Through the Wise Women Collective, we spotlight women whom we admire and who inspire.
Meet real-life friends and co-authors of the Good Morning America Book Club Pick, We Are Not Like Them, and the fourth pick for our #BoozyBookClub series.
OB: Could you tell us how you came to write We Are Not Like Them?
CP +JP: We met when Christine was Jo’s editor on the novel Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, but we very quickly became friends. We also worked really well together on another project, the Marriage Vacation novel that was a tie-in to the television show Younger. The author and editor roles and boundaries quickly collapsed into much more of a collaboration because the project had to be completed so quickly. We were on text constantly, and we really enjoyed working together. And that's a rare thing to enjoy writing together, because writing is such a lonely process. Christine had had an idea for a book simmering for a while but she thought she would never write it. It was about best friends, one white, one Black, dealing with the aftermath of police shooting of an unarmed Black man and how their friendship is affected. It really lent itself to being a book that we should write together. It would be a different book if either of us wrote it separately, but the benefit of it would be that we could take on these two different perspectives.
OB: Female friendships deepen with time. How does that apply to you as co-authors and friends?
CP +JP: We are such better friends now than when we began. But to be honest it could have gone either way. We could have come out of this as great collaborators who want nothing to do with one another personally or we could have let our friendship continue to evolve and decided not to be creative partners. It’s hard to go into business with a friend and that is a little bit what writing a book is so the balance needs to be carefully nurtured. And we’re committed to that.
Because of the intimate nature of our book we had no choice but to have some really deep, meaningful and sometimes painful conversations about friendship and race. Those conversations pushed us to new places in our friendship and we can genuinely say we genuinely enjoy one another (and understand one another) more than ever four years into our relationship.
OB: Philadelphia is almost a character in your novel. How did you come to choose it as your locale?
CP +JP: Jo is from Philly and as she likes to say, “it is the best goddamn city in the world.” (She truly says this every chance she gets). Christine can argue that New York deserves a place on the pedestal but chooses her battles carefully. For our novel, it was important to us that the city we set it in have genuinely diverse neighborhoods which can be rare. Philadelphia also has a long and complicated history with systemic racism that we wanted to weave through our story.
We also both believe that too many books get set in New York City and various parts of California. We felt like another city really deserved the spotlight.
OB: Women mentoring women truly matters. Have you had meaningful female mentors along your career path?
CP +JP: We wholeheartedly agree! We’ve looked up to many women throughout our careers in media/publishing. We’ve also worked hard to be mentors ourselves-- and connect with younger women who may need advice or a connection. Our friends too, have been important life mentors for us. We may all be in different careers, but our core squads of besties are incredibly smart women who have been important guides, role models and sounding boards to help us figure out the lives we want to have. It’s why we wanted to write a novel centered around the power (and complexities) of female friendship.
OB: You have been on an impressive ‘tour’ for your book. How has the book campaign been and what are you hearing from your readers?
CP +JP: We’ve been so lucky to be able to engage with so many readers on tour the last six weeks -- it’s the silver lining of the pandemic that we’ve all become accustomed to gathering virtually, which has given us opportunities we wouldn’t have had before to connect. The response has been a little overwhelming honestly, we always dreamed that people would love the book and it would fuel heartfelt conversations, but to actually see that happening is another thing all together. It means so much to us, the effusive reader reviews on IG, Amazon and Goodreads the invites to book clubs, the long vulnerable emails we’ve gotten...we get teary thinking about it!
OB: What is the most significant point you’d like readers to take away from your novel?
CP +JP: We want readers to lean into hard conversations, whether they be about race or something else. As Riley and Jen learn in the book, true intimacy isn’t possible unless we’re all brave enough to be vulnerable in our relationships and show up as our full authentic selves, and also let our defenses down a bit. In particular, with talking about race there’s so much fear and anxiety….we have to be more willing to “go there” and believe that over time these conversations will get easier and more open. It’s a process.
OB: What’s next? Are you working on another novel to follow this one?
CP +JP: It’s called You Were Always Mine, and it’s about a Black woman who finds an abandoned white infant in her small town and the collision course this sends her on with her husband, the town, the baby’s birth family and secrets from her past. It explores the ties of motherhood and family and, of course, how race plays out in these spaces as well.
OB: The Boozy Tea you recommend sipping while reading We Are Not Like Them?
CP +JP: This is the hardest question of all! How to choose from all the great flavors! After much deliberation: Darjeeling Tea and Hibiscus Flowers because the pretty pink label coordinates with our book jacket! (On top of being delicious.)
Want to be a part of our Boozy Book Club?