Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Phoebe Fox has a way with words...plus a book giveaway

We are so excited to have Phoebe Fox back at CLC today to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, The Way We Weren't. Melissa really enjoyed this story and reviewed it this past summer. Phoebe has a lot to say about The Way We Weren't and we think you will find it really interesting. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy to give away!

Phoebe Fox, a former journalist and actor, is the author of A Little Bit of Grace; the Breakup Doctor series; and—as Tiffany Yates Martin—of the bestselling nonfiction Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide for Revising Your Writing

Visit Phoebe online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram 

An unlikely friendship between a septuagenarian and a younger woman becomes a story of broken trust, lost love, and the unexpected blooming of hope against the longest odds.

“You trying to kill yourself, or are you just stupid?”

Marcie Malone didn’t think she was either, but when she drives from Georgia to the southwestern shore of Florida without a plan and wakes up in a stranger’s home, she doesn’t seem to know anymore. Despondent and heartbroken over an unexpected loss and the man she thought she could count on, Marcie leaves him behind, along with her job and her whole life, and finds she has nowhere to go.

Herman Flint has seen just about everything in his seventy years living in a fading, blue-collar Florida town, but the body collapsed on the beach outside his window is something new. The woman is clearly in some kind of trouble and Flint wants no part of it—he’s learned to live on his own just fine, without the hassle of worrying about others. But against his better judgment he takes Marcie in and lets her stay until she’s on her feet on the condition she keeps out of his way.

As the unlikely pair slowly copes with the damages life has wrought, Marcie and Flint form an unlikely alliance that forces both to face secrets and dark truths from their past—and to decide whether to stay lost in the pain of the past or fight for healing and hope with the people they care about most.

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing The Way We Weren't?
This one took so long to come together! The very first proto-draft of this story was started about 15 years ago. It’s taken so many forms since then and kept getting closer to what I hoped it would be, but it wasn’t until I understood Marcie’s and Flint’s backstories that it finally started to jell. 

I honestly think I learned to write on this story: to create and flesh out character, to plot, to raise stakes, to create multiple storylines and POVs, etc. The whole thing was a huge challenge, but also a great education in writing—which is to say the real work of writing: editing, revising, rewriting, developing, etc.

The reward is that this is probably the best writing I’ve done. This story is different from my others, which tend to be more humor-forward. This one has humor—I can’t seem to avoid it—but it’s got a bit more heft too, I think. 

And just to finally see this baby in print, by such a fantastic publisher as Berkley, after all those years and iterations…it’s incredibly rewarding and validating. This was the “book in the drawer” that I couldn’t seem to let go of and leave there, and I’m thrilled it’s finally going to reach readers.

What is the inspiration behind The Way We Weren't?
I can’t even remember why I initially envisioned the earliest scenes, where Marcie basically abandons ship on her life out of nowhere and Flint finds her passed out on the beach outside his house, but that sequence has been in the story from the very first version, back in around 2006. 

That was pretty much the only thing that survived subsequent rewrites, though. I knew I wanted to write a story about what happens when a longtime marriage implodes, but I couldn’t come up with the right impetus for it.

Then I met my husband--relatively late in life, when I was nearly 40 and he was 45--and we had to decide immediately, pretty much, whether we wanted to have kids. It was one of the hardest decisions I think either of us has ever faced, and made harder by never knowing whether you’re making the “right” choice.

We finally realized there is no right choice. You make the rightest choice you feel you can for where you are in life, and then you decide to be happy with it. 

It got me wondering what might happen if two people who loved each other enormously came down strong on opposite sides of such an important issue, and I explored that in both Marcie’s and Flint’s stories. Flint lost his most important relationship over it, and it’s made him withdraw bitterly from the world. Marcie is still at that crossroads, and meeting Flint forces both of them to face some of these hard truths and choices from their past.

If The Way We Weren't was made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
You are always SO GOOD at this I hate trying to compete with you, but I’ll take a stab. I’d absolutely love to have Kathryn Hahn as Marcie, and for Will I see someone like Jason Segal (maybe a bit too young, but perfect for the way I picture him). Flint has to be someone like Tommy Lee Jones or Dean Stockwell, or Peter Fonda if he were still with us.

Side note from Melissa: Oddly and unfortunately enough, Dean Stockwell just passed away too.

What is something you are thankful for this year?
I have been enormously grateful for feeling as if the world has begun to inch back toward kindness and decency from what has felt like a very angry, divided time in recent years. Add vaccines to that mix and it feels as if we’re coming out of a long, dark winter and might dare to hope for spring. I’m cautiously optimistic and hopeful that we as humans might realize we have more in common than we don’t, and that we can find our way to respecting one another and finding a peaceful middle ground that creates a more connected and kinder world.

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
We happened upon Free Guy the other night, with Ryan Reynolds--had never even heard about it, but it was so unexpectedly charming and entertaining. We loved it!

Side note from Melissa: I agree 100%!

What is a unique dish you serve during Thanksgiving or the winter holidays?
Because my hubs and I don’t have kids, our holidays have traditionally been spent with our families at their houses, but lately we’ve begun starting some of our own traditions. One is that I rampantly make toffee every holiday season, an enterprise that has expanded like crazy in recent years: As people hear about the toffee factory my kitchen becomes in December, I get “orders” from more people every year, and I send toffee all over the country. The amount of butter we buy at Costco is mortifying.

The other odd dish we’ve developed a slight Christmas Eve tradition around is--wait for it--fried chicken and champagne. I read a great book about food called Real Food, Fake Food by Larry Olmsted that got me into exploring varieties of specific foods: honey, olive oil, balsamic vinegar…and he mentioned that fried chicken and champagne was considered by many foodies to be the ideal pairing. I’m not especially into either one, but damned if they aren’t pretty amazing together.

Thanks to Phoebe for chatting with us and to Berkley for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

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Giveaway ends November 14th at midnight EST.

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Barry said...

This sounds like a book I would really enjoy reading!

traveler said...

I have never run away from home.

Grandma Cootie said...

Nope, I was more like go off by myself and pout ;-)

Mary C said...

No, I have not.

Nancy P said...

I traveled around the country with my family. Luckily we all got along. :)

Phyllis said...

I often thought about running away from home when I was a kid, but never did. Then when I was 21 I eloped and moved into a Christian commune. It turned into a cult and I escaped (which is like running away from home). My husband left soon after and we reconnected the next month. We have celebrated 48 years of marriage! Now there's a story.

diannekc said...

No, I have never ran away from home. I thought about it, but never did it.

Mary Preston said...

No, but I have run to home twice.

holdenj said...

No, I have not run away from home. So looking forward to reading this, congrats on the release!

Nancy said...

No. I have never even thought about running away from home.

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

rubynreba said...

I have not.

Carl Scott said...

I used to talk about it when I was a kid but didn't really do it till I was 18.

Mary Patricia Bird said...

Oh, the number of times I have wanted to run away from home! (And still do sometimes) Never did though. Stuck it out through thick and thin.

Peggy Russo said...

I thought about a few times as a teenager but, thankfully, never did.

bn100 said...


Linda Kish said...

I never ran away from home.

Annmarie Weeks said...

I have never run away from home. There were a few times that I 'threatened' to go live with my dad (my parents were divorced) but never seriously considered it.