Rhonda Moll: I think we’re going to get started then. Thank you all so much for joining us tonight. My name’s Rhonda Moll. I’m a member of the board of the Friends of the North Castle Public Library which is sponsoring this event. Before we get started there are a few housekeeping items to tell you about. First, together with my tech consultant, my daughter here, Nina, she’s on the floor right next to me, we’ll be muting, making sure your microphones are muted and that your cameras are off. We just find that doing so creates a better connection for everyone. Second, if you have questions and you’ve already started using the chat box, if you have any questions that you want to ask our esteemed guest, please type them into the chat box which is located either at the bottom or the top of your screen depending upon what device you’re using tonight. Now that that’s done, we’re honored to be presenting Sue Monk Kidd, the award-winning and international best-selling author and the writer of the captivating book that we’re going to be talking about tonight which is called The Book of Longings which one my friends who’s listening right now described as a fascinating fictional account. I found it to be the same. She’s also written other critically acclaimed novels including the genuine literary phenomenon The Secret Life of Bees and the widely acclaimed The Invention of Wings. This event which is the third in our 2020 speaker series is presented by the Friends of the North Castle Public Library which among other things organizes and runs the wonderful annual Armonk Outdoor Art Show. Armonk is a tiny little town in Westchester, New York. Our art show is rated number two in the United States. That’s pretty amazing. Proceeds from the art show fund free programs and other things for adults and children at the library here in Armonk and in North White Plains. This year because of COVID-19 we’re not going to be having the annual art show, but we hope to see you next year. It’s going to be September 25th and 26th. In the meantime, you can explore and purchase the amazing art of our juried artists by clicking on

We’re also thrilled to have with us tonight, Zibby Owens. She’ll tell you more about Sue Monk Kidd and her illustrious career and moderate the discussion with Sue. Zibby is a CEO and author, a literary influencer, a podcast host, and a media personality. Zibby’s also a mother of four. She’s the creator and host of the award-winning podcast “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.” Zibby has run a literary salon. She’s hosted her own book fairs. She’s contributed to various national magazines and most recently has hosted a daily Instagram Live author talk show. She’s launched an online magazine with original author-written essays. That’s called We Found Time. She started Zibby’s Virtual Book Club. As mentioned above, after the conversation between Sue and Zibby, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions during the Q&A period. You can do that by typing into the chat any questions you’d be interested in having Sue Monk Kidd answer. Welcome, Sue and Zibby.

Sue Monk Kidd: Thank you.

Zibby Owens: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me. Thanks to Janet Bolen for recommending me. I’m thrilled to be interviewing Sue Monk Kidd. I felt like that was a pretty thorough bio that Rhonda already gave. The author of eight books now, and The Book of Longings, of course, is the most recent. It’s eight, right? Did I get that right? I was printing out all the covers earlier. Welcome, Sue. Thanks for coming.

Sue: I’m really honored that you’re interviewing me. That’s a thrill.

Zibby: Thanks. I’m very excited because people here in the chat are crazy typing comments, which I love. It means everybody’s very engaged. I’ll keep reading from there as we go on. Let’s start at the beginning with this book. Maybe quickly tell people in case there’s anyone here who doesn’t know what your book is about, could you please explain what the book is about? Then, what inspired you to write it?

Sue: This is a book about Ana. I like to make the point that it’s not a book about Jesus. It’s a book about Ana who happens to marry Jesus. I think a lot of people expected that it would be the life of Jesus through the eyes of Ana, and it’s not that either. It’s about her quest, I guess you’d say, her quest to have a voice in the world. She’s very ambitious. She wants to realize all of the largeness in her. She wants to be a scribe. She’s a feminist when there wasn’t such a thing as that word. She’s a writer. She wants to express herself and fulfill her creative life. What we see is her going through many years of seeking that longing and also her relationship with Jesus which is very significant to her. They have a great love, really.

Zibby: How did you come up with this? As I was reading it, I was like, this didn’t really happen, right? Is this an undiscovered story that nobody knows about that Sue Monk Kidd somehow found? How did you come up with this?

