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It's safe to say 20 was one of the most difficult years ever for so many. That's why I'm here to ask you, how can I help? My name is Dr. Gail Saltz.


I'm a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, host of the new weekly podcast. How can I Help with Dr. Gail Saltz, brought to you by the Seneca Women Podcast Network and I Heart Radio join me every Friday where you can ask your most pressing questions and I will answer with specific advice and understanding.


Listen to how can I help with Dr. Gail Saltz on the I Heart radio app, on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcast.


You and me both is a production of I Heart Radio. I'm Hillary Clinton and this is you and me both where I get to talk to people I admire about topics that are important to us. And today we're talking about books, you know, books and a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I adore reading. It's truly one of my favorite things to do. I do it every chance I get. All kinds of books have kept me company of educated and inspired me.


And I thought, as we're moving in toward the holidays, we should all be thinking about how we're going to slow down and read books that will transport us out of where we are from our quarantine situations. So today I'll be talking to Marley Dias Marley, when she was just 10 years old, started one thousand Black Girl books. That was her campaign to collect and donate children's books that featured black girls because she just wasn't seeing books like that in her classes or in her school library.


I'll also be talking to Stacey Abrams now. You've heard from Stacey before on this podcast, but this time we're talking about something very different than politics. We're going to talk about the romance novels she writes under her pen name, Selina Montgomery.


But first, I'm talking with award winning crime novelist Louise Penny.


Louise has written 16 books in her Inspector Garmisch series. They're set in the fictional town of Three Pines, which is a place that she invented across the border from Vermont in eastern Quebec. And she has populated it with some of the most interesting characters in fiction. I love her books. I read every single one of them. And if you haven't read any of Louise Penny's books or you haven't heard Louise, wow, you have a real treat coming. I want to start by saying that I knew of Louise's work before I knew Louise.


And the reason I knew about her and started reading her with the very first book in her series years ago is because my dear, dear friend, that sibling was a big fan. And one of the things that Betsy and I did throughout all the decades of our friendship was to exchange ideas about books to read and books that could just literally lift you out of the day to day.


So Louise is one of those writers who we both mutually fell in love with. And then as fate would have it, Betsy got to meet Louise in the summer of twenty sixteen, and then I got to meet Louise and then we got to be great friends. So I just can't tell you how pleased I am to be talking with you today. Louise and I knew Hillary.


This is fantastic. Each in our own home. I know. Well today we want to talk about and explore the idea of escaping through what we read. And I think that's particularly important right now given what's happening around the world. And so let me start by asking you, Louise, when did you fall in love with mysteries?


Well, I didn't start reading mysteries until I was probably in my early teens. I never read Nancy Drew. I don't know how I missed Nancy Drew, but you fell in love. You that's how you started. Absolutely.


Yes. And and the Hardy Boys. But they were, you know, a distant second to Nancy Drew. Right. Exactly how I could have missed Nancy Drew.


I was reading Edward Green Gables and all the Canadian of you know.


Oh, yes. I remember clearly the first time because I was a voracious reader as a child, but never crime novels. And I remember coming up the stairs, we had a cottage north of Montreal in the tensions and we were there for the summer. And I came upstairs and my mother came out of the bedroom and it was mid-afternoon or so and she was holding a book and she said, you know, I just finished this book and I think you'd like it.


And she handed it to me and it was still warm from her hands. And it was an Agatha Christie and it was the first time. But my mother and I shared a book. It's become magic since then. And I've had such a soft spot for Christie since then as well. And for crime novels. One of the questions I'd love to find out from you is how did you come to Nancy Drew?


I think Nancy Drew was recommended by the librarian in my public library. And I used to go with my mother when I was too young to go by myself to our local, very small public library. And the librarian said, oh, I think you'd like this, it's about a girl who has adventures and solves mysteries.


So that's how I started reading Nancy Drew, and it was a kind of absurd story that the 16 year old girl or father was a widower and she literally could go anywhere and drive her own roadster out to solve mysteries.


But it just took me. And then I discovered Agatha Christie like you did, and fell in love with how economic her stories were and how clever they were. But I want to get back to you, because you're the one who's actually producing these extraordinary stories that give me a lot of delight and escapism. So tell us how you got started writing mysteries.


I wasn't actually going to write a mystery. I was a journalist at the CBC and I was tired and I'd covered one too many Quebec sovereignty referendums. Quebec has a quite stressful politics and I frankly burned out. It is a little embarrassing to say to you, Hillary Clinton, that I burned out on Canadian politics.


