Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode 12 · 3 months 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 peoplewho really perform miracles every day in people's lives are librarians andsomeone else said Mark, you should do a librarian action figure and thensomeone else said and nancy should be the model for it. Yeah, I don't know, we just try andconnect on a different level and if you can come great, if you can come to theparty great I guarantee you're going to have a couple of laughs and you'regonna learn about our books and then we're all gonna eat some bad hotelstones and get out of the or we might all go get in the pool in the swimmingpool, in our clothing in Orlando. I got about that. Listen deed we did do thatdidn't we did Absolutely Welcome to the friends and fiction writer's Blockpodcast. Five new york times, bestselling authors, one rock starlibrarian and endless stories joined mary Kay andrews. Kristen Harmel,Christie Woodson, harvey paddy, Callaghan, Henry, mary, Alice Munro andRon Block As novelists. We are five longtime friends with 85 books betweenus. I am Ron Block. I am so glad you've joined us for fascinating authorinterviews along with insider. Talk about publishing and writing. If youlove books and are curious about the writing world, you are in the rightplace. Welcome to the friends and fictionwriter's Block podcast. Today we are kicking off national Library card signup month which is the month of september to celebrate. We are going tobe in conversation with two library superstars nancy Pearl and VirginiaStanley. Both have dedicated their careers to libraries and two books andreaders and we can't wait for you all to get a glimpse into the world ofreading from their perspectives. Libraries are indeed one of the greatdemocratic institutions and we need them now more than ever. I am Ron blockand 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 makeus into readers and we can't be writers until we're readers. So I think we'vedone 15 months worth of interviews with authors and friends in fiction and wealways 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 thelibrary as a small child and I know that was the case with me. And ofcourse the other thing is libraries provide the raw materials for ourreaders. Um If you've gone to the library, if you're a library patronthen certainly you're a reader and we need every single one of those. And soyou know people ask me all the time, well don't libraries sales take awayfrom your book sales and and that's absolutely not the case. So many of myfans tell me I discovered your books. I checked out one of your books from thelibrary and I got hooked and now I'm not just a library patron. I'm a I'm afan and a book buyer. Very true, very true. Well our first guest today isAmerica's favorite librarian, Nancy Pearl Nancy Pearl regularly speaksabout the importance and pleasure of reading at libraries, literacyorganizations and community groups around the world. She can be found onNPR's Morning Edition talking about her favorite books and also on her monthlytelevision show, Book Lust with Nancy Pearl, which features interviews withauthors, poets and other literary figures. Among her many honours are the2011 Librarian of the Year Award from Library Journal and the 2011 LifetimeAchievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Nancyis the creator of the internationally recognized program. If all Seattle readthe same book which became one book one...

...city. So if you've had this in yourcity then you know where it came from. She was also the inspiration for theamazing Archie Mcphee Library in action Figure which we're going to dig intotalking about just a little bit nancy is also the best selling authorrecently of a novel George and lizzie and also the fabulous collection, theWriters Library which was co authored with Jeff Swagger. She's a librarianand literary critic but first and foremost she is a reader and has spenther life promoting reading as one of the most beneficial and joyfulexperiences anyone can have. I can't tell you what an honor it is for me towelcome 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 tobe here nancy. You have truly blazed a trail for many librarians and you'vebeen a teacher and a mentor an inspiration to so many in both of thoseprofessions and the readers everywhere. Would you give us the where it allbegan 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 twolibrarians, Miss Long and Miss Whitehead who who took me in hand. Theymet me when I was about eight years old. I came from a family that was not aparticularly happy place. My home was somewhere where I didn't really want tobe. So I spent all my time at the public library and Miss Whitehead whenthey met me all I was reading was horse and dog books and through a kind ofbait and switch where Miss Whitehead would say nancy. Do you want the brandnew marguerite Henry horse book? Do you want to be the first person in thislibrary to read that book? And of course I'd say yes give it to me MissWhitehead. Give me that book. And Miss Whitehead would say oh but wait first Iwant you to read another book and she gave me books. That's how I discoveredmary Poppins. Miss Whitehead was Canadian and and was addicted tobritish Children's literature. So you know that's where I discovered EnidBlyton and Mary Poppins and The Lord of the Rings. Um those were all books thatMiss Whitehead persuaded me to read and I knew when I was 10 years old that Iwanted to be a Children's library and I wanted to be someone just like MissWhitehead who would help other kids for whom the library was was not only asafe place to be, but a place where the world opens up to you. And I have tojust say I have to just put in a plug there's going to be a picture bookbiography called Library Girl about my childhood. And that library and thoselibrarians coming out in september will fall of 2000 and 22 by uh yeah by KarenHenry Clark beautiful illustrations were just starting to see them in colorillustrations by a Portland artist named Cheryl Murray. So I'm justthrilled about that which is so exciting. I hope I wish everybody couldsee the heels grimm's on my face and Ron. And these two because all of usare such library creatures. The idea that this this book will be in theworld is such joyous news and plus your story I think is really influential andreally an inspiration for kids everywhere. I think library has justbeen a refuge for so many of us in in our lives. And and they'll they'll seethemselves in your book. And that that's the best compliment. I thinkthat the book can give a young reading. I I think, you know, I hear so muchfrom people when I give a talk or, you know, when I'm out in the world, peoplecoming up and saying, you know, your story about the library and how theplace it played, you know, in your...