Sue: I dug up a jar in Egypt and I found this. That’s how it happened. No, let’s see. Really Zibby, about fifteen years ago or so, this idea occurred to me. It just lit in my head one day out of absolutely nowhere. When you’re in the shower, you get the best thoughts. It was in the shower. I never really seriously played with that idea the way I would do later. I just noted it. I thought, maybe one day. The idea kind of went in a waiting room and waited all this time. Then in 2014 I was reading about the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, which is a manuscript fragment that a Harvard professor introduced to the world. Jesus refers to his wife in it. It turned out this is a masterful fraud. I found that completely irrelevant because the minute I read about it, I was so electrified by this idea. It was like, oh, yeah. This time, I decided I’d take it on. Earlier, I don’t think I was ready. I don’t think I had the courage. I don’t think anyone was ready to read it. It just seized my imagination. I think what creativity is really about is the imagery that wells up from god knows where inside of us, the soul, the unconscious. We play with those images. Creativity’s essentially play. I played with that idea a while and thought, yep, I’m meant to do this.

Zibby: Wow. It’s amazing to have that conviction and to have the idea stay with you for so long and then be able to see it all the way into everybody’s hands. It’s amazing. I was really taken by how many ways you expressed ideas about a woman’s voice and how the voice can get out. It starts with the incantation bowl that you have Ana write her prayer into. I’ll just read this little prayer for everyone. “Lord our God, hear my prayer, the prayer of my heart. Bless the largeness inside me no matter how I fear it. Bless my reed pens and my inks. Bless the words I write. May they be beautiful in your sight. May they be visible to eyes not yet born. When I am dust, sing these words over my bones. She was a voice.” So beautiful. That is sort of what propels and you see the inside of Ana’s longings through this bowl. When did you decide or how did you think about the theme of voice and all the different ways that it can play out in the book?

Sue: It’s a thing that’s incredibly near and dear to me all the time. I write about this a lot. Ever since I wrote The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, I have been really concerned with particularly women having places to express their voice or, as we say, find your voice or use your voice. I’m talking about an authentic voice, one that is really true for that individual. It kind of is innate, I guess. It just matters to me deeply having grown up in a little town in South Georgia, rural area, three thousand people in the little town where I grew up in the sixties. I was coming of age in the fifties and sixties pre-feminist world. I witnessed a lot of things. This is true of race too, but that’s another story, which I why I wrote other books I wrote. I think we gravitate to things because they matter to us. I guess it comes out of that longing of my own longing to say something about voice. That incantation bowl was just a god’s gift or something. It was just a treasure because I stumbled upon it while rummaging around on the internet. I had gotten lost. I couldn’t even remember what I had googled at that point. There they were suddenly. I thought, here is a concrete physical object that can hold her longing. I always like to have that, some sort of iconic something that is not just abstract, oh, my voice, but a thing that she could carry through the whole novel. That was why the incantation bowl.

Zibby: Interesting. How much research did you do? How true to life? Obviously, it’s impossible to prove, I guess, but how much did you dig up, essentially, that you put in here that was actually factual? It sounded like it was all factual, the writing tools and the scrolled papyri and all of the little details that you put in. Tell me about finding all of that information.

Sue: I guarantee you that’s all factual because I spent fourteen months researching this novel before I started writing. I wanted so desperately to get it all right and to layer it full of rich authentic details. I started by reading, of course. I collected a lot of books and just read constantly all day long for days and months. I watched documentaries. I listened to The Great Courses on all kinds of topics where you have lecturers from universities giving lectures. I traveled some to museums. There’s a museum in Ireland which of course I’m now forgetting the name of, but I walked through there. There were all of these ivory sheets that had been beaten down that were at the same time of the first century. I could see all of these different ways, things you write on, palm leaves. I just walked around with a notebook for about a year and a half and recorded everything I could and learned everything I could and kept notebooks full of notes. I actually think I over researched.

Zibby: I don’t know. I feel like your book was not only a story and a love story and almost like a coming of age, but it was also a history book. I was just telling this to my husband. I was like, “I feel like now I understand, I have a visual for that entire period of time. I can imagine walking down these paths and what the rooms would look like.” Every little thing, you literally created a perfect replica of a world that now is in my imagination and everybody else’s. It’s really so impressive. I know that other novels do that, but the authenticity factor is just sky high, I have to say.

