tv Author Discussion on Women in World War II CSPAN August 30, 2021 9:04am-10:22am EDT
current head of state xi jinping. there are 30 books devoted to the public of asia and the newest book titled from china's leaders from mou to now. >> listen wherever you get your podcasts. >> hello, welcome to the 2021, virtual gaithersburg book festival. i'm your host for this presentation. before we get started i'd like to support this presentation's authors by purchasing their books from our book seller partner, politics and prose. one of the independent book
stores. you'll find links. and given all we've been through it's important to support local jobs and the local economy. i also want to extend a big thank you to our 2021 sponsor, david and michael blair family foundation for their generous support. let's get started. today's literary presentation is are historical authors in which women put themselves on the line "the invisible woman" eye erika robuck by world war ii heroine virginia hall in the depths of war she would defy the odds to help liberate a nation. erika robuck, hemingway's hall,
receive me falling, hawthorne, a contributor to the post war stories of love and reunion and to the writers digest essay collection, author in progress. in 2014 she was named annapolis' author of the year. the women of chateau lafayette by stephanie dray is a sweeping novel about duty and hope and love and courage and the strength from those who came before us, an epic novel by the women of lafayette, and a wall street journal, new york times, usa today best selling author of women's fiction and work translated into eight languages and tops lists for the most anticipated reads of the year. before becoming an award
winning novelist, stephanie was a lawyer and a teacher. and moderating today's discussion between those two fantastic authors is karen, the author of six novels, including a woman of intelligence, 1 is -- 100 suns and one is going soon fob a motion picture. she's written for "the washington post," maple miami herald, and on cnn, entertainment tonight and the early show. welcome, erika, stephanie and karen. >> thank you, i'm so excited to be here today talking to stephanie and erika about their books. their masterpieces as one of
them say as-- says their long masterpieces. i'd like to talk about the sparks that created these books. i'm fascinated how people discover these people in history. how the women history forgotten and how they decided to write books about them and write the bravery to go down that research hole and bring these women to life again. and so, stephanie, let's start with you, i'm guessing this has a bit of a hamilton connection situation? >> so people who know my book know that i have written "america's first daughter", along with my co-author and these are about founding mothers. so i was eager to tell the story of adrian lafayette, our french founding mother and that
was really the genesis of this story, but you'll notice that the book is called "the women of chateau lafayette" because along the way i discovered a memoir by this delightful author named gisele who is a child who was hidden in the castle during the holocaust and saved from the nazis. her memoir is called "saved by the spirit of lafayette", and i was wondering was there a spirit of lafayette and how was it care -- carried forward? >> and it was the women who carried it on in history's darkest hours and i wanted to bring that story to the page in its fullness and tell the tale of this extraordinary castle in the deepest part of france that served as a beacon of hope in
history's darkest hours. >> wow. i'm like already intimidated by having to go down the research well, but i'm sure you did, but we'll get to that next. erika, tell me how you've discovered this story. you've written so much about women in literature and one of my favorite books, wives of famous writers and how did you move away. >> and writing for healthy was going down another famous writer worm hole, which is a wonderful place to go i was writing about bram stoker's
wife. and they said can you write about a woman in her own right and not-- and i'm not sure how she was on the radar, but virginia hall. i couldn't believe i'd never heard of this woman from my home state of maryland and did the things that she did and i became completely obsessed with her. right, she's from baltimore, right? >> she's grown up and her family has gone to the places that i've gone and hunting and fishing in the chesapeake and that's my history, but i hate to be cold and hungry. >> and also you didn't shoot yourself in the leg while hunting. >> never. >> and i'm sure you're all the
things that you say you're not. let's talk about research, when i was reading these, these books are great, i'm glad i didn't have to write them, intimidating. i know when i write fiction, i'm going to write this or you discover this on the side, or this on the side. i have to put this in. i'd love it hear about your research methods and how you get yourself to stop researching. i feel that's the problem with fiction, could you do it forever and never have a book. how do you start and how do you stop? stephanie, do you want to go first? >> sure thing. so i start because i get obsessed with historical characters and i think most historical fiction authors have the same-- i don't want to say it's a gene, but--
and by the way we have a guest visitor over there, that's butterscotch, my kitty, research assistant and i write about who they are in their times and i'm interested in the rise and fall of republicans so all of my work sort of gels around those subjects. and and in this case, again, i started with adrian lafayette in the 18th century. she was a french noble woman who got involved in the french revolution with her husband lafayette and she would go on to leave a legacy and of course, i discovered the story of lafayette legacy is broader and keeps coming up generation after generation and including our own and i wanted to show that. so i needed to know which women were involved in this amazing story. and the next woman that i
approached was beatrice, the woman in world war i purchased lafayette's chateau, renovated it and repurposed it as a refuge for children. she was my starlet and the rabbit hole. if you want to talk about stopping researching. i stopped too early i knew beatrice chandler. i thought she got involved with philanthropy during world war i and started during the war. that's the story i wrote and then i made a stop to the new york historical society to tie up a few loose end and look at her public papers because i had reviewed her private papers, thanks to her amazing grandson who allowed me to see those
