Ep.4: 3 violent books we loved and a palate cleanser.

We chose to go dark on this one, all except for Lauren who went with some lighter fare because sometimes you read what the book gods send your way and you don’t ask any questions.

Aileen tips off the book talk with her pick, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. Alisa cuts the line with Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Lauren brightens the mood with A Season for Second Chances by Jenni Bayliss, and Josie wraps things up with the dark and heavy, Dune, by Frank Herbert.

Lauren also gives some insight into the way libraries acquire books and muses about who decides what books are worthy for awards, and exactly how does one become invited to a dinner with the original influencers, the ALA.

We also talk a little bit about the publishing industry and about Josie’s new imprint, Sungrazer Publishing.

Hope you enjoy the episode!

Aileen, Alisa, Lauren and Josie



Aileen: [00:00:00] Um, I have exciting news,

Josie: What’s that?

Lauren: we’re pregnant.

Josie: hello and welcome to fiction between friends, a podcast, dedicated to books and book lovers like us. I’m Josephine, Angelini

Lauren: I’m Lauren Sanchez.

Alisa: I’m Alyssa Hillfinger,

Aileen: and I’m Aileen Calderon,

Josie: we’re four childhood friends from the suburbs of Massachusetts.

Lauren: Who’ve always to read almost as much as we love to talk to each other.

Alisa: We started this podcast as a way to celebrate how a really good book can come into your life and change.

Aileen: So if you’re looking for fun and engaging conversations about books, stick around.

Josie: This is fiction between friends. And, we’re glad you’ve joined us.

Hello there. Welcome to our podcast. This is episode four, season one. I’m Josephine Angelini, and joining me are my dear friends. Aileen Calderon

Aileen: hi there.

Josie: Alissa Hillfinger

Alisa: Hi friends.

Josie: and Lauren Sanchez.

Lauren: Hello.

Josie: So before we talk about books, how is everyone doing this week?

Aileen: So I took Wyatt to the library and got him a [00:01:00] library card. He, I told him we could go to the bookstore and buy one book and he said, but I want lots of books and I’m not going to buy him lots of books. So I was like, wait a minute, we have a library. We can go there. The librarian was so excited to see us and have us there. And I asked her, I’m like, how many books can we take out? And she answered me. And I was like, okay. Five. And she said, no, 5, 0, 50.

Lauren: Oh, yeah, yeah. At our library it’s 99.

Aileen: Wyatt  heard 50 and just started like grabbing books off the shelves. I had to like a halt to it. and tell

Lauren: Oh, I love it.

Aileen: enough. We’re not going to read all of these, but

Lauren: it helps the library’s statistics. Just keep taking them.

Aileen: Wait, really? What do you mean?

Lauren: We keep statistics about how much circulates, how many items circulate a month.

Aileen: wait. Cause I was actually thinking, how do libraries choose the books that are on the shelves? Because the library seemed to have like a really interesting selection of children’s books. And I assume it’s not random that there’s some thought and processed.

Lauren: There is sometimes [00:02:00] it is random, but We read journals for reviews, like school library journal, or horn book. Those are the two big ones.

Aileen: So how does that impact, like the publishers. and the authors? I mean, does it count as a sale for the author

Josie: yep. It’s very important. um, your distributor and your, or your publisher will be putting your book in all these catalogs for people to buy it. And that counts to your first week sales, if you’re recommended by librarians and librarians say that, you know, we’re all gonna buy this book and they, they actually have these huge meetings and these dinners where you go and you meet, like, yeah, it’s like, if your publisher will take an author to meet the librarians and

Aileen: librarians are like the original influencers.

Josie: They are, but they have their sources. They get recommendations from all over the place. There are a lot of people who, you know, they, they do a lot of their own reading before they order. And there are well, Lauren, you know, more about this than I do, but all that I know is from the author’s perspective is going to, you know, they have like these big dinners and you sit down [00:03:00] and you sit and talk with a bunch of librarians.

Lauren: never been invited to those.

Aileen: Can we talk about, your publishing in print? Are we allowed to talk about that? Is that

Josie: Oh, yeah. Yeah. We can talk about it. I haven’t, well, I haven’t quite signed the deal yet, but, um, I haven’t got, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, we’re like inches away from it. It’s kinda like seriously, if I got it tomorrow, I’m just going to sign it and be like, cool.

Aileen: Don’t let them know

Josie: this isn’t coming out for a few weeks anyway. So it’ll be done by then. but yeah, I am

Aileen: feel like we’ve talked about it, but what, like what made you do it? Cause I also, because I’m back on the Twitter because of this podcast I saw in following

Lauren: The Twitter.

Aileen: people, the government just blocked two publishers merging

Josie: Yes. Simon and Schuster and penguin. Random house penguin. Yeah. See the, the big five. Um, they, I mean, they’re the big five and to drop down to the big four, you’re kind of, you really are starting to get close to this monopoly. [00:04:00] And I mean, I don’t know all the details about that. I don’t know what it was, but there was a huge outcry because, um, it was record profits for Simon and Schuster. Um, The authors were like that doesn’t change my deal with them at all. So where are these profits going? Like, is it helping the authors? Is it helping promote our books? Is it getting art? Is this doing anything for us so that we can sell more books and make more money? And, but really nothing. There’s no authors union. There’s nothing to protect us. There’s nothing don’t even know. It’s sort of for Boden to even talk about how big your deal was or how much money you’re getting per book or what your cut is, or how much you get out of your, east sales or your book sales, like talking about the details of, when do you earn out? Earning out is your publisher. Lets you know, when you sold enough copies to cover your advance, but you never they’re the ones who control the numbers. They’re, they’re the ones who get the numbers [00:05:00] reported to them from book sales, then they sort of let you know, whenever they feel like it, when you can start making royalties

Alisa: It doesn’t sound very transparent.

Josie: it’s not transparent. And it’s sort of, it’s this, it’s kind of this deal where it’s like, they take the lion’s share of your profits forever, you know? When I first got into this, it made sense, like your publisher did so much to get your book out there and they’ve fought for your book and they were pushing your book into people’s hands and pushing your book into people’s faces. Now it’s all social media. So your publisher looks at you and they’re like, so how are you going to promote your book? And you’re like, well, wait a minute. Like.

