Kristy Woodson Harvey, FEELS LIKE FALLING

Kristy Woodson Harvey, FEELS LIKE FALLING

Zibby Owens: The first author that we’re going to talk to is Kristy Woodson Harvey. She’s written many books. Her latest is called Feels Like Falling. She’s going to be our first speaker. Kristy Woodson Harvey is the best-selling author of Dear Carolina, Lies and Other Acts of Love, Slightly South of Simple, The Secret to Southern Charm, and The Southern Side of Paradise. Kristy is the winner of the Lucy Bramlette Patterson Award for Excellence in Creative Writing. She was a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Her work has been optioned for film. She also blogs with her mom, Beth Woodson, on Design Chic, which is her Instagram account, about how creating a beautiful home can be the catalyst for creating a beautiful life. She is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate, which means she did really, really well in school, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That was in the School of Journalism. Then she also has a master’s in English from East Carolina University, with a concentration in multicultural and transnational literature. She’s a member of the Tall Poppy Writers Group, which has a lot of fantastic writers who have been on the podcast. She’s a frequent speaker at all sorts of events. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and her seven-year-old son. Her latest book is Feels Like Falling. That’s what we’re going to talk to Kristy Woodson Harvey about today. Sorry for the long bio, but how impressive is she? Aren’t you glad I read it?

Kristy Woodson Harvey: Hi. Thank you for having me. I have to let y’all know right off the bat, I am sort of on the Camille train. I live in North Carolina, like you just said. We’re having a major thunderstorm. We walked around the house and we’re like, what’s quiet? Hopefully, it won’t be loud. It’s kind of dying down, but if you hear something crazy, that’s probably what it is.

Zibby: It’s also a huge storm where I am, so we’ll see what happens. What is up? It’s bad enough that it’s a Monday morning in quarantine. Now we have to have thunderstorms and the dreariest day possible?

Kristy: The only thing saving us is the good weather. What are we going to do?

Zibby: Oh, my gosh. I don’t know. Better Monday than Sunday. Who knows? Whatever. I guess it’s nice we had a nice day yesterday.

Kristy: Yes, yesterday was gorgeous. This is kind of the payback.

Zibby: I feel like it’s been a hundred years since I met you last summer at Author’s Night for the East Hampton Library. That was so nice. You were so radiant. Oh, my gosh, it was so nice to meet you.

Kristy: That’s nice. It was so fun. I was so excited to meet you. I was fangirling really hard. You probably remember. It was probably embarrassing. I’m sorry. That was such a fun night. I’m going back again. I’m really excited to be there next August. Hopefully, I’ll see you again.

Zibby: I hope that events are still going on in August. Do you think they will?

Kristy: I do too. I usually go on a six-week book tour when I have a new book come out. This year, for some reason, some really smart person said, let’s split it. We’ll do four weeks in April and May and then two weeks in August. I’m hoping that we can at least salvage that August part. If we can’t, we can’t. I love going on book tour. It’s just fun to get to go meet readers and cool people like you.

Zibby: I feel terrible for all you guys who can’t go on your book tours. It’s so sad to get to the finish line of a big project and not be able to celebrate it and make sure it gets into the right hands.

Kristy: It’s going to be so interesting, though, to just do something completely different and do things like this and see what happens. I feel the worst for people who, this is their first book and they’ve been really waiting to do this book tour. I feel terribly for them because that is so exciting. It’s the culmination of all that hard work that you’ve done and all those years. That is really sad for them. Hopefully, they’ll be able to move theirs. I’m just so grateful they’re not moving my book release date. I was afraid that was going to happen, or it was going to have to have happen because we weren’t going to have books. Putting out a book a year, I started thinking about that logistically. I was like, first of all, this is not really a book that you want to come out in November. That’s not an ideal time for the beach cover. I started thinking, I was like, oh, my gosh, if it comes out in November, we’re already going to be starting promotion for Under the Southern Sky, which is my 2021 book. People are going to be like, enough, we’ve had enough of you.

Zibby: That’s a pretty great problem to have, is that you’re creating so much good content that you can’t even figure out how and when to promote it all.