But I Michael, my husband, I came home one day and he said, look, I know you've always wanted to write. If you want to quit work in order to write your book, I will support you.


So I quit work and then suffered five years of writer's block. I got to the stage, Hilary, where? Michael go to work every day. Bye bye, honey. Good luck and come home. And he stopped asking how the book was going. It was right up there with when I turned thirty five and my mother stopped asking if I'd met any nice men lately and then I moved Michael and I moved out of Montreal down south, quite close to the Vermont border, and I fell in with a group of women, all of whom were creative, and they taught me something that should have been self-evident.


What I realized was that I was just riddled with fear and insecurity and something that has been a challenge for me most of my life. And that is the need for the approval of others or the really more the fear of disapproval. So what would happen if I tried and failed and they taught me and I saw it and what they did and their courage to create and put it out there was that the trying and the failing and the judgment of others wouldn't kill me.


What was killing me quietly was the not trying. So I decided I would write a crime novel and I would write it just for myself, just write it for the joy of it. This happened actually shortly after 9/11. I realized that no place is safe, that anything can happen at any time. But there is no no safety, physical safety. So I started writing. I wrote for two or three years and then I finally I finished the book.


And you want me to go on because I feel like I'm just doing a monologue here. Hillary, I hate to, but your eyes are still open.


My eyes are open. My ears are very open.


Despite having headphones on, I go, this is such a it's not only a great story about what you did, overcoming fear of failure, overcoming the perfectionist gene that unfortunately afflicts a lot of women, being willing to do something for yourself that, as you say, gave joy to you and then you finished.


You know, I love the characters that you have created. And I've often heard you say that you created characters that you would want to spend time with.


Take us inside your process, because it's really the characters that I think drive your plot and drive the success of your series because people want to know what's happening to them.


Yeah, it was conscious partly because I didn't think the books would be published, so I had to enjoy the process. That might be the only reward I would get.


But that whole sense of the village was done deliberately because of, again, 9/11 and that understanding and profound appreciation that anything can happen at any time and that our as I said before, our physical bodies are never going to be safe. There's no way eventually we'll all die. And we don't know how. We don't know when. There's no there's no guarantee of physical safety. There is, however, a way to guarantee emotional and spiritual safety. And the way to do that.


And the only way I can figure out to do that is through a sense of belonging of community. And that's what I wanted three Pynes to be, was that safe place for our souls, for our emotions, where there are flawed people, there are kind people, there are people who are occasionally cruel, but there is beyond all else acceptance where people are genuinely friends, where goodness exists, who books are about terror. But at the end of the day, they're an allergy to goodness and that goodness exists and will triumph I.


I'll leave that, I've seen it in my life, and it's something I cling to in these days, that goodness will triumph. We're taking a quick break. Stay with us. It's safe to say 2020 was one of the most difficult years ever for so many, and these remain very challenging times. That's why I'm here to ask you, how can I help? My name is Dr. Gail Saltz, host of the new weekly podcast, How Can I Help with Dr.


Gail Saltz, brought to you by the Seneca Women Podcast Network and I Heart Radio. I'm a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, a psychoanalyst, best selling author. And I'm here to help. Join me every Friday where you can ask your most pressing questions and get helpful guidance on topics ranging from coping with anxiety and mood relationships to family and parenting issues, to workplace dynamics, to dealing with covid fatigue and everything in between.


While it has been a tough time, you don't have to navigate it alone. So how can I help? You can send your questions anonymously to me at how can I help at Seneca Women Dotcom and I will answer with specific advice and understanding. Listen to how can I help with Dr. Gail Saltz on the I Heart radio app, on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts news with a new perspective.


I'm more Hanwood in Washington, D.C. News with a black perspective. I'm Mike Stevens in Tampa. The Black Information Network is the first all news, audio and digital network for and by the black community dedicated to 24/7 news and information. I'm Julius White in Atlanta. Get the podcast and get the biggest news in business stories delivered to you every morning. I'm Vanessa Tyler in New York. Subscribe to the Black Information Network daily and wake up with the latest from the Black Information Network.


Loaded and ready to go when you are reporters across America bringing you the latest news, traffic, weather and sports. I'm Doug Davis from Las Vegas, delivering breaking news that puts us first because our insight matters. Our stories matter and the truth matters in the Black Information Network, Daily is designed to inform and gauge and empower the black community. Now is our time to listen to the Black Information Network daily on the IHA radio app, our podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts.


