Zibby welcomes back #1 New York Times bestselling author Carley Fortune, this time to discuss her dreamy, entirely fresh, deeply layered, and beautifully written new romance, THIS SUMMER WILL BE DIFFERENT. Carley delves into the plot of her novel, which centers on Lucy, a Toronto native who embarks on annual trips to Prince Edward Island with her best friend, Bridget, and repeatedly finds herself entangled with Bridget’s younger brother, Felix. She also discusses her creative process (including building romantic tension, vivid settings, and complex characters), the difficulties of writing amidst family health issues and parenthood, and her ideas for future projects!


Zibby: Welcome, Carly. Thanks for coming back on Moms Don't Have Time to Read Books to discuss this summer will be different, a novel.


Carly: Thank you and thank you for having me. 

Zibby: Of course. Of course. Okay. Tell listeners what your latest book is about, please. 

Carly: Sure. Yeah. So it is about, uh, Lucy who is from Toronto and she travels to Prince Edward Island on vacation, uh, for the first time where she meets a very charming oyster shucker.

Felix. And they spend quite a memorable night together, only to learn that he is her best friend's younger brother. And every time Lucy travels back to Prince Edward Island, which is where her best friend is from, they go together on their girls trips. Every year they go. She and Felix just can't stop.

stop getting together. They try not to, and they just are drawn together time and time again. And the book, it begins with Bridget, uh, Lucy's best friend, fleeing Toronto in the days before her wedding. And she kind of leaves mysteriously and calls Lucy up and says, I need you out here. Like, and so Lucy being the best friend that she is, goes out to figure out what's wrong with Bridget.

determined not to fall back in bed with Felix, only to find out that, like, things feel very different between them and her best friend is being very strange, and Lucy's kind of trying to figure out what is going on. 

Zibby: I love how you said that. that the relationship between Lucy and Bridget is one where usually Lucy's the one falling down and Bridget's there to pick her up.

And she's like, wait, now the tables have turned. Like, what's gonna happen? Like, she's never heard her this way. And you know, okay, she's ready. She's there for it. 

Carly: Yes. Yeah. Bridget is the steady in the relationship. And so like, this is Lucy's opportunity to help her friend out for once. 

Zibby: Oh my gosh. And by the way, thank you so much for All the flight details.

Like, I feel like I just flew in to Prince Edward Island, where I have never been, and everything, you know, I'm just, from the flight to the arrival, to, like, all the scene specific things, I'm like, this is great. I've just taken a vacation. That I've never gone on. 

Carly: I'm so happy to hear that. That is, was my intention for sure.

I really wanted readers to feel like they were traveling to Prince Edward Island, which is a place I love very, very much. I wanted you to be able to like, feel the wind on your face and like, taste the oysters and just like, feel like you've had a vacation there. 

Zibby: Yeah. Well, thank you for that. That was the quickest trip I've taken lately.

So You do such a good job of jumping through time, like eight days before Bridget's wedding, and now here we are, like three years ago at Thanksgiving, and now here we are. So you constantly have us learning about their lives in different moments and different scenes and piecing it all together. Talk about, that's complicated to pull off.

Talk about that. Did you start it chronologically and then like cut it up and move it around? How did that happen? 

Carly: Yeah. Yeah. There was a lot of cutting up and moving around and initially the idea had been to have the moments from past vacations be kind of shorter snippets.

But as I was digging into their past, it, there was just more to like bring to the surface and also I just had so much fun with those like past trips. So they're, you know, not a, most of it takes, place in the present, but there's more of the past there. It was, it was a challenge. I did restructure the book, I think around the third draft, kind of, I, I really wanted to, I was inspired and this sounds strange because my book is like neither of these things, but I was really inspired by the book, Carisato is back and by the bear, the TV show, which I was watching the first season when I started writing the book.

And both of those. That book, that show immerse you in the action right away. Yep. And I loved that. And I was like, I'm going to start this book. with Lucy and Felix in their fight. 

And like in the present day, this is their dark moment. I'm going to totally like append what a romance structure is. And it just didn't work.

So I did and also I'm trying to figure out exactly what Lucy and Felix's journey was romantically, like what the push and pull was, how their relationship changed and evolved over time. It took quite a while to get right. 

Zibby: Well, the bear though, I mean, you're In it, I mean, I, because I only actually watched, I have to admit, the first episode, because I was like, this is a lot.

I, I don't, I don't, I can't, I can't do the intensity of this at this exact, but it's, you don't learn for a while, but it's not like, you're in the kitchen, but it's not, like, at the most intense moment in his life, necessarily, right? 