...childhood is my story too. And, youknow, librarians, libraries and librarians change the world. We makethe world a better place. And I've always felt that to be a librarian, towork, especially in a public library is really to It is to is to contributeyour part two to making the world better. And, you know, I was one ofthose kids who who was like, I wanted to do good. I wanted to do that kind ofthing, and what can you do? And this is what I've done. So, I've been verylucky. Well, I would say I was lucky. Well, II just have to interrupt. I have to just qualify that. I didn't say I wouldsay 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 luckytime. But following that, I've been very lucky. Yeah. We all progress. Butyou you've also been very generous and and one of the areas that you havefocused on that has actually done so much for librarians everywhere andultimately readers. And I think a lot of readers don't understand what'sbehind when they come into a library. And we say, oh maybe you'd like this ormaybe this is what you'd like to read. So you can you tell people a little bitabout what reader's advisory is and how you have become so passionate aboutthat? Well, yeah, reader's advisory is um putting a reader together with abook that you as the librarian or in a bookstore. We call it hand selling whatyou as a librarian feel that that particular reader would enjoy. And andthe way that we do that, you know, everybody reads different versions of abook, everybody is looking for something else. Something particular inevery book that they read, whether it's a character that they can embrace, thatthey will never forget whether it's a fast moving plot, whether it'ssomething that's light hearted and will make you smile or whether it's somekind of dark nor mystery that's going to give you shivers whatever you'relooking for, it's the librarian who who we want to make sure can can understandwhat it is that you're looking for and find some books that will meet yourparticular desires in a book. True. They will come into the library where Iwork 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 whatcan I take to the beach? So I'm flattered one can only assume that theultimate career highlight is having an action figure created and designed inyour honor as well as well. That came about. Well you know like yeah I meanthere's so much kind of happen stance in my life where I happened to be inthe right place or I happened to meet the right person and there's thethere's the brand new librarian action figure. So the original librarianaction figure in around 2000 and two um I was at a my husband and I were at adinner party with the owner of among the guests was the owner of a companyin Seattle called Archie Mcphee which is if you've ever been in Seattle it'sa it's a store that has a lot of funny things, kitschy kind of things. And atthat 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 wassaying that he was getting email, he was getting letters and emails frompeople who who were saying that the...