But of course, just as in life, there is no such thing as absolute safety. And so the community keeps being interrupted by murder.


Oh, thank God for a very small little place kind of north of the Vermont border and Quebec.


There are a lot of dead bodies that are fighting their way there and and how the different characters, of course, react to that and what they know or what they should know but don't realize they do.


And it truly is a joy to read because you're discovering as you go this underlying tension between good and evil, between cruelty and kindness. And I want to sort of circle back to why people read for escape, especially mysteries.


Why is it that the mystery, the crime story has just sustained itself, I guess, from probably the Greeks or the Romans?


Right. You know, Hillary, I wish I knew. I think a lot of people like puzzles and mysteries are often puzzles. And so you can escape into who did it and where the clues and so you can leave your own troubles behind. I think with crime novels, mysteries, often, you know, it's going to be solved. There will be an end and an answer. And in this life, so rarely are there actually clear answers to all of our troubles.


I think for my books, there's also, as you put your finger on, there's also the sense of community and belonging that I think also adds a layer of comfort that the books, while clearly, unhappily crime novels, are actually about other things. What do you think? Like why do you read crime novels?


Well, I will tell you, I read a certain kind of crime novel because a lot of what's called crime or thriller novels to me are so formulaic and filled with bloody violence and without much depth of character development.


And so I don't particularly respond to those. I find them like just an anvil hitting me in the head as one more horrible dismemberment of some young woman happens. So I'm interested in character development along with the mystery, and we need a setting that is different. You know, one of the things I love about your books and why I find that escape in them is, yes, you may be in the same place in eastern Quebec, in three pines in Montreal, you know, in Quebec City.


Those are the places that you have populated. But you feel as though you're learning something. You're expanding your understanding of a place like, for example, I personally. Did not know that people loyal to the British crown helped to settle in eastern Quebec until I started reading your books, so little things like that which are worth noting to larger questions about corruption inside police forces, something that we're clearly dealing with right now in our own country.


So I read for plot and character and place and learning something. And yes, I also like the outcomes of mysteries because in the vast majority of the ones that I like, the bad guy gets his comeuppance, you know? So I read and I learn and I escape and I can go deeper and I can feel a connection to your characters. That's what keeps me coming back time and again. And I guess I want to ask in reverse, do you think you started writing and continue writing as a form of escape?


Oh, I've never been asked that before. I didn't realize I did until Michael got sick, as you know, with dementia, particularly near the end. And I thought I wouldn't be able to write through it, but it turned out to be the opposite. So I would look after Michael and get him to bed. And then I'd come out and I would be able to escape into this world I had created, oddly enough, so that other people could be comforted.


Never occurred to me that I would be the main beneficiary, not only because I could control it. And I think there was part of that, but it was so comfortable being with these friends. And I could write and write and write and I could feel all my fear, all the terror slipping away. So, yeah, you're right, I do. And through this, the pandemic, for the first little while, I was so distracted and kind of distraught, I found it difficult to focus.


But after that, I found it such a comfort to be able to write and write what it is I write. I don't write about a world that's worse than the one I actually live in, you know, that is so meaningful to me to hear you say that.


I think what you have given as a gift to your millions and millions of readers is that ability to breathe, to just exhale, to find that moment of release and some separation of the day to day pressures and stresses and craziness that we are living through.


So for a million reasons, I am grateful for you and the characters you have created. And I just can't wait to see where these characters of yours take us next time, because there's always going to be a huge need for escape. Well, what you just said, I mean, I can feel my eyes burning. Thank you.


Louise's latest book, All the Devils Are Here, is on shelves now, and it's terrific in it. She takes Inspector Garmisch and his family out of Quebec for the first time and transports them to Paris. You will feel like you're right in Paris as, yes, crimes are committed and Garmisch has to once again come to the forefront. Look for it now at your local bookstore. Our next guest needs no introduction. I know you've heard of Stacey Abrams and I hope you've heard her speaking on this podcast about her work protecting the vote in Georgia and across our country.


But you might not know that. Stacey also writes romantic suspense novels under the pen name Selina Montgomery. Selina has written eight books, including two parts of a trilogy that got put on hold after Stacy was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in two thousand and seven. I'm delighted to be talking to Stacey Abrams again. I am going to start by asking Stacey, this extraordinary person whom I have come to not only admire but have great affection for.