private letters. and at the new york historical society i stumbled over a packet of love letters they were not from beatrice's husband, they were from a soldier in the trenches, a french officer and i realized i had uncovered a century old secret love affair, fun thing to tell the family. [laughter] >> and so, i thought, okay, well now i know what the story is. the story is about a difficult war-torn love affair in the midst of the war so i wrote that story and just shortly before this book was supposed to be turned in, i got a phone call from beatrice's grandson telling me that he had, through the research i had sent him from the new york historical society, he had discovered that his grandmother was not who
shoo he said she was. she had in fact been telling tall tales about her identity her entire life and i don't want to give a spoiler and i don't want to say what she was lying about, but she was a more extraordinary heroine than anyone knew and i had to follow that thread, right? now, i had, even if it meant getting an extension and for the novel and rewriting it, i had to do it to pay honor to the truth that this remarkable woman couldn't tell in her own lifetime. so normally i would say you have to stop when the deadline comes up, that's the end, you're done, but in this case, for the sake of historical truth and feeling like i did honor to the story, i had to keep going and so i don't recommend this to other authors. [laughter] >> but sometimes the story is
going to give you its own answer to that question and the women of chateau lafayette gave me mine. >> wow, i love that and who asks for writing extensions during covid? nobody. >> it's unheard of. >> unheard of. >>. [laughter] >> and i can't imagine how you would have felt if you discovered the packet of love letters after you turned it in, the stress i can feel through the screen. and those officers-- >> a tagline. >> yeah, you know, world war ii fiction and actually part of it's true, the french officer. >> well, guess what? erika, let's talk about how you started and stopped? . >> i read that you talked to people in the cia currently and i mean, i think it's really
sometimes more intimidating to write about people that exist modern day, and how do you find it all. >> it's an act of faith. as you pointed out it's an act of faith and process. you've got to trust when you're open to it, it's going to lead you where you're supposed to go. once you open it up and you find your character, i feel like searching the hall trying to find a frequency and trying to listen and you will of a sudden, one day, not tuesday, maybe wednesday, maybe friday. all of a sudden you get the signal crystal clear and then it downloads, but every other writing day, it's muddled and
staticy. and one said don't bother reaching out to virginia she doesn't want to be found and i felt like virginia had her arms crossed like this in the beginning. no, no, no. and as i started to dig deeper and deeper and this is the cia, go to her records and read the reviews and find that biography, it was fabulous and i had to go deep with what biographies were written. and the "wolves at the door", and a lot of french language books. sitting on google translating 300 pages of french which we know things get lost in that it's not a perfect process, but it's helpful. so doing all of that work, i finally felt that virginia started to trust me, i know that sounds strange because more and more would come and the cia approval.
and her niece lena, her niece, please come me to lunch and brings out a box of family photographs that are nowhere, they aren't in any book, but put virginia hall into color and an intimidating pencil sketch for a long time and talking to men and women in the cia now, i just feel like, so, oh, to everybody, that there are people who do this and that they have this calling and they respond to it and they operate in the shadows and it's just a fascinating world. so, i felt like i had real life super heroes the whole time and over the course of the process and she let me in. so i was able to write the book. then of course the writing, stephanie, as you pointed out. because virginia hall isn't relatable to the average people, speaking five languages as if it's nothing, i need to find a way in. so i paired her with a woman
from present day who was more relatablement a veteran of iraq and i started to write this dual protagonist story. it wasn't working that virginia's story was too big and i put her aside and i put virginia another woman in the soe, i'd been having dreams about and sort of haunts you, and virginia, put those two together, this isn't about me and i put that woman aside and started writing virginia's mission. and i got to the end and the gestapo on the end and it's back story because she went back to occupied france, why? why did she did back? and that became the question and 400 pages later you find page one and off you go. so-- that's the way it goes and i guess i wouldn't have it any other way. i think wouldn't it be mice to write a tiny little book and all outlined for you, but life
is messy and writing is messy, but when it comes together, the joy is so profound, it's worth all the trouble. i think it's hard to write that clean perfect book because, you have this and a family member who lets you in and you discover the trove of information. >> the hidden message. >> yeah, and the generosity of both the families to both of you, something that hit me when i read the books. so i want to talk about the complexity and the bravery of these women. stephanie, i read something you wrote, said like the-- she was too perfect and didn't find flaws. is that the way that history is going to paint them as saintly figures? and i'd love to know how you
made her a more complex person. and erika, i know with you, virginia hall really didn't want to become a public figure from what i read. she was not giving of her story and like how you-- how do you turn real women into full, complex characters, that they deserve to be on the page? >> stephanie, do you want to go first? >> with adrian, i had the advantage of a little bit of biographical information. her daughter had written a biography of her and she had written a little bit of biographical information about herself while trying to document her mother's life. the fact that adrian wrote her mother's biography with a toothpick and ink while she herself was in prison i think indicated an incredible amount
of guilt for what happened during the french revolution. you read a little between the lines in what someone is not saying and why they're saying it and when they're saying it. when adrian, actually i still think she's kind of perfect. she's far more forgiving woman than i could be. she's infinitely courageous. this is a woman who really was the damsel in distress who ended up saving her life. she saved lafayette's life and she risked her own life again and again and again during the french revolution, i can't imagine being that courageous. but all of her contemporaries describe her as being without jealousy of this sort of perfect saintly temperament. you see a little bit of less
