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tv   Stacey Abrams While Justice Sleeps - A Novel  CSPAN  July 18, 2021 11:00pm-12:02am EDT

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so there is this fear, what will my colleagues think? what will my boss think? they are real fears, , and so wt should people do as individuals? that's kind of my focus in the book. >> you can watch the rest of this program at search for hrishikesh joshi or the title of his book "why it's ok to speak your mind." >> next on booktv, stacey abrams voting rights activists in 2018 democratic nominee for governor of georgia discusses her suspense novel "while justice sleeps" set within the halls of the u.s. supreme court. the economic historian jonathan levy traces evolution of american capitalism from the colonial era to the present and later robert woodson argues american history is being replaced with a polarizing version. that all starts now on c-span's booktv.
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find more at or consult your program guide. here's stacey abrams. >> this evenings featured author of course is stacey abrams here to discuss her new thriller "while justice sleeps." states will be in conversation with our own joshilyn jackson, the author of nine books herself including this year's mother may i. if you like to continue the work of the decatur book festival, you can donate through the link in the chat. they would really appreciate that. i would like to say thanks again for joining us tonight. we're so excited about this amazing conversation and i will turn it over to joshilyn. thanks everyone. >> thank you so much for joining me tonight. i am wildly excited to talk to stacey abrams in just a minute. i'm sure most of you have heard of her or know who she is putting going to tell just a little bit about stacey before she comes on.
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she is the two-time "new york times" best-selling author of our time is now, and lead from the outside. she's also an entrepreneur and some of you might know that she is a political figure. that may have occurred to you. she is a tax attorney fell by training and she served 11 years into georgia house of representatives, seven as minority leader. in 2018 she was democratic nominee for governor and she got more votes than any democratic nominee in the history of the state. she has launched multiple organizations that are devoted to voting rights, and to training and hiring young people of color and tackling social issues at the state, national and international levels. she is the founder of fair fight fair account and the southern economic advancement project. she received her degree from spelman college, the lbj school
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of public affairs computer version of texas and yale law school, and now she adds really good thriller writer to her massive list of amazing accomplishments. please join me in welcoming stacey abrams. >> thank you joshilyn for a very kind introduction. >> i am so happy to be talk with you about this. i warned you before but i'm going to work as one who is here, this book will attack at some point. it keeps jumping off the shelves. if the site of the book i really like because it's so manhandled. if i was going, i can get a few more pages in. i could not put this down. >> thank you. >> i'm going to kill everybody how we're going to do this. i knew anybody secrets and the own questions. i'm going ask you to do a couple of things. if you've had the pleasure of reading this book already please don't ruin it for other folks. i know you're excited but ask your questions in such a way that stacey can answer them without giving away stuff for
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people who still have it to look forward to. we are looking for questions in a question and answer section so if you look down at the bottom of your screen you could choose q&a chat and put your questions there. the chat is for stacey going to say hey, stacey, love the book or whatever you want to do and i will be monitoring that most of the question i'm going to look in the question and answer section. we'll get to your questions. first, stacey, for those who haven't read it yet tell us all a bit about the book. >> so it is the story of a young law clerk. she's clerking for the supreme court and she comes to what wendy to find out that he is in a coma and he has appointed her as his legal guardian who has the right to decide whether he lives or dies. she has to make this decision and as she tries to unravel his
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wishes she realizes she's become embroiled in a in a nations to save his life in the country. >> as you do when you're a 26-year-old law clerk. avery -- one of the things that i think as women writers were under a lot of pressure to make our main characters really likable and i always say i don't care if the character is likable as long as they are interesting. you said something really cool here in that like this is a person who gets embroiled in this big spooky thing russians also somebody i would want to go and have coffee with. how did you create avery? >> the day i thought of the book as having lunch with a terrific friend named teresa here from georgia. an amazing woman and she gave me the idea. we're having lunch. she had been a very strong support when i was a young lawyer at the firm where she was a partner and she would always
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the people tidbits of thinks you think you. she did see -- she said the job you think about and the constitution? only people of a lifetime appointment have no provision for removing that if they are physically unable to do the job. unlike, i can't stop think about that. i went home and wrote the first scene and in writing that scene, the opening prologue, the justice talks about avery. i thought about, my favorite people when i sway since, like what were they like?