How in the world did you ever start writing romance novels? Set the stage for us. Where were you? What were you doing and why?


So I have always loved romance novels. My mom and my great Aunt Jeanette actually collected that my mom was a librarian who kept every book she ever had, and my great Aunt Jeanette loved them. And so my sisters and I really grew up loving romance novels. We graduated from Barbara Cartland to Harlequin and finally into the Silhouette Universe, which was spicier. We also watched soap operas religiously, so we watched ABC. So Ryan's hope all my children. But General Hospital was where it was that I was an angst ridden teenager who was not allowed to date till I was 16.


So I wrote my first romance novel, which I think was all of like 15 pages when I was in junior high school. But it was in law school actually at our mutual alma mater. When I decided to write a novel, I actually wanted to write a spy novel. My plan was to write this espionage novel based on my ex boyfriend's dissertation. He was a chemical physicist and he did his dissertation on this thing called microsatellite technology. It was an interesting dissertation, but the concepts were amazing.


And so I'm calling him, having been one of five people to read his dissertation, think, oh my God, you could do these things with it. And he's like, you can't do any of that. Like, this is why we broke up. You have no imagination. So get ready to write the book, talk to a few friends who were in law school, who had been in publishing, and they said, you're never going to sell a spy novel.


It's nineteen eighty nine. And they said, look, publishers don't buy spy novels by or about women. They said, are you planning for your characters to look like you? And I'm like, well yeah. And they said, well then you're definitely not going to sell it because at that point African-American main characters in suspense just didn't really exist. And so I thought about it. And being a problem solver, I decided, like, I know I've read novels about women spies, not even black, but I've seen it before.


And I was like, wait, it was romance. And so I killed the same number of people. I wrote the exact same story. I just made my spies fall in love.


So you decide you're going to do this. And when you started thinking about it, you knew you wanted your characters, particularly your lead character, to be an African-American woman.


Absolutely. And is that because you had not really seen very many characters who look like you in these books that you love to read growing up?


That was a huge part of it, particularly in the romance space. I think by nineteen ninety eight, ninety nine, when I was really working on it, there had been perhaps two to five women. So Beverly Jenkins, who's sort of the godmother of Black Romance, Brenda Jackson, had broken through. But most black women who were writing romantic veins were either relegated to historical fiction, which is what Beverly did, just does so extraordinarily well. And then you had on the other side what was called urban fiction.


And what I wanted to do was I want to write about a chemical physicist. I at one point thought I would be a physicist. I was very sad that the CIA never recruited me to be a spy. And so for me, it was as much about writing stories that I was never given to read. But it was also I wanted to write a story where I could live out my alternate universe fantasy. Right. And it was a multiracial coalition of spies in.


My boyfriend is still languishing in prison and in the novel, it was a bad time back for lack of imagination.


And, you know, we didn't have the nicest break up at the time we got over it. But it was it was it was about situating myself and situating my community in this space that we were able to tell, you know, a range of stories. And I wanted to be able to see myself, see my siblings, see. Are our world included in this broader narrative about what it meant to be in fiction? I think that first book was that Rules of Engagement.


Was that your first one? That was it. And so when did you finish that?


So I finished it during law school. I was on an intensive semester, which is a program at Yale where you get to go anywhere and study. I, in contrast to my very exotic selection of books, I went home to Mississippi to write about the charity tax credit that had been passed under the Clinton administration and really want to think about how the charity tax credit worked for religious organizations. And my parents were both minister, so I was examining that.


So I'm writing this very detailed treatise on tax policy at the exact same time I started writing my novel and one of the moments that I remember so clearly, I'd sent off the first three chapters, because if you read all the Publisher's Weekly tropes about how to sell a novel, I sent the first three chapters off and it said you expect a response in twelve to twenty four weeks. I got a response back in six. I did not have a book.


And so I'm in the car with my mom and I hand her the letter because I'm driving and she reads it to me and then she says, and they're looking forward to receiving the whole novel. And I nearly crashed the car on the highway because I'm like, oh, God, there is no book. So I learned I'm a very fast writer. You had to be. I did. So I finished the book and about seven weeks that was published.


And I did it because I know what you've published. What, seven? Is that right? Eight.


One thing that strikes me about your novels and about the reasons why you do it, I mean, romance. And as you rightly said, thrillers, spy novels have been historically very white.


So you're venturing into this genre. Do you have any idea of the tens of thousands of your books that you've sold? Do you have white readers? Have you met people who say, hey, I love your character or I really related to it or I didn't know what to expect, but I'm glad I picked it up?