Kristy: It’s good. It’s great.

Zibby: Is that your schedule? One book a year every summer?

Kristy: I’m not saying I’m married to that for the rest of my life or anything, but it’s worked for me really well. We’re in the groove. That’s how it’s going. I kind of have my bearings with that situation a little bit. Actually, oh, my gosh, I’m super grateful that I had a book to be working on because my edits were due two or three days ago on Under the Southern Sky, and so it just gave me something. I was like, it’s normal. I’m working. I have to focus on the book. I can’t think about all the craziness going on. Focus. Of course, you’re thinking about it and feeling terribly about it. It gave me an outlet so I wasn’t sitting there watching the news twelve hours a day and all the terrible things going on. I was in my little writing cave for at least a few hours a day focusing.

Zibby: What are you going to do now that you’ve been freed from the cave?

Kristy: The new book comes out April 28th. We are scrambling to get this virtual tour put together because it takes like nine months to put these tours together. Then to turn around and put together some semblance of a virtual tour, we will be working nonstop on that. We didn’t want to do it too early because, like I said, we didn’t know if we were going to have books. I have heard now that the books have shipped to the distributors. At the very least — I know you feel this way and so I do, I’m a huge proponent of independent bookstores. I love them. They are so amazing. I hope that this is a time when people will choose to support them. We’re bored. We’re at home. Go buy a book. Pick it up at the curbside. Have them deliver it to your house. They’re getting really creative. It’s impressive.

Zibby: It’s true. I went on this walk yesterday, which is the first time I’ve walked into the town nearby. It was out of desperation. There was one little store that I never really go into. There was a sign on the door. It says, “If you really need a cozy sweater, call this number and we’ll drop one off for you.” I was like, I could use another cozy sweater. I’ve worn this one like a hundred times. I think I might have to call. I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll see what turns up. Anyway, back to you and your book and all of this greatness. Can you hold it up again? Can you explain the plot and what it’s about? The plot is so great for this book. It was so good.

Kristy: Thank you. Feels Like Falling is a book about Gray and Diana who are two women from very different worlds who come together to form this odd couple friendship. They meet on a day when they’re both having a really, really bad day. You know those days where it’s just like nothing’s going right? Gray is at a point in her life where she could really use some good karma. Diana’s at a point in her life where she could really use some good luck. Instead, Gray inadvertently gets Diana fired from her job. It thrusts these two women together that, on the surface, seem to have nothing in common. Sorry, that was a thunderstorm shutter-blow. In reality, they have so much in common. They’ve both lost their mothers, albeit in very different ways. They’re both dealing with the loss of a partner. Although, again, in different ways. They’re both at a crossroads in their career, which is a major situation in both of their lives. Neither of them know it, but they’re both about to embark on a really great love story too. That’s always one of my favorite parts.

There are a lot of issues that come up in the book. There are a lot of things that these women are dealing with that real women are dealing with. I think it’s my funniest book, I hope. I tried to make it. When I was really going through the process of writing this, we were out of our house from Hurricane Florence. I was like, I just need some comic relief in my life. I sort of feel like it was this omen of, we’re also going to really be needing some comic relief in our life when this book comes out. I’m happy for that because I do think it’s a funny book. I think people can really escape into this book. It’s set in the fictional town of Cape Carolina, which is based on Morehead City which is near where I live. You get to see that it’s one of those fun, beachy locales. These women are just great. They sort of wormed their way into my heart. I hope that they will for readers too.

Zibby: Aw, that’s so great. You wrote it during a hurricane. Now it’s coming out during a pandemic. What are the odds?

Kristy: Am I bad luck? What’s going on? I know. It’s so strange. Actually, the really funny thing about this book that makes it sort of unusual and different from my other books is that I wrote it in 2016, and it’s actually coming out now. I wrote this book. I got contracted for the Peachtree Bluff series. I wrote all three of those books. They came out. Then I spent eight or nine months completely tearing Feels like Falling apart and putting it back together. It was such a cool exercise because I had changed so much in four years. The world had changed so much in four years. The way that I felt about these women and what they would be doing and how they would be handling these situations in their lives completely changed. That was so interesting for me. I try not to go back and read my earlier books just because it kind of makes you cringe a little, I feel like, because you hope that you’ve grown from book to book. You’re like, oh, why did I say that? Why did that character say that? Why did they do that? It was this great opportunity to get to go back and totally rewrite this book for where we are today. I think it’s good timing. I really do. I feel like it all worked out the way it was supposed to. I’m glad this book is coming out now and that it didn’t come out in 2016 when I wrote it.

