August 19, 2020 | Issue #3
Five Facts From Our Friend, Kristina McMorris
The one thing you can’t live without in quarantine:
headbands — to stylishly and strategically cover up the gray

Your perfect day:
Sleep in (because I'm a night owl), catch up on news in bed, workout while watching a fun show, have brunch with my family (my youngest son makes a phenomenal German Pancake, yum!), enjoy some reading or writing time with hot tea and way too much vanilla creamer, then have dinner and wine on the back porch with my three closest girlfriends. Oh, and all while the laundry and dishes take care of themselves!

Your favorite independent bookstore:
Ahh, there's so many I love! Among my favorites, the first one that comes to mind is
Copperfish Books. And FoxTale Book Shoppe. And Buxton Books. And, and... okay, I'll stop. 

The last book you raved about:
Kristin Harmel's THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES. And she didn't even pay me to say that. I truly loved it and am so excited to rave to readers now that it's out in the world.

Your next book in ten words or less:
WWII story featuring an incredible, little-known department of British Intelligence
Bookseller of the Week


This week's featured bookseller is COPPERFISH BOOKS in Punta Gorda, FL! This is a great little store that's an integral part of their vibrant downtown Gulf Coast community. They have tremendous customer service and put on fantastic events. What's more, they are offering all of you a discount on books by the 5 F&F hosts & our guest, Kristina McMorris (10% off paperbacks; 20% off hardcovers). Click through to shop now and do all you can to support this great indie.
Debut Spotlight
A couple weeks back, our guest Elin Hilderbrand recommended this red-hot debut novel, LUSTER, by
Raven Leilani. This first novel blazed onto the scene as an instant New York Times bestseller. It also made the Los Angeles Times and National Indie bestseller lists, was Longlisted for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and has been named a book club pick at GoopMarie ClaireEsquire, and Book of the Month Club (add-on), among others. LUSTER was called "mercilessly funny and sharp" by Marie Claire, "an unstable ballet of race, sex, and power" by Kirkus Reviews, and "the best debut novel of the year" by author and owner of the Brooklyn-based independent bookstore Books Are Magic, Emma Straub.
Up Close with Kristin Harmel
Hi everyone!
People often ask me what draws me to writing about World War II. After all, The Book of Lost Names is my fifth novel set during that time period, and I’m working on a sixth (which will be out next summer). So what is it about the era that appeals to me—and to readers—especially now?
I think there are a few things that drew me to writing about World War II initially. First, I was profoundly moved by Anne Frank’s diary when I was 11 or 12. Prior to that, I had always thought that writing books was purely for entertainment, and changing the world was something separate entirely. That book was the thing that finally made the lightbulb go on in my head; for the first time, I realized that one could make the world a better place simply by moving people, by speaking to their hearts. When I finished that book, my career goal had been solidified; one day, I would be a writer too, and maybe, just maybe, I could help change the world a bit for the better.
That book stayed with me for years, so much so that when I began my first novel (a light “chick lit” novel called How to Sleep with a Movie Star—not a real how-to guide, I swear!), I included a minor character named Anne in Anne Frank’s honor. Since then, she has appeared in some way, shape or form in every book I’ve written.
I also had the opportunity in 2003, as a reporter for People magazine, to interview a particularly extraordinary Auschwitz survivor named Henri Landwirth (the founder of Give Kids the World), whose profound words about the effects of the Holocaust on his life stayed with me for years. It was those words that were playing on repeat in my head several years later as I sat down to write The Sweetness of Forgetting (2012), my first novel set partially during World War II.
There’s more, though. I think that for me, writing about the 1940s is a way to connect to my own grandparents (pictured here with me, when I was in my late teens) who were young adults during that time. They died years ago, and I have a lot of regrets over failing to ask them enough questions about what they went through, what their lives were like, what it was like to live through a world war. We’re losing that generation now, and for so many of us who had a loved one who fought in the war or was impacted by it in some way, reading a World War II novel is a way to connect with that rapidly fading past.
Most of all, though, I think World War II stories tend to be stories of hope, of resilience, and of triumph against the odds in history’s darkest hours. And perhaps that’s why these kinds of stories seem to be resonating now more than ever. In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, we are once again facing the unknown. We are once again staring down darkness. We are once again summoning inner strength to fight a battle we don’t entirely understand. And I think therefore, there’s something comforting about reading about a period in our recent history in which ordinary citizens just like us were called upon to be the light in the dark, to find a way forward.
I hope that as you read The Book of Lost Names or any of my World War II novels, you’ll be reminded that we’re all resilient. We’re all stronger than we know. And this time in our history—this difficult time where we’re being asked to wear masks and socially distance and relinquish some of our freedoms in the name of the greater good—will pass soon, too, and we’ll all be stronger for it. Just like the ordinary heroes of World War II discovered seventy-five years ago, we all have the capacity to be the light, even when the world seems dark.
So shine on, my friends. Our brightest days still lie ahead.

xo, Kristin
Latest News From "The Fab Five"

PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY is looking forward to hosting the episode of Friends & Fiction next week (Wed 8/26) where she will be asking our fabulous F&F host authors not only about success, but failure. How do we persevere in these times? On this episode without a guest author, the Fab Five will be able to dig deep on this topic.

KRISTIN HARMEL enjoyed the Friends & Fiction Official Book Club discussion of The Book of Lost Names (which became a #1 bestseller this week in Canada!) on Monday night. Missed it live? No problem! Catch it HERE.

KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY was interviewed for an article on, "So you want to write a novel? 8 bestselling authors tell you how" in which she was able to drop a nice mention of the Fab Five and Friends & Fiction!

In between daily writing sprints, MARY KAY ANDREWS has been hoarding all the best junk at ATL-area estate sales, gardening, and cooking. Check out pics of all this good stuff—plus dogs!—on her Insta!

As you know, MARY ALICE MONROE writes passionately about nature and animals. As sea turtle nesting season is in full swing on her native Isle of Palms, SC, stay tuned to her Instagram feed for lots of great pictures and stories about her beloved coastal wildlife.
News from the F&F Official Book Club
This past Monday night, FRIENDS AND FICTION Official Book Club hosted Kristin Harmel to discuss her new novel, The Book of Lost Names, the book club's August pick. If you missed the discussion live, you can watch it on their Facebook page.

September's book club pick is Mary Alice Monroe's On Ocean Boulevard. The discussion with Mary Alice will take place on Monday, September 14th. Mark your calendars and get the book read so you can join the chat!