I do. I have two sets of readers that I think were contrary to what was expected, because part of the way romance sells is the covers. Exactly. And the minute a black person, a person of color is on the cover, you're not only pulled out of the romance, Daundre, and put on your own special shelf, that shelf is usually out of the way. You've got to go look for black romance. You have to go look for Latino romance or API.


And so by declaring my character race, I was removed from the general space where I could sell my books. What benefited me actually was two sets of readers. So white women who would write me and tell me I don't usually read Black Romance and I'm like, there's no such thing as Black Romance. There's romance and the characters happen to be black.


And look, I mean, the romance in your books is kind of steamy.


That cuts across every possible category, although I acknowledge that for those who were thinking they were going to get steamier, my parents or ministers and my mom's church used to read my book. So, you know, in the current universe of steamy, I am tea kettle. I am not volcano.


So but the second group that read my book, there is a I got this amazing letter, this guy who called himself that he was the head of the paper bag game. And I'm like, what is this? And this is this white construction worker who was sick and his wife gave him a copy of my book. And he was like, I don't read this stuff. And he he was like, she's like, just shut up and read the book.


And he liked it so much. He took it with him, but he wanted to rip off the cover. And his wife was like, no, he's hot. You can't take the cover off. And so he put it in a brown paper bag and he took it to work and he shared it with his friends at the construction site. And they started reading my books. And so I know I have cut across you demographic's with my writing.


It's so great. And, you know, part of what I've read that you've said is that you wanted to show that black women were just as adventurous and attractive as any white woman.


And the same for the men.


I mean, you know, the men you write about are equally compelling and sexy and interesting and all the rest.


And they want to be clear, I do not intend to diminish culturally specific writing at all. I think it is important. It is relevant. It is necessary. But it should be the choice of the author, not the assumption of the publisher or of the bookstore and bookseller to say that the only people who would read this are people who share your phenotype. Because I've read everything. I read James Joyce and I read Nora Roberts and I read Walter Mosley and Beverly Jenkins and.


There is no expectation in my mind that I'm not permitted to read James Joyce because I'm not a white Irish guy. Exactly why would there be the presumption that you could not read my book? Simply because I describe the characters with mocha and chocolate skin as opposed to pale ivory. Exactly.


How did you come up with your pen name? Is there a story behind Montgomery?


So, as I said, I started writing in law school and as you know, there are two papers you have to write. My second paper was on the operational dissonance of the unrelated business income tax exemption. I finished that paper during the end of law school. I submitted it to the Yale Law and Policy Review, and they they picked it up. So I was going to be published my first publication and tax policy at the exact same time that my romance novel was going to come to the marketplace.


And this is all at the time that Google was having its debut. If Google was going to be this real thing, if you looked up my name trying to buy my romance novel, you would likely pick up my tax policy. And I didn't think anyone was interested in reading romance by Alan Greenspan. So I was like, well, I'll come up with a new name. I was watching an A&E biography of Elizabeth Montgomery, who played Samantha on Bewitched.


And I was like, I like Montgomery. And I thought about her evil cousin Serena. And I was like, I don't like Serena, but Selina. And so I became Selina Montgomery. It was about two thirty in the morning. So the story is much more interesting at night than it is in the daytime. But that's how I became Selina God.


And I assume Google has figured that out. So they will now Google you. Stacey Abrams saw on TV love what she said. Selina may pop up. So there's a little cognitive dissonance going on there.


But I was never ashamed of it because part of the reason I loved writing these stories is that there's a humanity to romance. There's a humanity to talking about, as you said, you know, flawed, intelligent, interesting people. And in the process of writing, I was connected even more deeply to the people I wanted to serve, to the people I lived with and around. And for me was never a moment of shame. I mean, it's fantastic writing, but think about it.


I mean, when you strip it all away, people's relationships, obviously, their love relationships, but also their family relationships, you have a great character in Reckless, who's a criminal defense lawyer who had been orphaned, her relationship with the woman who took her in, I mean, building relationships and then centering the love interest in the broader relational situation. I mean, that's how we live.


That's who we are. But your last Selina Montgomery novel came out in 2009.


So for all those readers out there, for the paperback guys, for everybody else, have you retired from writing romantic novels or should we expect to come back?