...jesus action figure was performingmiracles in their lives. And and I said um but you know that Mark the peoplewho really perform miracles every day in people's lives are librarians andsomeone else said, Mark, you should do a librarian action figure and thensomeone else said, and nancy should be the model for it. And so you know, thenthe conversation went on of course to other things. And as we were leavingthat night driving back home, my husband said his four favorite words tome. Now I know that every husband has his own four favorite words. I doubtanyone else has these particular four favorite words. My husband's fourfavorite words to me are nancy think this through. He said, he said, do youreally want to be a five inch plastic, non biodegradable action? You know, alittle toy. And I said, you know, as I always respond to things like this, Isaid, 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 meand said, can you come to Michael T. O. To be digitized. Now, Mukilteo is asmall town north of Seattle. And I always thought if I were going to writeA memoir, which I'm not going to do. Um it would, it would start with thosewords. I went to Michael T. O to be digitized, wouldn't that be great. Andum and it came out of the library action figure came out in 2002. Theaction of course was if you had the arm and just the right position and youpush the button in the back very slowly the arm would come up and make like ashushing motion. Now I'm sad to report that in the world in the world thereare probably 47-48 librarians with no senses of humor who have no sense ofhumor and they were very offended by the shushing not not understanding whata um you know what attribute it was and you know the wink that that we werethat was accompanying the librarian action figures. So that action figurewent through several iterations coming out in september 2000 and three whichwas the same month that my first book list book came out which is all bookrecommendations and the newest iteration is really the librarian in acape and um fighting against illiteracy and anti intellectualism and censorshipso it truly is a superhero making the world better one reader at a time. Yeahso 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 barbiedream house. They had a book card and they had books and all these things togo along with it. It was awesome. Yes. Yes. Ok so you mentioned the book lustbooks and you put out several of those early in your career but then you kindof jumped into the novel writing and um we you know it wasn't as if you didn'thave enough to do, you decided to become a novelist and you createdGeorge and lizzie, which Caroline leavitt called. As sparkling asProsecco, as jubilantly quirky and inventive, a love story as you couldever want at a jigsaw puzzle. You never want to finish, tell us about how thebook came to be and how your years of being a book expert played into itscreation. Well, I would not have written George and lizzie and this goesback to something mary Kay said at the beginning of the show, I would not havewritten George and lizzie had I not been a reader and I wrote George andlizzie because you know when you're a reader there, there comes times in yourlife 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, Iwander the shelves in my house looking for something to read or reread or I goto the bookstore, I go to the library and I just couldn't find a book thatmet all my particular what I needed in a book and what I need in a book is areally you know, a little bit of quirk a character that um I love and I needgood writing and I couldn't find anything that exactly did that I'm surethere were plenty of books out there, but nothing was fulfilling that needAnd one night um I just it was like these two characters came into my headand one of them was lizzie and the other was George. And at the beginningthat's all I knew about them. And every night I would find out a little bitmore about them. I would tell myself stories about their lives about howthey met about who they were. And over a period of many years I never thoughtI would write a novel. I was very happy reading other people's novels but overseveral several years and mary Kay can talk about you know how long somewriting takes. I didn't devote all day to it. I it was it was just something Ijust so much enjoyed spending time in my head with George and lizzie and Ijust one day sat down and wrote the first sentence. The first sentence Iwrote 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 characterof Lizzie. George is really um it's not autobiographical at all. But thecharacters in it are very you know, I think as an author you borrow youborrow a little bit from this character from this person, you know you borrow alittle bit and George I have to say is a lot like my husband joe. Um sowhenever 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 seventiesand the hero of the novel was based on their husband? You tell me that I betyou can't be mad at me after that. Um and you know, I sometimes think, I meanthere were characters in that book because I love finding out aboutpeople's lives. I love learning things like that. There are characters in thebook that I sometimes think, you know, I'd like to write more about lizzie'sfirst high school boyfriend, for example, a guy named Maverick. Um andthen I think oh that's a lot of work. You know, maybe I'll read another fuckinstead. So I'm not sure what's going to happen. That Maverick was such agreat character though. I loved it. Yeah, yeah, I'm going to have to getthat one. Well, you know, you didn't just sit around after that book waspublished. You followed the success of George and lizzie right, with the rightthe writers library, the authors you love on the books that changed theirlives. A collaboration with playwright Jeff Swagger, which publishers weeklygave a starred review saying Pearl and Swagger bring boundless enthusiasm andcuriosity. This eclectic and probing book of interviews Now tell us how thattreasured book came to life? Well that Treasury book came to life because JeffSchwager, who I had met because he interviewed me for a project he wasdoing for the Washington state, jewish historical society of notable jewishwomen in the state of Washington. And I was honored to be one of those. And wereally hit it off. We discovered we...

...both of course, love to read. And wewould get together and we would talk about books, the books, we love thebooks we didn't love. And he said, um one day he said, you know, I have thisidea of doing like a coffee table book of authors, libraries, their personallibraries. And I said, you know, I said, what do you think you want to work onit together? And I said, well, no, I don't, you know, I'm not a coffee tablebook kind of person. Um you know, I said, I'd love to go out and talk tothe 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 andmy agent victoria Sanders loved that idea. Um and so we we traveled aroundthis was pre Covid seems weird now. Um but we we flew around the country goingto authors homes, mainly interviewing them in their homes. Um some inbookstores, one of the Center for Fiction in Brooklyn, which waswonderful. And ended up with 22 interviews Of 23 authors. And the 20 isthat discrepancy is because we interviewed, I yell at Waldman andMichael Chabon together um in the dining room of their home while theywere eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches, which they offered him tome and Jeff, but we had already eaten, so we were just drinking tea and it wasa delight to talk to. You know, it's a very diverse book. Um authors from theamerican Ethiopian writer Masum and geese to to um well to Michael chabon,to Jonathan, lead them to Charles, johnson, the national Book Awardwinning writer of the Middle Passage. Um Susan choi who just won the NationalBook Award uh as well, and and and many others um T C Boyle, Oh gosh, we justhad a great time. We just had a great time. Every serious, just fit. Um Itwas just it was wonderful, it was just wonderful hearing the books that theyloved and and writers like tom Boyle actually took us around his house. Sowe could look at his bookshelves. And if you love a writer, if you love anauthor's books and you're looking at the books that they've loved and theyhave books on their shelves that you have on your shelf, that's a reallylovely bond, I think with anybody. But it was just, you know, to meet thesewriters who were great heroes of mine. And Jeffs was terrific. Yeah. You knowthat I'm sorry, an answer, but that begs the question, was there a book onthose authors, bookshelves that overlapped your own favorite? Maybemore than once. Yes, often, uh often. And one of them was on tom boilsbookshelf called The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by bob Shacochis, which was afinalist, I believe for the Pulitzer when it came out. It's one of my alltime favorite books. It's it's a tough read in the sense that it's not alwaysa happy book. Um but it's a book that's so well worth reading. And so many ofthe writers talked about, one of the earliest books that they loved wasWatership Down. And and these were writers as diverse as Michael chabonand Madeline Miller, um the author of CRC and uh, you know, um how wonderfulis that? So books really connect people. And I've always said when you findsomebody who loves some of the same books that you love, because nobody isgoing to love all the books that you love? I mean, that's a connection forlife, definitely. It is those are the...