Sue: I do know that if there is a tree or a food in that book, it was real. I would have to stop writing a lot and look up something if I wanted to be sure that it was current at the time. It was quite something. I sort of enjoyed the research and got a little carried away with it.

Zibby: Did it come from your research, the moment when Ana, and I won’t anything away, but was going through something very emotional for her and she just needed to write about? Anybody who’s listening can probably identify with that feeling when you just have to write. She ends up breaking a pot. Actually, it was her aunt who broke the pot on her behalf. She ended up writing all over the shards of pot pieces. Did people really do that? Should I go try it? What do you think? Have you tried it?

Sue: No, but I would like to. Sometimes I have tried things. I haven’t tried that one. I remember when I wrote The Secret Life of Bees, I knelt on grits, which is something my character did. That was really painful. They did actually do that because it was an inexpensive way — paper was rare and precious. People could write on broken pottery.

Zibby: The idea that Ana was going to get in trouble for stealing a piece of ivory on which they used to write, the thought that a piece of paper which seems so expendable these days — obviously, there’s awareness of the trees and we’re not being unkind to the environment, but just the prevalence of paper versus what they had to go through and all the hurdles to writing. I know you referenced your childhood a little. Do you feel like you had any stumbling blocks in pursuing your career as an author? There seemed like there were so many hurdles for Ana to jump over. I’m sure they weren’t that extreme, but there must be something that you can relate to in that from your own life.

Sue: Of course. Ana is, I admit, similar to me in many ways. She’s probably the character I drew on myself more than any other character I’ve written. Probably, the biggest hurdle for me growing up was a failure of courage to really pursue what I wanted to do, which was to write. I think I was born to write. I feel that strongly. I don’t know if there’s something innate in us. All I know is that when I was very young, I started telling people I wanted to be a writer. It was like this little flame, a little light inside that I had. Then of course, I lost it. I can’t not say that it wasn’t something about the cultural milieu I was in too. My guidance counselor in high school actually said to me, “You really ought to consider doing something practical.” This is what we heard in the sixties. “What if something happened to your husband? You’d need something to fall back on.” This is the kind of nonsense that we were plied with. I was seventeen, eighteen. I decided I would do something practical. I studied nursing. I got a BS degree in nursing. I worked as a nurse until I was thirty years old. That’s when I just said, I can’t do this anymore. I’m just homesick for myself. I’m homesick for my little light, so I started writing.

Zibby: That’s so beautiful, being homesick for yourself. That’s a great way to say that. That’s amazing. Then how did you do it? How did you switch gears? Did you just walk in and one day and say, I quit? Then you sat down and started writing? It couldn’t have been that easy. How did you do it? How did you go from there to a thirty-year career of writing and so many successful books at that?

Sue: It wasn’t an overnight thing. I loved when people said The Secret Life of Bees was an overnight success because I had been writing for so long. The Secret Life of Bees, my first novel, was published when I was fifty-three. I started writing at thirty. The way it began was I seized my intention again. I made an announcement to my toddlers who were eating breakfast, and my husband. They all looked at me like, okay, mom. I took a writing course at the local college. I didn’t know what I was doing, really. I didn’t know much about writing. I just knew that I had this impulse of the heart to do it, a passion to do it. The way I think I developed writing was I learned everything I could about the craft. I went to writer’s conferences. I read books about writing. Then I read good fiction that intimidated the heck out of me. And just writing and writing and writing and trying to find my voice. I freelanced. I wrote nonfiction. I wrote essays. I did that for a while. Then I began publishing some nonfiction memoir-type books. I didn’t start fiction until I was in my forties.

Zibby: Wow. I feel like it’s such a gift. I think that’s what draws me to talking to authors all the time. How do you create these worlds even on a world that’s actually our world and just in another time and make it so intricate and so many facets? All your characters felt so real to me like they could just walk in the door, essentially. How do you do such a great job with character development, as one of many things that you did well? How do you make them so real?