So here's what happened. The next novel, the third in the trilogy, was going to be written in 2010, but that was the year I got elected as leader of the House Democrats. I started a new financial services company and I kind of ran a little bit of time because they wanted me not just to commit to that book, but to a multi year contract or multiple contract. And I try to be thoughtful. What I did that was thoughtless was that I did not tell the story of the final character in the trilogy.


So I promise I'll get it done. And so Selina will make her final bow sometime soon, as soon as I find some time to get it done. But Stacy will be writing under her multiple personalities for as long as I have breath.


Sounds like a plan to me, my friend. Thank you so much, Stacy. And keep going. Stay.


Well, it has been a delight. Thank you so much, Madam Secretary. You can find Stacey's romance novels under her pen name, Selina Montgomery, and they make great holiday gifts and I love this. She recently joined a group of her fellow romance novelists in fundraising for Georgia Democrats.


The effort is called Romancing the Runoff. My last guest today is only 15 years old, but boy, has she accomplished a lot in those 15 years.


Right after graduating from fifth grade, Marley Dias pointed out to her parents that none of the characters in the books that she read at school looked like her.


So she started the One Thousand Black Girl books campaign to fill school libraries and curriculums with children's books that feature black girls as the lead protagonists.


Since then, she's written her own book called Marley Dias Gets It Done and so can you. And in addition to all of that, she has a fantastic show on Netflix called Bookmarks.


That's all about books and reading. And I also loved seeing her featured at the Democratic National Convention this summer. Marley, I could not be happier to talk with you again. I loved seeing you featured at the Democratic Convention. That was really fun to watch. I hope it was fun for you. It was.


I was definitely nervous and I was apprehensive about it. But it was so cool to see that, like I represented New Jersey, I represented young people and I represented girls. So it was a lot of fun.


That is so great.


Well, I want to talk with you about a lot of different things, but I'm going to start with one of my favorite subjects in yours, and that is reading.


And I love that.


Ever since you were a little girl, reading has been important to you. Do you remember the first character in a book that you saw yourself in?


So I had a lot of opportunities as a little kid to see myself. And I think for me, representation was never an issue in my home, but it was an issue in my school. So whenever I would go to my local bookstore, my parents, whatever age I was, I would get that many books. So when I was two, they would buy two books. But I remember that I kind of started to get hooked when my dad would only take me because it was at 10 and my mom was like, I'm not paying for textbooks now, I'm not doing that.


So I think I always had a love for reading and my parents had really fostered that within me by making it a gift rather than a punishment. Right. But then when I got to school, everything was assigned. We didn't have a say. I couldn't choose how many or when I wanted to read. I just had to do it when I was told to. And that can definitely stifle and limit some students, especially if their parents can't afford or don't have access to books in their home.


So for me, it was like then when I had the opportunity to kind of have those rigid lines and rules, they didn't allow for me to see myself. I felt like the rules were kind of misrepresenting the student body, who I was and what I believed in.


Well, and you decided to do something about it?


Yeah, well, my mom pushed me, too, which is what I really admired and how I first heard about you.


What started your campaign that led to one thousand, you know, black girl books, hashtag and program and and books and everything else that you've been doing.


Yeah. The campaign has evolved so much from the beginning, but it was essentially that, you know, I had to go to school. Reading became a heavy push, especially towards the end of elementary school. But the books never had black girls as a main character. And if I wanted to change my library, my parents could do that easily. But when I complained to my mom, she kind of explained to me that this issue can affect you, but also think about the kids that don't have that access.


And she encouraged me to do something about it because she doesn't like to hear me complain. This is a simple parent wanting to solve a problem. She was tired of me complaining, so we thought about it more. We did research and we learned that both with the publishing houses, curriculums that are made and teachers books are not being pushed, that have diverse characters. And we need to push all types of stories, not just stories of black girls.


So I wanted to collect one thousand books for black girls were the main characters to solve the issue in my school, but then also to help kids in Jamaica and then all across the world and the country to see themselves and to see people that are not like them.


We'll be right back. I'm Robert Evans, host of Behind the Bastards, and it could happen here. And boy, it does seem to be happening here. I'm going to guess most of the people listening to this are deeply concerned with what they saw happen in Washington, D.C. on January 6th. And I'm here to tell you, it was a fascist insurrection, an attempt by fascists to take over our democracy. And it didn't happen in a historical vacuum.


There have been numerous attempts, many of them successful by fascist movements, to take over democracies over the last century in order to protect yourself, in order to protect your family and your very freedom, you need to understand this history and the history of the different antifascist movements that have fought, sometimes successfully, often unsuccessfully, to stop the same things from happening in their own countries. The knowledge of this history is important, and it's maybe the only thing that can save us.