Alisa: What are you going to do for

Josie: Right. Exactly. It starts to be this really? I don’t understand what therefore anymore. Like it just got to this point where I was like, if I’m doing all this work, basically all you’re doing is printing up my book.

Aileen: So wait, so is this a huge risk for you or is it

Josie: if you’re working with a distributor, they Do the same thing. They get your books [00:06:00] into catalogs. They make it, they put it in front of librarian so that they can order it. And they do all this stuff that a publisher would do. The only thing is that I have to hire my own editor. I’ve got to pick my own book cover. I’ve got to do all of that other stuff. And I do assume a certain amount of risk because I have to pay for the print run. If you want to do hardcovers and paperbacks, you actually do have to have an initial print run.

Aileen: So it’s not something a new author would do. Like you have to be pretty well established and have reader base to go off and

Josie: Unless you had a following in another way.

Alisa: Right. Everything is so multimodal now.

Josie: Yep.

Aileen: It’s insane. How much influence social media has on everything?

Josie: Yeah.

Aileen: Does your imprint have a name

Josie: Sun Grazer. sun grazers are the comments that get really, really close to the sun and they either burn up horribly. They have a catastrophic death impacting them. exactly.

Alisa: But let’s be a little more optimistic.

Josie: Or they put into an accelerated orbit. So they either, but they’re very bright. They’re [00:07:00] very beautiful. They either die horribly or they go super fast. I was like, yeah, that sounds like the situation I’m in right now.

So Alien, what book did you pick this week?

Aileen: I got away from vaginas this week? and went through some testosterone, um, the chocolate war by Robert Cormier, which I actually don’t think I’ve met anyone else who’s ever read this book, which surprises me because it’s like, oh, you have okay. I feel like I mentioned it No, everyone’s like what’s up.

Lauren: time ago. Yeah. We read it in school.

Aileen: Yeah. Okay. So,

Alisa: well, we read, I am the cheese,

Aileen: so I. Yes. And I remembered I am the cheese because I honestly couldn’t remember the name of this book, but I remembered it was by the author who left his phone number at the end of a book. And he left his phone, his personal phone number at the end of I am the chiefs. Like it was back in the day where you could do that. And he was actually take calls from readers, which is in this day and age amazing and crazy and all that. But, [00:08:00] um,

Alisa: And to add on to that, he’s local.

He he’s from lemon stir. He wrote for the Fitchburg Sentinel his entire career. I work with his nephew. Yeah, the department of, um, my, department head is, is his nephew and I’ve talked with him about his uncle and the book and, um, yeah. And the whole, phone number situation where would talk about, oh yeah, my, you know, my uncle would get these phone calls and, but, but he loved writing and he loved the kids and, um, yeah, but he’s a local guy,

Josie: But it’s kind of the same now because people can reach out to you on Twitter.

Aileen: Yes. True.

Josie: it’s like, you can hang up. If somebody is crank calling you or saying terrible things about your book, like erase what somebody tweeted about you. So it’s actually even worse. Now. It’s worse

Aileen: true. It’s more permanent.

Josie: people are expected to have your quote unquote phone number now.

So keep going, keep

Aileen: Okay. So this book is awesome. Um, I actually, I know I read it when I was little. I didn’t remember it. I re-read, it, [00:09:00] it is about a kid who refuses to participate in a school fundraiser. That is the plot, which sounds like it’s not going to be an interesting book. It’s just an amazing book. It takes place at a boys Catholic school. I feel like as soon as you say Catholic school, you know, like evil, bad things are going to happen. So it’s wait a minute. Can I just, can I read you the, I think I sent you guys a screenshot of the opening. Let me, I just want to read the first couple sentences. Cause it just kind of like gives you a sense of the tone of the book. Um, so it starts, they murdered him as he turned to take the ball, a dam burst against the side of his head and a hand grenade shattered his stomach. So you’re talking about him playing football, but right there is just, the whole book is really dark and violent. It’s about all of these boys in this school and there’s like the secret society called the vigils and they basically control everything within the school. Like they basically, if they tell you to pull a prank in your student, you do it. Like they work with the [00:10:00] teachers, the teachers know they have power, so they’re constantly. Power struggles between the teachers and the secret society and the students. Um, and in this book, the main character decides the vigil. Th the society tells him not to participate in this fundraiser, which has become incredibly important in the school. He does it, but then he’s only supposed to refuse for the first couple of weeks. But for some reason, he decides he’s just gonna keep refusing to participate. So he basically is defying the school, he’s defying the secret society, and it’s. just going rogue on his own for unknown reasons. It’s just, it’s really about, I don’t know, like the cruelty of kids and specifically boys and as teenagers. think what’s so, interesting is the boys get really like physically violent. Like they’re cruel, they’re violent. They’re mean, and there’s just something very animalistic about it. And I think about that versus like other books which have [00:11:00] girls, or even just thinking back to high school, like it with girls, it tends to be a little more like psychological warfare, you know, like, like to kind of mess with your mind. And Yeah, it’s a little more personal. These boys, it just gets to like this very, very basic, like cool little level, but the book is, the descriptions are amazing. It’s so well-written it’s and it just kind of sucks you into this sort of very carnal world. Um, and the other thing I found interesting about it is it makes me sad to be a grownup cause these little boys just like, look at their parents and they’re like, oh my God, what the aesthetic lives you live, like there’s this other section? The thing about this book is there are just so many great like sentences and phrases that jump out to you. Um, so I’m just going to read another part, which you normally wouldn’t do, but it’s just so profound. Um, so Jerry is thinking this was this all there was to life after all you finished school, founded occupation [00:12:00] got married, became a father, watched your wife die and then lived through days and nights. It seemed to have no sunrises, no dawns and no ducks, nothing but gray dress. I was like, Oh, God, like

Alisa: Oh, yeah, that’s terrible.