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she's a conglomeration of folks i know and things i wish i'd known pros and wish i'd been when i was that person. >> there's a little bit of overlap. you both went to yale and definitely join your own experience a little bit. how much of you is in avery or is that a question that you cannot even of how much of yourself is in a character? >> she went to spell spel. she went to yale. i never click for the supreme court, debating interest in it. i have a family i love that is complicated challenges so there's that and i really did want to deal with the conversation about addiction not in a superficial or one-dimensional way. that was important to me with her mother rita and her brother who is been cropping with addiction for years. i also loved the notion of the family you are bored you and the family you build. i have been very privileged to have this extraordinary set of
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siblings but also this very core group of friends who have been with me for now nearly 30 years, and i think in those ways are alike. she's also, she's her own person and we project what we want but we also -- it's great therapy. we can offload some of her own neuroses onto her characters and i will not comment which ones of hers are mine. >> that's completely fair. you have somebody who is a fellow graduate i'm guessing here tonight. since you mentioned her mother rita, something really compelling that was a tension razor that ran through the whole book is that avery doesn't come from this with silver spoon in the mouth background. like her mother is a liability
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and a lot of ways, and in really subtle ways that sort up the tension for me were given to understand that this is a person who has this extraordinary chance, she's hard-working, she's likable and she has this extraordinary chance but it's one chance, and it's like there are lots of people that get like 20 or 30 chances or 100 chances are all the chances they need. this is her shot. obviously you did that on purpose i think it's important to you. talk about that aspect of the book although that. >> absolutely. i was on a panel once in one of the people on the panel said there are people in this world who get as many times at bat as they want and there are those of us who we strikeout, we are done, we don't just strikeout, we get ejected from the game. that is often the groups of people i end up working with and
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i try to serve in my other life as an advocate for a politician. those for whom there are no second chances or at least the notion of a second chance is very remote and you can't risk it. yes, it is entirely possible that avery could have another shot but she has no guarantee. the desperation that follows that, the urgency that follows that is something i felt that when i finished school and my family, we were very economically precarious. i was the first woman with real money and i couldn't make mistakes. i couldn't stumble and cost as this one opportunity. i have amazing siblings who will all be wealthy venture but you don't know for sure. the sense of responsibility i think is one part of what i wanted to and inner character. i also wanted to create space for anyone else who's thinking about do i take risk. what is at stake and what a willing to jeopardize to do what
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i think is right? >> and that was another way, i mean, i found this book to be really compelled because the tension wasn't just on the level. there's real physical you can die in this book danger but there's also just coming e level of the characters and to me this was a really character driven book which i think when you're -- this is something on a national stage with huge stakes it's hard to stay character-based but this was. there were things that are really enjoyed, like she has a girlfriend, lane, who has been her friend since they were very, well she is still very young to me i guess, but it been through this very serious relationship. lane kind of seems like a support character at first but she becomes more and more important, and that relationship becomes more and more important.
