March 10, 2021 | Issue #32
An Interview with Patti Callahan
What inspired you to write Surviving Savannah?
Originally I was inspired by the Pulaski tales of survival, how the city of Savannah was part of this story, and how the Lowcountry was affected by this tragedy. I was also curious about the transformation of each passenger and the ways that each survivor not only lived through the explosion, but also how they chose to live their lives after the sinking. Then everything shifted. After 180 years, a shipwreck hunting crew found the remains of the Pulaski 100 beneath the waves, 30 miles off the coast of Wilmington, NC. My exhilarating hunt for the forgotten story began.
What kind of research was required to write the novel? Did anything surprise you?
The research was as fascinating as it was extensive. From the archives at the Georgia Historical Center and the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum in Savannah to books, newspaper archives, personal accounts and letters, I read everything that I could get my hands on. I read about steamships and Savannah in the 1800’s and about the rich history of the colonization of Savannah with General Oglethorpe. I interviewed shipwreck experts and became enchanted with the world of wreck salvaging and treasure hunting. I was surprised over and over, but one surprise that opens the novel is the true narrative about a fifteen-year-old passenger named Charles who survived the sinking only to become a slave trader with a horrific reputation. I wanted to know how this young boy had become so cruel.
Your story follows three women – Lily and Augusta on the ship in 1838, and Everly in present day. Which of the three women did you relate to the most and why?
I always felt the most connected to the woman I was writing about at the moment. Of course, our modern-day character, Everly felt more relatable only because I know today’s Savannah and today’s southern norms. I still felt close to Lilly and Augusta because, as far as women have come in their roles in society, there is still the struggle for independence and agency and the need to burst through and build a life of one’s own. All three women had their own tragedies, hardships and losses to navigate. All three needed to discover how they would make meaning and purpose out of their situation. All three found out what they were truly made of and if they wanted to merely survive or if they wanted to thrive and build new lives.
Sunday Bonus Episode
We are looking forward to hosting award-winning author of four novels Sadeqa Johnson this Sunday March 14th for a Special Women’s History Month Sunday Bonus Epiosde! A former book publicist, Sadeqa spent several years working with well-known authors such as JK Rowling, Bebe Moore Campbell, Amy Tan and Bishop TD Jakes before becoming a debut author in 2013 with Love in a Carry-on Bag. Her latest novel YELLOW WIFE is a work of historical fiction inspired by the real-life story of the slave trading post Lumpkin’s Jail, also known as “The Devil’s Half Acre.” The book has met with rave reviews and is exquisitely researched and we can’t wait to talk to her about it. Join us Sunday, March 14th at 5pm ET!
Five Facts from Our Friend, Sadeqa Johnson
The one thing you’ve learned you can’t live without during the pandemic:
Fresh air! I have to go for a walk, run or a hike in the woods a few times a week or I get antsy.

Your perfect day:
A perfect day for me starts with prayer and meditation, a good cup of coffee followed by uninterrupted writing until I feel like the pages are singing. Then I'm free to shuttle my children around and fix dinner while listening to a good book on audible. It always ends with a decanted chocolate chip cookie, and then an hour of House Hunters HGTV before bed. House Hunters is my night cap. 

Your favorite independent bookstore: 
Goodness that's like asking me which of my three kids are my favorite! I'd have to say, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, VA and Fountain Books and Chop Suey Books in Richmond. When I head back up north, it's Words' Bookstore in Maplewood, NJ. I know you've asked for just one, but bookstores are like Lays potato chips, you can't just have one!

The last book you raved about: 
Who didn't love The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett? It taught me so much about craft. I also really enjoyed The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. Right now I'm listening to Passing by Nella Larson which is fantastic.

Your next book in ten words or less: 
1950s story of sacrifices that women are forced to make. 
Bookseller of the Week
Our featured independent bookseller of the week is Nantucket Book Partners which includes Nantucket Island's TWO great book & gift shops Nantucket Bookworks and Mitchell's Book Corner. Get 10% off with the code FF10 this week on featured titles on the Nantucket Book Partners website. Anyone who buys Patti Callahan Henry's SURVIVING SAVANNAH from our indie of the week will get an autographed bookplate and a Friends & Fiction luggage tag—plus you'll be entered to win a signed ARC of Kristin Harmel's THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS. Also discounted are the recent and upcoming books by the Fab Five, plus YELLOW WIFE and AND THEN THERE WAS ME by our Sunday 3/14 Bonus Episode guest Sadeqa Johnson.  SHOP NOW!   
Up Close and Personal with Patti Callahan Henry

Each week, the Friends & Fiction authors will take turns writing an essay for, the online home of Parade magazine. This week, Patti Callahan Henry writes about light-bulb moments.

Several years ago, I sat down at my desk with an idea for a novel. I had heard about a shipwreck that happened years ago off the coast of North Carolina, and I was intrigued by its story. I learned that on a balmy June morning in 1838, the luxury steamship Pulaski set sail from Savannah, Ga., with a promise of only one night at sea until they reached the North.

But we all know that life can be irrevocably altered in an instant, and for those passengers it was. The elegant ship exploded in the middle of the night, taking 128 passengers and crew members with it to the bottom of the sea.

They called it “the Titanic of the South.”

