On tonight’s episode, Mary Kay, Kristy, Patti, Mary Alice, and I will be talking about one of my favorite topics: the magic of books. So this seemed like the perfect time to share with all of you something pretty magical that happened to me.
You see, back in late March—less than two weeks into the pandemic shutdown—I was reeling. The Winemaker’s Wife had just come out in paperback, and I’d had to abruptly cancel my book tour, which was supposed to have begun on March 16. My 4-year-old was suddenly home from preschool indefinitely, so I had also simultaneously lost my entire work week for the foreseeable future. I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was going to cope. Do you all remember feeling like that back in March and April, when everything was happening so quickly?
I was lost and adrift and sad and worried—just like so many of you were. I had entirely stopped working on my new book, because how was I supposed to squeeze that in? How was I going to do everything and be everything to everyone who needed me, and still stay sane? I was starting to panic.
But then, I got an email from Mary Alice, who was reaching out to some of her author friends—including Patti, Mary Kay, Kristy, and me—who had new or upcoming releases. There were nine other women on that initial email, too—many of whom you’ve met now on Friends & Fiction. Strong women. Authors I admired. Authors who were going through the very same thing I was. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone.
The replies to Mary Alice’s email came in fast and furious. Everyone wanted to support everyone else. We were all eager to put our heads together and to figure out a way through this. It was my first reminder during the pandemic of the magic of books. We were all united by a love of the written word… and we were going to get through this together.
A week or so later, Mary Kay suggested the happy hour Zoom call that would ultimately give birth to Friends & Fiction. On Friday, April 3, the five of us Friends & Fiction authors (plus Kristina McMorris!) sat down for a virtual happy hour with no idea of what would come out of it. We talked about our own releases, yes, but we also talked about our concern for independent booksellers. We talked about our worry for our readers. We talked about how the industry might change.
And we talked about how to use our books—and our platforms—to make a difference. To support independent bookstores. To support our readers who might be feeling as adrift as we were. To create a community for those who loved books.
It was just the barest outline of an idea then. But six months later, here we are. More than nineteen thousand of you have joined our Friends & Fiction group, and we’re growing by the day. We’ve helped support twenty-two different bookstores, stretching coast to coast. We’ve welcomed fifteen bestselling authors—and two rock stars!—to the show and invited them to open up their lives to you. And perhaps most meaningfully, we’ve connected with so many of you—readers who love books, readers who find the magic in words, just like we do.
Without books, we wouldn’t have come together. Without a shared love of reading, none of us would be here. Without that amazing power of the written word, we wouldn’t have found all of you. And we are so grateful. None of the five of us can imagine life now without Friends & Fiction, without this, without you. Your support has meant the world to all of us. We adore you, and we adore this community that you’ve helped to build.
And me? I’m forever changed. Before the pandemic, I only knew Kristy and Mary Alice a bit, and I didn’t know Mary Kay or Patti at all. Now, they’re four of my closest friends. We’ve embarked on this strange, amazing journey together, and in them, I’ve found four sisters and four kindred spirits. We’re all different people with different interests, different lives, and different types of novels. But we’re forever bound together by our love of books, our love of reading, and our love of opening that world to you.
That’s the magic of books. And I’m so happy and grateful that all of us are on this magical journey together with all of you. Thanks for being a part of our world.
(Photo caption: A screenshot from the very first time we all had a happy hour together, on April 3. This is the Zoom that led to the creation of Friends & Fiction!)