who's trying to understand for reasons that I don't want to I don't want to give anything away. Um but it's mostly a series of...

...interviews with various people and I have to say Opal is just an amazingly wonderful wonderful character. And it's some she's someone that I don't think that that if you read this book that you'll ever forget. So that's one another book I loved is Oliver Harris is a Shadow Intelligence, which is probably the best spy novel I've read in a very long time and it's set in Kazakhstan, which when was the last time you read a novel set in Kazakhstan and it's set in, you know, this is a spy novel with everything technological that you could imagine. I mean, you know, my favorite spy novelist, british spy novelist is of course john le Carre And I love love those books. But what Oliver Harris has done is taken the same shadowy world where there is no, nobody is all right and nobody's all wrong, but that gray area and he has really um uh brought it into the 21st century with a vengeance. So there's there's two books highly highly recommend those two books. We will make sure that we put those up on the friends in fiction. Facebook page two for for folks, um yeah, absolutely. I listen to Opel and never and I gotta, I gotta echo everything you said. It's it's everything, it's everything. Yeah. Oh good. I I read it in print um I didn't listen to it. So now I'm going to probably have to go back and do that. Yeah, if you like daisy jones on your audio. Uh huh. Right, okay. Iran, I've got to drive down the Tybee next week. So I think I might have to give Opel and never listen. You'll love it. You will love another wonderful one. I'm sorry Ron I was going to say the other thing that I've been doing the last few months is reading all of Angela circles. Novels that were written in the thirties, forties And the novels written in the 50s are are not particularly good. But those early ones are wonderful and August folly is or wild strawberries are the two that I would start with and they're both wonderful on audio. Thank good. Well, nancy as always, it's a huge honor to be in the same space with you. I just can't thank you enough for being with us. It's always always such a pleasure. And we always learn so much. Happy library card sign up month and we are all looking forward to what is next for you. Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to be with you guys mary. Kay, it's so nice to see you again. I wish you were in person and Ron you as well. The same here. Bye bye bye. Next up is our good friend. Library rockstar Virginia Stanley, Virginia Stanley is the director of library marketing at harpercollins. She was included in library journals. Inaugural movers and shakers edition. Being called a bridge builder because of her outreach to libraries across the country and including libraries on author tours as often as possible. Yeah, gen, as some of us call her or Virginia enjoys coming of age books, broadway shows and any song sung by share or or Bette Midler to right, absolutely right, Virginia, welcome to the broadcast. Thank you so much mary. Kay andrews. It's so lovely to see your face even though no one else can. I know we can see each other. Yes. Yes. Well, thanks for having me here and thank you Ron block for sending the invitation. Quite lovely. Well, who else would we have as a library rock star than you? I love that you're movers and shakers. We have that in common because I was a 2020 mover and shaker from library journal...

...so we could celebrate that sometimes when we can see each other in person. Yes. My coffee stained issue is at my mother's house in the dead. I think my mother uses mine is a like a coaster too. So I want to talk to you everybody to know a little bit more about you. So you are way more than your job title and the description that you gave us, you're like a best friend to librarians and authors alike. You tell us what your role entails at harpercollins and how you get so much done. And so many books into the library's hands in uh, into the ultimately reader's hands. Well that's very sweet of you and that means a lot to me because I do feel that I mean I have, I have equal love in my heart for authors as I do librarians and where I can who can tell you that. Um Yeah uh and my the point of my job is to raise awareness of books and we do a lot of books on the adult side, that's my my responsibility. And we we have many imprints, you know, not just harpercollins, William morrow and Echo and harper via and harper one and it just goes on and on and each one has its own identity. Um And it's it's pretty cool. I mean, you know, it sort of covers the range of interests based on under which imprint those books are published. So um you know, it's it's I have a great team, have a really great team with chris Connelly and Laney maze, two wonderful people who are just so strong and they together, you know, we we do the usual thing that everybody does, you know, we do conferences and advertising and all of that stuff, but I think we all we sort of we veer a little bit shall we say, you know, a little bit of crazy, a little bit of crazy thrown in a couple of cocktails here and there and we you know in the in the in the pandemic since then we have relied solely on virtual outreach and so we've done as has everyone. Um But we really we really sort of ratcheted up the speed in which we uh shoot videos and reach out to librarians and librarians do that connection as much as authors needed the connection as much as we needed the connection. And so yeah, I don't know if that answers your question, but uh please there's no there's no right or wrong here, but I want to know a little bit about your journey to get where you were like what what was your reading journey as a child and what brought you to harpercollins, charlotte's web? Uh Yeah, now, you know, my mother worked in a school library and um would bring home books all the time and read to us and uh you know, little women, we can recite forwards and backwards. Um you know, she really instilled that in us, so I always knew that I wanted to be in publishing and I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I think everybody every kid thinks I'll be an editor, you know? And then, you know, I recently spoke at a at a publish on a publishing course on library marketing. And the students reached out to me and said I had no idea there was library marketing, I said neither did I when I first started to know what that was, that was a long time ago. And so I first started out in double day uh and um from 1984 to 88, and then I went to harper and Row, which became harpercollins and um worked in the art department there for a hot second. And then learned about academic and library marketing and And then just went out and zoned in on library marketing. We just grew it because we used to just stand in a 10 by 10 booth, you know, tables and drapes, rolling posters, let's just set up a little kids, let's do something fun here. And so we did and but you know, you can only do so much. But the, you know, as we grew and as the company grew and the authors and titles and the amount that we were publishing it was,...