Josie: very Catholic.

Aileen: Josie, I need really to the Catholicism. Um, so the book is,

Alisa: Yeah.

Aileen: book is very dark. It it’s. So it’s interesting because are you there? God, it’s me. Margaret was on ban book list because it talks about restorations. This one also has been banned a lot because it’s so violent. Like there’s actual blood, that’s not period blood. Um, and then

Josie: Yeah.

Aileen: is not happy. people had a really hard time with the fact that it wasn’t a happy ending and actually the author, there’s a footnote from him and the end of the book. And he talks about, he had a really hard time selling the book because there were publishers that wanted him to change the ending or change other

Lauren: Um,

Aileen: he felt were important to the story. He just flat out refused [00:13:00] found a publisher who believed in him and he it written and of awards, but.

Lauren: and it was read in schools. I mean, that’s where I read it. I read that and I read, I am the cheese. I don’t remember old we were when eighth,

Alisa: I vaguely recall that in eighth grade, I am the cheese eighth grade that in flowers for Algernon and I always mix those two up, but.

Josie: Eileen. Why did you pick this one? Like, was it just because you were like, I remember it was good and I want to reread it

Aileen: You know, it’s funny. It’s always stood out in my mind. Like when I, when we were first talking about starting this and I wrote down all the books, I could think of, this was one of them. I honestly didn’t remember a single thing about it,

Lauren: Yeah,

Aileen: about it that just kind of stayed in my psyche and maybe it’s. Yeah. and maybe

Alisa: yeah.

Aileen: I don’t know, it’s kind of fascinating here about hearing about the secret lives of boys, you know, and how evil they can be. And it’s also just really written. It was actually based on the author’s son actually refuse to participate in a school fundraiser for, he had [00:14:00] they didn’t say why, but for whatever reason, his son was like, I’m not going to participate in his parents, supported him. And that was the end of it. There wasn’t anything, but the author basically took that and then turned it into this incredible traumatic story.

Alisa: And on the flip side, I thought of dead poet’s society as like the, the more positive compliment where you have these private or, you know, these, these elite societies that, you know, the boys can become a part of. And then, you know, they have these clubs, but, but I think anytime you have. Uh, school in which kids pay tuition, you have the potential for that power dynamic between the teachers in the ministration who are supposed to be running the school and then the kids and the parents who say, ah, yes, but I pay you. So you do what I tell you. And I, and that’s just the basis of, of observation of fact, you know, just the, the potential for a power dynamic. I’m not saying it exists, it’s got to have existed [00:15:00] where that’s been taken advantage of.

Aileen: I could see that there are carrots, sir. Like I’m paying money for a product basically. And if it’s not at my level and what I want it to be, then I’m going to be upset versus something that you get for free. And you’re like, well, I guess I’ll just take it as it is. And also I feel like there’s a certain, I mean, there’s a level of privilege that comes with being able to pay for your child to go to school somewhere. So different types of people.

Josie: so why would you recommend this book? Like what if somebody were like, Hey, lean, what, what should I read next? And why should I read it? Like, would you give this to any friend or would you, would it be like a really specific suggestion to someone?

Aileen: Oh, that’s a good question. Why am I making it sound terrible? Because it’s not a

Josie: No, it’s just, it’s like, like I’m sitting here thinking, would I enjoy that book? Well, there are lots of books. I decided to read them because want to get wrapped up in the language. There are books that I read just for fun, like totally for fun. There are other books that I read because you have to read them because, you know, everybody knows that book and [00:16:00] you don’t hear the ding dong who hasn’t read it, but like, where does this book fit into? Like, you’re suggesting it to people. Like, how would you just be like, no, you have to read this because it’s just so well written. It’s like on another level or it made me aware of something socially that I wasn’t aware of before, blah, blah, blah.

Aileen: That’s so interesting because I’m thinking like who I would recommend this to. I think it’s actually good for teenagers to read I think

Alisa: Yeah.

Aileen: teen has ability to be cool somewhere within them. And I feel like just being aware of the

Josie: Yeah.

Aileen: that you

Alisa: Yeah.

Aileen: could be so like, you need to think for

Alisa: Yeah.

Aileen: and that’s what the main character does. He stands up for what he believes in defies teachers that like secret society who runs the school. No matter what they do to him, he stands up for what he believes in and you side for him and you root for him, but you can also see how the other kids who are going along with this, like you see how they get swept up in that and how start behaving that way, because they feel like they have to, [00:17:00] and it’s what everyone else is doing. And I think that’s just a very true thing for teens. I think it’s true for adults too. I think honestly. every phase of life

Alisa: honestly.

Aileen: caught up in group

Alisa: Okay.

Aileen: and doing what everyone else does and what you think we should do. I live in the suburbs now and I’m buying my first pair of Uggs and I’m like, is awesome. I can wear sweatpants all the time. I can look like a slob

Alisa: Um,

Aileen: do I’m going to do it. So it’s a positive thing

Alisa: uh,

Aileen: but it’s still like Okay. And like, when I was living in the city, never into fashion, but know, it become aware of like

Alisa: Yeah.

Aileen: what everybody else is wearing and doing. And you sort of, even if you’re your own person and do your own thing, you’re still influenced by what everyone around you is doing.

Lauren: Okay.

Alisa: Um,

Aileen: it to the extreme. I mean, it gets really

Lauren: Okay.

Aileen: harsh, but you read it and you’re like, Yeah. I could totally see that happening. So I just, I think it just puts things into perspective. It’s also just really well-written, it’s just

Lauren: Yeah,

Aileen: book.

Josie: Okay, cool. [00:18:00] Okay. Lauren.

Alisa: I’m going to interrupt you and say I’m I cannot wait to start talking about my book because it goes hand in hand with aliens.

Josie: Oh. Oh. So Lauren, do you mind, if you can put your knitting down later, you can pick it back up and then we can go to Alyssa first. Okay, Alyssa. She, she was like, I can’t wait one second longer. I

Aileen: They are they’re So similar.

Alisa: they are incredibly similar. So only boy characters. It’s a group of kids. It’s incredibly violent.