...people who can't wait to get togetheragain with. Did you read this? Did you read this? You know this? Yeah, I loveit. I love it. So I'm going back to libraries just a little bit, What doyou see as the future of libraries. We've been through a lot of changes thelast 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 themout? 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 withouta public library is is a city that is lacking in a fundamental aspect of itsbeing. I think, you know, librarians and libraries have always risen to thechallenge of society's issues. Um when we think about the great influx ofimmigrants in the early 20th century, coming mainly from eastern europe atthat time, and how the library offered classes in english learning english,how librarians supported these, the immigrants who came in and helped thembecome americans. Um my so librarians have always risen to the occasion as Isaid. However, big city libraries and big city libraries are not, they're notstaffed by train. I mean, some libraries have trained social workerson staff, but librarians are not trained to be social workers. Um Youknow, librarians are trained to open the world to the people who come intothe 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 todo that at the at the cost at the expense of doing things that onlylibrarians can do. Makes me very sad indeed. So, you know, there is nothingthat makes a society more civilized than a society of readers. Readingdevelops empathy, Reading helps you expand your understanding of the worldand library libraries, library boards who decide on policy. Library directorsshould not lose sight of the traditional role of libraries justbecause 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 incrediblechallenges that face libraries and especially, you know, I live in Atlantaa big city and and I see that challenge in the Atlanta County library systemtoo. But let's talk about the thing that you do love to do, which is givebook recommendation. Think of anybody, I'd rather hear a book recommendationmore from then from America's library water, some recent favorites that yourecommend. Well, one of my favorite books which I just finished recentlyand loved it is the last revival of Opel and ned by Dawnie Walton. Um It'sa first novel. It's um it's the story of The first, maybe the onlyinterracial rock duo in the 1970s. It's written in a very interesting way as aseries of interviews by the editor of a music magazine who's trying tounderstand for reasons that I don't want to I don't want to give anythingaway. Um but it's mostly a series of...

...interviews with various people and Ihave to say Opal is just an amazingly wonderful wonderful character. And it'ssome she's someone that I don't think that that if you read this book thatyou'll ever forget. So that's one another book I loved is Oliver Harrisis a Shadow Intelligence, which is probably the best spy novel I've readin a very long time and it's set in Kazakhstan, which when was the lasttime you read a novel set in Kazakhstan and it's set in, you know, this is aspy novel with everything technological that you could imagine. I mean, youknow, my favorite spy novelist, british spy novelist is of course john le CarreAnd I love love those books. But what Oliver Harris has done is taken thesame shadowy world where there is no, nobody is all right and nobody's allwrong, but that gray area and he has really um uh brought it into the 21stcentury with a vengeance. So there's there's two books highly highlyrecommend those two books. We will make sure that we put those up on thefriends in fiction. Facebook page two for for folks, um yeah, absolutely. Ilisten to Opel and never and I gotta, I gotta echo everything you said. It'sit's everything, it's everything. Yeah. Oh good. I I read it in print um Ididn'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'vegot to drive down the Tybee next week. So I think I might have to give Opeland never listen. You'll love it. You will love another wonderful one. I'msorry Ron I was going to say the other thing that I've been doing the last fewmonths is reading all of Angela circles. Novels that were written in thethirties, forties And the novels written in the 50s are are notparticularly good. But those early ones are wonderful and August folly is orwild strawberries are the two that I would start with and they're bothwonderful on audio. Thank good. Well, nancy as always, it's a huge honor tobe in the same space with you. I just can't thank you enough for being withus. It's always always such a pleasure. And we always learn so much. Happylibrary card sign up month and we are all looking forward to what is next foryou. 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 rockstarVirginia Stanley, Virginia Stanley is the director of library marketing atharpercollins. She was included in library journals. Inaugural movers andshakers edition. Being called a bridge builder because of her outreach tolibraries across the country and including libraries on author tours asoften as possible. Yeah, gen, as some of us call her or Virginia enjoyscoming of age books, broadway shows and any song sung by share or or BetteMidler to right, absolutely right, Virginia, welcome to the broadcast.Thank you so much mary. Kay andrews. It's so lovely to see your face eventhough no one else can. I know we can see each other. Yes. Yes. Well, thanksfor having me here and thank you Ron block for sending the invitation. Quitelovely. Well, who else would we have as a library rock star than you? I lovethat you're movers and shakers. We have that in common because I was a 2020mover and shaker from library journal...