Sue: They’re very real to me. Because maybe they’re very real to me, I can transmit some of that, I hope. I write in first person. I always tell myself one day I’m going to write a book in third person. It never happens. I always revert back to first person because it is so intimate. It allows me to just drop into the character. I try to see the world through her eyes and feel it with her heart. I know her so well, usually, by the time I start writing. I have no idea. Part of is probably a mystery. I just try to write the intimate spaces of her heart or the character’s heart and just hope that the reader identifies with her and has the same empathetic participation that I’m having with her.

Zibby: You certainly succeeded. Tell me about the religious aspect. Obviously, a book about a purported wife of Jesus, you can’t get away from the fact that this has religious implications for any group, any person reading the book. How did your own beliefs play into the book and the story? What do you think life would be like if this had been the actual story of the world?

Sue: I think the world would be very different, to answer your last question first. That occurred to me right away. I remember thinking almost the first day that this idea struck me, not the first time, but the last time, I remember thinking if she existed, my god, she would be the most silenced woman in history. It made me want to give her voice so desperately. I grew up in this little town, as I said, where we had two churches. There was no Jewish synagogue. We only had a Methodist church and a Baptist church, so you had to belong to one or the other or you were just a pagan. There were none of those. Everybody went to church. I was schooled in that. I have a very distinct memory of one Sunday. I’ll make this short. One Sunday, a visiting minister came to our little Baptist church. I remember sitting by my mom. I was eleven, I think. He gave the order of the hierarchy of authority in the human world. It was god, man, woman, children, or something like that. I was outraged. I was just shocked and outraged in anger. My mother later would say, “I think it all started right there.” Maybe so.

I had an uneasy relationship with the church probably all through my childhood and adolescence. At the same time, I have a very contemplative kind of soul and a longing to have a spiritual life. I do have a spiritual life. It’s just much bigger than Christianity. I’m a cultural Christian. That metaphoric story of Christianity still speaks to me. I have a lot of background in that. I’m sure that showed up. There is one last thing I’ll say about this. That is, there’s a line in The Book of Longings where Ana says something like — she’s in this cave. She’s having this conversation with Jesus. I think it’s their second meeting. She says something like, “Why don’t we just free God?” He laughs and he says, “Yes, I would like to see how that happens,” or something like that. A lot of my religious life has been about trying to free god, our narrow concepts of god, and to give us a sense of equality in our imagery of what is divine. I actually think and believe a lot like Ana did in this story.

Zibby: The jig is up. We know all your innermost thoughts now. One of the times when Ana is talking to Jesus, she overhears him referring to god as the father. She hadn’t heard that before. She asks him, “What’s this about? Why are you calling God father?” At the time, that hadn’t happened. He said, “The practice is new to me. When my father died, I felt his absence like a wound. One night in my grief, I heard God say to me, I will be your father now.” Then Ana says, “God speaks to you?” He says, “Only in my thoughts.” I thought that was so interesting. Now, of course, that’s common parlance. Everybody does it without thinking, god the father. This perhaps is where it came from? Was this part of research, or this is speculation?

Sue: I think Christians probably mostly think Jesus started this. My research showed that it was not uncommon at all for Jewish men in the first century to refer to god as father. It was an intimate way to do it. The word was abba. Jesus, of course, made it quite popular.

Zibby: Also, the turn the other cheek you attribute to Mary.

Sue: I got away with that, maybe. I don’t know. I think she probably had a lot to do with her son’s success or who he was as a human being, which was quite amazing. Moms don’t always get the credit they’re due. I was determined that this human, Mary, was going to get some credit for Jesus. He learned from her. I had this be her line that she taught him. He learned pretty well.

Zibby: It’s Mary as the ultimate Jewish mother, apparently.

Sue: Yes.

Zibby: Kvelling about her son, love it. This is just a tiny point, but one way that women were sort of asserting their will, they almost had nothing they could do, was taking all these herbs to prevent themselves from getting pregnant, which I didn’t know they had been doing back then as a form of birth control and all the rest. Tell me about that line of research.