So if you were as concerned as I am, listened to behind the insurrections on the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts, what's up, guys?


I'm Rishabh allowed and I am Troy Milligan's and we are the host of the Ernie Lesia podcast, where we break down business models and examine the latest trends in finance.


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We'll explain exactly what you have accomplished, so one Black Books has now kind of stormed off into so many other things. But first, the first goal is to collect and donate books for black girls in the main characters. Then we extended, which we is me and my mom, because she helps me do everything and I don't know everything. Then she helped me with coming up with the resource guide that has a list of a thousand books that we have collected.


So the titles, the author, the age level, so that teachers and educators can find these books and they don't have the excuse that there are none out there, because right through my work I realized there are a ton out there. They're just not in schools. And now it's kind of transformed to me writing my own book, which was to encourage people my age to believe that they like to play basketball, they like to sing if they like to draw all these interests.


And like my love of reading can be used to help other people and they're not limited to social activism, is completely separate from liking things and having fun things to do in your hobbies and activities.


That's a really important point that sometimes people feel like, well, social activism, civic change, political campaigns, everything that goes on somewhere else is not really relevant to your life. But in fact, whatever you care about, you can find a way of expressing that and helping other people to care as well. I think that's part of what you improve with your campaign. In fact, I need to congratulate you because you're the host of a new show on Netflix.


Yes, I am a big deal called bookmarks. Tell us about that. Where did the idea come from and who are some of the cool, interesting people that you've got to meet through this?


So it's been a crazy experience because I've always had opportunities and sometimes I get stuff on my my emails are like, oh, we want you to be an actor and a model. And I'm like, I don't do those things. This is not what Marley Dias cares no yourself. But I like being a host and I like bringing other ideas to the table. And that's kind of what I've had to do over the past couple of years. So when it came for an opportunity to do something with Netflix, I knew it had to be surrounded by books.


I knew it had to be it either had to be about social change or books. And a book show came onto my desk and it was really important for me to focus on making sure that we had black celebrities reading books about black kids to families all over the world. And some of the books talk specifically about being anti-racist and the civil rights movement. But other books are about loving who you are and appreciating all of your imperfections. So they're experiences that can relate to everybody and experiences that can inform young kids that are three to eight with really fun pictures and animations and funky outfits and using.


Another cool thing about it is that we also have the episodes available on YouTube so that teachers don't have to use their personal Netflix accounts to show it to their students. So I pushed I have an executive producer credit as well, and I wanted to make sure that it was accessible to all the kids out there. That is terrific. Well, you know, one of the reasons I wanted to talk with you is because we're all socially distancing. There's a lot of remote learning going on.


And I think not only I, but our listeners would really like some book recommendations. So what have you been reading these days and what would you recommend to not only the adults listening, but younger people and even kids?


So to all the parents listening, the first picture book that I want to recommend, Grace for President by Katie Depute is such a good book. It's about a young girl who's running for president in her class and can hopefully encourage, you know, talk about leadership, talk about education. So I love that book for young kids. And I know you're a grandma, so that's a great, great book.


Well, I'm definitely getting that one. That's a subject very near and dear to my heart. Give me some other recommendations for older kids, teenagers, adults, and particularly in light of everything going on right now in the world, there's so many challenges from obviously the pandemic to the the racial reckoning that we've got to finally, as a country, be willing to address and deal with to the economic crisis that has ripped away a lot of people's jobs and livelihoods.


Do you have any recommendations for books that you think are particularly of this moment for different age readers?


So I think a book that for me is of this moment, because my mom, she made me read it a couple of months ago and I think it helped me a lot. Is the autobiography of Malcolm X. It's not a black book, but it is a book about a black man. And it's as told to by Alex Haley. And I think it does two things for me personally. It took a really close look at how lonely leadership can be.


And I think it took into consideration how some of us sometimes have to make tough decisions under a lot of pressure and are judged heavily for who we are and how we deal with that and the pains of sometimes and we don't even think about the people that lead our world in small ways, our church group leader, our best friends, the people that we look up to how. They suffer a lot in trying to give back to others, and it also takes a look at how many eyes Malcolm X was seen as a radical, but the public perception versus reality and who he was as a sensitive man who cared for his wife and was scared for his children and their protection.