...you know, they always recognized the value of library marketing and the fact that they had a library marketing department, but it got bigger and bigger and bigger. Um and our presence really grew and our engagement really grew and but that all came from the support of harper. You know, you can't you can't turn, you know, your presence at the american Library Association from a 10 by 10 Roland posters to a whole aisle of, you know, representation of booths and and and you know, you can't do that. So without without the support of uh of the the guns. So that's what we did. We grew it, we wrote and what more can I say? Well, you just talked about Roland posters, so that's probably not your favorite thing to do, but I wish you would talk um you know, the thing that's most infectious about you Virginia is the joy that you bring to your job. So I would love for you to talk about your favorite thing about library sales and marketing. Mm Well, um my favorite thing about sales and marketing, you know, here's the thing, nobody has ever said, don't do that. So we throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall and a lot of stuff sticks and it's a lot of fun. You know, I can't remember the I can't remember when somebody said you really shouldn't do that, you know, So, so we have, you know, we have parties in our booth, whether we're supposed to or not. We, you know, we think outside the box, we shoot crazy videos and and really off the wall stuff that people are just like what are you doing? But we also have a wonderful video studio, you know, who can work magic, you know? So we, you know, if we're having the american Library Association in Seattle, you know, it's like, well what should we do with this? You know, how should we promote our title presentation? We're trying always trying to get as many people to that thing as we can. So we make these funny videos, what that has to do with the title presentation? Nothing. But it has everything to do with having a laugh and connecting through humor. And I think that that isn't a conscious thing as much as it is a natural thing for me anyway. I feel I just feel like who doesn't love music? Who doesn't live laughing. And so if we make a video of us throwing fish at each other because we're pretending we're at the pike's market and were welling fish at each other at rapid pace. Thanks to the video studio speeding it up. People are laughing. You know where we're skiing down a hill. I remember the ski one specifically with you guys all on the live together and then we skied down and chris was flying through the air and they spun him around and we landed in the convention center where the presentation was being held. It's that kind of stuff. I think it's very sort of like around the same page. Look, nobody buys a book based on the publisher. I don't think, I think people buy their books just like they buy their records, they buy anything based on what am I going to get. And so I don't know, we just try and connect on a different level and if you can come great, if you can come to the party, great. I guarantee you're going to have a couple of laughs and you're gonna learn about our books and then we're all gonna eat some bad hotel scones and get on with the day poor. We might all go get in the pool in the swimming pool in our clothing in Orlando, I got about that. Indeed we did do that, didn't we did. This is being recorded. No, we all had, it was, it was at the end of, what was it? A romance writers of America conference? Uh Orlando, It was one of those anyway, um they had some harper authors, I was with harper at the time and jen and her team were there and somebody said, well let's go, it's so hot, it was august. Someone said, well let's go get in the pool and so I have a bathing suit and they didn't either. So we all got in the pool in our clothing. There you go, that was great. And you know what you...