Sue: That was absolutely fascinating. Women had a lot more access to things than we can imagine. They knew how to abort children. They knew how to take herbs to encourage getting pregnant when they were barren. They knew how to prevent pregnancies. It wasn’t failproof by any means. The midwives, the wise women they were called, typically controlled that. Women went to them. It was sort of a secret world for them. I’m not sure I could even tell you what all they were right now, but they were accurate in the book. I’m just glad we live today and not then.

Zibby: No kidding, oh, my goodness. You spent fourteen months researching. Tell me about what happens after that. Do you write right in this room that we’re looking at you in now? Where do you do your writing? How do you do your outlining? Tell me about the process a little more, please.

Sue: Yes, this is my writing study, I call it. I do an outline an unusual way, probably. I do, I call it a collage. I think there’s a better term for it that’s more literary. It’s probably a storyboard. No, it’s something else. Anyway, I will take all kind of postcards like I’m a child at kindergarten. I cut out images that speak to me, that actually hook my unconscious. This is how I do every novel. I’m very visual. They’d be huge boards that I’ll put up with all of these images all over them. They evoke something from me. It could be emotion. It could be a character. It could be some piece of something, a description. Mostly, it’s about the story itself and how that narrative is going to unfold in the book. I start with that. Then I like to know two things when I start writing. Until I know them, I can’t really start writing. They are, who is my character? Who is she? It’s usually a she. I will spend a lot of time trying to figure that out. The other question is, what does she want? That is the seminal question for me. If I know what my character wants, I can write the book because it’s all about that for me. I write down the opening scene. I know the last scene, usually, and vaguely what’s going to happen in the between. Then I start writing.

Zibby: How long did that take, at least for this book?

Sue: The whole thing took four and a half years counting that research, so another three years. I’m slow, Zibby.

Zibby: Whatever you’re doing, it’s working. Don’t change a thing. That’s the pace you need to keep.

Sue: It’s a meticulous process.

Zibby: Someone in the comments is saying how much they’d love to see the board for this book. Do you still have it, the vision board?

Sue: Of course. Yeah, I have it somewhere. It’s buried in the closet. I’m creating a new one now that I can’t even talk about. Don’t even ask me. It’s so new. Another thing I do is I create what I call a plot clothesline. I have a line. I hang the scenes on it. I can move them around. Often, like with The Invention of Wings, I had two narrators, two main characters. I had to have two clotheslines. I do things like that to help me navigate the story and keep up with what’s going on.

Zibby: That’s great. I can just imagine you with your little clothes hooks. What are those called? Laundry hooks, whatever. That’s fantastic. So you can’t say a word about your new book? How about a little something?

Sue: I’ll tell you what it isn’t. It’s not a historical novel. The last two were going back further and further in time. I’m going to write pretty much close to the present. Oh, my, what else could I say that’s really vague?

Zibby: Is it post-COVID, pre-COVID, or do you not address COVID? I know that’s been a topic of conversation.

Sue: It was set shortly before COVID, but I have to think about that, whether we’re going to include that or not. I think this is going to be a big question for authors.

Zibby: Yes. I know you’ve given lots of tips already about the way you approached learning how to write. Would you have advice for other aspiring authors at this point?

Sue: Authors always have a little bit of advice. It’s typically things like read a lot. My advice about reading is read at the level you want to write, which is why it’s so intimidating. Then realize that you can never achieve that idea in your head and that it’s always going to come out less than you imagined. Let yourself write badly initially. For me, it’s all about rewriting. I rewrite as I go. A lot of writers say don’t do that, but that’s the only way I can do it. I need to get it just right for myself before I can go on. When I finish a book, it’s pretty much done.

Zibby: That’s good.

Sue: Well, it took three and a half, four years.

Zibby: I want to open it up to questions because a lot of questions have come in. I’m sure more will come. I don’t want to monopolize you. Let’s see. Someone is saying — I don’t know if I should say the name. Somebody named Laura is saying, “I was a writing major in college. Then my life detoured. I went to seminary and was a Baptist pastor for ten years. For years, my writing was devotional material and sermons every week. I gave it up and have been a stay-at-home mom for thirteen years. I’m forty-eight. I’m just discovering Sue’s books. I feel something being lit within me. Is it too late for me to find my voice as a writer?”