...so we could celebrate that sometimeswhen we can see each other in person. Yes. My coffee stained issue is at mymother's house in the dead. I think my mother uses mine is a like a coastertoo. So I want to talk to you everybody to know a little bit more about you. Soyou 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 whatyour role entails at harpercollins and how you get so much done. And so manybooks 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 feelthat I mean I have, I have equal love in my heart for authors as I dolibrarians and where I can who can tell you that. Um Yeah uh and my the pointof my job is to raise awareness of books and we do a lot of books on theadult 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 oneand it just goes on and on and each one has its own identity. Um And it's it'spretty cool. I mean, you know, it sort of covers the range of interests basedon under which imprint those books are published. So um you know, it's it's Ihave 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, wewe do the usual thing that everybody does, you know, we do conferences andadvertising and all of that stuff, but I think we all we sort of we veer alittle bit shall we say, you know, a little bit of crazy, a little bit ofcrazy thrown in a couple of cocktails here and there and we you know in thein the in the pandemic since then we have relied solely on virtual outreachand so we've done as has everyone. Um But we really we really sort ofratcheted up the speed in which we uh shoot videos and reach out tolibrarians and librarians do that connection as much as authors neededthe connection as much as we needed the connection. And so yeah, I don't knowif that answers your question, but uh please there's no there's no rightor wrong here, but I want to know a little bit about your journey to getwhere you were like what what was your reading journey as a child and whatbrought 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 thetime and read to us and uh you know, little women, we can recite forwardsand backwards. Um you know, she really instilled that in us, so I always knewthat I wanted to be in publishing and I didn't know what I wanted to do, and Ithink everybody every kid thinks I'll be an editor, you know? And then, youknow, I recently spoke at a at a publish on a publishing course onlibrary marketing. And the students reached out to me and said I had noidea there was library marketing, I said neither did I when I first startedto know what that was, that was a long time ago. And so I first started out indouble 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 fora hot second. And then learned about academic and library marketing and Andthen just went out and zoned in on library marketing. We just grew itbecause we used to just stand in a 10 by 10 booth, you know, tables anddrapes, rolling posters, let's just set up a little kids, let's do somethingfun 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 theamount that we were publishing it was,...

...you know, they always recognized thevalue of library marketing and the fact that they had a library marketingdepartment, but it got bigger and bigger and bigger. Um and our presencereally grew and our engagement really grew and but that all came from thesupport of harper. You know, you can't you can't turn, you know, your presenceat the american Library Association from a 10 by 10 Roland posters to awhole aisle of, you know, representation of booths and and andyou know, you can't do that. So without without the support of uh of the theguns. 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 favoritething to do, but I wish you would talk um you know, the thing that's mostinfectious about you Virginia is the joy that you bring to your job. So Iwould love for you to talk about your favorite thing about library sales andmarketing. Mm Well, um my favorite thing about salesand marketing, you know, here's the thing, nobody has ever said, don't dothat. So we throw a lot of spaghetti at thewall and a lot of stuff sticks and it's a lot of fun. You know, I can'tremember the I can't remember when somebody said you really shouldn't dothat, 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, weshoot crazy videos and and really off the wall stuff that people are justlike 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 americanLibrary Association in Seattle, you know, it's like, well what should we dowith this? You know, how should we promote our title presentation? We'retrying always trying to get as many people to that thing as we can. So wemake these funny videos, what that has to do with the title presentation?Nothing. But it has everything to do with having a laugh and connectingthrough humor. And I think that that isn't a conscious thing as much as itis a natural thing for me anyway. I feel I just feel like who doesn't lovemusic? Who doesn't live laughing. And so if we make a video of us throwingfish at each other because we're pretending we're at the pike's marketand were welling fish at each other at rapid pace. Thanks to the video studiospeeding 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 togetherand then we skied down and chris was flying through the air and they spunhim around and we landed in the convention center where thepresentation was being held. It's that kind of stuff. I think it's very sortof like around the same page. Look, nobody buys a book based on thepublisher. I don't think, I think people buy their books just like theybuy their records, they buy anything based on what am I going to get. And soI don't know, we just try and connect on a different level and if you cancome great, if you can come to the party, great. I guarantee you're goingto have a couple of laughs and you're gonna learn about our books and thenwe're all gonna eat some bad hotel scones and get on with the day poor. Wemight all go get in the pool in the swimming pool in our clothing inOrlando, I got about that. Indeed we did do that, didn't we did. This isbeing recorded. No, we all had, it was, it was at the end of, what was it? Aromance 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 herteam 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 andthey 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 HiltonTrocheck, you're the one who said, you know what, let's just like, let's justlighten up, it's hot out, we don't need a bathing suit, let's go. And all youneed is one. But if it's the right 11 whose, whose opinion you respect andthat's, that's very funny personality and just a great person. You know, Ihad a dream about mary Kay andrews ones during a time in my life that is this alot was going on and I was under a lot of angst because we all have thosemoments in our lives and there was a terrible storm in a rainstorm. And maryKay andrews. I'm just gonna call you Kathy Kathy can I Yeah, sure, thanks. Imean nothing to you. Barbara because that's how your name, but she wassitting on a porch and I and I was being swept away by this way or waterdown 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. Igot on the porch with her. Uh Yeah, What do you say? Can I slapped you snapout of it? Get back to the real stuff. Now, Ron's got a question for you. I'mall set for this. So I've been one of the very lucky recipients on what youwere just talking about about the conferences and the and the approachthat you take and I think you've branded it so beautifully under librarylove fest. So can you talk about how that started and how it grew And andtrust me when I say to everyone who's listening, they include costumes andsound effects and lots of antics and it just keeps the motivation going. And itis 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 itstarted and how it grew. And you talked a little bit about transitioning it toonline during the pandemic. So maybe you can talk about that a bit. Yeah, sothey like folks came to me at harper and said, listen, you know what can wedo here too, You know, I mean this is going years back and uh you know, Iwanted to do um the isle of lucy logo, but make it, I love librarians and thatis one time that they said no, so too bad. What a minute, Cool. But um but Isaid okay, we'll just call it, I don't know, it's called like, like like youknow library love fest, Like it's a love fest that we're having and it'sstuck and um and now people, you know, people know it, you know, they reallycome 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, theyknow what company that belongs to. And it it is a love fest. It is um when wepivoted to uh to a virtual uh just before that we had been with thelibrary marketing department had been doing um monthly facebook live. So wehave a video studio right on our floor and top top of the, you know, top notchthese guys are wonderful. And uh so in addition to making these crazy videosand 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 andwe would, you know, have a cocktail be 10 30 in the morning, but it's likeit's got to be 10 30 in the morning somewhere All right here. So, we wouldtalk 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 wehave an author, but that would be a special thing. But but once a month wedid a facebook live and we would talk about books that were coming out, andthree of us would sit there and it was like, it was National ice cream day. Wehave bowls of ice cream and melting under the lights and, you know, messingand fun. Then, when we switched over to virtual, I was in a panic likeeverybody else. And um the very first facebook live, I shot I shot by myselfhere in uh in my home, and I didn't...

