Up Close and Personal with Kristy Woodson Harvey
A Turn of the Page Away
I still remember the first time I discovered how connected reading could make me feel with friends who were far away. My first novel, Dear Carolina, had recently released, and I was at a huge author event with many of my favorite writers—including our own Patti Callahan Henry and Mary Alice Monroe. We had the most fun few days together, and I knew, as I hugged them all goodbye (remember hugging?!), and we went our separate ways at the airport (remember airports?!), that I was going to miss them so much.
When I got home that night, I was telling my family about the authors I had met, many of whom I knew I would be friends with forever, and as I snuggled into bed and opened the pages of Paula McLain’s latest book, I realized something that I had never known before: I could hear her. In those sentences, in her characters, she had transformed into another person and yet, somehow, her voice remained on the page. I understood then that I never had to miss my author friends because they were always there in the pages of the stories they created.
Right now, I think we can all agree that story has been a huge comfort, a way to lose ourselves in a world that doesn’t exist, a way to find the connection that is suddenly so lacking in our day-to-day lives. Through characters we’ve come to know as well as our friends, towns and cities that feel as real to us as our own, and perhaps most of all, through the voices of the creators of these worlds, all is well, normal even.
This Thanksgiving was certainly different, and I spent so much time thinking about those who had to be alone for the first time—and those who are used to spending the holidays by themselves. During a season made for family and friends, for gathering and celebrating, the ways in which our world has changed are glaring and harsh.
Now, more than ever, I am so grateful for this community that all of us have created together, for a place where we can gather to discuss books, where Mary Kay, Kristin, Patti, Mary Alice and I can be together with each other and all of you—in a new way, certainly, but together all the same. It comforts me to know that now, because of this community, none of us ever needs to feel alone. Day or night, holiday or regular Tuesday, we have each other to lean on, to learn from and to love. We have friends, new and old, to turn to.
The promise of a vaccine shimmers in the distance, mask-wearing and obsessive handwashing have become second nature, and though a virus rages, we can feel it, the very thing that makes this season so special and sacred: hope. We will get through this. Together.
But, until then, during this time of distance and disconnect, when the loneliness sets in, it’s comforting to know that the voice of a really good friend is never more than a turn of the page away.