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to see this when supporting each other i found that really heartening. is that something you wanted to do or was at something you experience from life, or where did lane come from? >> lane is based in part of one of my best friends. we've known each other since college and very different lies that she is always in some and i could turn and rely on, she also will call the on things. we have to have those friends who know us so well that they are incredibly honest, sometimes more honest than we want them to be. that's the part i wanted lane to play in the story. as you said it's a very tight timeline and i wanted to tell a story that was both thriller and -- i i want characters that yu like or lease that you find interesting. lane was one of those characters where sometimes you have to shorthand the story and you can't do all of the back story and having met and you have to
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have two scenes to explain why she's willing to do something 30 pages are 150 pages in. i want us to understand from their few interactions why lane was ride or die. those of the people i hold close, the ones who know me and loving anyway, and i thought of someone like that for avery. >> that rang true for me. that was so true for me, like ii knew i could see that relationship. or you talk about -- i will have to let some ask questions. i have 15 more but there are two and ask. another minor character, let's talk about matt. in fact, before you guys argument we're sitting talking about matt a little bit. tell them all a bit about matt and then i'll ask my question. >> i want to your description of
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matt actually. >> well, matt is that guy, he's like a shark. he never sleeps. he just eats and hoops other people. really ambitious, kind of coasting on his connections, really pleased with his mediocrity. i have worked with several maps. there's one scene where, like we were talking about, i don't want to spoil that but where you kind of let your character deliberately make a decision to be like you know what, matt? it was so satisfying to me. >> it was a lot of fun. we all know matt, and i have been to school with him. i have worked with him, and you recognize that have a place in the ecosystem of the universe but you don't have to like it. you may have to tolerate it, navigate it, but when the universe offers you an
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opportunity to speak on behalf of of the rest of the world, avery believes she had to take it. it was well worth it. >> it sure was well worth it for me, that was very enjoyable. i try not to indulge that you feel okay about yourself. i want to talk briefly about the supreme court. there are two characters that even though justice when it's not really very present because it's not a spoiler, it's on the back of the book, almost immediately he's taken out of the game and avery gets his power of attorney that lands this young legal mind in a lot of hot water. but he is a hard character to get a handle on. the man, i thought is really well done that we have this very curmudgeonly, brilliant,
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judgmental maverick on the court who spends the whole book -- not the whole book but certainly -- i do want to see what happens to in the whole book but it's not like we get to meet them for a long time for he is removed from the action, and yet throughout these interactions with the chief justice can with other people's memories we come to seem as a whole person and he is one of those that talk about where he's not terribly likable, is incredibly interesting and maybe some things happen that mitigates the ministers of the go a long but how hard was it to make a character to be that faceting, that multilayered and brilliant but, not come he doesn't suffer -- like regular smart people like you really need to be playing a game to sit
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down with this guy. >> there's a line in the book that apart from something, , noa similar person that someone who has composite characteristics he told the ozone victim of introverted thinking. i think you insulted my parents and me. what i realized later on after i got past my anger and annoyance and saying inappropriate things that his heritage i realize here's what he is trying to say to me in this moment we use that phrase. so this character i i wanted y to have to choose to help them. if used to likable, if he was a mentor who was kind and generous, of course you would do everything. if used to complete utter jerk than his utility would make much sense because that kind of person would not, you wouldn't
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trust that their decisions mattered. i needed him to be interesting enough and difficult. he had to make an affirmative decision to try to help them come that it wasn't out of guilt. it wasn't out of love. it wasn't out of obligation. it was a choice. for women characters in particular i find sometimes what you see is they are put into jeopardy and it's not really a choice to do what they want. it's either they either do the right thing or they die, either do the right thing or something horrific and irredeemable happens. i wanted a character in tremont and made it from the choice to do it because it's what she thought she needed to do and should have a foil in justice wynn makes it a hard decision. >> that didn't did occure mechanics at that did occur to me which is weird for me as a novelist because i was so swept
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up in the story you think about it. i do want to say the 20 guys at the metro system are here and they say hi and a really happy to be here. >> thank you. >> we are going to take some questions and answers. we're going to start with dagmar two really good questions and will do both because one of them is a question i had wanted to ask. stacey, are you playing any stories about avery? she's such a great character. really enjoyed the book. >> thank you, and i am certainly thinking about it, trying to figure out how these otherwise i lead and these are long books but avery is alive and well and i think she's coming back. >> good, i'm excited. i love the idea of a series. there's a lot of places you can go with her. dagmar also wants to know if you are a chessplayer. there is a thread in the book where chess moves and chess