So I love that book because I think even though I couldn't relate to Malcolm X, the struggles, I felt like I understood the point of where leadership can really take a toll on the body and make time feel like it's longer than it is. So for teenagers and adults and basically all kids, but not little kids.


Well, but look, I am a big reader of biography because I do find a lot of lessons in how other people have faced challenges, setbacks, disappointments, all the really difficult moments in life. You know, Nelson Mandela is somebody who I was privileged to meet and learn a great deal from. His Long Walk to Freedom is a book that talks about how this little kid grew up to have the capacity, the strength, the principles to withstand all those years in jail and then to lead what was indeed a peaceful revolution.


So there's lots of that. And I think you're right to say, look, what can we learn about the struggles that individuals go through? Black, white, every background, but particularly, as you understood at a very young age, you know, you can't be what you can't see. And so representation in the arts, in obviously books, but way beyond books is so critical, you know, in your book, in your introduction, which I really love, you basically as an author, say what you need to read this book is and then you list any dream worth following a strong belief in something, preferably yourself and your community, a right sized ego, no room for divas when it comes to activism, patients, curiosity, people who love you and trusted adults who want to help you succeed.


I thought that was a pretty good summary for not just activism, but for life. How did you pull all that together?


So I have all these kind of checklists in my mind about things that I need. And same thing. You run out of the door, you're like wallet, keys, phone for me. My mom always tries to prepare me with a calm, confident he knows you're talking about. She never leaves me in a space where I'm unprepared. And I think, you know, although I'm not a parent, I feel like one thing I could do and I tried to do throughout the whole book is to equip kids with tools.


I think my favorite one in there is about the ego in a right sized ego, because I have to believe in myself and you really do have to know what you're talking about and feel like it's not not just an inflation of self, whether you're filling yourself up with what you need to succeed. So I never give myself too much credit and sometimes they don't give myself enough credit. But I try my best to always know that, especially in faces of someone where they you can tell that they're not as confident in what I'm saying.


They're not necessarily as interested that I'm interested and I know what I want to say. So that's enough for me to continue forward.


Well, I can only say amen to that, Marlee. And I just love the chance to talk to you again. And I want to not only encourage all of our listeners to tune in to Netflix or YouTube to see bookmarks and understand what you're trying to do, to give a platform for books that really are not just representative or diverse, but good books, good books with great stories and great characters that can change lives. And I want to commend you for this book.


Marley Dias gets it done and so can you. If you have young people in your life, please find out about the one thousand black girl books and also about Marley's commitment, her mission to try to really lift up reading and the joy, the experience.


And in life that you can get through reading that you don't have to necessarily go off and do yourself because you can live it through somebody else. So I just can't thank you enough for talking to me today, Marley. So thank you so much.


Well, thanks for joining me and listening to my conversations with these three amazing writers. I hope that you're reading something that is occupying your time and entertaining and informing you. I have a whole nightstand filled with books that I'm trying to get through during this winter when we're still inside trying to avoid the virus. I know that I've really read probably more this past eight months than I have in the prior eight years because I had the time.


And I hope you. Who will have the time to read and if you've got little kids around, read to them? I've done a lot of reading with my grandchildren, kind of pulling every children's book off of my shelf because it's going to be a long winter. And this is the last episode of our first season of our podcast. You and me both will be back, though. We're kicking off season two on February 16th with more inspiring guests, no holds barred conversations and yes, even a few surprises.


Until then, I hope that you stay safe and healthy.


Catch up on any of the podcast episodes you missed and of course, you know, lose yourself in a book or two.


You and me both is brought to you by I Heart Radio, we're produced by Julie Soberon and Kathleen Russo with help from Huma Abedin, Niki Toure, Oscar Florez, Brianna Johnson, Nick Merrill, Lauren Peterson, Rob Russo and llona Valmar from our engineer is Zach McNiece. And the original music is by Forrest Gray.


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I love getting your emails and was especially moved by the stories that so many listeners shared after our episode on mental health. Thanks for listening. See you next year. OK, so we're supposed to be sticking to the script, but we ain't because this is not what we do is figure out the yeah, and it's A.J. Hey, hey, we're giving a whole bunch of good, bad advice and a lot of bad redivide, trying to teach you how to say when, how and how much.


Yes. Now, that doesn't always have to apply to your sex life, lady. It can absolutely apply to your career unless your sex life is your career. And in this age, we'll be talking about a whole lot of sex. I love the say in a life and the love of money and relationship is we're going to work on it.


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