Ep.5: Books we loved about captivity and survival.

Unfortunately, Lauren couldn’t make it, but the remaining gang soldiers on without her and discusses captivity and survival stories.

Aileen re-read Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews and found that her opinion of this once beloved book had changed drastically since her teen years. Many of the things she adored about this “forbidden read” shocked her now, and the gang discussed how the Me Too movement has changed the way many books are viewed.

Alisa went full boy vs. nature with Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. This beautifully written book was a much-needed reminder of hope and self-reliance for Alisa after her encounter with Lord of the Flies last week, and she would highly recommend this book to parents to read with their middle-grade children.

Josie has her own story of survival to gush about with Dragonsinger by one of her greatest writing heroes, Anne McCaffrey. Part of the first fantasy series that Josie ever read—The Dragonriders of Pern—this feminist portrayal of a young girl who survives in a dangerous world on her own is still a cherished source of inspiration to Josie. Oh, and there are dragons in it. ‘Nuff said.


Alisa: [00:00:00] I was thinking about doing Bridget Jones’s diary, which I will eventually talk about because I love that book. Ella brought it with her to college as just one of her backup comfort books.

Josie: She’ll never read it there. She’s going to be too busy.

Aileen: She’s going to be out, getting drunk every night. She’s not going to be reading Alisa,

Alisa: not every night

Aileen: I guess she’ll be hung over some mornings. So then she can read it

Alisa: things a mom does not want to hear.

Aileen: Alisa’s like… my baby.

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.

Welcome back. This is episode five, season one. I’m Josephine, Angelini and joining [00:01:00] me are my dear friends. Aileen Calderon

Aileen: Hello.

Josie: and Alyssa Hillfinger

Alisa: Hi.

Josie: Lauren. Couldn’t be with us today, but we can still continue on in the librarian’s spirit while she has gone.

Aileen: We all have a little bit of librarian in us, but not literally.

Josie: I tried to get to the library. I was like, I’m going to actually look for these books and see if they’re there in the library. And I fully intended to do it. And I drove by and I went, oh, there’s a library I was supposed to. Oh, darn it.

Alisa: I know I was going to go pick up the book that Lauren had recommended for me, um, so that I could get ready for a future podcast. And I was like, I just can’t get there yet. So I ordered it

Aileen: how do you guys read? Like I read on a Kindle pretty much exclusively for this. There’ve been a couple books that I realized I want to physically own, but I. Kindle reader. So, I mean, I just press a button and suddenly I have a book and it’s magic

Alisa: I really like to have a book that I can flip through because I read most of my books backwards.

Josie: No, you don’t. You’ve read the [00:02:00] end. Alyssa.

Alisa: I typically read the last chapter first. I might read the last couple pages first, but then I’ll read the last chapter first because I need to know who to get invested in. Like it’s trust me, I’m working through this with my therapist about

Josie: Horrible

Alisa: some anxiety issues.

Josie: writers hate you, Alyssa.

Alisa: but so I, I usually start with the last chapter, but then, because I don’t, of course, shockingly really understand what’s happening. I then read the second to last chapter so that then I can quickly fill in, you know, why the last chapter is what it is. And so I, I usually end up reading at least half the book backwards before I start at the beginning.

Josie: I can’t believe you do that. Alyssa, you are the bane of my existence. do. You have any idea how hard it is to build a story So that the reader gets that swell of, oh my God, what’s going to happen to these characters so that they feel [00:03:00] that commitment.

Alisa: that makes me anxious. I seriously, I, I don’t like surprises.

Aileen: So you want to know. what you’re getting into. You don’t want to just dive in. You’re

Alisa: I don’t go see movies unless it’s been out for a while and I can read what the movies about before I go, like read the whole thing.

Aileen: I didn’t know. You were such a weirdo.

Alisa: a hundred percent. The only book that I did not read the last chapter. Josie, when I read your books, I read them faith. I started at the beginning. but that’s because I trust you as like, I know you and I trust you as not there. Um,

Josie: knew I wasn’t going to kill off the two main characters.

Aileen: Do you read, do you read like physical books or Kindle

Alisa: I, do physical books as much as possible. I really

Aileen: library or, do you purchase them?

Alisa: I typically will purchase them one because I’m lazy. and two, because I love books. the way they feel and smell, and I want to be able to read them a couple of times, probably because I don’t read them [00:04:00] correctly. The first time I read them again.

Josie: I just ruined it for myself. Wait, I got to wait six months till I kind of forget it and then I can read it over again.

Alisa: But there was one book, which I, think I’ll probably end up talking about, at some point, Anita Shreve wrote a book and it’s called the last time we met or the last time they met and the book takes place chronologically backwards, where it’s talking about this couple in their fifties, and then it cuts to them. The middle part of the book is them maybe in their late twenties, thirties, if I’m remembering correctly. And then the last part of the book is when they first meet as teenagers. And so when I read the book backwards, it actually fit chronologically. I mean, it destroyed the storytelling points, but,

Josie: Alyssa hill finger, destroying authors. One chapter backwards reading.[00:05:00]

Aileen: Well, I realized I grew, I grew up in a library household. Like we always got books from the library. We never, ever, ever bought books, at least. Well, I guess maybe sometimes, but mainly if you want to read books, you got them from the library.

Josie: I love having physical books too. And I love it when you get, even if it’s a soft cover, like they have these covers now that feel they’re not, it’s not velvety. It’s like this. Okay.

Aileen: I know what you mean.

Josie: They’ll have like embossed stuff. And so it has this texture to it, and then it has this really cool feel to it like the hand. And when you get them, you’re like, Ooh, and you can touch the cover. And I don’t know, there’s something really wonderful about it. You feel in touch with the story more with it. And I always that’s one of the reasons why I love this particular copy of this book was because I was like, Ooh, I love

Aileen: what book is that? What book are you holding?

Josie: And this one’s up the UK star-crossed but it has like the, um, like the words are in Boston. Like the feel of it’s like, I don’t know, what do they call this? I keep forgetting the ass. Like, what did you do to that book? Like what was,

Aileen: yeah. That’s something you have to start thinking about. [00:06:00] Cause I I’ve discovered, like I hate tiny paperbacks. I don’t really like hardcover books. I like that sort of like middle sized paperback book, you know what I mean? Like that’s, that’s the size that I like, why do they, why do they even make hard cover and paper? Like

Alisa: Yeah. Why do both.