...mary Kay andrews, hey Kathy Hilton Trocheck, you're the one who said, you know what, let's just like, let's just lighten up, it's hot out, we don't need a bathing suit, let's go. And all you need is one. But if it's the right 11 whose, whose opinion you respect and that's, that's very funny personality and just a great person. You know, I had a dream about mary Kay andrews ones during a time in my life that is this a lot was going on and I was under a lot of angst because we all have those moments in our lives and there was a terrible storm in a rainstorm. And mary Kay andrews. I'm just gonna call you Kathy Kathy can I Yeah, sure, thanks. I mean nothing to you. Barbara because that's how your name, but she was sitting on a porch and I and I was being swept away by this way or water down the street and I said, I'm I'm drowning and you reached out your hand, you said, I will always catch you, you got a safe place here. Get up here. I got on the porch with her. Uh Yeah, What do you say? Can I slapped you snap out of it? Get back to the real stuff. Now, Ron's got a question for you. I'm all set for this. So I've been one of the very lucky recipients on what you were just talking about about the conferences and the and the approach that you take and I think you've branded it so beautifully under library love fest. So can you talk about how that started and how it grew And and trust me when I say to everyone who's listening, they include costumes and sound effects and lots of antics and it just keeps the motivation going. And it is one of the most popular events to attend at any conference is their, their presentation of their titles. But talk about library love fest, how it started and how it grew. And you talked a little bit about transitioning it to online during the pandemic. So maybe you can talk about that a bit. Yeah, so they like folks came to me at harper and said, listen, you know what can we do here too, You know, I mean this is going years back and uh you know, I wanted to do um the isle of lucy logo, but make it, I love librarians and that is one time that they said no, so too bad. What a minute, Cool. But um but I said okay, we'll just call it, I don't know, it's called like, like like you know library love fest, Like it's a love fest that we're having and it's stuck and um and now people, you know, people know it, you know, they really come to just, we don't even have to I mean we do put harpercollins on our ads, but typically if we don't they know who it is, they know what that is, they know what company that belongs to. And it it is a love fest. It is um when we pivoted to uh to a virtual uh just before that we had been with the library marketing department had been doing um monthly facebook live. So we have a video studio right on our floor and top top of the, you know, top notch these guys are wonderful. And uh so in addition to making these crazy videos and all these special effects with you wouldn't even believe it. I mean anyway, we would do these, we would bring our tiki hut in the to the video studio and we would, you know, have a cocktail be 10 30 in the morning, but it's like it's got to be 10 30 in the morning somewhere All right here. So, we would talk about books that were coming up, sometimes we'd have somebody for harper, you know, we'd interview them. But no authors really, maybe once or twice we have an author, but that would be a special thing. But but once a month we did a facebook live and we would talk about books that were coming out, and three of us would sit there and it was like, it was National ice cream day. We have bowls of ice cream and melting under the lights and, you know, messing and fun. Then, when we switched over to virtual, I was in a panic like everybody else. And um the very first facebook live, I shot I shot by myself here in uh in my home, and I didn't...

...know what I was doing. I almost started crying. To tell you the truth. I could hear my neighbor upstairs playing music, and I just didn't know what was happening. Um But I just recorded something fast and said, we'll get through this and we will, you know, will soldier on and we'll be back. I don't know how I don't know when, but we will I was like, all right, let's do this instead of once a month. Let's do it twice a week. That's different. And we did we did it twice a week. Twice a week. We got on Tuesdays and Thursdays and we had librarians, we have over a half a million views of our facebook lives. Yeah, because if they weren't watching it live and in the beginning they were nobody had any place to go and I really throw everybody, yeah, everybody needed the connection. Authors who had just finished their books had nothing nowhere to go with these, right, How awful, you know. Um and so uh and librarians, everybody was just, I feel untethered, including ourselves. And so this was a way to connect and it was a wonderful feeling to get back to um some sort of some sense of communication between all of us and we have authors on talking about the books and it was wonderful and people was just like uh good, there you are and here we are. So let's keep talking and that's what we did, we're down to one a week, but every so often we'll go back to two week and you know, it's a lot, but it's, it's a little crazy, my fears, a motivating factor. It sure is okay Virginia, you are infamously known as a celebrity stalker. Would you relay some of your escapades with some of the marquee names um that you have stocked and I'm thinking specifically best celebrity encounters with the likes of, oh, I don't know, share, bet minimal, yes, I'm happy to do that. Um okay, so I'm always talking about share um because I just think that she is a hoot and I also think that she is brilliant. Um and um but I and so I do have my share story but also my Bette Midler story and I bet miller to me is bar none. She just says she was just heaven. And um and so yes, I've I've seen her in concert like lots of us have I went to um so here was my double whammy, I went to a share concert because we are harpercollins is at some point publishing her memoir. I'm in line already. Hello? Um when I found out that we were doing this, I was in the backseat of a car uh in driving through Maine and I screamed so loud that the guy driving the car and just went off the road my god in the book. So um so yeah, it's crazy. Um and so uh lisa Sharkey who works at harbor did not acquire the book but knows folks and next thing you know, long story short, I was going to see her in see Sherry in las Vegas. Um and so my wife and I went with another couple and we sat these amazing seats which I would never be able to sit in myself and then they brought us back. So I sent her books, I brought a tote bags full of books. Anti trump books because we know how she feels about him and um and then she got those ahead of time and then they said ok now we're going to bring you back to meet her and I just was apoplectic and I didn't know that people pay to meet stars, movies, you know, celebrities, so they said well these people have to go first because they, you know, shout out the money, oh my God, but you're publishing your book. And so I went back and we met her and I was just like, harmony, harmony, harmony. It was it was a Jackie Gleason moment, it was, you know, it was ralph Crampton not knowing what to say, and she was like, hey, how you doing? I'm like a crazy um and so we got our picture taken and um she was just...