than saintly temperament peek out in some of her letters. she complains to lafayette at one point when he's sort of nagging her about getting back their property at some point and she's essentially saying, listen, buddy, i'm doing the best i can, okay? i'm walking around france on foot and you can just, you know, sit down, shut up, and wait for me to finish. she said it of course infinitely nicer than i just, but when you see the little tiny peeks of impatience, you know there's a flesh and blood person behind that. and you tease those threads out in the story and with adrian i might have exaggerated just a little because she probably was a saint. but for the other characters in the novel, beatrice, i had her letters and she's extremely funny, she was a comedic
actress in her day and that comes through and i should mention that she was also an author and at one point, she written she had submitted a manuscript from her agent and she feared that her prose was so bad that it might have killed him. and this lady we would love having lunch with her and i was able to sort of bring her to the page. and martha the third character in the women of chateau lafayette, she's the only fictional character, she's a composite character, i based her on real women at the chateau who helped the french resistance and may have been involved in hiding and protecting jewish children. but i did not want her to be the same as the other two women in the book, who both idolized lafayette. they think the sunrises and sets by himment so i needed a
contrast and with marta, she doesn't care about this, she doesn't care about the castle, the legacy, she wants out. she wants to get out and live her life and she's sort of caught up in the great events that force her to find her inner courage and i think that's something that modern day readers might find a little more relatable because most of us don't set out to do glorious deeds. so, that is ooh bit of humanity that i wanted to bring to that character. so, that's the sort of approach that i bring. >> no, and they're such different women. i mean, i laughed so hard, well, laugh -- i laughed when i read that lafayette was just so chill about her husband's mistress and had the children call her auntie.
and where is bravo to cast her on a tv show. >> a modern lady. >> very french and-- >> i wondered, too, she was torturing her husband a little bit. if you become friends with your husband's mistress, every time you have tea with him he's off wondering what you two are talking about. that was how i thought about that. >> i like that. and in talking about bravery, one thing that struck out to me erika in your book how they told virginia hall, several people told virginia hall she had a six week life expectancy on her assignment, and i would say merci, and about around the corner-- and the complex character in your book and how, did she just
get this way? she's brave. i was born in maryland and i'm not in any front line. >> and when you look back over the course of her life and she was an outdoors woman her whole life and a page from her yearbook i posted last week, it's incredible. i wish i had it in my hands. it summarizes her perfectly. she's the head of every club and sports team, she's a natural leader, someone that forges ahead and i think what were the words they used for her, like she's crotchety, but we can't do without her, something like that, the theme throughout her life and when she accidentally shoots off her foot. it is a bad moment in the hospital in turkey where she was in informed service at the time and the doctor asked her, your leg or your life and she decides to have an amputated.
after that when she wakes up, she goes through a suicidal period, she wishes she hadn't done that because she thinks her life is over. she's always been the top dog and now she is reduced. and she had the tools in her hand to commit suicide and had a vision of her late father or ghost or something and he came to her and said this is not who you are and you have a lot more ahead of you. from that moment on she was resolved, that's right, that's not who i am. she slowly comes out of it and starts working to get a prosthetic leg at the time is nothing like the light weight things that our veterans and people have today. but it's a very clunky seven and a half pound object which she names cutbert so she can yell at it, it has a name. and then she's in venice and learning how to paddle a
gondola. and after that she became so determined and gave her the fortitude what she needed for the war. she knew she had the talents and the drive and the deep love of friends and people and put herself at their service. i think all of these things make us who we are and that's what made her who she is. >> formidable is the word that comes up. and the end of the document, 20 pages of enemies, friends, the places she visited, the bridges she blew up, communication lines cut, every little detail, at the end the person interviewing her in the typewritten interview says, were you decorated in the field? and her answer was, no, nor any reason to be, which i could feel her like no. you could get a bit of her cheekiness. and when you see the picture of her getting distinguished service cross, she's giving him
a look and it's such a cute, cheeky look and there's some playfulness behind this formidable woman and those little glimpses help to make a human person out of the character. >> all right. and many things surprised me about her when i was reading her book and one was she thought about going into the foreign service, but at the time the state department didn't let anyone with a disability. >> and she tried to go to traditional path and the doors were closed to her. she was a woman and she has the problem with her leg and it was like all right, let me just start throwing grenades or a less traditional path and sometimes the paths are more open to women than even something like the state department, which is crazy to me. >> i'd love to know more how
she stayed so brave kind of starting over after her network was decimated in leon. >> and i talked to friend of mine who was a police officer and in the field and what happened, and post traumatic because of it. i realized, one, she was motivated to hunt the betrayer, she knew who he was. she didn't listen to her instincts even though the alarms going off, headquarters kept saying, vetted and fine and she accepted it and felt guiltment and survivor guilt and the people carted away, thrown in concentration camps and murdered and she had to avenge that and bring justice to it. virginias a solitary woman, she
wasn't married and didn't have children and she had a calling to do it and soe, the british service intelligence want want her to because she had a price on her head, her face was on wanted posted. and her boss, wild bill donovan, you want to stick your neck out, go and do it. the british called it the ministry of the ungentlemanly warfare. and the other department of dirty tricks. she went with dirty tricks. >> survivor's guilt and a healthy dose of revenge. and she was able to find enough information in the field that she helped to lead to his capture. >> wow, awesome. i'm guessing there was no wild bill anyone in the british service? >> not that i came across, no.