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games are sort of an overarching metaphor for the action and strategizing and brilliant legal minds making his nose against each other and looking ahead, like actual specific chess moves our reference that you can look at and it's a whole big thing. if you write queens gambit, which allowed, this is is sort of an aspect that's very interesting to most people right now, so are you a chessplayer? >> i am. i actually taught myself to play chess by reading books about chess including reading all these strategies. no one i knew how to play going up so i taught myself a good brother walter and so he and i would play chess together. i wrote this book before i knew about the queens gambit, although the book predates my book. i did not read it. for me the chess motive is really important because it was something i thought myself and it was, i learned about chess from when the history of the chess, learning the stories and
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just the strategies. i was always fascinated by these gambits, these ways of thinking about how do you navigate. so when i got ready to write this book it was a great opportunity to use all the nerdy chess information that was in my head. i am not a great play by any stretch of imagination. i rarely play of the human spirit i mainly by chess online but i do love the game. >> that's cool. so heather morris is your and barely she's also a lane fan. i don't think it's a splint because it's like a chapter three, a big dramatic research corporation in india would be playing a big part in this wants to know why to did you consult on the medical stuff works there's a lot of stuff that was pretty in-depth enjoyed a lawyer not a doctor did you do that? >> i do really, really deep research. for my romance novels, for my nonfiction, for this book i
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spend a lot of time teaching myself as much as i can learn online, and once i have what i use i do a deep dive is again. then a talk to people. this i had friends, mainly by younger sister, i got five brothers and sisters and they are better than google and they are also great references and they are free so i can call in sick i'm going to do this thing, is this stupid? once i figured out what i wanted to do i called jenin to get some advice from some of the medical pieces as used to work for the cdc, she is an evolutionary biologist. there's a thing in there about dna, but also the question of identity and how do we decide not just where we are from of what that means. my oldest is is an anthropologist so i called her. my sister leslie is a real lawyer. i just call play one on tv pics i called her. i doubt i just off of him.
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i had a whole background but people helping but i do my own research in part because you want to write a story that especially one that uses as many topics as ice trying to use in the story where someone would believe you and someone who knows about the topic doesn't think you're an idiot. no one is going to think i'm an expert but you at least know i respect those who do this for a living and i respect the importance of accuracy, or striving to get as close to it as possibly i can. >> i respect that. this is not a question but have to ask it. emily who was nine and likes to write wants to know if you ever find it hard to come up with a solution for the problems you create for your characters in your book? >> yes, i do. i once had a book where my
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character was supposed to go on to a cliff, and no, she supposed to go into a cave. she was on a cliff for like three days. i have no idea how she got out there. i am like what is she doing? i finally realize washers on the clip and is able to write that into the story for some towns, and it sounds disembodied, like i got challenges, but i'm sure joshua you understand this. you try to create a universe for your characters and try to make sure you know them. part of the fund in writing is to tell you what they're going to do. sometimes is not what you thought was going to happen. the best writers are the one to let the characters lead you. you don't let them take over because if you take over you will find yourself not only on the cliffs or indicate but find yourself in the ocean when no one knows how to swim. you will do something really wrong but i tried my best to let my characters do what i have created him to do, and i'd like
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to be surprised by what they decide. >> i think that's really true because your subconscious mind is at work and and i find it let them do what you really want to do i'm not writing the actual book. i into throwing it away. a quick follow-up that is a really great question. how do you think as the creator of her that avery motivate herself to do the right thing? >> when i was creating avery, you could think about her mom and her dad, there was a time when the family was happy. there was a time before her mother became an addict. one of the reasons i tell the story of her mom is that i don't want people to see addiction and mistakes as permanent parts of who a a person is. people make mistakes. it's hard and recovery doesn't mean you're never going to relapse. it just means you are working hard not to. i say that because to raise the
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child like avery you have to give her a set of core values and those values don't consider because her mother was not the woman she should event or wanted to be and that her father was gone. i wanted avery to have enough of a sense of herself and to have enough of a view of the world that she thought that doing right even if it's hard but it's necessary. >> it is hard. it almost always hard. maybe that's just me. >> no. i would attest, it is very hard. >> okay good. i'm glad to say that. we have some questions from the mint at the metro reentry facility some good ask you a few of these. some have artie been asked. this seems really an intd what i wanted to know, too. what inspired you to write about justice in terms of your main focus works was it the court system or the people?