Josie: Well, a lot of people prefer hard covers because it lasts longer. They’re sturdier. The, pages that it’s printed on inside the book are higher quality. So they don’t fade as quickly. They don’t yellow as quickly they use less acid in the ink. It’s like, it’s more expensive all around, like everything about it. The way the binding is put together is stronger

Aileen: This is the size that I like. This is, this is the right kind of

Josie: Yep. They’re lighter. So it’s easier to hold a paperback, but a lot of people prefer hard covers because they’re more durable and they look really good on a shelf. I know that sounds terrible, but you can prop them up. You can put them up on your shelf in different ways. And even with like a high quality paperback like that, not a pump like this is a pulp paperback, this little teeny one that I have here because I was poor when I bought it, I could only afford like a $6 [00:07:00] paper bag, but the nice ones, like those high quality larger ones, they do put them on good paper and with good ink. But it’s not quite as long lasting and durable as a hardcover.

Aileen: Wait. And then what about desk covers?  What’s

Alisa: The dust jacket gives you a built-in bookmark.

Aileen: That is true.

Josie: Yes, it does. Although I always end up using, like right now I have a band-aid. I was like, wait, why I just grab whatever’s next to me? And it’s like a little Olof band-aid I’m using my bookmark because I don’t like it when my dust cover gets all bent out of shape. So I never use it as the bookmark,

Aileen: I used to have a bookmark collection. I feel like I probably have it somewhere. I used

Alisa: it’s probably with your sticker collection.

Aileen: Probably

Josie: guys. I still have my sticker collection from fifth grade. Do you remember when we were super into

Alisa: Oh, yeah. And the scratch and sniff, but

Josie: have. I still have it. I love them. I still have them all. They’re starting to disintegrate a little bit. I mean, they’re not really stickers, but the oily ones are like, they’re I dunno. What are they like a [00:08:00] thousand years

Aileen: I would say those are really old Those are fossils. What you

Josie: They really are, but I still have all of mine. And I always like, when I, whenever I move it around, cause you know, I’ll be moving books around or whatever. I’m always like, oh my sticker collection. And I think about you guys. Cause we were so into collecting them and training them was that third grade we started doing that. Cause I remember it was at the Warren school. remember how there was that store? That where you could go and buy stickers, it was in the little auditorium and we could go up and buy stickers And stuff. I remember the three of us specifically getting stickers one day and putting them in our sticker albums together. Like we were sitting in the gym together on the bleachers and after we’d been to the school store, we were putting all of our stickers in our album together. Anyway, Oh, my God. I think I’m dying. My life is flashing before my eyes. Holy crap. Okay.

Alisa: so many, do you remember the dances in that gym

Aileen: school dances were terrible.

Alisa: notes? Do you want to go to the dance with me? Check yes or no?

Josie: no.

Aileen: I mean, yeah, we would [00:09:00] just pass notes in class.

Alisa: Yeah. I remember for some reason, well, seventh grade, we were in Ms. Payne’s class and I wrote a note and I misspelled the word. I couldn’t spell to save my life. And I passed you the note AYLIEN and I had meant to write the word fulfill, who is using the word fulfill in a note in the middle of,

Josie: Alyssa?

Aileen: The kid who reads books backwards.

Alisa: I wrote the word instead of fulfill, I wrote fearful because I doubled my EFS. and I just remember alien. You did not let me live. Rightfully so.

Aileen: I remember that at all, but I believe you.

Alisa: Oh, it left a mark.

Josie: Speaking of getting scarred lean, you had a traumatic experience with your book

Alisa: Oh, right.

Aileen: Oh my God. So I read flowers in the attic by VC Andrews, who boy, that book. So I read it, I re-read it as an adult because I loved her books as a kid. There was a whole series about this family. [00:10:00] And the thing that I remember there, I remembered from the book was that, um, it was about incest, which it’s a little weird that like teen books are, you know, hinged on incest plot. Oh boy, is it? So God, I can’t even like reading. And as an adult, I was like, I would not give this to my teenager, but I get the fascination. So it’s about. Uh, family, the dad dies. Um, and then the kids, the mother takes the kids. It’s a 12 year old and a 14 year old and then two five-year-old twins to her mother, her parents mansion. Um, but she tells them that she has to hide them in the attic it turns out she has to hide them in the attic because. Their father was also her uncle. So basically she married her half uncle and had kids with him and her father has disowned her. She wants to get back into her. Father’s good graces so that she can get in the whale and have money to live with her family comfortably. So the kids in that blocked in the [00:11:00] attic for three years. I started having like, COVID PTSD, cause I was like, oh my God. Trapped in an attic with two five-year-old. Oh my God. Like, this is like taking me back to last year when like my four year old was home all the time. My husband and I were trying to work and like, you know, we’re trying to keep them entertained and it’s just not easy. Um, so Yeah. and then the kids are slowly being poisoned by the mother and the grandmother who is incredibly evil. And then the brother and sister fall in love.

Alisa: Oh,

Aileen: I read it so fast cause I was horrified, but also just fascinated by it And I was, I had mentioned it to one of my, my college friends and she’s like, oh my God, I love those books. I was like, I did too. And she was like, I think, I think I love them so much because it felt like, like a dirty secret, like you’re reading something that you shouldn’t be reading. And I think that’s, I think that’s part of the appeal. I think it’s a type of like escapist fiction. And I think the type of [00:12:00] fiction that you like to read changes as your life changes. Cause I also now as a grownup and a mother just reading about how these children are treated, like once you become a mother, your DNA just gets reshuffled. Yeah, And I can not handle hearing bad things happening to kids. So it was just like hurting me to hear about these like malnourished kids living in an attic. It was just so twisted. But I could see as a kid, like you’re reading this thing and it’s also like. oh my God, what insane thing is going to happen next? So it’s just, it’s a crazy book and there’s a whole series. And I remember I read the whole series. I think I probably read it multiple times, but I also looked at VC Andrews and she only wrote, she wrote that series and maybe one other series. Um, and then she died and a man has been ghost writing for her, like ever since. So there are like 80 of her books out there and she wrote like maybe five of them. So there’s somebody writing under her, her name. [00:13:00] Um, which is interesting. I don’t quite know how that happens, but.