Sue: Absolutely not. I can’t tell you how strongly I feel about that. You have all the time in the world to do that. You’re just forty-eight. My goodness, you’re young. Seriously, you might as well search for your voice and begin writing. Why not? If that’s the passion of your heart, absolutely do it. I don’t think it’s ever too late. People call me a late bloomer. I believe in late blooming.

Zibby: Somebody’s saying, by the way, that Mary was a great mother-in-law in this book, just FYI.

Sue: Yeah, she was.

Zibby: This is from Janet. “I loved the character of Yaltha. Is there someone in your life who has been your Yaltha?”

Sue: Yes, in a way. When I was young, I had my grandmother who I’m named for, Grandmother Sue, who was rather feisty. I can’t claim her as a full-blown Yaltha, but she inspired me. She was the only one. My mom was great. She was the consummate mother. She would win mother-of-the-year awards. She was fabulous. She said later in life she read Dissident Daughter and learned her feminism. I loved that. My father said, “You ruined your mother.” I said, “Well, my mission is accomplished then.” She found the dance. Let’s say it like that. My Yaltha is probably three women. We have quartet of women who meet every year for the last fifteen years. We support each other. We dare each other. We help each other the best we can to midwife one another’s dreams and passions and journeys and particularly their creative lives. They are collectively my Yaltha. I have taken every book to them that I plan to write. I’ll say, “Do you think I can do this? Do you think I can write about American slavery?” They’ll go, “Of course. You better go do that. Come on, girl.” We try to give one another courage and make one another brave. We all need somebody like that even if it’s a group of women. If not, you got to find a Yaltha in yourself.

Zibby: I want to tap into your group of women now. I want to come to your meetings. No, I’m kidding. They sound like pretty amazing women. How many attempts did it take when first writing before your manuscripts were accepted for publishing?

Sue: Oh, my goodness. Let me tell you. Because I had been writing for a long time, maybe it was just a stroke of luck, but my first novel was published on the first try, which was a shock to me, believe me. However, I have had my share of rejection when I first started. I’ll tell you a couple of them. One of them was an essay that I wrote. It probably wasn’t very good. I hadn’t been writing very long. It wasn’t terrible either. I sent it to a small magazine. I got a rejection letter that said — it was a form letter, but at the bottom was written, “This is useless,” with an exclamation point. That can take the heart out of you a little bit when you’re new and you’re struggling to find your way. Then when I, finally in my forties, took the idea for The Secret Life of Bees to a writer’s conference, it was my first writer’s conference as a fiction writer, and my teacher said he didn’t think it had any potential as a novel. He said, “Try to make it into a short story. Maybe you’ll have a little luck there.” So I did. I turned that first chapter of The Secret Life of Bees that I had written into a short story.

It was published in a tiny academic literary journal. They paid me thirty-five dollars and ten free copies. I put it away for three years. It was by just a serendipity that I actually pulled it back out and read it somewhere. There happened to be an agent in the audience who came up and literally said, “I hope that’s the first chapter of your novel.” I said, “It is now.” That was how that happened. You’re going to have setbacks. You just have to have the conviction of your heart and not pin everything on whether it gets published, but on just the journey. I’m a little long-winded tonight. I don’t know why. One more thing. Be an apprentice. That’s a concept that’s kind of lost to people now, but why not do that? I think in the Middle Ages an apprentice was seven years or something like that. I told myself, I’m going to be an apprentice. I just learned the craft as much as I could. I think there’s the craft that you can learn. It’s possible. Then there is this other thing that is hard to describe that I call the madness or the soulfulness of the work that you have to feed. You put them together, and you write.

Zibby: Wow. You should make this an ad for anybody who wants to write, an ad for writing in general in case there aren’t enough aspiring authors out there. Kat is asking, “You incorporate ritual a lot in your writing and seem to come up with some creative rituals to commemorate moments and occasions. How do you come up with them? What is it that you find helpful about these rituals?”