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>> both. so my younger brother is not only come has not only grappled with drug addiction, he has grappled with incarceration. i come from a very big family from southern mississippi and i've got a lot of family members who have been in and out of the system but more importantly i know some have deserved the process and some have been battered by it and were mistreated by it. someone who studied law i know there are broken pieces and as someone who is in the legislature helping to write some of these laws and doing our best to defeat of the laws, i have always been unable to separate the two. we don't have justice in the abstract. justice applies to people. we are making choices about what consequences are but also what the quality of humanity is. for me those are so inextricably linked that the story has to
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deal with both pieces and that's why i have some characters who don't have as much nuance or dimension as i would've liked but it was important to have a story that really shows us there are some good people, there are some bad people and are some people in between laughs to decide which side they're going to land on. >> i think your book does a really good job and this is like for me and for a lot of writers this is like hashtag goal. this is what we want to do where you really are invested in telling a story that anybody can take down to the beach and have a drink and be wholly absorbed and not turn the page but at the same time you want them to go away, like thinking about stuff that's true about the world around them or see something in a new perspective. i loved that this is, this would be a really good book club book because it's not just a thriller. it's a thriller that is sort of a at the heart of, well, i can't
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say, there's some topical stuff we can't talk about because it's super interesting. but if you want to know, i i n tell you what to do, we still have a few signed copies left. i know you bought one to enter but this'll be a great teacher gift. this this is a great best fra gift. this is a great book to get person who does all the stuff to run your book club. you know the person who without that it would never happen, because it's also book you're going to want to talk about so you need to give it to your friend and then let your friend read and then you'll somebody to talk about it with. go ahead and call. >> they were in my state district when i was a step represents. >> i used to live within walking
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distance. >> i don't think is old enough to vote. let me ask you this, one more from the fellows -- already answered that one. this is a little more, we talked about this a little bit but this is obviously another chess player. there's a musical called alaska power, and i saying that right? what about that maneuver made it made you choose it over the many chess games you could've chosen, like why that one? equally as an overarching theme that runs through the whole book, that one move. >> without getting way too much one of the points of that maneuver is willingness to sacrifice not the most important piece but also not sacrifice upon. you end up sacrificing a pivotal
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piece with the notion if you do that, if you're willing to take that risk better things lavender you can eventually win. part of the narrative of the story is who is being sacrificed, and at what cost. but also one of the first strategy i learned that one of the first when i was teaching myself just when i was reading all of the stories about chess strategy i remembered this so when i start writing the book is one of the ones that come back to me and i'm like, that's a great way to frame this story. ..
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how much research in different areas you had to do. there are so many. i don't know if this is a legal thriller and political thriller baby and saying you have the research of the supreme court and international business. what was it like together so much information? like how do you process that much information and create realistic details in different areas? >> let's start with the baseline. i am a big nerd. before my mother and father became ministers, i was a research librarian. when she told you to look something up when you have a question, it wasn't a joke. there was a whole library for you to use. i always loved gathering
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information and immersing myself. my novels, i looked at cognitive science and spent three weeks immersed in this website and getting all these books. i like knowing new things and this was an opportunity for me to think about these different pieces and then just immerse myself and learn about topics that i cared about. i've got a pretty good memory and i am a good note taker so when it came time to weave them together for me it was the fun part of doing this. i love writing in part because i love new things and living vicariously through my character and that means i do it best if i understand who they are and what it would be like if they did these things for a living.
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>> one of the best things a writer can do is stay curious and you strike me as a curious person. it took me five years to write a nonfiction book and i can't imagine you have a few bucks and she wants to know what is easier for you but nonfiction or fiction and how are they different? >> it's a different part of my brain. the reason i haven't used them for my romance novel is i was using my first romance novel on physics and technology at the same time and the unrelated business income tax decision.