Alisa: Ghost rider under her name. Did they? I mean, they must have permission.

Josie: So I know that a VC Andrew died. her agent gave VC Andrews named to another of her clients. But I’m sure it has to be, it has to be approved by VC Andrews, the state, like whoever gets her royalties they have to say, yes, you can do this. You can use the name and print books under that name  an author’s pen name doesn’t have to be their name. Interesting.

Aileen: So, I mean, I’m sure her, whoever was left, wanted to continue making money off her success. So they found a way to do it.

Alisa: So do you think. you know, after the me too movement and, you know, more recently black lives matter and a lot of things that were okay in pop culture, I don’t know, five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago are [00:14:00] now out of the rotation of Acceptibility. And so, you know, is this one of those books that, you know, back in the day when it first came out was, you know, cutting edge and sucks you in and felt, felt a little, you know, dangerous to read is, is this the kind of thing that now we’re like, holy crap, like this is so ridiculous and so inappropriate that it’s no longer willing to, to have space in culture.

Aileen: incest is one of those things that has always been taboo and always will

Josie: that goes back. I mean, like after the Egyptians were, Pharaoh’s married, their sisters, everyone went, oh, that’s probably not a good idea. Let’s not do that anymore.

Aileen: It’s probably one of those unique topics that everybody feels the same about. It’s very unique in

Josie: It is. And it’s something like, Okay. So there’s this huge thing in Greek mythology, just a quick sidebar here where they talk a lot about a lot of the Greek myths are like, don’t eat people and don’t sleep with your kids and you got to wonder, [00:15:00] why did they have to point those two things out so much? Like, why do we have to, like, why did Oedipus, why was that a morality tale? Like, did this come up a lot? Like you slept with your mom, you know? So there’s like, it makes you wonder why these myths had to be written in the first place. Like, did people ever need like a little, a quick reminder, just don’t need another person.

Alisa: what, um, what was the, I think it was HBO, the TV show that everybody loved that was the red wedding and white and all the

Aileen: game of Thrones.

Josie: you couldn’t remember game of Thrones, like you were saying that stuff. And I was like, she can’t be talking about game of Thrones cause everyone knows what that

Alisa: Yeah. Not my cup of tea.

Aileen: Did you, did you watch a bet? Did you watch it backwards?

Alisa: I didn’t watch any of it, except I know that there is that big incestuous situation that happened quite graphically. I mean that, and that was a big piece of game of Thrones. Like, oh, I can’t believe the brother and

Josie: there’s [00:16:00] there’s more than one incestuous situation that goes on there. Yeah. And it’s, it is disturbing. There’s like this father who sleeps with all of his daughters, like way out in the woods, like it’s just real, like, there were a lot of things in that, that whole storyline that made me go. I don’t know if I want this in my head. Like, I just don’t want it in my head.

Aileen: Um, but, but it’s also like, so this book has been. I seem to just pick banned books cause this was banned. And then talk about where was banned

and are You there? God mark. But there, there are three such different books. You know, one was banned for talking about menstruation. One was banned because little boys were being too mean to each other and had, didn’t have a happy ending. And then, you know, this one, actually the brother raped the sister and then afterwards she, he feels terrible and apologizes and she convinces him. It’s okay. And not his fault. I mean, it’s just,

Alisa: Which is why I wonder if, especially post me too, that like [00:17:00] nothing about this book is, is okay anymore. Even, even to put out there as like a cutting edge,

Josie: but it’s not cutting edge. It’s sort of like this. I don’t see this as being an issue that many people have to encounter in their lives. Hopefully I, I did. I did read one thing about it though. Um, what was it? It was like the Iran hostage. This was in the seventies or eighties for four hundred and four, four hundred and forty four days people were kept in captivity. And one of the guys who had been held captive he said that flowers in the attic was the closest description of what it’s like, long-term captivity is like, and he said that it, it felt like he wasn’t talking plot wise. He was just saying that that’s what it feels like. That long-term captivity. She caught that really. Right. And she was also wasn’t she partially paralyzed like,

Aileen: she was in a wheelchair.

Josie: and so I think one of the things that I found interesting about this story was that she had had all of these [00:18:00] surgeries and she was in a wheelchair. She couldn’t walk and Formerly been able to walk. And then later in her life, she lost the ability and she was trying to get that feeling of not being in control of her own body, not being in control of her own life, um, being trapped. And she wanted to bring that to a story.

Alisa: so you’re, you’re talking about the author.

Josie: Yeah. The author. So she brought that feeling of, not being able to get out and do what you wanted to do. I think, and being a prisoner. Really?

Aileen: Yeah. I mean, I D I had such a strong reaction to this book, which I think is a Testament to her descriptions. It was just so I, I just, like, I had to get up and leave the house at one point and like, get distance myself from the book, because, you know, sometimes when you get, you get engrossed in a book and you feel like you’re there, like you’re in it. And you’re part of it. And I got to that, point where I felt like I was in it and I was part of it and I didn’t want to be, I needed, like I needed a break.

Josie: I like my brother, but not like that.

Aileen: And I’m like up, up in the top floor [00:19:00] of my house and like hear my kid downstairs. And I was like, Oh, God. But, um, Yeah. I mean, it just, if you want to escape, like this book just transports you and it’s, it’s not always pretty, but the genre is horror. Gothic. I think I saw it described somewhere.

Alisa: the book shows up on, um, Y a books from the eighties and nineties that have stood the test of time. So

Aileen: There’s something

Alisa: something compelling about it with the imagery and the writing and.