>> i want to talk about, you were talking about all of these real women and, stephanie, the third chapter in your book is a composite fictional character. let's talk about the balance in historical fiction like the books you write of truth and fiction and how you sort of like-- do you try to fill in the holes with fiction or do you think that like adding this bigger fictional element makes these historical characters more accessible to modern readers? >> so, i have not often written purely fictional characters. so, in some respects, i'm almost the wrong person to ask, but in this case i needed this composite character and i'll explain why. when i started writing the story, i believed i was going
to be writing in world war ii about a woman named on -- she was a countess, the daughter of the baron, and at the chateau. and for people listening, a preventorium is how you would treat tuberculosis before penicillin. that's what it had been turned into. based on techniques familiar to us, keep the kids soshly distanced and keep them outside, get fresh air and sunshine, and don't let them breathe on each other. and lafayette's capital was suited for that being in the mountains. ann, we know, took over the chateau at age 24 when her
father, baron, was arrested by the gestapo. and the french were hiding weapons under the floorboards of the children's beds in the preventorium. i wanted to mention that ann's sister was married to henry hyde, who erika probably knows about because he was one of the wild bill's associates in america's version of the cia at this time. so i deeply believe that ann not only knew that the french resistance was hiding guns under the floorboards, but she knew that jewish children were hidden in the preventorium. i can prove none of this. on top of not beingable to prove it, her father, the
baron, had a lot of ties to the vc puppet regime in occupied franls. i faced a choice, do i lionize someone who might have been a collaboration or had collaborationist instincts? or do i villainize someone who was secretly quite heroic. in my heart of hearts, believed she was a heroine, i really do, but i felt like it would be absolutely irresponsible for me to do either of those things. so i needed to fictionalize the heroine. i knew that the french resistance said this was a french school teacher at the chateau that helped them, but they don't name her. the little girl i mention who was saved by the spirit of lafayette, she talks about administers in the castle who help, but she does not name them. i found a photograph of a
little girl who was in a classroom of little boys at the castle. the only little girl. she's got blond braids and she's looking straight at the camera in challenge. and as soon as i saw that, there you are, and there's a marta shaped hole in this story and i'm going to fill it with this character. yes, marta is fictional, but really, she's filling that hole because that's really what i did there. i felt though that it elevated the story and i want to share, you say her name so lovely, you make a sound that i cannot, i cannot make my throat do that. >> marta. . >> so i decided to make fun of that in the book early on. she says you know, that americans always butcher her name and say it like marta. and so i'm going to continue to
butcher her name. i think that in historical women's fiction when you're doing biographical fiction, which in mostly is, you want to stay as close to the factual truth as you can while still telling an entertaining story and bringing out the scenes that make readers feel something. i want you to feel something about this because there are great biographies out there. i know that it's a great biography of vera-- i'm sorry, i didn't mean to say vera, vera atkins as well-- but i know that erika's book will make you feel something intensely about virginia hall, and that's when we make the choices. >> i love that when i was going down to virginiaa well, i saw
that there was a historical book and a movie that came out at the end of 2020. i was hike, oh-- i was like, oh, i have to watch that, and oh, no, i read the book. >> and you kind of get attached to the version that you know. >> exactly. >> and, yeah, let's talk about how you fill in the gaps with someone like virginia hall. >> i've done both, i've had fictional characters in hemingways. and then this novel because of the nature of the work, there were some people i just couldn't find, but there are also a lot of people i could. so, i started -- i took the cross-reference from 20 different biographical sources and whenever a person emerged fully. they got top billing. whenever there were too many--
in one there are five or six men with the same last name and one did the books and the lesson. >> one of them got the distinction because he did a painting with virginia hall. and there was a pleasant who made a terrible fate and mentioned them in a letter to her mother and wouldn't say who they were and those people i couldn't find so i went into the town records, into the church records and i found last names and i created, those were the fictional people there and then what i do is, in the author's note i explain everything, the first thing i write, i'm not a biographer. yeah, so, after i do that-- >> it's so hard because people expect every aspect of world war ii. listen my research really begins and end here. >> i tell everybody, i confess
everything for what was-- and as the work leads, like i said with the help of hawthorne, i had sophia hawthorne's voice in my ear for so many writings, there's emmerson, alcott and i let the work guide me each time, but, yeah, whatever calls for. >> i like how comfortable you both are with being able to like voice these legends. like some people would be so intimidated by that and including me, and you did it so well and you had bravery the way you do. >> i'm glad because it's an uncomfortable process. you have to make it look like it's smooth and every bone in your body doesn't hurt.