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the other was this romance novel i was writing. it's about being able to get people from point a to point b without losing them along the way and convince people. [inaudible] the goal is to tell enough of the story people care about and i think for me that is what i write. in either direction i have learned over years to write fast to make up for the fact i was slow to get started and because i like doing so many different
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things that worked together. that's just how it works for me. >> a follow-up question quick. do you have to work to keep it separate or is it like i have fiction or nonfiction or is it easy like a gearshift? >> i read books both fiction and nonfiction at the same time so right now i have a couple fiction and nonfiction rhyme reading and i might read from both of them in the same night. i might read from one for a few days and then go back to the other. it's about learning something sometimes from my heart and sometimes from my head. >> my cousin is a romance novelist and we go to the same
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church. she is another romance novelist with a long fiction career. how has your interest in happily ever after changed over the years and was it hard to balance reality and optimism because nobody wants to read a thriller and then the character dies slowly and painfully as the world is blown up and the puppies starve, like that isn't what we are here for. how do you balance of the realities of this book with an optimism and character that you like and can invest in? >> first of all i got to kill off a lot of people in my book. i serial killer romance novel. because all were driven by happily ever after and also by
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suspense i learned early on how to strike that balance. it took some time. the first few editors, please make them like each other this is a romance novel. can you do a little more romance. i'm like fine, yes. it was harder for me than it was to write the thriller. as hard as it is it's not just about optimism, it's about the realism of falling in love the best romance novels they had to learn to like each other. they had to learn to like one another. you can navigate that and do it in such a way to come back again and again they know how the story is going to end.
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making it interesting the whole way through is a skill set. a. >> i've been studying fiction for a decade and a half and i've recently been writing thrillers. caroline says this would make a great film and she wants to know if you could control the world who would you cast as avery? >> i will tell you i actually sold the rights, working title to nbc universal and they are turning it into a television series. i can't say who it is because that is somebody else's job. i will get to be part of the decision-making but not part of the process. >> do you want to be part of the decision-making process or is it kind of this thing i think like
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i never think people actually make the book it's like an artist and a medium having a conversation with my book like how much control do you want? >> two things. going down a rabbit hole, i did a documentary last year and i'm working on my book for another tv series and what i discovered is i need to know what you're doing but i don't need to be in charge of it and i think sometimes that's hard for writers. i'm good with you not being wholly faithful to the story as long as you are faithful to the soul, meaning that to make something that is literary work, you see how bad it can be. it's not good so you want to give the screenwriter the
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flexibility to take the context and the texture and convert it, but you have to do it right. if my name is going to be on it and people are going to know it came from my things, i'm not going there but i'm going to work closely with respect i'm not to the screenwriter or the director or the actor but i am here. >> a related question. you only really had about 17 high-profile serious jobs. you could become a tv producer hands-on. can you talk about how you juggle everything as a writer and politics and advocate? how does that work, like how do you find time to sit down and write a book? >> i talked about this in my book. i have a whole chapter called work like janke.
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we hear about it and that we are supposed to be able to use the word juggle. i use this because i have all these different pieces of me and i am not willing to sacrifice any of them but i realize that sometimes i need you to some of things that are stable enough that they exist and there are pieces i can pull out and i can move around but i also know i will pull out the wrong piece and the pieces will come crashing down. the great thing is you know it's going to crash so your job is just to rebuild it. i know that i love writing and that there are stories i want to tell. there are books i've never finished and one day i will get back to them and there's others people either wanted to buy and then nobody was going to buy it
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for a decade but i had to tell it and so for me to figure out where the book sits on that spectrum. but it doesn't where the book sits and then making all the other pieces of who i am and what i need to fit in as well and the last thing i will say there are things that are urgent and important like democracy and there are things that are important like writing. being a television producer it isn't urgent or important. my job is to do as much as i can on the top two pieces and when i can to never let those go awry. >> the truth is if you spend 20
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hours a day writing for a democracy, you could very soon burn out and just kind of sit down. there's things you have to do to renew your self. do you find writing to be -- >> it's both. from dwight d eisenhower i know i didn't come up with that i just used it as a framework. but when you have a contract they either want their book or their money back. there is nothing really relaxing about it. so i'm going to produce a book that says i enjoy the process of writing better when it's done.