My interest was piqued. But I also had my doubts. Was this my story to tell? Was it my time to tell it? Was the fate of the passengers tied into my own fate to write about them? 

To continue reading Patti’s essay on, click HERE.
Debut Spotlight

Kristy Woodson Harvey recommends Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster. This debut novel released May 5, 2020, but Kristy is reading it now and she proclaims, “it’s GREAT!” Set during the splendid summer days of 1960s Martha’s Vineyard, this page-turning debut novel pulls back the curtain on one mysterious and wealthy family as seen through the eyes of their nanny—a college student who, while falling in love on the elegant island, is also forced to reckon with the dark underbelly of privilege. This book by an award-winning journalist has raves from Elin Hilderbrand (“one terrific summer read!”) & Nancy Thayer (“a perfect summer book”). Get it in hardcover now or pre-order the trade paperback coming April 27th!
And Now a Word from our Partners

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Latest News From "The Fab Five"

PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY is swept up in the excitement of launch week for SURVIVING SAVANNAH which just hit stores yesterday! She is super grateful to all of the Fab Five for their incredible support and for the warmth and enthusiasm from the entire F&F world! The book has gotten some nice press recently, including the AJC (vividly bring[s] to life a fascinating, harrowing slice of history that should be as well-known as the Titanic“), the Augusta Chronicle (“Henry smoothly uses the past to illuminate the present-day narrative and deftly and empathetically re-creates a harrowing disaster that too many have forgotten”), Island Packet “epic”, and The Bluffton Sun (“impressively detailed…difficult to set down). Patti hopes you can attend some of her tour events—see the full virtual book tour here. If you choose SURVIVING SAVANNAH for your book club, remember to download the incredible book club kit her publisher put together. Patti has also produced a series of six podcast episodes all about the book. Those will be released soon. For now, learn more and listen to the trailer HERE.
KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY’s is so excited that the FEELS LIKE FALLING e-book is on sale for $1.99 for a limited time—and it includes a special sneak peek into Under the Southern Sky! She is so grateful to her amazing readers for making FEELS LIKE FALLING #21 overall on Amazon, #1 in Southern Fiction, and #4 overall at Barnes & Noble. Wow!

Grab MARY KAY ANDREWS’s rom-com DEEP DISH for just $3.99 on audio and $1.99 on e-book for the month of March. The Newcomer (in stores May 4) has been called “the perfect summer read by Suspense Magazine and “sure to be a summer favorite” by Authorlink. Enter to win an ARC of The Newcomer HERE. Plans are underway for a combo of in-person and virtual book tour in May & June. Stay tuned as deets develop!

MARY ALICE MONROE is pleased to partner with Charleston Coffee Roasters on their breand-new Beach House Blend. Colombian French, Sumatra, and Mexican beans combine to make this dark, rich roast a delightfully smooth coffee. Inspired by her Beach House series, this limited edition blend will be available to ship on April 13th but you can pre-order now. A portion of proceeds from Beach House Blend will help sustain the work of the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center.

KRISTIN HARMEL is thrilled to see Patti's Surviving Savannah out in the world this week and is excited that the 2021 Fab Five author releases are kicking off with a book she deeply loved. She can't wait to hear what all of our Friends & Fiction friends think of it, too!
News from the F&F Official Book Club
Mark your calendars for these upcoming book club discussions. All events below take place at 7pm ET. 

March 15: The Book Club with Mary Alice Monroe, plus a guest appearance by Kristy Woodson Harvey to preview Under the Southern Sky RSVP Here 
April 19: Surviving Savannah with Patti Callahan Henry
May 17: Under the Southern Sky with Kristy Woodson Harvey
June 21: The Newcomer with Mary Kay Andrews
July 19: The Summer of Lost and Found with Mary Alice Monroe
Aug. 16: The Forest of Vanishing Stars with Kristin Harmel
We had a lovely conversation with Patti Callahan on Monday March 8th about Surviving Savannah.
If you missed it live, catch the replay HERE.

If you missed our fabulous discussion of The Winemaker's Wife with Kristin Harmel, watch the replay here.

Lisa & Brenda had a fabulous Happy Hour with Ron Block on 2/19 filled with surprises and special guests! Click here to see the replay.
Listen to the F&F Podcast!
In our latest episode (S1E4), Patti & Kristin interview bestselling, award-winning author Katherine Reay about her novel, The Printed Letter Bookshop, the story of a woman who inherits her aunt's bookshop, and Janet Skeslien Charles whose novel The Paris Library, based on the true WWII story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, just debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. LISTEN NOW on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher
or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Last week Patti talked to long-time publishing experts and professional book boosters Carol Fitzgerald of The Book Report Network and Robin Kall of A Mighty Blaze and @robinkallink for an episode about building communities of book lovers which will post on Friday, March 12th.
Mary Kay & Kristin also recorded an interview recently with Ireland-based thriller writer Tana French about her novel THE SEARCHER which will post to the podcast on St. Patrick’s Day, Wednesday, March 17th.
Posting on Friday, March 26th, Kristy taped an episode with our beloved and influential bookstagrammer pals, Meagan Briggs from @meagansbookclub and Stephanie Gray from @the_book_lover_book_club_. Follow them!

Listen, download, subscribe, rate, review & share wherever you get your podcasts.