Aileen: it just feels like a dirty little secret. Like you’re like I’m reading this thing and I shouldn’t be reading it. Like I hope my mom doesn’t catch me because bad things are happening. And it’s also just so I think. it just so unique to what any of us have ever experienced. and. like, none of us would ever dream up anything like this book. So there’s just something really fascinating. It’s kind of like roadkill, fascination. I don’t want to look like I can’t stop looking.  I had to take like six baths after I read it, but Catholicism again, plays a big [00:20:00] role in it because the grandmother is incredibly religious and keeps warning the kids to like. Not sin and not look at each other. Like she kind of plants it. in their heads from day one. She’s like, don’t be naked in front of each other. Don’t look at each other. Don’t don’t, don’t think sinful thoughts, you know, and the kids are like, I don’t understand what, what you mean, but then as time goes on and suddenly they’re going through puberty and looking at it and they’re naked, they’re like, oh, I see. And then she starts telling the twins to call her mama. Like the teenage girl is like, well, I guess I’m like your mother now you can call me mama. So they become like this. family

Josie: Oh man.

Aileen: Alissa your book.

Josie: Alyssa, please tell us a little bit about your pick for this week.

Alisa: Okay. Ah, I read hatchet by Gary Paulson and this is, is it really a middle school book? It’s not why a, one of the reasons why I wanted to read it was because I couldn’t, I mean, Ilene, when you said [00:21:00] you were reading flowers in the attic, you know, to call back to our younger days, I thought, oh, I’ll find a, you know, a book from when we were younger and I couldn’t really think of one. And then I saw this one actually on my son’s book. And I remember reading it to him out loud and my husband and I would alternate reading the story and it’s such a great story. And, It’s a, there’s a 13 year old boy named Brian, who his parents are divorced. and he lives with his mom, but he spends the summers with his dad and his dad was in some deep woods, Canada doing something for his job. and so Brian got on this little prop plane and he was the only passenger with the pilot and the pilot has a very graphic heart attack. What was really interesting in the book is a lot of details made me go. I wonder if that would really happen. Like one of the points of a description when the pilot was having his heart attack was the plane suddenly smelled like body gas. [00:22:00] He didn’t call it farting. He called it body gas. And, and, you know, the classic kind of, um, the pilot was clutching his left arm and saying his shoulder hurt. And then he had tightness in the chest and then, um, cramps in his gut. And then the plane smelled like body gas. And Brian like looked out the window, the other side so that, you know, he, he wouldn’t make the pilot feel embarrassed. Um, so the pilot ends up having this massive heart attack dies. Brian ends up, crash, landing the plane, and it’s the story of his survival. And, and as he was getting ready to go onto the plane, his mom gave him a hatchet that he had tied. There was a belt and like a cool little strap to keep it in its holster. And he had put it on and he had kind of forgotten about it because there was a rush to get on the plane So he has this hatchet and that’s the only thing he has and the plane crashes. And it’s a story of, Brian realizing [00:23:00] what he needs to do to survive. And because it’s middle school, it, it’s a very quick read for an adult and it’s not super in depth, you know, with analysis of anything. I mean like 180 degree different with the way it’s written from Lord of the flies, even in terms of the description of where he lands in the lake and what the trees are like. Um, one of the things I really liked though, was how it’s only Brian, so you have this one character book and, and you think, oh, well maybe that’s not too interesting, but it is because he has these inner monologues. And,

Josie: I’m sorry, is it first person or third person?

Alisa: it’s third person, And even in the inner monologues, it’s still third-person. So for example, he saw these tracks come up from the lake and he was trying to figure out what they were. And at first he thought, oh, like some animal, you know, [00:24:00] came up and was playing on the sand and, and he said, City boy, he thought, oh, you city boy with your city ways. And he made a mirror in his mind and a mirror of himself and saw how he must look city boy with your city ways, sitting in the sand, trying to read the tracks, not knowing, not understanding. And he talks himself through what would an animal be doing? And then he realizes that they were turtle tracks and he dug to where they ended. And it was a nest of turtle eggs. And that was his first source of food after two days without having any food. And so he eats the turtle eggs because he had remembered an adventure series that he saw, you know, like the equivalent of bear Grylls in the wild, whatever, you know. Um, so he eats these snapping turtle eggs, and then

Aileen: just really slow for the rest of the book.

Alisa: He absorbs the turtle DNA. And he grows an outer shell.

 Um, but it’s, it’s really nice how it Chronicles [00:25:00] his transformation with assimilating into nature without any savagery. And I don’t know if it’s because he’s alone. Um, it does talk on like day three or four. He gets really sad, very depressed. He climbs to the top of an outcrop and lays there, looking up at the stars and he contemplates suicide because he’s so despondent. And he wakes up in the morning and he started to realize that he waked w that he woke up, but he resolves to live. Um, and, and that was a changing point for him. And then it’s about him assimilating into nature and learning to rely on his senses. And he said, he paid attention to the feeling now. And he stood in, waited patiently, knowing that he was right and that something would come turn, smell, listen, feel, and then a sound, a small [00:26:00] sound. And he looked up and away from the lake and saw the Wolf. And so then it, he talks about how he saw the Wolf and for a moment he was afraid, but then he realized it’s just the Wolf and the Wolf owns this land and the Wolf owns Brian. And Brian’s a part of this bigger thing, and Brian’s not afraid anymore. Um, but it’s, a really nice. Accessible for middle school kids, story of self-discovery and self-assuredness. And there’s two places where you refers back to things that happened to him in school. And he’s like, oh yeah. I remember learning about refraction through water and biology class. Cause he was aiming directly at the fish when he was trying to spear them and he kept missing. But then he remembered that images refract in water because of the way the light hits the water and bends. And so he knew that if he aimed below where he saw the fish, that actually would allow him to hit the fish. And so he started catching fish so he could eat [00:27:00] and he remembered back to an English teacher who encouraged his students to quote, get motivated. He told them you are your most valuable asset. Don’t forget that you are the best thing you have. And he recalls that.  You know, naturally as a teacher, I’m like, well, of course we impact our students so dramatically,

Josie: We’ll save their lives one day.

Alisa: right?