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i build days into my calendar where i'm supposed to write and i'm not going to and so if it takes me 35 or 45 days to write, i will and 50 days to my calendar, to take the english language and don't ever want to use it again to my life choices and i don't want to do this and if i sell my kidney i can pay them their money back. then the rest of the time you've got to get it done but i love writing it. it's part of who i am and there's no way for me to not have it but there's also an inordinate amount of television and i love. >> and i will say that i have long been an admirer of yours. you said she grew up and obviously should be with spike. you know george is the one that asked about juggling everything and i want to say specifically
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if you want to read from the outside and more about the books and you will be supporting a flagship here in atlanta. on the topic of having books finished and waiting, she said there were three women [inaudible] a story is coming i promise. in my defense i was under contract with harpercollins and the contract was for two books. it was reckless in deception. in 2010 when we were negotiating the next contract, any they wanted me on a faster production schedule. that was around the time i
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started a new company and became minority leader and i was like i can't really commit to doing more and they said either you do all these things or we don't move forward. i wasn't important enough for them to care about it. they liked my book but i wasn't like setting the world on fire. so i kind of got distracted and hopefully you know this. i haven't been twiddling my thumbs but i would like people to be able to move freely around atlanta and visit some of my friends. i don't know exactly when but soon, the story will be told. >> this is being recorded. this is an interesting question that would never have occurred to me. most of your characters have names derived from several sources but there are two
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characters whose names are familiar to people in georgia. why did you decide to use those names for the characters? i don't want to spoil it but you used real names, porter and david. these are real names. a. >> i wrote when i was in the legislature. when i started the book, david was the chair of the judiciary committee on the chair in which i sat and he was a really good chair. he was a good guy we disagreed politically but he was fair and when i became leader we disagreed vehemently about many things but we were able to work together on important issues. one of the things i like to do is use people i like. there were things i had to accomplish as the leader and i was successful. my title as minority leader. i wasn't going to get anything done if i couldn't find a way to work with the other side and i
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appreciated it. david and i disagreed on a lot of things, but he was always someone i could work with and he was my friend. porter was my predecessor, the leader before i was. i ended up thinking i could just be the leader and he taught me how to think of georgia as a full state. i wasn't elected as an atlanta city representative georgia state representative and it's why i made it my mission when i became the leader to go to all 150 counties. he is one of those people that really helped me understand and think broadly about the role that we play that's what was good for my community and a small way isn't necessarily what's good for the state. it's important to be able to think about both and not just the singular.
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>> i read the book so fast i missed david ralston in there. you know, they can read it again. it's worth a second read. it's one of those books -- if it's got a plot i read it so fast because i am a gobbler. another question that i think is great, stories can bring different kinds of people to a common understanding. do you ever hear from people who are not changed by your writing but that they are surprised they like your stuff? >> that's part of it [inaudible] whether it's my politics, advocacy, business work, my writing, i am not a proselytizer. i try to be someone who tells you why this makes sense and why i'm doing it and create a space for you to come inside and join
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me. when you write in a way that tells the story where people can find themselves, they may not but if they can find enough that it gives them comfort or entertainment or joy, then i've done my job. when i was writing romance, there was a group of men that would send me a note after they read the novel, they called it the brown paper bag club because the guy that started it was sick, his wife gave him my first book to read and he was like i don't want to read this stuff and she said shut up and read the book. he loved it and started passing it around about terrorism and such. he wanted to rip the cover off and she told him if he did he would have to leave and not come home so he put the book in a brown paper bag because it was his friends and they would send me these notes after each book to give me their reviews like i didn't think i load like this stuff but it's a good book.