>> yeah, yeah, was it intimidating at first? was it something that comes with rest, that now-- i think a lot of people would be scared to even go, go there. >> yeah, it's always intimidating. i don't think it gets any less intimidating for me. you know, in writing america's first daughter we had to deal with jefferson who people either love or hate, and you have to respect both those feelings and the same thing, hamilton is a founding father. you have to tread carefully and with lafayette, even though he's a frenchman, he's also an american founding father so i did want to tread carefully although he didn't give me too much generally, the most fun of the founding fathers. when you're dealing with someone who is more modern like
beatrice chandler, i'm talking with her family. i desperately want to please them. i want to write a story that makes them happy while also reflecting the truth and dealing with figures in world war ii is even more harrowing because it's such recent history and it's still very emotional for so many people. so, i don't think i ever stopped being scared. what about you, erika? >> no, never. every book, it's a whole new world that you have into. and virginia hall, her niece described her as intimidating and scary smart, and never likeable. and the editors kept saying, she's not likeable. i love crotchety dominant people, but i had that not everyone does and it was a challenge and you can figure out if i feel i can speak in the voice of whether i choose
first person and third and you'll notice third person because i can only-- you know, i try to crawl into their skin, but virginia hall, i will never be able to fully embody her so i have to keep a little bit of distance and watch her. hawthorne, i feel i know her inside and out. and the trick i played, do i go first person or third. >> and there's so many truth to that, i totally agree. i want to give lightning grounds, those of you who saw me moderate last year you know i love a lightning round and i want to know about the writing process in covid and stephanie, your trip to france, too. when i was reading this, i was reading, and they had to write these during covid. >> what changed?
did you drink and just go. and write at midnight? what did you do? >> my trip took place in 2017. >> okay. >> so it was pre. paris is a wonderful place for researchers to go because most people there speak english, it's easy to get around and i got to have a really great experience of staying at the hotel albany, which is actually the last remnant of adrian lafayette's childhood home where she was with lafayette and the amazing thing is that stated-- and i got to walk in footsteps of both of my heroines at the same time and then i made the trip into the mountains and i
didn't realize how scary that was until after we rented the car? we're driving up in the mountains in a place i do not know the language and gps is spotty. it's not a formal address, it's just the castle, so, good luck. i remember driving on roads and they were very slippery and lots of hairpin turns and we passed an angry donkey at one point who brayed at us as we passed. [laughter] >> it's in the book, tell me it's in the book. >> there is a donkey that brays in the book. and once i get to the top of the mountain, we saw the castle and i just became very emotional because this is such a historic place that has seen so much. and i thought oh, if these stones could speak, what would they say? that's what my book should be about. and i think most people there get very excited, there's
americana theren, ben franklin's ring, and there used to be washington's duels pistols, and they went missing, i have a theory, but anyone's guess. and i got emotional walking into the ball way, they turned into a philosopher's hall. he didn't want it aristocratic. >> and the little jewish girl who stayed there described sleeping in that room near the fireplace and feeling safe even though she was being hunted and there's a video on my website that describes how close she came to being caught. there were nazis coming to the castle to find jewish children. so that was an amazing experience. the writing of the book was largely finished before the
pandemic struck, but i was still finalizing it and i remember being very struck by something because i was finishing it at the light of the pandemic when it was the scariest, we didn't know what we were dealing with yet so we were under lockdown, and i remember thinking, well, this is not great, but when i looked at these women who faced situations far darker than what we're facing now, they reached inside themselves and found the courage to meet the moment that they were faced with and every generation is going to face a challenge. it's going to face a challenge in terms of difficulty of their lives, and also, every generation faces a challenge to democracy. it's just how it goes. so i felt very inspired by knowing that these women carried the torch forward generation after generation and
that they're passing the torch onto ours. so i hope readers take that away from the book and that the pandemic gave me that perspective on it. >> wow, i love it. i found a lot more-- admiring this book. and-- erika, what did you do. >> i kind of wished stephanie had gone second. i feel like i need to go out and conquer the world. and on the nordic track there's an i-fit app where you can walk everywhere in the world so from my comfort of my basement, paris, everywhere, i just walked it, and the pyrenees, walked it. and so, no, i have not been to france. i did go to all the places in maryland where virginia hall grew up. and she had a family farm up north closer to pennsylvania, which the house was been razed
and a lot of the land was-been developed, but a lot hasn't. there are hiking paths along the falls there where she was hiking and hunting. and at the home in maryland, i wrote to the people who lived there and said, exactly who i was and how i would like to come over to their house and they said come on over. so i went to that house and i got to see where she and her husband, paul, raised five french poodles. the kennels are still there, it looks like a little chateau, a big chateau, phenomenal. and where the goats were and there are still baby goats. and she's buried in baltimore and able to go to her grave and she's at the cemetery at pikesville so i went where i could. i couldn't get everywhere. i will get to france one day and i know, i get emotional even thinking about it, some of
the places where she went. when i go where the village is, i won't say what the village is or did, but covered in chills at the moment. it's amazing, i know what they did. and erika you'll be close to the castle because the characters in my book were helped by virginia. so, she's not named in the book because she came a little bit after. >> yeah. >>, but, yes, i think you'll love to go. >> oh, gosh, okay. >> party at the castle, 2022. >> the castle tour. who is there, who's not? >> yeah, well, i think it's so -- i mean, born in maryland, i think all of this maryland history is so fascinating and all of the amazing people buried in married, and now learning that virginia hall is there in maryland, i feel like we should all go pay homage.