Aileen: Is there ever trapped in the wilderness? W w what’s the tone of the book? Like, are you worried about this boy the whole

Alisa: No, it does feel hopeful. And he even talks about, he calls it tough hope. He needed to have tough hope in order to get through. He knew he could do it. Um, but it was not going to be easy. And then ultimately he gets rescued, um, because a tornado comes and devastates his camp devastates the land where he is. But in the process, when the plane landed, it’s it [00:28:00] landed on the lake and sunk. And so the first part of this was him trying to swim out of the plane, make it out of the lake and then get his bearings to set up a camp. But the tornado had appended. And the plane. And so part of the plane was sticking up out of the lake in a shallow spot, and he had remembered there was a survival bag within the plane. So in one part of the book, it’s about him trying to access the, this survival duffel bag. And when he pulls it out, there’s a transmitter, but he doesn’t realize what it is or does it there. And there’s just one button that he flicks back and forth a couple of times, but that one button ends up turning on the distress signal that he didn’t even realize he was sending out. And it was 50 or 60 days that he actually was alone in the wilderness when the distress signal went out. but in the duffel bag, he has, prepared [00:29:00] meals. He had, you know, dried and canned meals. There’s matches. There’s a rifle. there’s fishing line, and like a makeshift fishing pole. And one of the things that he realizes is if I had had these, these things, I wouldn’t have learned how to do all the things that I learned how to do. Like he learned how to light a fire by hitting a rock against his hatchet, to be able to get sparks and that he needed a little nest of flammable things. And he tried different things. There’s a lot of scientific method in this book too. I love it. The trial and error, the bow and arrow that he tried to make and testing different wood. and so, you know, ultimately it w it was, he was glad that he didn’t have the survival bag when he first crashed, because he. Find that he was his own best asset. He could do all these things. And so it, it’s a very easy read. It’s a very [00:30:00] uplifting read.

Aileen: Uh, he said it was written in a third person. w how do authors decide what tends to write their books? Because I assume that was like, that was a conscious decision. He made to write it in third versus first. But like Josie, when you write your books, how do you decide what tends to write it in? Or did it just happen that.

Josie: No, no, no, you, you, you make a choice and I’ve actually had books where I’ve gone back and forth. Should I write it first? Should I read it third? Um, third gives you, you gotta stop and think about how big do you want your story to be third? You can jump character. You can go this person’s point of view, that person’s point of view. You can even go the bad guy’s point of view. You can have more of a world. Look. First person is super immediate because your reader picks it up. And they say, I, I saw him from across the room and he glared at me. And there’s a boy glaring at you subconsciously. So what do you want that immediacy and a smaller story, like, uh, cause you can only see that one character’s point of view, unless you’re going to write like dual characters, like boy and [00:31:00] girl, or

Aileen: Which seems to be a trend these days. I felt like every single book I read every chapter is from a different person’s point of view. It like moves around within time. It it’s I feel like it’s rare to read one words, just one character’s point of view these days.

Josie: Yeah, there’s a lot of wire that’s written that way though. Just from one character’s point of view, most people pick third person, point of view. Third person is the most cinematic you can get you. Cause you also, you’re not bogged down by that person’s particular way of speaking or thinking. So when you’re in first person, you can’t ever, if you’ve got like a 12 year old, you can’t get super frilly with your language because the 12 year old doesn’t think like that, you know? So the third person has always allowed people to tell wider stories, more, more cinematic, more like a movie. Um, but first person is wonderful because it’s it’s right there. It’s the kids, every single reader becomes that main character.

Alisa: What is second person

Josie: you

Alisa: goes [00:32:00] back and forth forth between third and second.

Josie: That’s strange. I’ve never thought, honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before. I do know books that are written in second person. A friend of mine actually wrote away book in second person. I thought it was brilliant, but it’s called Blackbird by my friend, Anna Carey. I thought it was just great because this person who’s lost her. I’m just going to real quick. It’s called Blackbird. It’s she wakes up she’s on a subway line and she has no idea who she is. So she has no memory. So you, you wake up, you look down, what are you wearing? It’s great because there is this she’s removed from herself so that you is that one person one step removal. Oh, it’s great. It was so well thought out. Anyway. I love that device and it worked fed so well into the book, but very few people write and second person,

Alisa: I think this, author uses it at times for that inner monologue where it’s, it  may, well, it may not be that he’s even aware that this is what he’s saying to himself. [00:33:00] And you’re right. You don’t often see it. So it’s not something that I really picked up on until we started talking about this. Uh, and I’m flipping through the book to see the different parts. I’m like, oh yeah, he’s talking about you, but it’s him. It’s me. It’s I, but he doesn’t say I,

Josie: Yeah. Second person’s confusing because it has like, this is sort of like the universal thing. Like nobody does that. Like, you don’t run away from a bear as also, nobody runs away from a bear. It’s considered a passive voice. So a lot of people don’t choose it to write in anyway, but one thing that, one thing Alyssa, about hatchet, how many moms today would give a kid, a hatchet You go see you later.

Alisa: Um,

Josie: going to go see bad. Here’s the hatchet.

Alisa: although some of the best times that I’ve had is when I’ve said to David, take this box of matches and go play with fire in the driveway.

Josie: Yeah

Alisa: Like sure. Go play with fire. I’m right here. I can [00:34:00] see what you’re doing.

Aileen: Wait, how old was he when you said

Alisa: Oh, no. 11,

Josie: that’s fine. I mean,

Aileen: Not like

Alisa: no,

Josie: horrible is going to happen and you’re right there, but this is like, okay. So just yesterday, um, mom, friend of mine was over for a play date with our girls and she was sitting there. She’s a little bit younger than we are. She’s also a Massachusetts girl. Um, my friend Stacy, gonna freak out cause she loves this podcast. Anyway.

Alisa: Stacy.

Josie: Hi Stacy. And she was like, she’s telling me about this fifth grade report that she had to do on any Oakley. And her prop was of course. An air, gun rifle. And like she went to school, dressed up like, and she had had to have the rifle to give her report on any Oakley. And she was like, can you leave? They let me into this school with this very real looking rifle, but it was also an air gun. So she actually could have hurt someone with it. And they were like, of course you come right on in to school and give us this report holding this potentially [00:35:00] you could put a kid’s eye out, but can like, just how much has changed. Like it made perfect sense back then, you know, in the late eighties, early nineties, but now it’s like, wow.

Alisa: Yeah,

Josie: So cool, Alyssa.