...know what I was doing. I almost startedcrying. 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 recordedsomething 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, butwe will I was like, all right, let's do this instead of once a month. Let's doit twice a week. That's different. And we did we did it twice a week. Twice aweek. We got on Tuesdays and Thursdays and we had librarians, we have over ahalf a million views of our facebook lives. Yeah, because if they weren'twatching it live and in the beginning they were nobody had any place to goand I really throw everybody, yeah, everybody needed the connection.Authors who had just finished their books had nothing nowhere to go withthese, right, How awful, you know. Um and so uh and librarians, everybody wasjust, I feel untethered, including ourselves. And so this was a way toconnect and it was a wonderful feeling to get back to um some sort of somesense of communication between all of us and we have authors on talking aboutthe books and it was wonderful and people was just like uh good, there youare and here we are. So let's keep talking and that's what we did, we'redown 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 thatyou have stocked and I'm thinking specifically best celebrity encounterswith the likes of, oh, I don't know, share, bet minimal, yes, I'm happy to do that. Um okay, soI'm always talking about share um because I just think that she is a hootand I also think that she is brilliant. Um and um but I and so I do have myshare story but also my Bette Midler story and I bet miller to me is barnone. She just says she was just heaven. And um and so yes, I've I'veseen her in concert like lots of us have I went to um so here was my doublewhammy, I went to a share concert because we are harpercollins is at somepoint publishing her memoir. I'm in line already. Hello? Um when I foundout that we were doing this, I was in the backseat of a car uh in drivingthrough Maine and I screamed so loud that the guy driving the car and justwent off the road my god in the book. So um so yeah, it's crazy. Um and so uhlisa Sharkey who works at harbor did not acquire the book but knows folksand next thing you know, long story short, I was going to see her in seeSherry in las Vegas. Um and so my wife and I went with another couple and wesat these amazing seats which I would never be able to sit in myself and thenthey brought us back. So I sent her books, I brought a tote bags full ofbooks. Anti trump books because we know how she feels about him and um and thenshe got those ahead of time and then they said ok now we're going to bringyou back to meet her and I just was apoplectic and I didn't know thatpeople pay to meet stars, movies, you know, celebrities, so they said wellthese people have to go first because they, you know, shout out the money, ohmy God, but you're publishing your book. And so I went back and we met her and Iwas just like, harmony, harmony, harmony. It was it was a Jackie Gleasonmoment, it was, you know, it was ralph Crampton not knowing what to say, andshe was like, hey, how you doing? I'm like a crazy um and so we got ourpicture taken and um she was just...

