Thursday, June 29, 2023

Alli and Asha are at their a book giveaway

We are thrilled to have Alli Frank and Asha Youmans here to chat with us today. They have a lot to say and we really enjoyed their answers to our usual interview questions. Melissa read their previous novel, Never Meant to Meet You and gave it five stars. (Check out her review.) They're back today with The Better Half and Melissa is excited to read that one soon. Thanks to Megan Beatie Communications, we have one copy for a lucky reader!

ALLI FRANK: The robustness of a farm girl, the honed sophistication of a city woman, a dash of Jewish chutzpah, and a heaping cup of endurance athlete and voila, you have Alli Frank. Alli was raised in Yakima, WA, the only child of two parents who instilled in her that hard work coupled with a resilient spirit will take you far. She has been a teacher, curriculum leader, coach, college counselor, assistant head, private school co-founder, sometimes pastor, often mayor, and de facto parent therapist. A graduate of Cornell and Stanford Universities, Alli can still be found with her nose deep in a book or hunkered down watching movies, never one to miss a great story. Alli lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two daughters and terribly cute mini-Bernedoodle. When she needs good food (because she really hates to cook) she turns to her co-author Asha Youmans. Read Alli’s essays in the Moms Don’t Have Time to: A Quarantine Anthology, Frolic, and Medium. She is thrilled to be able to say she became a Tall Poppy Writer in 2022.

ASHA YOUMANS: Asha Youmans was raised in Seattle, WA, by an educational and civil rights pioneer father and a children’s hospital administrator mother, along with a sister and a brother she admires and adores. As a child, Asha read everything she could get her hands on from X-Men comic books to the Clan of the Cave Bear series to Camus. Enrolled in gifted programs while attending public school, Asha went on to graduate from one of America’s premier private academies, Lakeside School, from which her father, TJ Vassar, earned a diploma as the school’s first Black graduate. After receiving a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, Asha returned to Seattle where she taught in public and private schools for nearly 20 years. Asha is a fabulous home cook who loves storytelling and connecting with others by making them smile. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband (who’s white), two ethnically ambiguous sons, and a dog that is part Yorkie and part who-the-heck-knows. In 2022, Asha joined with Alli as a Tall Poppy Writer.

Visit Alli and Asha online:

After a difficult five years, at age forty-three, Nina Morgan Clarke’s time has finally arrived. With an ex-husband relocated across the country, her father bouncing back after the loss of his beloved wife, and her daughter, Xandra, thriving at boarding school, Nina is stepping into her dream job as a trifecta: a first-generation, Black female head of the storied Royal-Hawkins School. To mark the moment, Nina and her best friend, Marisol, take a long-overdue girls’ trip to celebrate the second half of Nina’s life—which is shaping up to be the best part of her life.

As Nina’s school year gets underway, all seems to be progressing as planned. Before long, wunder-hire Jared Jones, two hundred pounds of Harvard-educated ego, relentlessly pushes Nina to her ethical limits. Soon after, dutiful Xandra accuses one of her teachers of misconduct. And most alarming, the repercussions of her trip with Marisol force Nina into a life-altering choice. Time is of the essence, and Nina must decide if she will embrace a future she never could have predicted. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

“Charming, laugh-out-loud funny, and honest, The Better Half celebrates the absurdity and joy in life, and does so with an enviable grace and good heart.” 
—Mindy Kaling

The Better Half sizzles with sharp observations and even sharper wit from the first page to the delicious end. Alli Frank and Asha Youmans are a formidable team skewering the culture that forces women into roles while writing characters who both embrace, eschew, and finally succeed in their own powerful way.” 
—Ann Garvin, USA Today bestselling author of I Thought You Said This Would Work

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
Alli: That we are incredibly talented at writing “real” characters. We have had many readers ask us if the two of us have been divorced (nope both happily married) we write the thoughts and emotions of dealing with an ex-husband so accurately. Our ability to write with grace and truthfulness when it comes to female friendship is because we value the women in our lives so deeply. And what goes down with parents and kids, well, between the two of us we have over 40 years of working in schools. When you are an educator, you have THE front row seat to observe multiple generations as they move in and out of your classroom, in and out of your school. We do believe ourselves to be expert observers and then storytellers of humanity, the good, the bad and everything that exists in between.

Asha: My favorite compliment we have received is that readers want to be friends with our characters. To reach a person through words at such an intensity that they wish our imaginary cast was real speaks to our ability to accurately reflect humanity. When I was a young voracious reader myself, I learned valuable lessons in empathy through books and now I am able to impart the same for others. It is a joy to make people smile and laugh and teach through storytelling.