Lauren: wait, wait, what do you read? What did

Alisa: So I read Lord of the flies

Lauren: Yes, I was thinking about that while, um, was talking and I could not think of the title

Alisa: and the reason why I picked it was because my son in 10th grade is reading it. Now. He had just finished reading it. And I distinctly remember sitting in Mr. Herxheimer’s class and, um, Kelly bursting out, wait, who’s Jack and [00:19:00] Roger, as we were trying to keep track of all the names,

Aileen: too.

Alisa: right. And,

Lauren: hearing about that.

Alisa: you know, and then dissolving into a sophomore at laughter over the Jack and Roger. Um, and I was talking with my mom about this today, in fact, and this was one of the books that she read her first year in college. And so part of the conversation was the fact that kids younger and younger are reading this. And it it’s about a group of boys who are stranded on an island somewhere in the Pacific. And there may be like 12 at the oldest. but it never occurred to me to think, oh, this is not representation because it’s only boys. Like, like, I think if you were telling a true story, like the chocolate war or Lord of the flies, where it is an isolated group or very specific group that is meant to [00:20:00] describe just that group, you’re much more willing to fully embrace, you know, how monochromatic the representation is, because that’s what the story is about.

Aileen: a great point. Yeah.

Alisa: this book really bothered me. I’m shocked that kids in 10th grade read it, but I think reading it as an adult, I process it so differently than I would have as a kid, because as a kid, I could only access it from what I knew. So in, I believe in world war one, there were a series of evacuations of students from some European islands are an island off Guernsey island. and I thought this was related to the kids that were evacuated from that. So I was initially picturing this as a world war one, but then when I’ve read about it, this was meant to be like a world war three, kids being evacuated from a nuclear attack. I don’t think that really plays a part into understanding what happens on the island, but[00:21:00] This could have happened in the past. It could happen in the future. It’s it really is timeless in that sense. And so it’s this group of British boys who range in age, let’s say from like 12, those are the begins down to the little ends, which are maybe like kindergarten, first, second, third grade. And, some of the kids know each other and, and they clearly come from the same group. And then other kids have no idea who each other are playing. Get shot down as this evacuation is trying to happen. Half the plane slides down the mountain, um, on the island that it lands on, goes into the sea. Everyone in that half of the plane are dead and the rest of the kids, um, kind of are scattered about the island. And then one of the characters, Ralph gets The conch, which is a shell that he can blow in. And the kids scattered about the island, hear this sound, realize that it’s being made by a person, everybody congregates. And so everybody comes together and that’s [00:22:00] when people decide who’s going to be the leader, what type of organization? and they create of a society with a couple of rules, um, such as they know, they need food. They know they want to have fun. They want to try and keep some levity and they need a fire. That’s what’s ultimately decided by Ralph, need a signal fire so that if a ship passes by, they can be rescued. And as the story unfolds. Time passes, but you don’t quite know how much, you know, they, they talk about how the scar that was created down the side of the mountain, where the Plains slid, um, the scar has been overgrown by vines and the forest has retaken it. And the boys now all have long hair and they’re wearing the remnants of their school, boy uniforms. And then there were pigs, wild pigs I’ve as a scientist and ecologist. I have no idea how wild pigs could be on this island I mean, they’re herbivores. And anyway,[00:23:00] and, and I think part of it is the brutality in which the hunting group enjoys hunting and the violence around the hunting. it’s not a respectful approach to this animal is going to sacrifice its its life so that I can sustain mine. It’s more this savagery and wildness and violence. Um, and the pinnacle event happens, it starts with a big hunt. They identify all the pigs that are down at the shoreline and the south. Is feeding all of her piglets and that’s the cow, the pig that they identify that they want to slaughter because it’s the biggest. And so that’s the one they go after. And I’m thinking like, as a mother, like, no, don’t hurt that pig. It has all its piglets. And then as a survivalist, I’m like you idiots, you just killed all [00:24:00] those piglets who now can’t grow up to be more food for you. So I was so tense reading the book. I mean, I was in knots because the final scene is them hunting. One of the other kids it’s so disturbing. And I asked my son if he liked the book and he was like, yeah, it was good enough to read. Um, and my son’s not a reader. but he, you know, he liked it enough. He was able to tell me about it. He said, Thankfully, he probably identified with Ralph who was like the one, you know, was, was the, the most grounded and the one who really was trying to make all these good decisions and bring people together. Um, but so my, my last point about it is I went and I talked with one of our English teachers and I said, why do you keep reading this? And he said that it’s very difficult to find young adult books that only kids can relate to. Right. Which we’ve talked about in the past, you need to be [00:25:00] able to see yourself or, or at least relate to a character. Um, and, and that gives you more buy-in to the book. But my English teacher friend was saying, not only do the kids see themselves, or at least see a group of their peers, it’s really well-written so that it’s dense, it’s thick. There’s lots of symbolism. Complex sentences. It takes effort to read it.

Aileen: Where we finally unraveling the mystery of what’s the literature.

Alisa: right. Um, and, and he said, well, maybe, um,

Lauren: has elements,

Alisa: right. It’s it’s not simplistic writing it’s complex. And that gives the English teachers something to teach about. It’s not just the characters, but it’s the way it’s written. It’s the way the story unfolds.

Josie: I’ve just, I’ve always wondered if anyone like any psychologists have ever stopped. Broken down, whether or not that’s probable, whether or not it’s probable [00:26:00] that a group of kids would devolve to that point where they’re murdering each other and chasing each other. You know what I mean? Killing each other with sticks, basically.

Alisa: So I was the author, never intended it to be this way. I was reading about, you know, just the history. I just looked up Lord of the flies, Wikipedia, the history of the author and his original book was meant to be a rebuttal of what he thought was not a realistic portrayal of kids abandoned on an island that I forget the name of the book, but it was more like a sort of happy, fun time, everyone, you know?

Josie: Peter pan situation.