...absolutely lovely, so um that was mythat was my share moment and I said we're so thrilled to be publishing yourbook and we can't wait, I'm like, oh my God, if I could get her to the americanLibrary Association as a speaker, it would be the most amazing thing in theworld. So believe me, I've been working on that for years now, working on itmeans praying to God. Um and uh Bette Midler, I love um she, I went to umthis was was this the same share? No, it was a different share concert andsome harper folks had gotten some passes because she was playing at theBarclays Center in Brooklyn and so because we're publishing the book offwe go again and we're in the, in the back room where people are eatingcheese and decay. And so I'm standing there was some harper people and inwalks Bette Midler with her daughter and I'm like, I have good a stuck in mythroat because I'm like, is back, Miller is about miller's batman is abit miller, do you see it? You see, you see right there, right there, rightthere is a regular everybody there like a cool it like Yeah, I know, I knowuncle 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 wassending books to Bette Midler at the theater, I was sending her books allthe time, you'll love this one, sending her like charlotte's web, but I'm I'msending her all these books that I love, and I'm like, I need to go tell herthat I'm the one that sent her those books. So half the group was like, Idon't think you should. The other half is like, do it, do it, I would tell youdo it, I would have been pushing you. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah, so mysisters are like, I don't know what to do with my time with my wife and withmy sister, my sister says do it, I said do you think I should? And she said Ithink you should only because I don't want to hear about it when you don't doit for the rest of your life, you're gonna be so mad at yourself and I'm notgoing to have to, I'll never stop hearing it like okay selfish. So I keptwalking around her and as she was eating her credit a and then shefinally she knew I was looking at her but she was trying to avoid me, youcan't blame her. You know, she's just there to have fun talking to a friendand finally she just turns and says can I help you if I said I'm sorry, I saidI don't really want to bother you. I said I just and she extended her handand I check her hand and said I just want to tell you that um huge fan andI'm the person who sent the books to you at the theater. Um she was like, ohthank you so much. I said so I hope you enjoyed them. She said thank you. Andshe actually had written to me or had somebody write to me to thank you forthe 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'mtrying, I thought she doesn't know who I am, she doesn't know it, but she'snot making the connection so the whole time during the sheriff I'm like howcan 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 thebooks. Absolutely, that's wonderful. And I love that story. You were alwaysso good in a group to you. You have so many stories and so many experiencesthat you have shared with all of us. And one of them I loved was when youwere at double Day and there was somebody there who was an editor thatand I think you were kind of early in your career, can you talk about thatencounter? 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 therewere four art directors and each art director had an assistant, me being oneof them. And uh so she would, and we would spell each other for lunch. Sothe head of the department was Alex Gottfried, who was a genius and awonderful man and a talented artist and photographer and I loved him dearly. Sohe was the head of the department. And...

...um so very often editors would comedown and get this big office and they would show sketches and you know, saywhat 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 Iheard 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 floatedon 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 wasright there and then she's looking at these jackets and they're talking toeach other and looking at the sketches and then she apparently told him thatshe was having sort of a, as Alex used to call it a sinking spell, she wasbeing tired, and he came out, he used to call me ginger and he had, he waspublished a pick axe and he would say ginger, go goodness! So this is somecandy, I'm like, okay, and so so I started to go out and I came back andhe said um he said get her some Eminem's like, okay, so I startedwalking and then I came back and I said would you like playing her peanut? Andshe said no nuts, said okay, and I went down and my daughter Plain bag of M&Msbrought back, dusted them off because they were in the candy store that wasbuilt in the 70s, here you go. And and so she had, because she was sobeautiful and so, so healthy and thin. And what, of course you only ate halfthe bag, you know, who does that? Jacqueline, Kennedy Onassis, So it'shalf a bag left. So my, when she left, my other boss came running into hisoffice and said I'm taking this bag and I'm sending it to my mom and he mailedit 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 somereally great titles. What are the ones, the exciting titles that really arerocking your boat coming up for fall winter? Mm Well I'll tell you, um I amDon Winslow has a new series coming out uh called City. Well the first one'scalled Sitting on fire and um I interviewed him, well I have thisfacebook live, we interview authors and I interviewed him recently. Um and itwas really wonderful because um he's just, he's just so available and um andbrilliant and I really enjoyed talking to him about this new series. So youknow, he's the author of the cartel, that whole series. So this this newones uh starts takes place in the eighties and nineties um in Rhodeisland and it's about, it's about the, the irish and italian mops, so good, sogood. Um now the one thing is that it was scheduled to come out this fall andnow 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 lotof these tours, it's just messing with everything, you know, virtual versus inperson and then it becomes less, you know, um less uh likely that that'sgoing 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 supersuper jazzed about this new series, um great characters and he's really sortof drawing parallels with greek, the greek tragedy tragedies. And so thesecharacters are so so drawn out and...