Alisa: I really liked it. And I don’t, so who, what am I trying to say? Who is my audience for this book? Any parent, this is a great book to read with your kid. It’s inspirational. It’s positive. It teaches the kid to believe in themselves and that things will be difficult and not feel good, but it could still be okay. And there’s hope. See, I come back to hope. There’s still hope in it. Um, so I, you know, it’s I do like this book.

Aileen: And nobody gets raped by their

Alisa: Exactly. And there’s no savagery or hunting of other children.

Josie: that’s cool. I picked an old series. This is actually, I picked two books. I said, well, since [00:36:00] Alyssa is doing hatchet and alien, I don’t know what the heck you’re doing, but I was like, Alyssa is doing hatchet. And it’s a survival story. I wanted to pick a girl survival story. And one that I remember from my childhood was dragon song by Anne McCaffrey.


Josie: But I can’t explain dragon song without first describing the first book in dragon flight by Anne Caffrey also, um, because I have to set up the world of Pern in order for you to be able to understand Menolly and this book, but it’s very similar. It’s about a girl who she survives on her own for a little while. And that’s the, that’s actually the majority of the book. Um, I had read the Hobbit before I read these, but these were actually dragon flight was pretty much the first fantasy book I ever read. And Pern has shaped. My psyche as a fantasy writer from the very beginning, it blew my furry little mind. I think I read it when I was like 13 or 14 years old. And Anne McCaffrey wrote this in 1968. Um, dragon [00:37:00] song came out in 1976, but 1968. And let me tell you a little bit about her. She was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This girl, she went to Radcliffe, which is a girl Harvard. Cause back when she went to school, uh, it was a boys school. and she majored in languages, but she graduated like Summa cum laude and she’s super smart. Right. She did theater for a little while she was into theater and then she wrote her first book. It was titled. Uh, restory, it was written as a rebuttal or sort of as like this condemnation of the way that women were portrayed in science fiction and fantasy in the fifties and sixties, I think she wrote it in like 65 or 66 or something. So she was a feminist deeply feminist. And, um, all of her characters, the way that she set up this world, it sort of hinges on a woman.  The whole world of Pern is it’s fanta-sci like sort of straddle science fiction and fantasy. It [00:38:00] feels like a fantasy book, but it’s actually science fiction because the whole world of Pern is actually a human settlement, like far, far, far in our future. human beings have sort of settled Th the Sagittarius sector and it has a golden G type star. This is all set up in the introduction of the first book. And it’s been colonized. It’s pretty much just like our world, except it has this one, satellite like this rogue planet that swoops in on this strange elliptical orbit. And when it comes in spores start falling from this parasite planet and then they sort of rain down like silver thread on Pern. And They burrow into the ground. They burn through skin. Like if you’re standing under them, you get burnt straight through like it’s acid. They eat into the ground and then they start to multiply and it destroys all the vegetation.  So the, the reason why it’s part fantasy is because the original people who settled it, they bred up these little fire lizards. And they bred them up to be larger because they could do this thing [00:39:00] where they could teleport. And so when thread would come, these little creatures would just teleport away from it. You couldn’t move fast enough to get away from thread as it fell. But if you teleported right before it fell on you, you wouldn’t get burned. So they bred them up to be these giant teleporting dragons that would imprint on people. like ducks, but they would communicate with them telepathically. So they were telepathic teleporting dragons that you could fly that would breathe fire and sear thread from the air before it hit the ground and like destroy the earth. And I was like, that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life. And the thing about it that really captured my imagination was this bond between the dragon and the dragon rider. So they would be telepathically connected and it was like instant love, instant acceptance, like it’s just the most loving, wonderful bond and when I read it, I was like, obsessed. I couldn’t get past this story.[00:40:00] The original story is about this girl, lessor, who, is out for revenge. she’s a teenage girl and she wants to kill a man. The dragon writers find her and they realize that She can communicate with their dragon. She tells them to stay back and all the dragons are like, what the there’s somebody else in my head. And they’re like, she could impress the queen. So there’s only one queen to the whole thing. It’s the golden egg. And the queen is obviously the most important dragon and they want to take her. And she’s like, she doesn’t want to go because she’s set up this elaborate scheme to kill this man who ruined her family, ruined her life. And she’s like this teenager and she’s a bad ass, like, and she’s got this great plan and it gets derailed because they’re like, you could. Uh, queen writer, like you could be pretty much the most important person on par and, and she’s like, I don’t want that, but then obviously, but you know, the, the egg hatches and she impresses with rum auth, which is the golden dragon and it’s like instant love. And it’s the only thing that she wants to do. Oh my God, I loved it. [00:41:00] And I wanted a dragon so bad. So that’s not this story, but I had to set up parent so that I could explain dragon song is the first book in the Harper hall trilogy, which is in the middle of the Dragonriders of Pern series. it comes after like the seventh book. I want to say something like

Aileen: can I ask you a question? Can I interrupt? when you write a trilogy or a series, do you go into it knowing that. you’re going to, or is it, do you just start a book and it gets so long that you realize It needs to be broken up into several books?

Josie: depends on the person. Back then you could get away with it. You could just keep adding to the world, but if you’re going to sell like a S a series, they normally, they want, at least they want to know that you can wrap up the story. They’re not gonna, give you a book deal. If you can’t like, say I need three books, but this is what I’m going to do for Like when I came up with the idea for star cross, I was like, it’s a modern day re-imagining of the Iliad, but in order to set it up, I don’t think I can do it in just one book. In fact, I see three books for it and that, that

Aileen: That’s a great, that’s a great pitch right there. I [00:42:00] get why you got a deal

Josie: I actually, no, I, I wrote it. I never pitched it. I wrote the book. I had no idea what I was doing. I wrote the book and then, they were like, how many do you need? I was like, I need three. And they’re like, okay. But I knew beginning, middle, and end. Like what was basically roughly going to happen in those books and. series didn’t use to be written like that. So this book is a complete book in and of itself, but you could feel that there’s so much more in the world. Like the storyline is complete in this less, it becomes the rider. It’s like, there’s an ending to it, but you know that there’s a lot more that could happen inside the world. And then, you know, she continues on in the series. That’s not quite the way that people go into it now because everything’s about cliff and we want the book to end and you want like a complete storyline. You want character arcs that feel fulfilled, but you want to know that they’re like, it’s the end of the season. It’s not the end of the show, basically.