Alisa: And so he wanted to write something a little more realistic. And when he started, you know, shopping around publisher said, no, we don’t like this. And he finally found an editor. He ended up taking out the entire first part of the book, was more about the world war three nuclear evacuation and. ultimately he ended up saying, [00:27:00] know, I can’t even bear to read the book that is, is produced. It’s not really what I had meant. So I don’t know how much of this was created because it’s so fantastical and it sucks you in, I mean, it’s a compelling story, but I don’t know that it was ever written with the intent of this could really, really happen.

Aileen: And that goes back to our earlier discussion about publishers and their influence and what happens when there’s only like, you know, five groups of people deciding what everyone reads. also wonder what’s the story. If it, if it was a group of girls, How would that be different? So I do wonder, like, what are the flies female edition? What would that be?

Josie: I’m going to braid the hell out of your hair. You sit down, you’re getting another pony tail

Lauren: Okay. So my book is not on that level. Somebody said simplistic. It is so simply written. And so just escapist reading, um, it’s almost like kind of weird to talk [00:28:00] about it after talking about those two. Very, yeah. So thank you.

Josie: dune and that’s super dude ish too. So yours

Lauren: Oh my God. I should, I should have, um, invited Ana to join us because she’s what I call the dune head. She’s so into it. Um, she’s also into, that shallow may kid Timothy. So she was, I know he does. He does. Anyways. I spoke. I just, We have, uh, at work at the library, we have a magazine ban where people can give and take magazines. And somebody had thrown a book in there and I was like, oh, well I better take that out and send it upstairs. Maybe they’ll it in the collection. But then I ended up keeping it it’s brand new. It’s a season for second chances by Jenny Bayliss. It’s an escapist read it’s about community. It’s about tradition. It’s about finding who you are in your life. Um,

Josie: So what happens in the book? Like give us a quick spoiler free [00:29:00] summary.

Lauren: yes. Spoiler free. Okay. You know, but it’s about this woman who catches her husband cheating on her. but, um, she’s had it at this point. She’s like, I’m done, this has happened before I’m done. It’s very funny. So, the husband, they own a restaurant together and he’s, you know, having sex with his waitress on a table, in the, in the, the restaurant. Okay. I know. And I have kids in the house, so I’m trying to be really delicate about this, but, and, um, you know, what’s that expression? Um,

Josie: There are so many expressions going through my head right now, Lauren, the specific,

Lauren: pillow sitting on the sofa was that like, carry on

Josie: oh, Keep calm. and Carry on.

Lauren: on. Thank you very much. It’s all over the place. Why can’t I think of it while this is all going on, she’s noticing this pillow in the background that says that, and it’s just like the whole irony of it, you know? So she leaves him, she goes and holds up in a, in a hotel, for a while and has her, you know, cry out her depressed, you know, doesn’t shower for days. And then she’d be emerges. And she [00:30:00] ends up, money lists because her husband had frozen the bank account. Cause he thought she’d go out and like spend it all or something. And so becoming like a guardian of, uh, somebody’s home for six months while this person is away and, um, Has some conflicts with the person’s nephew, who she eventually falls in love with. Of course,

Josie: Mr Darcy.

Lauren: and it’s, it is that’s exactly what it is very common for it. Like, I can’t get him out of my head.

Alisa: That’s not a bad thing.

Lauren: Johns or her name. I should tell you, her name is Annie, but they also have a book group. You guys. So they, she makes these wonderful women supportive women, strong women. And they form a book groups. So they read books by Victorian authors and they meet in this what once used to be a tea house and part of the property. So she ends up being a restaurant owner and a chef up her own cafe. it’s about, it’s about the struggles between her, the man, you know, [00:31:00] what’s going to happen to the property. She wants to buy it. She’s getting a divorce, you know, There’s nothing to this book that is going to make you like go to bed and think about it. Okay. You’re going to go to bed and fall asleep, it’s so relaxing to read you giggle. And um, it’s the perfect time of the year to read this because takes place in the fall and ends in Christmas time. There’s no symbolism. It’s probably not considered literary, but I’ve enjoyed over it. And, and I look forward to reading it as, you know, as my kind of escapist thing, you know, at night, um, just to get away from everything. So I recommend reading books like this on occasion basically is What I’m

Josie: Awesome.

Lauren: A season for second chances by Jenny Bayliss. It’s a fast read.

Aileen: I think there’s something interesting about the fact that think a lot of women like these like romance, novels and movies, where they’re very predictable.

Lauren: It’s super predictable.

Aileen: like they [00:32:00] hate each other and you’re like, what? They’re going to fall in love at the end. You’ve known

Lauren: Yeah. There’s,

Aileen: and nice about it.

Lauren: there’s a buildup of tension, sexual tension and your leg. Yeah. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen then it doesn’t cause the phone rings, you know? but you know, the good things are going to happen at the end. Um, nobody’s going to get hurt or die and you’re not going to feel sad about it and you’re not going to go to bed at night worrying about it. but the characters are likable, you know, even if they’re not supposed to be, they’re still likable, like the ex that soon to be ex-husband is still likable, you know, in his own goofy  way. I had chosen a different different book for this week. It’s a book I’ve read. It’s a book. I really like, I sat down to read it and I couldn’t get past the first chapter. I was like, this is just too So you have those moments in your life where you just can’t, you just can’t, you can’t, you can’t internalize it. And that’s where I am. So

Josie: Well, I just, I just got my, my butt all the way through dune. [00:33:00] Do you know, it’s almost a 200,000 word book. I do now.

Alisa: Author. That means something to

Josie: Yeah.

Alisa: Yeah. What does that in pages?

Josie: that’s like, that’s like an 800 page book. 800, 900 page book.

Lauren: My daughter just finished reading it and she just, oh, she loved it.

Josie: I love it too. And I’ve, I’ve read dune before the first time I read dune, I was, I tried to young. I was like, what the hell is this? Here’s the weirdest thing about dude, in terms of science fiction. It’s like this cornerstone book now. Like we understand it as being part of it’s very canonical. Like everybody knows dune. In fact, it’s the best selling science fiction. Novel of all time now.

Alisa: Really.