>> i've been to the town quite a few times, you know. >> okay, i'm going to take us to the lightning round, which is a casual, feel free to just like scream out your answers. laugh >> and start with questions for both of you and then i have targeted questions for each of you. so, i feel like i have to ask the historical fiction writers, if you could live any time period than today, when would it be? >> the 20-- not now, the roaring. >> the roaring not the pandemic to be clear. >> i would not live in any other time because i enjoy indoor plumbing and-- . [laughter] >> yeah, see, i also would like to say the roaring 20's,
but i love telehealth. >> in paris that golden age syndrome and you think it's better in the winter, but it's not. it's snowy and no medicine. >> especially for women, you have to say, asterisk, for women. but the clothes are better. as a person who embraced that, i could use roaring 20's in my life. if you could be fictional character or nonfiction. >> i might secretly be beatrice chandler. >> i love when she put on her passport application, see who is who? this lady is a gas, she's hilarious. >> my instinct is always to say clare from outlander, no, it's
because jamie, wait a minute, no, no, no. >> and even he is not worth the trade-off. >> he's not. he's not. [laughter] >> i don't think. >> what if he was a french officer. actually that's a very good lead into my next question. what has been your quarantine binge watch? >> oh. i've been watching all the historic programs and i think-- well, i know, i'm going to recommend the last kingdom, he's super cute, it's on netflix, it's bernard cornwall's series, a viking story. i'm not normally a viking kind of girl, but i make an exception here. >> for me it's "the crown", the opening credits of that show make me emotional when it's
forged from like the hunk of metal into the crown. i can't take it. like i can't take it. >> and now i feel like going on with the royal family, it's just-- >> to give insight and i don't. >> have you watched french shows, call my agent, for instance, i highly recommend. >> oh, no. >> i have a series to recommend to both of you, actually, called "a french village", and subtitled. it is amazing. it's about an occupied french village during world war ii, and goes through every year of the war and it's so great and it's going to make you all want to run out and get the invisible women, which you should do anyway. >> have you watched "the 100 foot journey". >> is that the restaurant one? >> yes, that was great. >> and those will make you want to go to france, too.
>> i've been the laziest food person during covid, buying-- but i'm supporting small business so it's fine. [laughter] >> okay. all right. if you were not an author, you would be dot, dot, dot. >> i'm also a teacher, so i would full-time teach. >> yeah, i do that. >> what do you teach? >> i taught everything from early childhood to middle school to high school, to base formation, i'm a teacher. >> wow. that makes such perfect sense, i think. like teacher and historical fiction writer. >> yeah, yeah. >> well, i have two pre-schoolers so i think that teachers have been the heroes of the pandemic, so, i'll cry. stephanie, what would you be? >> unemployment, i don't have
any marketable skills. >> your you're a great researcher and interviewing. >> you can hire me, i'll help you research for your book. >> historian, historian, you know. >> did you know like this was your calling? did you start really young writing books? >> i did. i started as a child. and i blame it on my grandmother which i affectionately call the junk lady. she loved to go to sales. and she stuffed us in the back of the fairlane and in the summer we'd be locked in there for air. ap as the oldest she'd tell if any of the kid got out of the car i'd be in trouble so i started weaving stories, and i
learned to write hook and crook hangers and that's how it began. >> and lack of oxygen to your brain. >> my irish grandma she got me into stories. she would pass me books that i had no business reading. so when i was-- >> oh, she would give me vc andrews, flowers in the attic, and i put it in my catholic school bag and i got in trouble in language arts for reading it. good old nan. >> and vc andrews, scary. >>... bag and hide. it got in trouble in school for reading it but good old nan. >> it was worth it. those are good books.
>> always insist -- >> i think i -- i'm always so interested to see what kids are reading these days, because you do -- always remember the do just ignoree everything? >> i do. i read them, i in her scream. i complained to my friends like erika and she understands what i say things like, they are just wrong about that, you know? >> of course they are wrong. >> or some is convince you of gotten something wrong and i'm like, you know, i can't believe they're going to believe wikipedia over me. i did the research, , lady. i did it. i know. i can't say. i have to just smile and pretend like -- >> like the author to dues or whatever, the first thing is like do not reply. never ever reply. we know, but --
>> i definitely screenshot the most hilarious and share them with my author friends. they say terrible things, and my husband. he gets really upset about it. i don't. i really don't. i get upset about a critical review but for like his everyday stuff, really once you publish it's not yours anymore. i think it's funny because it's very often reflects things more about the reviewer done a think the book itself but there some really, really h funny ones if u look at them that way. my husband gets really upset. i don't want him to get under fight with people. rs anymore, and i think it's funny because very often reflects things more but the reviewer than the book itself. there are some really funny ones if you look at them that way but my husband gets really upset. i don't want him to get on there and fight with people but --
>> i feel like there was an author who did go fight with people and then never went well. >> just let them have that. >> whenever i feel really bad, i'll look at some incredible books like whatever this book that is -- everybody loved and it has three or four stars and you're like, okay. >> once i saw that stonehenge got a one star rating because they said there weren't enough stones stones and after seeing that i felt a lot better. i thought, well, if even stonehenge is getting one star i'm fine. >> sometimes as i lining, you try it. and then we'll talk. but it's -- i think you have to approach it just being like, i'm the same lady and everyone is allowed to have an opinion.