Aileen: I have one other author, really question.  Do you think TV and movies, impact authors like to [00:43:00] authors? I mean, I’m sure it’s kind of rare to get a TV deal out of your book, but if it happens, it seems like a lot, especially these days. So do people sometimes write books and kind of have in their mind, like, would this make a good TV series or would this be more of a

Alisa: Or does that influence how it’s written?

Aileen: yeah.

Josie: I think you’d have to ask you to individually

Aileen: Do you ever, I

Josie: writer,

Aileen: ever think about it?

Josie: my background was in theater. So when I first said, well, how the heck do you write a book? I was like, I don’t know how to write a book. I know how to write a play. And I know how to write screenplays. Cause I’ve studied that at college. Like that’s what I did at NYU. I read plays, I read screenplays. That’s what I did. I understand the four X structure. I was like, I was wondering if you can do that in prose and yeah. Heck yeah, you can. You can do like that same structure, that three act for screenplays and five act for Shakespeare. I do a five X structure in my books and those reversals that I put in it’s all from Shakespeare. It’s like the end of act one is basically your inciting incident in a screenplay. So that’s the first 10 pages.

Aileen: [00:44:00] Um,

Josie: Uh, I, that structure works like those major plot points that you can graft into a book. You just can, you have more time? You know, you can expand longer. You can spend more time with the characters. I pick that structure because that’s what I knew. Like that’s, that’s what I felt comfortable writing within. And it does translate very well into either film or television. I didn’t write it for that reason though. I didn’t write it saying I’m going to write a movie. No, I was like, I’m going to write a book and if anything else happened, that would be gravy, you know?  Um, so just a brief, um, cause I feel like I’ve been talking forever. I’m sorry. You guys, I had to set up Pern. You don’t understand. Pern is one of the coolest worlds

Alisa: We needed to know about the threads.

Josie: You have to know about the thread. Like there’s no other way to understand it because thread fall is so dangerous and you can die. And if you’re outside, And during Fred fall, you’re going to die unless you’re mentally, you know why? Because she’s going to survive. And it’s, it’s very much like a, it’s a very feminist book. So it starts off [00:45:00] mentally is the youngest daughter in this C holds. So these holds are obviously with red falling, you have to have basically like these super fortified castle structures that are made of stone that protect all the people. Um, so mentally is, uh, she’s a gifted musician and at the very beginning of it, the Harper in her hall, he’s an old man. He was the only one who ever understood her. He thought her writing, like she wrote music and that’s, you know, basically it’s like a country bumpkin and she’s Mozart And so he writes to the master Harper parent to like, he sends her some of her songs and it’s like, basically she should be the first woman admitted to Harper hall ever because she’s a genius. He dies before at the very beginning of the book. A letter comes back from the master Harper and her father. Who’s the head of the whole, he’s like basically a Lord. He puts it up on a mantle and doesn’t open it. He won’t open the letter from the master Harper. And inside is like the master Harper saying [00:46:00] she’s a genius. Send her to Harper hall immediately. She needs to be trained. He puts it up there and nobody’s allowed to touch it. He doesn’t want her making music. He doesn’t want her touching an instrument. She’s supposed to be a proper young lady, even though she’s too tall. And she runs too fast. She’s too strong. It’s like all of this. And he catches her singing and playing music and, uh, he beats her.  All of her, all of her instruments are taken away from her. All of her music is taken away from her and she’s gutting fish with her mother one day and she cuts the Palm of her hand. And some of the slime from the fish gets into it. And it, um, her mom cleans it out half-assed and stitches it up wrong so that she can never hold another instrument again.

Alisa: Like

Josie: And yeah, she stitches it up wrong because it will be better for her as a girl if she just accepts what she can and can’t have now. Right. Because a woman could never be a [00:47:00] Harper. So why, why does she want, why, why even torture yourself with the possibility that you could become a Harper is what her mother thinks mentally runs away. And while she’s running away, thread starts to fall and she’s got like, it’s brilliantly done. It’s just so she’s out running thread fall. So thread like, as it spins off of. The parasite planet. It like has an event horizon and it sorta like Dawn coming up and she’s basically running faster than Dawn and she makes it up into this cave. And once she gets into the cave,  there are all these eggs that are in there and they start hatching and their fire lizards. They’re like a little tiny, what dragons were bred up to be. So like these little fire lizards, and they all start imprinting on her because she has food in her bag from running away and she starts feeding them left and right. She’s just like, oh my God, they’re crawling all over me. And like these little bit. So she imprints nine of them. And nobody even [00:48:00] believes that fire lizards are real because they always blink away. They always teleport whenever anyone tries to catch them. And she’s living on this clinic. With these fire lizards, and it’s all about how she’s feeding them. And she makes her own oil to clean their hides. Cause they’re like these little babies so she’s like basically become the, the midwife to all these tiny little fire dragons. And eventually she gets found because, um, one of the dragon riders, while he was doing his sweep, he saw her trying to outrun through. And this legend sort of Springs up about this girl who was such a fast runner that she outran thread and nobody believes him and he’s like, it happened, it happened. And eventually she’s found she’s taken to bend in wireless and Flohr who are like the hero of my heroes. They finally introduced her to the master Harper because they’re like, we don’t know what to do with this girl. And. He accepts her into Harper hall. He’s like, you’re the girl that we’ve been waiting for. It’s going to be difficult for you. You’re the [00:49:00] only woman who’s ever done this, but I believe in you and it’s going to be great. And they, they like try to fix her hand so she can actually play again. And it’s beautiful. It’s just this gorgeous story about, you know, this girl who was told over and over that, just because you’re a woman, you’re never going to have what you want. And she takes a chance on herself and she survives and she gets The life that she always wanted after, because of it. And I just was so inspired by this story, when I was younger and I would recommend it to any young woman who’s totally into

Alisa: I was what happens to her little fire lizards.

Josie: Oh, then she takes them with her. And they’re like these, they’re these beautiful, wonderful creatures that are very loving and silly and they all have these different personalities. And you know, it’s like this huge honor because fire lizards have become like a thing that only Lord holders get like super wealthy people. And she’s got nine of them. Like nobody knows what to do with her, but they’re, [00:50:00] and they protect her from thread and they, you know, they’re all these different colors, but they all have like these Juul, like hides and there they’re like cats that can fly in brief fire and teleport. And they’re awesome.