Josie: Yeah, So dune came out in 1965, And, um, Frank Herbert, the author, he was 45 when the book came out and he had written a few pulp adventure stories. He’d published a few novellas and even like a couple of novels. but at the time he didn’t really do scifi. Like there just wasn’t that much Saifai [00:34:00] around in the forties and the fifties. And he started really getting into Saifai like in the mid to late fifties. And his first novel was about a conflict over oil consumption. Like he was almost prescient in the fact that he understood that at some point there were going to be wars and he had this It was, I think it was like a submarine story where, um, there there’s all this war going on in the world over oil and dune kind of picks up on that. Like dune is about spice trade and spice is necessary for space travel, the spice Milan, and it’s only produced. It’s a psychoactive chemical that’s produced on only one planet in the universe. And this is far far in humans, future it’s 10,000 1 91 or something like that. but it it’s way far in the future. It’s only produced on one planet. thousands of planets have been explored and settled by humans, but it’s [00:35:00] all an empire. So there’s one emperor. And then there are all these people who own planets. And then there’s the spacing Guild, which is like this super powerful corporation it’s called the Chome corporation. And it’s all about getting profits and spice. And then there’s this other group they’re called the, bene deserts. And they’re called witches. And they’re these women who’ve been doing this secret breeding program. you have like this religious aspect that goes with the bene Jesuits. You have this money aspect with the chum. Then you have like this patriarchy with the, empire. And he kind of gets all of this together one of the clearest. Unique in interesting situations I’ve ever read. book has no structure. Like it’s completely structureless. It’s kind of like go into it. And you’re like, I have no idea what’s coming up next. And it’s, it ends like he just basically got to the bottom of the page and went and I’m done. So

Lauren: Yeah.

Josie: but what he is just [00:36:00] absolutely remarkable at is this world building This is why it’s like a cornerstone of science fiction. But at the same time, it’s so unique. Like there’s literally nothing else out there. That’s kind of like it. So the history behind dune is that. He got the idea while he was writing a magazine article about the Oregon dunes. And he did all of this research and never even published the article. Um, his wife who was also a writer, she was an ad, an ad exec. And so she was like writing jingles and she had enough money to kind of support them. So he didn’t have to work. So he could write full time. This book was passed on by 20 different publishers he finally got it kind of, sort of published in installments. Like somebody agreed to do it. And then one person fell in love with the book and gave him a $10,000 advance. I mean, it was done in this really weird, weird, weird manner, um, put together over time. but as soon as it came out, it won the Hugo, it won the Nebula and it was like not a [00:37:00] commercial success, but it won all of these huge scifi awards. So it took like another 10 to 15 years before it built up to the point where it was like a commercial success. And, um, and then like it took 20 years before people were even thinking about, you know, it was made into a movie. So it took like a really long time for dune to take off it’s such a complicated book and yet it’s still considered this like a cornerstone of science fiction. Herbert, the author He was really into mushrooms, the psychedelic mushrooms. They were, he used to grow them. Yeah, no. Cause in the spice mill launch is a psychoactive drug like certain people when they take this drug, they can see the future. They can see the past, they can go back through lifetimes forward and back like their descendants and all that stuff. So he’s this mushroom eating guy who spent way too long studying ecosystems and he He was also super into Zen Buddhism. So like he studied Zen [00:38:00] Buddhism. He took mushrooms. had this problem with money. he was like,

Aileen: he was.

Josie: The book is pretty trippy, but it’s not like I don’t, I don’t think he was ever like that. In fact, he got asked by a lot of people, if he was, if he had the super fanatical following, he still does. And to the point where it was almost, there were people trying to put together this religion, because he had like the that are in the book and how they have all of these, these sayings, like, um, there are a lot of religious tropes in the book, like, um, I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer there, all of these things that they chant they’re almost like mantras. And so people were trying to sort of create like the pseudo religion. And he got asked a bunch of times at that that was what he was doing if he was trying to make a cult. And he was like, what? Like, no, no, this is not at all. Like, I’m not trying to cultivate anyone or get anybody to use drugs or anything like that. He backed away from that. He was like, this is not a cult. This is, this is like, I was doing this [00:39:00] thought experiment on ecosystems and, um, and, financial systems and the, you know, he’s like, um, and he brought religion into it, but he never uses God with a capital G except like at the very end of dune. Um, Paul says God created a rakus to train the faithful. And that’s the only time that I ever saw God with a capital G even when talking about the bene Jesuits, they never talk about. Religion or right and wrong or a moral system. They just, they have these certain powers, like they’re capable of certain things like the voice they can control people. Their whole point was to create the quiz. That’s how doc who’s like.

Alisa: say that again.

Josie: So the Bennett jazz, the quiz ads had a duck, which is there, they’re a super being who can see the future, like really far into the future, see into the past and see into the place where women cannot look. So there’s this place that women aren’t supposed to be able to see. [00:40:00] It’s like the, and only a dude can see into it, which I was like, all right, whatever about that. But, um, So they’re trying to breed the quiz. That’s how duck he gets onto dune. And they’re looking for the Lisa , Lisa, who is the voice of the outer world. Who’s like their Messiah. Who’s supposed to lead them out of bondage because they’re all the people that native Iraqis are Iraqis. You know, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of similarities just kind of happened once. Um, but all the people on a rakus like the natives are being repressed by the Harkins and they’re being repressed by the empire and they’re being hunted down and killed because they happened to live on a planet where there’s a lot of spice so I’ve watched both of the movies like five times this week. I’ve read the book more than once and I’m still trying to get like what it is. And the only thing that I can think is that it touches on a little bit of everything that fascinates [00:41:00] people, this concept of this shadow company, like the CHONe company that control. Like oil or controls travel, then you have this Imperial side to it. That’s super brutal, really violent, like the barren harken. And it’s like this brutal violent murderous man. Um, so as the emperor, and then you have these Benny jazz witches, and everybody loves quiches. Like everybody loves that magical element to it. And you have this huge Messiah story. And this was back before people were doing the like before Neo was the one, like this was like dune was one of the stories to really capitalize on this Messiah idea. And so I think. That putting all of this stuff together in such a unique way made it this enduring book, but I’m still having a really hard time figuring out exactly how it fits in to the lexicon of science fiction. Like I still haven’t [00:42:00] figured out what that thing is.