...absolutely lovely, so um that was my that was my share moment and I said we're so thrilled to be publishing your book and we can't wait, I'm like, oh my God, if I could get her to the american Library Association as a speaker, it would be the most amazing thing in the world. So believe me, I've been working on that for years now, working on it means praying to God. Um and uh Bette Midler, I love um she, I went to um this was was this the same share? No, it was a different share concert and some harper folks had gotten some passes because she was playing at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and so because we're publishing the book off we go again and we're in the, in the back room where people are eating cheese and decay. And so I'm standing there was some harper people and in walks Bette Midler with her daughter and I'm like, I have good a stuck in my throat because I'm like, is back, Miller is about miller's batman is a bit miller, do you see it? You see, you see right there, right there, right there is a regular everybody there like a cool it like Yeah, I know, I know uncle show popular good out of my throat. So um I was like, oh my God, now I had bet had just been playing hello dolly. And of course, I was sending books to Bette Midler at the theater, I was sending her books all the time, you'll love this one, sending her like charlotte's web, but I'm I'm sending her all these books that I love, and I'm like, I need to go tell her that I'm the one that sent her those books. So half the group was like, I don't think you should. The other half is like, do it, do it, I would tell you do it, I would have been pushing you. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah, so my sisters are like, I don't know what to do with my time with my wife and with my sister, my sister says do it, I said do you think I should? And she said I think you should only because I don't want to hear about it when you don't do it for the rest of your life, you're gonna be so mad at yourself and I'm not going to have to, I'll never stop hearing it like okay selfish. So I kept walking around her and as she was eating her credit a and then she finally she knew I was looking at her but she was trying to avoid me, you can't blame her. You know, she's just there to have fun talking to a friend and finally she just turns and says can I help you if I said I'm sorry, I said I don't really want to bother you. I said I just and she extended her hand and I check her hand and said I just want to tell you that um huge fan and I'm the person who sent the books to you at the theater. Um she was like, oh thank you so much. I said so I hope you enjoyed them. She said thank you. And she actually had written to me or had somebody write to me to thank you for the books. So so she said thank you so much and I said I hope you enjoy them. And she said I will thank you so much. And that was the end of that. And I'm trying, I thought she doesn't know who I am, she doesn't know it, but she's not making the connection so the whole time during the sheriff I'm like how can I get her to realize I'm the person that sent to the book, my sister's like, leave it alone, you're good, you're good, You said something, you're good. I think eventually she probably went, oh, that's the person who sent me the books. Absolutely, that's wonderful. And I love that story. You were always so good in a group to you. You have so many stories and so many experiences that you have shared with all of us. And one of them I loved was when you were at double Day and there was somebody there who was an editor that and I think you were kind of early in your career, can you talk about that encounter? Yes, Are you speaking of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis? Yes, I am. Um should sign everything J K O um I know, just lovely. And uh so so there were four art directors and each art director had an assistant, me being one of them. And uh so she would, and we would spell each other for lunch. So the head of the department was Alex Gottfried, who was a genius and a wonderful man and a talented artist and photographer and I loved him dearly. So he was the head of the department. And...