Zibby: Wow. What about your next book, the one you were just talking about having finished?

Kristy: Under the Southern Sky comes out 2021. We don’t have a pub date yet. I think April-ish. I’m really excited about this book. It’s actually a book that I’ve been thinking about for five or six years. I haven’t really talked about it much. I don’t even really know how to tell you about it. Essentially, the protagonist of this story is a man. This is my first male protagonist. I have four female protagonists also. Parker is kind of the center of this book. His wife has passed away three years earlier. When the book is opening, a childhood friend of his who is also a protagonist of this book, has accidentally discovered that these embryos that he’s frozen with his dead wife are about to be destroyed because they haven’t been able to get in touch with them. It sort of bursts this story wide open about, what do you do? You have this piece of this person who’s gone. What’s the next right step? There are, of course, a lot of other storylines going on. That’s the main one.

Zibby: Ooh, wow. That sounds really good. Is it hard for you to come up with ideas? Do you just have a ton? Do you keep a notebook? What’s your process like?

Kristy: I have a ton. I keep separate Word documents on my computer. Just whenever I have something kind of interesting that comes up, I’ll pop it in a Word document. Usually, I don’t know where a story’s going to go. Even with this one, a friend came to me and said, “I have these embryos. What am I supposed to do with them now?” I just jotted that down, but I didn’t know what this story was until I actually sat down and started writing and thought, who are these characters? What are they like? What’s happening to them? Even in Feels like Falling, I remember finishing this story. My husband was at a work conference. I had gone with him so I could just finish this book and be done. I met him downstairs for dinner. I was like, “That ended the exact opposite way that I thought it was going to.” He was like, “You’re the one writing it. What do you mean?” It is just so cool how the characters, they just take over the story. They really come to life. I’m a person, I like to read character-driven stories. I like to write character-driven stories. I do think that’s a big part of that. The plot is important, but it’s not usually what’s on the forefront of my mind. Then narrowing it down and trying to figure out, what is capturing me next, what is it that won’t let me go, that won’t let me sleep at night because I’m so excited about writing it? that’s usually where I go next. A lot of times, I end up sticking a couple stories together at some point. One idea isn’t the best one, so it kind of combines with another one. Then it’s the right thing. It’s a really interesting process.

Zibby: Having written all of these books, do you have any advice for aspiring authors? I feel like you’ve turned this into a system and you have it down.

Kristy: What I tell new authors or aspiring authors, it’s a business. You have to treat it as such. I feel like the creative part of it is what lights us up and keeps us coming back to it, but the business part of it is what allows us to actually be able to do this as a career. I am very systematic about writing my two thousand words a day. It’s the first thing that happens because if I don’t have a new book to put out, I don’t have a job anymore. That’s the most important thing for me. I’m not saying that everyone has to do that. It’s whatever schedule works for you, but I think treating it like something real that is really going to happen. You are the queen of talking about this, but finding the time is so difficult. People tell me all the time, I don’t have time. I don’t have time. I don’t have time. I’m like, I get it. I wrote Dear Carolina, I had a two-week-old baby when I got the idea for that book. I would sit in my closet at night while I was breastfeeding and jot down Dear Carolina. That’s how Dear Carolina came to life. There was no, I went on this six-week retreat to Italy and wrote this beautiful — no. Oh, my gosh, no. Books are being written in the midst of dirty diapers and homeschooling now. It’s just like everything else. You’ve just got to get it done.

Zibby: You got it. Kristy, thank you so much for coming on. It was so nice to finally get to chat with you. I hope the storm there passes. Thanks for giving us great things to look forward to reading.

Kristy: Aw, thank you. Thank you so much for having me. This was so fun.

Zibby: It was great chatting.