Alisa: Sounds like a Comic-Con convention, you know, topic of for like a keynote speaker.

Aileen: The remake just came out.

Josie: Yeah. That’s why I got into it. That’s why I was like, oh, I’m going to reread that. I’m going to get, cause I saw the movie and I was like, dang it. That was beautiful filmmaking. And I was like, I got to reread that book.

Lauren: Um, my daughter went to see it with her friends because she loved the book and she just loved the movie,

Josie: Yeah.

Lauren: her friends were like, what just happened? Cause they hadn’t read the book. They were like,

Josie: Yeah,

Lauren: that about?

Josie: that’s a really confusing storyline. It’s an in the movie, in this movie, you don’t quite know yet that it’s a Messiah story. Like now we can sort of talk about what it is. It’s like we know it’s, it’s the scifi Messiah story. It’s a space opera. We can categorize it kind of in that way, but it’s not, it’s also this story about ecology. And he, he talks about that a lot. And he’s talking a lot about what it is to make and to destroy a [00:43:00] planet and how, how easy it is for human beings to come in and monkey with that and tip the balance.

Lauren: That’s really timely to talk about. I mean,

Josie: There are so many things in this that are prescient, like really the whole, the fight for oil, the fight for spice, the whoever controls, the spice controls the universe. And that’s like one of the main things about the book. And it’s sort of like he hit on that long before people were talking about what it is to. You know, have a war over oil and we had one.

Lauren: I would like to reread that I have some time to do that, like to really sit down and enjoy it.

Josie: yeah.

Alisa: So I don’t want to read it.

Lauren: No, that’s not bad. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea for sure.

Josie: It really, isn’t an Alyssa, there’s so many parts in it that would scare you. Or like there are parts of it that are super like needlessly, grossly violent and dark. And there, there are parts where I’m just kind of like, is he enjoying writing that? Like, I don’t know. You know, it’s kind of [00:44:00] like violence porn at a certain point where I don’t know, it just goes a little far. I know he’s trying to make a point, but, and another thing about this book is it was in the era before editors became super involved with. Science fiction. Like, so we were talking, you guys were talking earlier about how, um, with Lord of the flies, he was like, the editors were so involved with the process that he almost didn’t recognize the book anymore. And that it was exactly the opposite with science fiction, especially if you don’t go through tour, which was pretty much one of the only big Saifai imprints, um, But if you went through one of these super small imprints, there was no editor. They basically were like, and it’s published exactly as you wrote it, because we’ll just look through it for spelling errors and that’ll be it. And this book needed an editor. Like if this book had it probably would, it would have like much more focus and it would be much there would’ve been a lot of things taken out that I, I thought [00:45:00] went a little too far. So Alyssa would definitely scare you. I think.

Aileen: I just.

Lauren: I can tell you that I was going to say, I can tell you why I, why I enjoyed that book so much when I read it. I don’t know. I, but I, I mean, I, when I finished it, I thought that was amazing. But I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you why that was not something I normally would have read.

Aileen: I was just thinking that

Josie: Yeah.

Aileen: said, how you said there’s no real structure to it and they could’ve used a better editor or whatever, but how has an author, like he created an entire world and characters and ideology. So how do you do that without being really like, just feed Angelina, he discipline where you have an outline and you have structure, you know? Exactly. Cause it just seems like that’s so much to create.

Josie: First of all, it needed to be two books like that first book. It’s just, it’s like the fact that Villanova decided to split it into two movies at perfect point.

Lauren: So, you know, the [00:46:00] Lord of the rings series by Tolkien, I mean,

Josie: Yeah.

Lauren: those heavily edited or is that like something that just didn’t happen back then?

Josie: It didn’t happen back then.

Lauren: Those long trilogies. Cause I was going to say like, how do, how would you ever edit tokens work? You couldn’t,

Aileen: Well, and how did that, how did that change? Cause actually I am the cheese, the author mentioned it finally got published and it was barely changed from what he had written. Like the editor had a couple of minors. So at what point did editors start getting so heavy handed? Because it seems like that would have a huge impact. What we’re reading.

Josie: Some are, and some aren’t so some editors are just like, we’re not publishing this book. If you have part in it, take it or leave it. already own your book You’ve already signed the deal. You’ve already taken the advanced money they can simply not put your book out and your book will never hit the shelves they their foot down like that. I’ve never been put into a position where I’ve had to make. Kill switch choice. Like find them don’t publish [00:47:00] my book. Like I’ve never, I’ve never had that problem. Um, I’ve been lucky enough to work with people who wanted the book that I wrote. They just wanted to make it better. It sounds to me like when with Lord of the flies, they saw great writing there, but they were like, this is not a story I can sell,

Lauren: Yeah.

Josie: I want to help this writer. I want to get this writer going. So they’re like, okay, I’ll buy the book. But, um, it, this book is unpublishable as it is like, it’s just not going to find an audience.

Aileen: But it’s like any creative endeavor. It’s so subjective. So, I mean, do you have,

Josie: Yep.

Aileen: as a writer, do you have any say in who your editor is? Do you get to choose the type of person who critiques your work?

Josie: no, Usually you don’t,

Alisa: Yeah.

Josie: when a really good agent comes in handy. So a really good agent will say, I will bring your work to a specific editor at a specific imprint and say, this book is for you because you’re the right person to pull this off.  I’ve always been lucky [00:48:00] enough that my work went to somebody who wanted it as it was, but it just needed work.

Alisa: Interesting.

Aileen: is there a difference between like your very first book and how many notes you had on it versus now? Like, do you think you’ve gotten as a writer?