...um so very often editors would come down and get this big office and they would show sketches and you know, say what do you think of this, what do you think of this, Jack for the jackets? And so um so I was answering the phones for him and I answered the phone and I heard his Alex there was like, so I said um may I ask who's calling please? And she'd say it's Jackie, and I'd say, hold on one moment please, Jackie, Jackie is on the phone is extended down, so it's like, can you come down now? And she'd say you bet, so, like, cool, that was so cool. So then she floated on down and I just floated past me, I'll never forget, it was like floating, couldn't believe it, I couldn't believe that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was right there and then she's looking at these jackets and they're talking to each other and looking at the sketches and then she apparently told him that she was having sort of a, as Alex used to call it a sinking spell, she was being tired, and he came out, he used to call me ginger and he had, he was published a pick axe and he would say ginger, go goodness! So this is some candy, I'm like, okay, and so so I started to go out and I came back and he said um he said get her some Eminem's like, okay, so I started walking and then I came back and I said would you like playing her peanut? And she said no nuts, said okay, and I went down and my daughter Plain bag of M&Ms brought back, dusted them off because they were in the candy store that was built in the 70s, here you go. And and so she had, because she was so beautiful and so, so healthy and thin. And what, of course you only ate half the bag, you know, who does that? Jacqueline, Kennedy Onassis, So it's half a bag left. So my, when she left, my other boss came running into his office and said I'm taking this bag and I'm sending it to my mom and he mailed it to California. Uh huh. Okay, that was a good one, you know Virginia, you're known as an astute book forecaster too. And you told me some really great titles. What are the ones, the exciting titles that really are rocking your boat coming up for fall winter? Mm Well I'll tell you, um I am Don Winslow has a new series coming out uh called City. Well the first one's called Sitting on fire and um I interviewed him, well I have this facebook live, we interview authors and I interviewed him recently. Um and it was really wonderful because um he's just, he's just so available and um and brilliant and I really enjoyed talking to him about this new series. So you know, he's the author of the cartel, that whole series. So this this new ones uh starts takes place in the eighties and nineties um in Rhode island and it's about, it's about the, the irish and italian mops, so good, so good. Um now the one thing is that it was scheduled to come out this fall and now here's the thing, it's coming out in april now because he, you know, understandably wants to meet the public and he's hoping that, you know, a lot of these tours, it's just messing with everything, you know, virtual versus in person and then it becomes less, you know, um less uh likely that that's going to happen or that will happen in a healthy way by that, I mean, robust, you know, so that's been moved, but that is no less. Um I I just, I'm super super jazzed about this new series, um great characters and he's really sort of drawing parallels with greek, the greek tragedy tragedies. And so these characters are so so drawn out and...

...there's one woman at the center of this whole thing that uh puts into motion all of these terrible things, these these two factions sort of get along, you know, side by side, then a woman appears and it all explodes. Yeah, yeah, so, um that is one that I am super super jazzed about. Um and uh yeah, now all her little secrets, I want to Morris, I know that Mr Block is a big fan of and I am super glad that you Ron have taken this one under your wing because is it not so great, it is beyond and we had um wanda recently on the podcast here and she's a delight, her story is a delight everything about this book. It's just, it's just a book of our time. It's just, it's a thriller too. I mean, it will knock your socks off at the same time person she lives in, Yeah, she lives in Atlanta and I reached out to and I said, hey, let's uh let's meet, Oh, so we're supposed to have lunch soon. Oh, well, you know, this is, you start on page one and it's, it's so good because you're starting off in her childhood, which is not good. And um, you know that, you know in pages to come, you find out that she's a successful lawyer. But what she starts from is horrible and what she becomes is brilliant. But what happens to her, the racial inequality is, you're not hit over the head by it, but it is there, she doesn't see anybody like her, this firm where she works. Um, she, and I'm not ruining anything by telling you that she, uh, she goes to work early one morning to go and see the man who she works with. But um, he, and she's having an affair with and he has been shot dead and instead of running to the authorities, she turns around and goes to her, goes to her office, like she never saw it happen. Why does she do that? You'll find out. It's really, really good. It's twisty and smart. It takes off from there too. It's like, oh yeah Ron I love that. You love that. Like if you love Harland, what I wonder how to get away with murder. You know, attica Locke like smart. Like when I read this thing, there's no way this is a debut. It is. Yeah, I think it was either you're lying to me. I know, right? Thank you Ron I'm so glad Cathy. I can't wait to hear what you think when you meet her. She is lovely. It's our lead read. Um, she just made the cover of library journal, wow. I know she's and she's just so um grateful for for all this good, all these good things that are coming her way. And she did a piece for, she did it, she did an interview um, at the american Library Association, we paired her up with another author and they talked about the publishing process and this manuscript of hers has been drug out and put back and drug out put back and um, you know, she she just kept at it and then we give it up and go back to it and lori raider Day whom you know Cathy, I'm sure, you know, Gloria later day she's a mystery street writer and um, she's uh, she's got a new book out called Death at Greenway and this is um, she was nominated for an Edgar. She won the Anthony and mary Higgins clark. This is um set in World War Two and it's about two nurses who are sent to the agatha Christie holiday estate called Greenway and they're supposed to be caring for these evacuated kids I think about 10 during the blitz and a body is discovered. She was like of course I had to throw in a mystery but this is all entrenched in real life. And she went, stayed there for a couple of nights with her husband. She tells us really cool stories about there and she was taught a class with...