Carly: No, no, no. But you're like, what is going on? Like, this is so, like, this stuff is happening, and I don't know what it is, and, but I'm, I'm here for it, and that's, I tried to, I tried to do that.

I did not achieve. I did not achieve it. 

Zibby: That's not true. No, but, but you're, you, it's in a moment, right? You're in a, like, you're going around. 

Carly: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, no, I think I love how it, how it, begins now. Like, I think it works so, so much better. You, I mean, you start off with, like, Lucy's big mistake of sleeping with her best friend's brother.

It was accidental and you're just, like, pulled into Bridget's drama in the present day right away. So I think it, I think it works out nicely. 

Zibby: I think this is becoming, you know, Like a thing. The, the brother. I, you know, the, like what happens with the brother, like I know in Summer Romance by Annabelle Moynihan.

Have you read that yet? It's coming. I have. Yeah. And even in Catherine Newman's book, that was different and nothing actually. Did it have, I can't remember if it happened or not. Oh my gosh, blanking on the name. The one about grief. But anyway, like, people being attracted to their friend's siblings is, like, such a thing that I'm glad it's, you know, getting its moment in rom com land, if you will.

Carly: Yeah, me too. It's very, it's very fun to, it's a bit of that, like, forbidden romance thing. And especially, like, Bridget has explicitly told Lucy not to fall in love with her brother and we learn in the book why that is and why that doesn't seem like such an absurd thing to say. So Lucy's really screwed up.

Zibby: I mean, it happens. What are you going to do? 

Carly: It happens. It happens. It did not happen to me. My best friend, when I told her about this idea, she just, like, laughed uncontrollably because she has a younger brother. His name is Kyle. She's like, Kyle, you and Kyle. And I think Kyle has got kind of a kick out of it, too.

He hasn't read the book yet, obviously, but it's been funny. 

Zibby: I know. 

I don't even think any of my good friends have brothers, honestly, actually, now that I think about it. So many of them have sisters. That's wild. I know. That's wild. A bunch of them. Well, actually, that's not true, my friend Annie. Well, okay, it doesn't matter.

Anyway, yes, it's a whole, it's a whole thing. But there is that obstacle, right? Like, what do you do? And it can feel like, well, maybe that's the only person out there. Like, how could I give this up? 

Carly: Yeah. 

Zibby: Anyway. 

Carly: What do you do? What do you do? Read The Summer Will Be Different to find out.

Zibby: Exactly. 

How was the process of writing this versus the other books?

Carly: Well, every summer after was a dream to write. I wrote it very quickly. took two weeks. It was just a kind of magic that will never be repeated. The summer will, or Meet Me at the Lake was very hard to write. The first draft, I think we spoke about this, was tremendously difficult. I went through all that imposter syndrome.

And the summer will be different. I really, um, I set out with the intention of having fun and I wanted it to be a fun experience for myself. I wanted it to be a fun experience for the reader and I think I manifested that. I think I really, because it was such a wonderful experience for me and We were going through some tough stuff in our, in our home life.

It was a pretty difficult year personally, but the working on the book was such a wonderful escape for me. And we, like, I, I did a lot of drafts too, but it just felt frictionless in a lot of ways. You know, it was, it was still hard work, but it was, it was a much more joyful process than my last book. Can you talk about what was going on with your family?

My mother in law was diagnosed with cancer and she went under chemotherapy and she was in the hospital for a while and I had started out the year with a, getting in a car accident, I was hit by a truck, a very large truck, no mistake of my own, which was very scary. My, when we found out about my mother in law's cancer and she had been, she would, she had been unwell and really trying to figure out what was wrong and nobody was listening to her.

So that was stressful. And then the day after we found out my, my husband got hit by a car and my kids were sick constantly, just constantly sick after, I think, you know, going back into school and daycare after the pandemic. Their immune system, I, like, they, we had three weeks of good health. Between September and April, literally.

Otherwise, I was sick or one of the boys was sick. And my husband is a teacher, so he's out of the house. So I'm the one who, you know, is, is taking care of them while they're sick. So trying to work while they're sick. And I've never vomited so much in my adult life as I did while writing this book. It was, we had the stomach bug.

Three times within two months. It was my editor and my editor who has young children too. They were also getting sick constantly and we're like, we basically like had this bingo card of like, what are all the things that we can get this this year? But I think I won out. Like I ended up being in um, In a, in an ambulance.

Like I had my own health stuff. Like it was just, Zibby, it was wild. 

Zibby: Oh my god. I'm so sorry. 