Josie: Oh, definitely. of my goals as a writer was I wanted to get better at the craft of writing with every book like that I wanted to learn. that’s how I go into my notes, like whenever I get a note on a book, even if I’m like, oh, you’re missing the point. You’re not seeing what I was trying to do. I go, ah, they’re not seeing what I was trying to do. How do I make it clear to the reader? So they can see what I’m trying to do instead of getting defensive about it. What I’m realized, what I try to do it, even though it’s always emotional, when you get notes and you always have this knee-jerk reaction to protect your work, there’s a reason that note is there. There’s a there that person’s trying to make this book better. And if you want to be a better writer, you, you gotta strip your ego away and say that I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish now, how do I do it? And you have to [00:49:00] figure it out and that’s just craft writing. That’s just, that’s, you know, going to school it’s and it’s hard. It’s hard. So Ayleen, can you tell us some final thoughts on your wonderful, fantastic book? The chocolate war?

Aileen: I’m just kidding. Um, Yeah. it’s a brilliantly written book about how cruel and awful poise can be to each other. And I think he uses boys, but I think really humans in general can be really nasty and get caught up in group think and just being to each other. But, um, it’s just, it’s, it’s, well-written, it’s interesting. It’ll kind of make you think. And if you have a teenage boy, he’ll definitely make you think. So I recommend it.

Josie: Cool. Alyssa, can you give us some final thoughts on Lord of the flies?

Alisa: Everything Eileen just said. I mean, the books are so similar group of isolated boys, Savage instincts. great imagery. We’ll leave you [00:50:00] disturbed. Um, yeah,

Josie: And Lauren your, your beach read.

Lauren: pal, my palate cleanser read. Um, I’m just, um, pro escapist reading. Um, yeah, should all do it. Yeah. You should not read Lord of the rings. You should read things like read fluff. It’s good

Josie: What’s it. What was the title of it again?

Lauren: A season for second chances by Jenny Bayliss.

Josie: And my final thoughts on dune are, I’m still thinking about it. This book is so complicated, it touches so many themes in society and politics in religion, in, our destiny as human beings, like our evolution. It’s just, there’s so many different levels to this book that I’m probably going to be thinking about it for a really long time. And I definitely recommend it for anyone who is up [00:51:00] for a 200,000 word book, do not drop it on your big toe.

Aileen: Wait, let me tell you one exciting thing that happened today.

Lauren: yes. Let us here.

Aileen: not really that exciting, but, um, so Y first of all, why called me lazy? Because we were reading a book and the word lazy came up. And so Ralph, why it’s like, what does lazy mean? And Ralph’s like, well, it’s when somebody just wants to lay around and do nothing. And then Ralph decided to ask him, you think mommy is lazy? White looked at me. And he said, yes. And so I said, do you

Alisa: Yeah.

Aileen: And he said, no. And I was like, okay, motherfucker, we’re going for a hike today. I’m like, daddy’s going to sit on the couch and watch football, and we’re going to go for a hike. So we went for her. Which is always interesting with like a four and a half year old. Cause you’re like, I can’t go too far. Like you always have to do the math and be like, if we go this far away to be able to carry him back when he has a tantrum and refuse to start walking, like anyways, we were walking, it’s like in a reservation in [00:52:00] New Jersey and he ran up his couple and asked if he could pet their dog. And they’re like, oh Yeah. of course. And I went to say, oh, thank you. And pet the dog. And I looked up and it was Zach Braff and Florence

Alisa: That’s correct. Oh my gosh.

Josie: Lauren. He looks so tired and

Lauren: I know, I know, I did all this yard work today. I’m exhausted. Fall a new England.

Josie: Okay. So I guess that’s it for episode four, season one, a fiction between friends. Thank you so much. You guys.

Alisa: it was fun.

Aileen: Bye

Josie: that was a lot of fun.

Aileen: to you next week.

Josie: You’ve been listening to fiction between friends to find the show notes for this episode, or to subscribe and get new episodes delivered automatically. Visit fiction between friends.com. Also, if you happen to have a moment and you’ve liked what you’ve heard, please help support our podcast by leaving a review on apple podcasts.

We would be immensely grateful. Thank you for listening.[00:53:00]

4 comments on “Ep.4: 3 violent books we loved and a palate cleanser.

  1. Shauna says:

    Hello ladies!!

    I read Lord of the Flies a couple years ago and honestly was a little disappointed in the violence aspect. Not that I like a lot of violence, but I don’t think it was as violent as it is touted to be. Maybe I have a high tolerance to violence. LOL! I tried getting my 14YO son to read it. He is not a reader but I thought maybe it would work for him. Sigh…. Maybe The Chocolate War would work. I’ll have to give it a try.

    I thought the Dune movie was pretty good but not sure I’m ready to delve into the books! I like big books so not afraid of that aspect. I think for me it seems too SciFi for my tastes. I tend to lean more fantasy but have read a few SciFi books the last few years I have loved so maybe I am ready.

    A couple of violent and dark books I have read the last year or so I have only read because it was an author I love and she has turned dark in her stories! “The Female of the Species”, “A Madness so Discreet” and “The Initial Insult” all by Mindy McGinnis. Great reads and I highly recommend them.

    As for palate cleansers, nothing wrong with them! My favorite ones are usually Nora Roberts or Janet Evanovich. Read what you love. No point in wasting precious time on something you won’t enjoy!

    Catch you next week!

  2. Aileen says:

    Hi Shauna,

    It’s Aileen. I definitely recommend The Chocolate War. Such great writing and such a dark, intriguing story. I mean, I have no idea what 14 year old boys are into these days, but it definitely spoke to me as a 14 year old girl many, many years ago! Thank you for the book recommendations. We’ll check them out and maybe include some in a future episode.

    Thanks for listening!

  3. Stella says:

    OMG! I want to hear more about the imprint! When are the new Starcrossed books coming out!!?

    Also, I see that you have the books listed on the website for us to read along. Will you be doing a forum or group for fans to join and discuss among ourselves?

    1. Josie says:

      Hi Stella!
      I’ll have more details on the imprint and dates for the new releases soon.
      And yes, we will be creating a forum on FB. I’ll make an announcement as soon as it goes up. 🙂

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