What are the easiest and hardest parts of writing a book together?
Alli: The easiest is the easiest for me to answer. Asha and I have very similar senses of humor. Even given all the ups and downs of the publishing journey we laugh hysterically together and yes, sometimes at each other! Bottom line, in this hard, hard industry we manage to have a lot of fun. The hardest part, hands down, are the outside attempts that have been made to question our working relationship as a Black and White co-authorship. People want to poke holes in what has only been a phenomenal creative partnership and life-long friendship.

Asha: What makes our partnership easy is the way we fit together like puzzle pieces: the complete picture cannot come together with one and not the other. Alli has the strengths that I am missing as a writer, and I have those strengths she needs to flourish as well. It is a beautiful thing to need and be needed by another person. The most difficult aspect of our writing journey is that with each book so far, we have faced obstacles that have forced us to pivot and change our working style: the Covid pandemic; moving to different states; Alli forcing me to get better at technology so that we can connect virtually. But even with all of that, I am still learning…so BONUS!

If The Better Half were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
Alli & Asha:  We actually had to create a casting list for a presentation to Mindy’s Book Studio. Together, we have put a lot of time and consideration into this list:
Nina Morgan Clarke:  Meagan Good 
Fitzroy Morgan: Samuel L Jackson
Xandra Clarke:  Skai Jackson
Leo West:  John Krasinski
Marisol Garcia:  Gina Rodriguez
Roan Dawson:  Chris Colfer
Winn Hawkins:  Paul Bettany
Graham Clarke: Lance Gross
Jared Jones: Michael Evans Behling
Courtney Dunn:  Jaime Pressly

Which TV series are you currently binge watching?
Alli: Season two of The Bear on Hulu. I think it is some of the most brilliant storytelling, acting and filming since The Wire.

Asha:  Though I am late to the party, I am finally catching up with AJ and the Queen. I watch as much content as RuPaul creates, and I am invested in this show. If RuPaul were to host a knitting hour where he simply sat and knit and talked about knitting…I would watch that.

If we were to visit you right now, what are some places you would take us to see?
Alli: I live in Sun Valley, Idaho, and we just had the third snowiest winter on record and one of the wettest springs ever. While I am beyond excited for summer to be here, the wildflowers from such a wet and cold winter and spring are jaw droppingly indescribable. The hills surrounding my hometown are a magical mash up of a Monet painting crossed with a Visit Switzerland ad campaign. If Chick Lit Central were to visit me right now, we would go to Java on Fourth and get a Bowl of Soul, then go hiking for hours through the mountains and meadows bursting with flowers and then land at Grumpy’s for happy hour burgers, fries, and schooners of beer.

Asha: Seattle is my hometown and I have watched it grow and prosper for 50+ years. No visit is complete without touring the nation’s longest continuously operated farmers market, The Pike Place Market. Home of the very first Starbucks, source of fresh seafood, meat, bread, cheese, and fruit and vegetables, The Pike Place Market also features an eclectic collection of local artisans’ wares and a host of collectibles shops. My favorite spot is Golden Age Collectibles, a comic book store I have been a fan of since childhood. And finally, any trip to the market is only made better by sampling as much of the diverse restaurant cuisine as possible.

What is your favorite thing to do in the summer?
Alli:  If I am at home my favorite thing to do in the summer is trail running in the Pioneer, Boulder, and Sawtooth mountains with my Mini-Bernedoodle, Georgia. If I am on either coast with my family, I can play in the ocean for hours. There is nothing I enjoy more than feeling insignificant in the majesty of mother nature.

Asha:  My favorite thing to do in the summer is rafting down the Snoqualmie River with my girl squad. We pack a floating cooler, crank up a Bluetooth speaker, and gigglingly anticipate the spate of mini rapids we encounter. Washington state, where I live, is incredibly beautiful from the coastal beaches, to the peninsular rain forests, to the scorching deserts, and atop the snow-covered mountains. I have and always will live here, and I expect to spend the rest of my lifetime exploring this gorgeous region.

Thanks to Alli and Asha for chatting with us and to Megan Beatie Communications for sharing their 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

Giveaway ends July 5th at midnight EST.

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Jess R said...

My sweet friend, Jess. We have been friends for years and since we share the same name, it is a match made in heaven!

Rita Wray said...

My sister, we are great friends.

traveler said...

My aunt who is devoted, caring and special.

Lisa D said...

My cat!

Suburban prep said...

I would say my husband of almost 25 years.

Mary C said...

My sister

Mary Preston said...

That would be me.

Lelandlee said...

My aunt

Xia Lee said...

My sister

bn100 said...

not sure