Carly: Yeah. Yeah, but it's, we're all, we're all fine. We're all fine. Everything is fine. But it was a lot. It was a lot. And so it was really, nice to have this book to work on. 

Zibby: Wow. You wouldn't 

know, you wouldn't know from the tone of the book that behind the writer is going through a lot of bad stuff.

Do you know what I mean? 

Carly: Yeah. I think what I put into it though was my best friend, Meredith, doesn't live in Toronto. She lives in another city and my mom's not in Toronto either. And I just, I really missed my best friend last year. Like, I really missed having my best friend and my mom close to me. And I remember going to Meredith's birthday.

We went to her birthday and driving back from her house and I was just sobbing. Like, I just really missed my best friend and I think that, really came into the story because it really is a story about friendship. 

Zibby: Oh, were there any residual effects from your car accidents? Like, did you have physical therapy and all that or anything?

Carly: No, we are so lucky. 

Zibby: Okay. 

Carly: Yeah. 

Zibby: And how's your mother in law? 

Carly: She's doing pretty well. She's doing pretty well. Yeah. Yeah. 

Zibby: Okay. Well, I'm glad you had an outlet. 

Carly: Yeah, me too. 

Zibby: And I'm glad it's an outlet, that it has now benefited, like, the rest of us who get to read it. All the people who were gonna, like, get the joy, you know, the joy to distract you will now distract so many other people.

Carly: I mean, it's so, I think this is what a really good romance can do for someone is, and certainly when I started reading romance, I just needed something to escape into. Yeah. And I love being taken on an emotional journey. I love being transported somewhere beautiful. And I love that even though the characters may experience difficult things, that at the end, you're left feeling like a little bit better about people and our capacity to love.

And, and I think romance is really special for that reason.

Zibby: I feel like you need to start doing some retreats. Maybe we should team up for a retreat or something to some of these places. I want to go to the lake. I want, you know, like all of your, all of your places. The restaurant from the last book. I don't know.

Like, they're so vivid in my, in my head head after you write about them that it's like hard not to want to go. 

Carly: Well, I'm going out to Prince Edward Island on my, on my book tour. It's part of, I have a couple stops there on my book tour. So yeah. Come. 

Zibby: Yeah. I've never been. I would love to go. 

Carly: It's beautiful.

Zibby: That sounds awesome. Are you working on a new book now? I hate to even ask.

Carly: I am. Yeah. I'm, um, working on my second draft. I'm almost done with my second draft. Of my next book. Yeah. 

Zibby: That's great. That's great. 

Carly: It is great. I'm really excited about it. 

Zibby: Can you say anything about it or not? 

Carly: You know, not, not much.

All I can say is that it is a romance. I think people are going to be. I'm very excited about it and it will come out in 2025. So are you on this one a year now path forever? Is this your plan? I don't know about forever, but it's like my plan for now. 

Zibby: Yeah. Okay. 

Carly: Yeah. Well, it feels, it feels like good now.

I'm trying to figure out, this was the first, this publication cycle has felt so much more condensed now. then before it really has come, you know, I'm about to go on the books about to come out when we're speaking, it's about three weeks from now and I'll be going on tour and it feels like I just did this.

Like it just, if you, and, and, and there's so much going on and it's all wonderful things, but I'm trying to figure out how to kind of focus on the stuff that I really fills me up the most while getting everything else done and I don't have that figured out yet.

Zibby: I know. I was like, what is the secret to that?

Carly: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, partly, partly it was with this book I'm working on now. I took time and my editor took time to kind of step back and think about the process of the drafts and the, and editing and whether we could try to make that smoother, do fewer drafts, and I created kind of a new first draft process for myself that had time built in to just like finish, like press right the end and then sit for a while, like put it aside for a while and then come back to it, which is not something I would typically do.

Like I am such a doer. It's like I get to the end, then I, then I go back to the beginning and I read it again. Like, I just. Like that I start revising. And so we just, you know, we, I did more thinking at the beginning without writing, which is also difficult for me because I'm impatient. And then I, and then I took that pause.

And I think that has really benefited it. Like, I think my first draft was in much stronger shape because of that. So that's one of, that's one of the things, like trying to figure out the writing process that, So that it's, you know, sometimes books treat you meanly and you can't do anything about that, but doing the best I can and then, yeah, the other stuff, I don't know.

Zibby: So, do you, do you have trouble at all like when you sit down to write if you do give yourself a certain time limit? Like how are you getting this done? 

Carly: I write when I'm drafting when I write I it's like a it's like my day job. I sit down and what's wonderful is that when I'm drafting it's in the fall and winter so I'm not doing.