...the yellow writers class. And um and wanda Morris was one of her teachers and wanda Morris said you were the one who said to me after you read my manuscript you are a good writer. And she said that turned it for me so cool. We had both of them on. So we do this show now every Tuesday sometimes thursday called door to door, our door to your door, that's how it started and we're either talking about books ourselves, you know the library marketing department but usually we have authors on and we have these two authors on just this past week and everything is on youtube. You can go look at it on facebook but it's a really cool our because typically we'll have to authors on, we'll talk a little bit in the beginning and then we put one of the virtual Green room which basically means we turn off their camera and we focus on one author and one book and then we switch and this took off and we never turned the camera off on either one of them. It was just this beautiful, really cool, smart, funny, revealing conversation about lots of things. Very yeah, I watched the replay. Did you? Yes. Oh yes. I think I loved it. I loved their connection and and it's just like things that I've learned from the fab five and and other writers that I know every, every established writer, they're always reaching back to help somebody else. And I just love that connection. I just think that it's it's just it's beautiful. One of the book I love thank you and I encourage you guys to go and watch that. You can just go to youtube and type in library. Love estimates there. But there's another book coming out in december that we're publishing called Bright Burning Things by lisa Harding. And this is this is the american debut of um she's she's an irish writer and she's been published there. But this is about and she's um this is about a mother who is struggling with alcoholism and how she tries to keep from losing her son now before you think, why do I want to read the sad depressing book. Trust me, this book is so good because she has such heart and she loves this kid so much. But when you have a poll that's almost equal parts love for your child but love not love it's addiction and what she does and how she does it. It it is mm it's sometimes claustrophobic. That is a word that I thought of when I read it and then I read somebody's quote, I don't have it in front of me but somebody said spoke is claustrophobic but it's claustrophobic in a good way because how can anybody make you feel that way? Right. Somebody who really knows what they're doing and just so effective and beautiful and touching and powerful and I won't tell you anything more about it except that I think that you really need to read it. I'm getting her getting her to come on facebook live. She's an actress and playwright who lives in London um and her first book was called harvesting and it won the Ireland's kate o brien award, shortlisted for an irish Book Award and Best novel of the year that was published there. So this is her american debut and she is a really good writer. Yeah, well, anything you recommend to me I'm reading, So I'm in. Thanks. Yes. Well Virginia. I hope you know how much that we adore you and appreciate your visit with us today. Our listeners just it's great for them to get behind the scenes glimpse of the amazing work you do and really how you shine. So happy library card sign up month and thank you so much for joining the podcast. Thank you so much Ron and thanks Kathy, great to see you both. We hope that you all have enjoyed this library rockstar episode. I'm continually fascinated by the dedication of library professionals everywhere. In times of struggle and in celebration, libraries are always the place we turn to as a society. Thank you for tuning in and please be sure to share with a friend. Thank you for tuning in to friends and fiction writer's block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe, rate and review on your...

...favorite podcast platform, tune in every friday for another episode. And you can also join us every week on facebook or Youtube Where you can see our live friends and fiction show that airs at seven p.m. eastern standard time. We are so glad you're here. Yeah.

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