Alisa: I want a

Josie: cute. Anyhow. So the dragon right. Is a person that is, my first memories of reading fantasy and being like, oh my gosh, you can write about other worlds. You can write about stuff that might not happen here, but might happen someplace else. Like maybe on some other planet, there are teleporting telepathic dragons. Like maybe that’s true. And to me, that was just, it blew my mind. That’s it. That’s all I have to say about my beloved dragon writers of Pern

Aileen: What, different books we all chose

Josie: I know. Right.

Aileen: some similar themes and some not so similar things.

Alisa: Hey, are we doing Lauren’s recommendations for next time?

Josie: I think we I think that’s a great idea, right now we should all do our final thoughts, alien. Do you want to go first? Your final?[00:51:00]

Aileen: Um, flowers in the attic. I mean, if you want to read something. Completely messed up. And that sucks you in because just with every page, you’re like, what else could possibly happen to these kids? And you don’t want to know, but you can’t put it down. Like she creates a world and it’s riveting and it sucks you in, um, it’s really messed up. But, uh, I don’t know. I loved this book as a kid and there’s something about it. Like they’ve sold millions of copies. People. Absolutely love these books and they’re really fucked up. you’re into incest, this is your book.

Josie: Alyssa your final thoughts. And if you use incest,

Alisa: I will not.

Josie: give you 20 bucks. No, you’re not

Alisa: I

Josie: word.

Alisa: not know. Um, hatchet Gary Paulson. It’s a great inspirational survival story. It’s uplifting. It’s hopeful. It’s an easy read and I think it’s a great read to share with kids. That’s the whole point [00:52:00] of the book. I mean, that’s the true audience. Um, yeah, I really liked it. It was hopeful and it was what I needed after Lord of the flies.

Josie: And my final thoughts on Anne McCaffrey’s dragons song very much like Alyssa, it’s a hopeful, uplifting survival story about a young woman and a bunch of dragons. And that’s fantastic. So I highly recommend it to any young woman who likes fantasy.

Aileen: I think I need a mental palette cleanser after flowers in the attic. So I might read that one.

Josie: Okay, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us. We will see everyone next week.

Alisa: Next week.

Josie: Bye.

Alisa: Bye.

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, [00:53:00] please help support our podcast by leaving a review on apple podcasts.

We would be immensely grateful. Thank you for listening.

9 comments on “Ep.5: Books we loved about captivity and survival.

  1. Emma Gliesche says:

    alisa, I feel you! i also sometimes can’t take the tension and read the last page of a book before i should. i just need to know if my favourite characters will make it…
    also, josie, I’m so sorry – I did it with starcrossed too. and i vividly remember being very confused when lucas was referred to as “son of apollo”, i thought somehow it would turn out castor wasn’t his dad… wrong dad twist! haha but i guess i did that to myself.
    turns out, i’ve actually read “flowers in the attic” but i thought it was a fever dream… thanks for the reminder and the reassurance that i am not somehow crazy and made that up, aileen.
    and “dragonriders of pern” is so going on my christmas list. i loved the description so much! now i want a fire lizard…

    1. Aileen says:

      Hi Emma,

      It’s Aileen. I can’t believe there’s another backwards reader out there! Apologies to authors everywhere. And Flowers in the Attic 100% feels like a fever dream. What an emotional roller coaster. I’m still fascinated that so many of us read it as teens. Having an adult perspective definitely complicates my feelings about it, but I guess that’s the beauty of books – they always give us something new to think about. Thanks for listening!

    2. Josie says:

      Fire lizards for everyone! It will be a new holiday tradition! LOL

    3. Alisa says:

      THANK YOU EMMA!!! Exactly my point. And reading in a non-linear way leads to a greater depth of understanding and excitement for me as I read when I find the foreshadowing and little hints leading up to the end. It doesn’t ruin a book! Takes a backwards reader to understand.

  2. Shauna says:

    Hi ladies! Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! Each week I am surprised by how much more we have in common! Crazy! It must be because we all grew up at the same era so read the same things. I love it!

    Anyway, thoughts for today. I have never read Hatchet but do know of it. My son started reading it once a few years ago but never finished (no surprise there). As a similar and darker book to check out try Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis. About a girl who gets lost in the woods and all the terrible things that happen to her. Its a great story!

    VC Andrews was my favorite author for years in high school but after her third or fourth series the formula just wasn’t fun anymore. Really, how many books can you read about a girl with a hard life, abusive parents, and some sort of incest? I think it was the taboo of it that made it so appealing. My friend and I used to get each new book and read them together. She used to have a shelf, almost a shrine, dedicated to them!

    Josie, we are soul sisters. Seriously! Pern was one of my favorite fantasy series ever and I remember my mind being blown when I realized it was actually science fiction! I wish I remember where I left off reading them, sometime after she died and her son took over I think. I also never realized she was American! I thought she was just an old British lady! LMAO! I was sad when she died. Another series that blew my mind with similar genre twist was The Shannara books by Terry Brooks. Who knew they were actually dystopian future stories and when he connected one series with a different series I was amazed! And I read Blackbird and loved it too!

    Catch ya next week!

    1. Josie says:

      I think you’re my sister from another mother because no one seems to know about Pern but me (and now you)! It’s maddening that no one knows how awesome it is. And I read Wishsong of Shannara a million years ago, and I liked it but didn’t love it, but maybe I should give it another go. Sometimes a book fits into your life differently if you read it at a different time.

      Anna Carey is awesome and doesn’t get nearly the attention she deserves, in my opinion!

      1. Shauna says:

        I loved Anna Carey’s Eve series also.

    2. Alisa says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Shauna. I’ll have to try Be Not Far From Me!

  3. Mom/Marla says:

    Hi Kiddos, This was a great episode. Of course I always enjoy the hearing the memories. I have parallel ones. I also feel that I learned so much about how intentionally books are written. I have never been into fantasy as a genre and appreciate the insights. Your book choices were very interesting! Looking forward to listening to your next episode.

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