...there's one woman at the center of thiswhole thing that uh puts into motion all of these terrible things, thesethese two factions sort of get along, you know, side by side, then a womanappears and it all explodes. Yeah, yeah, so, um that is one that I am supersuper jazzed about. Um and uh yeah, now all her little secrets, I want toMorris, I know that Mr Block is a big fan of and I am super glad that you Ronhave taken this one under your wing because is it not so great, it isbeyond 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 bookof our time. It's just, it's a thriller too. I mean, it will knock your socksoff at the same time person she lives in, Yeah, she lives in Atlanta and Ireached out to and I said, hey, let's uh let's meet, Oh, so we're supposed tohave 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'sa successful lawyer. But what she starts from is horrible and what shebecomes 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 anybodylike her, this firm where she works. Um, she, and I'm not ruining anything bytelling you that she, uh, she goes to work early one morning to go and seethe man who she works with. But um, he, and she's having an affair with and hehas been shot dead and instead of running to the authorities, she turnsaround 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 twistyand smart. It takes off from there too. It's like, oh yeah Ron I love that. Youlove that. Like if you love Harland, what I wonder how to get away withmurder. 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'relying to me. I know, right? Thank you Ron I'm so glad Cathy. I can't wait tohear 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'sjust so um grateful for for all this good, all these good things that arecoming her way. And she did a piece for, she did it, she did an interview um, atthe american Library Association, we paired her up with another author andthey talked about the publishing process and this manuscript of hers hasbeen drug out and put back and drug out put back and um, you know, she she justkept at it and then we give it up and go back to it and lori raider Day whomyou know Cathy, I'm sure, you know, Gloria later day she's a mystery streetwriter and um, she's uh, she's got a new book out called Death at Greenwayand this is um, she was nominated for an Edgar. She won the Anthony and maryHiggins clark. This is um set in World War Two and it's about two nurses whoare sent to the agatha Christie holiday estate called Greenway and they'resupposed to be caring for these evacuated kids I think about 10 duringthe blitz and a body is discovered. She was like of course I had to throw in amystery but this is all entrenched in real life. And she went, stayed therefor a couple of nights with her husband. She tells us really cool stories aboutthere and she was taught a class with...

...the yellow writers class. And um andwanda Morris was one of her teachers and wanda Morris said you were the onewho said to me after you read my manuscript you are a good writer. Andshe said that turned it for me so cool. We had both of them on. So we do thisshow now every Tuesday sometimes thursday called door to door, our doorto your door, that's how it started and we're either talking about booksourselves, you know the library marketing department but usually wehave authors on and we have these two authors on just this past week andeverything is on youtube. You can go look at it on facebook but it's areally cool our because typically we'll have to authors on, we'll talk a littlebit in the beginning and then we put one of the virtual Green room whichbasically means we turn off their camera and we focus on one author andone book and then we switch and this took off and we never turned the cameraoff on either one of them. It was just this beautiful, really cool, smart,funny, revealing conversation about lots of things. Very yeah, I watchedthe replay. Did you? Yes. Oh yes. I think I loved it. I loved theirconnection and and it's just like things that I've learned from the fabfive and and other writers that I know every, every established writer,they're always reaching back to help somebody else. And I just love thatconnection. I just think that it's it's just it's beautiful. One of the book Ilove thank you and I encourage you guys to go and watch that. You can just goto youtube and type in library. Love estimates there. But there's anotherbook coming out in december that we're publishing called Bright Burning Thingsby lisa Harding. And this is this is the american debut of um she's she's anirish writer and she's been published there. But this is about and she's umthis is about a mother who is struggling with alcoholism and how shetries to keep from losing her son now before you think, why do I want to readthe sad depressing book. Trust me, this book is so good because she has suchheart and she loves this kid so much. But when you have a poll that's almostequal parts love for your child but love not love it's addiction and whatshe does and how she does it. It it is mm it's sometimes claustrophobic. Thatis a word that I thought of when I read it and then I read somebody's quote, Idon't have it in front of me but somebody said spoke is claustrophobicbut it's claustrophobic in a good way because how can anybody make you feelthat way? Right. Somebody who really knows what they're doing and just soeffective and beautiful and touching and powerful and I won't tell youanything 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 andplaywright who lives in London um and her first book was called harvestingand it won the Ireland's kate o brien award, shortlisted for an irish BookAward and Best novel of the year that was published there. So this is heramerican debut and she is a really good writer. Yeah, well, anything yourecommend to me I'm reading, So I'm in. Thanks. Yes. Well Virginia. I hope youknow 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 theamazing work you do and really how you shine. So happy library card sign upmonth and thank you so much for joining the podcast. Thank you so much Ron andthanks Kathy, great to see you both. We hope that you all have enjoyed thislibrary rockstar episode. I'm continually fascinated by thededication of library professionals everywhere. In times of struggle and incelebration, libraries are always the place we turn to as a society. Thankyou for tuning in and please be sure to share with a friend. Thank you fortuning in to friends and fiction writer's block podcast. Please be sureto subscribe, rate and review on your...

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

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