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>> the surprise that women tell stories that are interesting to people that are not women. this is a question several people have asked but this is the one i landed on when i was looking for it. she wants to know do you consider the whole story first or or you a plotter. i'm sorry i can't remember the name and can't find you, a similar question we can come at this either way but like when did you know what the end would be? were you marching toward that? >> i do a synopsis where i give myself the structure of the book and i know how it needs to end but i don't know how it will end. i am a plotter in that i lay out every single chapter on a note card on the storyboard. in the suspense and thrillers
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you want to make people unable to put it down so i do each chapter so by the time you get to the end of the chapter i've solved the problem and created a new problem. you need to read one more page every single chapter. so i laid that out, but to the question i do not always know what is going to happen and somewhere along the way something i thought about something a character has done changes it so i have to adapt. i know my goal at the end but i don't actually know who is going to do what. i'm hoping i know and is sometimes i'm right and sometimes they surprise me. >> i'm very, very fascinated. we are almost out of time. i'm going to give you one more minute if anybody has a final
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short question. if you can get it in and the next minute i will ask her. but we have multiple people who want to know who are the people that have really inspired you as a writer and helped shape your voice? >> i read so broadly so i will give you some of the things i love to read and i never give an exhaustive list because i'm always going to leave someone out that i think is great. i love butler i think she is an imaginative writer. >> me too. >> alice munro writes short stories and in such a small amount of words she can pack in so much emotion and humanity. there is a canadian author that is also just fantastic. i love colton whitehead because he loves words and knows how to
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tell complex and jarring stories in different ways. i forget the last nine, but the author of the chronicle does a sort of fantastic magic storytelling that is also grounded in the deepest and most thoughtful questions of history so that is like a range of the writers i like to read. right now i'm reading black son by rebecca and i'm reading the coldest winter by david hall thurston. so that gives you a view of the writers that i like but i love writers that right about people, who like to tell stories about them and to them and to respect the people reading their work. the most annoying writers to me are the ones that are so arrogant that they write the story for themselves, and as a writer you need to love what you do but is your writing to
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alienate your audience because they are not smart enough or clever enough to be a reader of your work then i will find somebody else to read. >> thank you so much for spending this hour with us. there's still a few copies left -- went the wrong way. [laughter] and also i'm sure they are happy to hit you up with other books on the nonfiction. that's where you should get them from. >> this is amazing and i thank you and everyone for having me here. thank you to the book festival and adjust everyone for buying
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the book and liking it enough to come and hang out. >> it's a pleasure. >> the book festival all in partnership to bring you here tonight. next week i will be talking with michelle and mary kay andrews with the newcomers which i can't find my copy of it. i think my daughter has stolen it. this is a really good book. thank you guys. i hope to see you next week. >> thank you. take care, everyone.
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during a virtual event hosted by the aspen institute in washington, d.c., amanda ripley discussed the importance and healthy debate and conflict resolution. >> four years ago i felt like as a journalist i had to do something differently. i felt like it is so easy as a journalist to make the political conflicts worse. some people intend to but most don't and it just felt like there was something i wasn't understanding about what was going on in the country and that is a problem. i spent a lot of time with people who studied conflict of all kinds.
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personal, professional, and the study of conflict as a system collect everything else into place. there's a lot of forces that got us where we are but that as a sort of overlay made everything makes sense in a distorted kind of way so then the question became what can we learn from people that have been through ugly conflicts and have gotten to a better place so i followed a handful of people including a politician in california and a former gang leader in chicago and environmental activist in england, regular frustrated the democrats in new york city and regular frustrated republicans in goal michigan. the goal was to see how did they get behind conflict which is a really unpleasant and destructive conflict because the problem is not conflict it turns
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out. it's the kind of conflict and all the people did make the journey which is encouraging and there were patterns for the second and third so the book is about how they did that and how more of us could do the same if we wanted to. it's my distinct pleasure to welcome you all to the official launch of my colleague, jonathan levy's new book ages of american capitalism a history of the united states. look at penguin random house in new york. for centuries the book offers a new and challenging perspective on american political economy. "ages of americanit


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