I need like publicity, it's this quiet time and I really just like sit at my desk in the morning after the kids leave and I write all day. And then I see the kids coming home up the driveway and I like quickly finish what I'm working on and shut the laptop and then I go back to my desk the next day.

And it just comes out. You're never just like, I don't know where I'm taking this. I haven't experienced writer's block yet. That's not something I've experienced. I always, I have a, I always know where, it's always going to have a happy ending. So I always know that we're going to get there. And I have in my mind a lot of the time, especially with the book I'm working on now, like what the tension is going to be between the characters, like what is, um, and what, why we're turning the page, what it is we're trying to figure out.

And yeah, but I, I, I always just, I like getting in there and having that sense of discovery where it's like, I didn't know that this was going to happen. And like, for example, in The Summer Will Be Different, when we find out the reason why Bridget's been secretive and what's going on with her, I actually didn't really know until I got there.

And when I figured it out, I was like, of course this is it. This is has to be it. And that is so enjoyable for me. Like I like kind of, it's kind of like being a reader. It's like, well, what's going to happen? And sometimes it works. And sometimes you do a drafts. 

Zibby: Oh my gosh. Are there books you've been reading lately that you're loving or anything like that?

Carly: I have, I have been not being able to read that much. Lately, because things have been so wild, but I read, there's a book that came out recently called How to End a Love Story by Euline Kwong. And I, I read an early copy of that book last summer. It is wonderful. It is a wonderful romance. This is her, her debut novel.

And we're going to do an event together when I'm in Los Angeles. She is deeply funny. She is so funny, but it is a book about grief and family. It's set in a like Hollywood writer's room. So it's also got this, and she herself is a filmmaker and a screenwriter. And so it's got all that kind of juice in it.

And it really is an emotional rollercoaster, which I love. So I, if you like romance, I would, I would pick that one up. It's just out last week, I believe. You have to go to Zivi's bookshop. Are you, do you have plans to go? Yeah. I don't know. We're, we're have some scheduling stuff happening, I think, on the west coast, but I would love to.

I think my team and your team is talking. 

Zibby: Okay. 

Carly: Yeah, I want to. I

Zibby: would love for you to do that. And yeah, I know we had to reschedule our event in Toronto and I was so sad about that, but maybe we can meet up in LA or somewhere else. 

Carly: Oh yes. Yes. I would love that. 

Zibby: Do you have advice for aspiring authors? I know I ask you this all the time, but...

Carly: You know, I, I think my advice used to be, I always wanted to write a book and I never thought I would do it.

And I just. You just have to do it in order to write the book, but I think the other piece of advice that is important that I've started giving is that you need to protect your mental health as a writer because it's, and it just as a, I mean, for everyone, everyone needs to protect their mental health.

But when you're, when you're working. Creatively. And when you're producing work that an audience reads and consumes and has their own relationship and opinions to, and you have your own relationship to the work, and sometimes it's hard and sometimes it's not. You need to protect your mental health. You need to give yourself, set yourself up in the best way possible to grapple with your work.

And also it's, it's a hard industry. Publishing is a hard industry. And I think sometimes people think, you know, if I get the agent and if I get the book deal, it's going to be Amazing. And it, that is amazing, but it's still hard. And there's always disappointments. And, and I think whatever you could, like getting, getting sleep, getting exercise for me, like, I have a therapist.

I take anxiety medication. It's so important. It's so important. 

Zibby: Wow. Thank you for opening up in that way. And it's really good advice. I feel like people would think like, you would have no issues. Like, here you are, your books sell like a bazillion copies, and like, you're just hitting your stride and I think it would come as a huge shock that there could be any downfalls. I mean, obviously things happen in life, but that you would find any part of this process difficult, I feel like is a shock, would be a shock. 

Carly: Oh, no, there's, there's a lot that's hard. There's a lot that's hard. And I, I'm not going to complain about it, but nobody has it easy. You know, like nobody in this world has it easy.

I don't think we are all going through our own stuff and it looks different for everyone, but we are all going through stuff. And I think the more. We can empathize with people and just, like, understand that, like, everybody, it might look great, but everybody's going through something, the better off we'll be.

Zibby: You're absolutely right. Amazing. Carly, thank you. Thank you for being so open. Thank you for your latest fabulous escapist read. That whisked me away. So thank you and yeah, I hope that next year the kids are less sick and that no big things, you know, throw you off course. 

Carly: Knock on wood indeed. 

Thank you for having me.

I love talking to you. 

Zibby: You too. All right. Thanks, Carly. 

Carly: Bye. 

Zibby: Bye. 


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