>> even though it's how we all feel. >> the funny thing is to look at thes they also reviewed and that's a ann antidote so a one star on my book you look into the things she gave a five star just in women's underwear because it didn't ride up. that's great. >> i think a bottle of wine and fat will be something i get up to one of these days. okay. aid vice for aspiring -- advice for aspiring required. a., do not do it. b., do something else first, then become a novelist. c., do it now and repeat until you have a hit. >> do it now and repeat until you have a hit. >> really? >> c. >> wow. i think i would say b. sort of.
>> interesting. >> sometimes -- i was a journalist first, and it forced me to write a lot. as a reporter. and like to really not care if your work sucks, which i think isn't -- is a real sport lesson. i'm like i have writers county and it's no you don't want to write things are terrible but you can fix them later on. >> i went to law school and i was a lawyer for ten minutes -- >> what is this lie your tell of no other skills. >> any other half hobbies or interest. >> lawyer. >> it's really just ten minutes and i don't use that degree at all. so i think of myself -- i think, my god, that was like a giant waste of time. could have written three novels in that time. so, i think that's what brings me to this advice of just start
now. going to take you long time before your good. it took me a long time before i was good. if i had that little head start i thick would have done better. >> all be u just be shaking our pulitzers. >> one day you might find some unsung lady lawyer who you turned into a book and you never know, or i feel like a lot of the thriller writers were lawyers like john gresham. >> and research. research for law. that wasn't lost time. >> and the patience for boring research. >> i think everything helps in a way. you never know what you pull into books, like the strange facts that you have in the recesses of your mind. >> that's good. i'm glad none of us picked a. specially during a pandemic. stephanie, don't lie.
you wrote about eliza hamilton. how many times have you seen hamilton. >> i would never lie about hamilton. i have seen the musical twice. i have never been to the musical more times than i can count. i do know that the musical's lange allows me to drive to annapolis from my house and back again and everything but the last song. so measure my travel distances in terms of hamiltons. i'm a gigantic fan of the musical and if it -- was that your question, how much of a fan am i? huge. >> sort of like are you just sick of it? >> never. never get sick of hamilton. never. >> okay. okay. i love that. i love it.
erika, you have written but hemingway and fitzgerald and the women in their lives. take hemingway and fitzgerald, one as a husband and one as a lover. >> with a gun to my head? the answer is neither. >> i guess i have to say against my better judgment, i love hemingway. i love him. >> a controversial response. >> yes. and he is -- i've read every single letter and book. i understand him as fully as a human and there's obviously a lot of work but i get it. i love him. fitzgerald, i gase lover but -- >> and this from a marylander. okay. >> there's just something about being nasty on a fishing boat that i get. >> i love it.
>> i love the end are those. this is when it gets real. so, this one, i guess it's for both of you. erika, a lot of code names in your week and want to know what both of you would pick as your code name and i'm going to say i put both your names through a code name generator and i'll let you know what it is at the end. >> zelda. >> code names are very basic, women's names but i feel like -- >> well, the nazis called her artimus, so she did a play on that as diane. she had a little bit of fun with it. but i would be zelda. when guy to starbucks and order i tell them my name is sell -- zelda. >> my name is karin so i have to change it. >> or you get giggles.
>> i think i'm going to go with athena because i went to greek high school and so she was our mascot and she is the goddest of wisdom from whom i would like to learn. >> in the combe code name generator neither of you got those.erica you got honest peninsula moaning go, and steph any you got cold hurricane. >> that's going to be any name from now on, cold hurricane. >> if you wanted to use that at starbucks, you just feel free. this has been such an user joy. i would love to leave this with you both talking about -- if readers get one thing from your
books what do you hope they walk away with? >> i think hope they walk away with the idea that we are all walking on the shoulders of people who came before us, and that we have some responsibility to live up to that legacy and to meet the challenges our our time with if not as much courage and fortitude, at least some courage and fortitude and selflessness. >> like stefanie i think the courage and selflessness is something we all badly need at any time and also i hope readers get a sense of perspective because was helpful to see what bad could look like. i'm been very fortunate but remind me whenever i started feeling sorry for myself that i would just read a little bit about virginia hall and feel her -- and i'm like, i'm fine. >> i was finishing both your
books after i got my first shot and i was like, aim lighthead, aim hot? doesn't matter. it doesn't matter. you can read light added. those great lessons and during this time, so i can't wait to meet youing about the person. should have a post-covid drink, and thank you so much for talking with us about your incredible books. >> thank you, and you should mention you have an incredible book coming out soon. what month, >> i already told stephanie and erika how excited i was about the cover so i'm glad it turned out. it's funny, we're talking about the cover actually, erika you mentioned how you were talking to the artist about the direction of the grass. >> yes. >> i loveov that. you do it for the women, right? >> yes. i'm just saying -- [inaudible] >> i know.