Sue: I do believe in the transforming power of a really good ritual, if you believe in it. Women particularly, it’s a transaction. It’s one of the more mysterious transactions in the human soul, is this ability to enact something and have it make a real change in your life or a deep impression in your life that then sets you on a new course. Rituals have been important in my life. How do I think of them? I have no idea. I’ve alluded to this earlier, but I think that creativity is essentially play, playing with ideas and playing with imagery. It’s somewhere in that process that these rituals come out of. Sometimes I’ll think, what’s the next scene about? Now what should Ana do? Part of that is very methodical and logical as in dominos falling in a plot because that’s how plots go. It’s causative. Then there’s this little magical thing you’re trying to think of. Sometimes I just close my eyes and lay on the floor and dream about it. That’s how I came up with Ana giving Jesus a haircut. You just go wind through your imagination. Let it browse. Let your imagination browse.

Zibby: Laura is asking, “Is there is a possibility of Book of Longings coming to the screen? Would you want it to?”

Sue: I don’t know if there’s going to be a possibility of that or not. I’m always open to it. The Secret Life of Bees movie was a good experience for me. I think sometimes they’re good experiences for authors and sometimes they’re not. Mine have been pretty good. Even The Mermaid Chair was a television movie that I thought they did a pretty good job. It’s adapting. This one, I don’t know. I think my answer is I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not. If we get the right offer, I don’t mean monetarily, I mean as in director or writer, that’s the crucial thing, I’d consider it.

Zibby: At least one more question here. I’m glad that somebody wrote this because I meant to ask you this myself about the character Tabitha who was an amazing character in the story. Someone is saying, “Hoping to hear about the spark for the important role Tabitha and her story played in the book.”

Sue: That is kind of an interesting story because she did not exist in the initial draft of part one of the book. I had written part one. I was into part two. I went back and I read the first part. I thought something might be missing. It was something about the dimensions of my character, Ana. I didn’t realize she needed a friend, but she needed a friend. I was watching the Kavanaugh hearings at the time on television. They made me very angry. I felt a lot of outrage about that. Sometimes writers will actually take all that anger and put it right into their work, or their grief or whatever. That’s what I did. It was the only good that came out of the Kavanaugh hearings, for me, was this character. I knew instantly that I would write her, that Ana would have a friend. I knew what would happen to her. I knew that she would have to find her voice. It was a layer. It was music. Ana would write her story because she needed to be believed. That’s how she happened. I was so glad that I was able to give her a friend because then it allowed me create community, this coalition of women that I love to write about. Ana deserved a family in the end. What better family than a community of women like my girlfriends that support one another and love one another?

Zibby: That’s amazing. I don’t want to go over time here. Thank you so much. Someone’s saying, by the way, the ending for Ana was satisfying, in case you were worrying about that. Satisfying ending all around.

Sue: I’m very glad to hear that.

Zibby: Other comments thanking you for everything and all the rest and how brave you are writing and how inspirational and just all of it.

Sue: Can I just thank all of them and say thank you for being readers and for reading my work, if you do? I appreciate it very much. I do not take one of you for granted. I think about my readers when I’m writing a lot. What would they like to hear? What do they need? That’s why my endings will never be really tragic. You can count on that.

Rhonda: I want to thank you, Sue, for coming here and also, Zibby, for being such an amazing moderator. This has been a wonderful discussion. I think all of us want to go and write books now, take our anger out and make something beautiful out of it like you did. Just such an incredible discussion we had tonight. Thank you so much. Thanks everybody here for participating and for supporting the Friends and also for reading and supporting literature. We hope to see you again at our next speaker series event. We’re going to host a talk with Julie Orringer. She’s going to discuss her book, The Flight Portfolio. That event is going to take place on Zoom on September 16th at seven thirty. Be safe and well, everyone. Thank you again so much for everything. Thank you, Sue.

Sue: Thank you.

Zibby: Someone just said in the comments, “Sue Monk Kidd, she is a voice.” Then someone said, “Amen to that.”

Rhonda: They want you to please keep writing.

Sue: That will not be a problem.

Zibby: Thank you.

Rhonda: Thank you.

Sue: Thank you, Zibby.