at this point i bet you do. thank you so much and thank you to everyone for watching as today, and i hope the next one is in person and we can all be there. >> right. >> weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv documents america's stories and on sundays booktv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 come from these television companies and more including comcast. >> comcast this pardon with 1000 community centers to great wi-fi enabled lift his own subsistence from low-income families can get the tools they need to be ready for anything. >> comcast along with these television companies supports c-span2 as a public service. >> on our recent episode of the joe mobley show podcast criminal
profiler pat brown and her sunday discussed race in america and argued that black lives matter is ignoring the legacy of dr. martin luther king, jr. here's a portion of the program. >> so i live in an area in maryland which is majority black community and they started sending me these e-mails saying hey, in your community you could join this group. of course i was interested because when you want to go get involved in something you kind of would like it to be not like an hour away if you can have five minutes away. so i said this is great, there is a book group, the school groups and the groups were named african-american something, or yoga is for black girls. and i'm like, not just one or two, dozens of these and they were in my community.
so i decided i'm going to try and find out because this is where i live. so i sent over have want to join your group and days saw my picture and they said no, you can't turn because we're only for african-americans. of course is an interesting because they -- >> did they know you are from africa at the time? >> they looked at my face quote white and african-american n which is really funny because we have merkel right now and she claims to be black and she's probably i'm going to guess one quarter. >> that was news to me. i had no idea. >> right. she would probably be turned down for not being black enough. i said this can't be happening in our country. we can't have black only groups. we can have white only groups either. neither one of them you shouldn't have been. i wrote and i said hey, this seems like discrimination to be at a violation of the civil
rights act of 1964. i want to join these groups and a can't because i'm white. she will back and said that's okay, , will help you find white people groups. they actually said they'll help you find white people. i'm like are you kidding me? i said, also are you saying i can have a white only group and that's okay? they said yes. >> what could possibly go wrong? >> exactly. i have to test this to see if this is something that truly is acceptable. so i made up white women yoga and for people who don't understand me, i don't like yoga. it's a great thing to do but are personally can't stand to make it so i really wasn't going to actually have this group and i don't want a group that is white women. so i put white women yoga together. i put out there and all hell broke loose and i started getting tons of e-mails and messages saying we're going to
-- you're a nazi, kkk or races a white supremacist. how can you say these things in this day and age? don't you know brown people made yoga? it was funny because i was -- my indian friends were brown and i'm like i kind of thing i know they started yoga but the whole thing was amazing. eventually the site got pulled. i went on talk across and talk about this and i said tucker, he selectively no first she does not want a white only group only. after did that show i got a ton of e-mail which it thank you, thank you, thank you, were so sick of this division got sick of these separations, sick of these black dorm floors and a black graduation. isn't this just going back in time and separating the races again? and i say yes. that was what started this concern of mine along with
everything else we've been saying since -- this is not where it started when i encountered this but it has been getting worse over the years and this was my personal experience. dave and i got together and we decided we should bring this to people's attention and really said we have to stop it. >> so dave, what does that look like? you get a phone call, a text from your mom, she said hey, i have a crazy idea. how did you come on board with the book? >> my mother -- [inaudible] she's always showed up for her beliefs -- [inaudible] >> it's interesting we live in a time in the country that's the champion of freedom where standing up for your own opinion or belief is stirring the pot.
>> like you said, you know, standing up for your viewpoints, the reason i signed on was for the less overuse of my life i've been pretty quiet. i keep my opinions to myself and you get to this point where you just can't hold back anymore. you are so irritated because anybody has a voice on twitter and social media and you're just trying to be nice and go alone and not stir the pot and just okay, but then again if you don't stand up and say something, we're at the president in the country where we might fall over in insanity. it seems like we're taking that first step so it kind of said you know what, i've been quiet most of my life. it's time to stop being quite and stand up and give my opinions at then hopefully change minds before people go completely insane. that's my goal. i want to say hey, i'm speaking
up, i'm not scared, i'm not going to be shut down and you shouldn't be scared either. that's the attitude rest have. regardless, you get to stand up for what you believe in at some point in your life or else you better sleep late in a desperate to watch the rest of his program visit booktv.org and find the search box to the top of the page to look for pat and dave brown or the title of the book, black and white. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> population of china in 1949 when the communists took control was 540 million people. during the 72 years the prc has had five principled leaders, mao zedong, deng xiaoping,. [inaudible] she's into how and since 2012, the current head of state, xi
jinping. george washington university professor has written close to 30 books devoted to the subject of asia. we talked with the professor about his newest book titled china's leaders from mao to now. >> listen to email@example.com/podcast or whatever you get your podcasts. my pleasure to introduce sam apple. sam is on the faculty of the inmate and science writing an inmate in writing programs at johns hopkins. prior to his arrival at johns hopkins, sam taught creative writing and journalism at the university of pennsylvania for ten years. he holds an ma in english and creative writing from the university university of michigan, and then msa in creative
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