Letters Between Friends
On Sale: March 14, 2012
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Women's Fiction Contemporary
In the early 1960s, four girls, as part of a 7th grade,
nationwide school program, become pen pals. They have
little in common but become lifelong friends who confront
together the challenges girls confront in the world they
confront them. Through their letters, we share their lives–
their hopes and dreams, triumphs and defeats, joys and
sorrows–and for all their differences, we discover that
they are stronger and wiser for being friends.
For years, I’ve written what I call Sunday books. Not because they’re religious in nature, but because they are books I wrote for myself mostly on Sunday afternoons for the sheer love of story. I’ve written many Sunday books in the past two decades, but Girl Talk is the first of them I’ve published.
These are books that are a little odd, quirky, ones that don’t follow my typical suspense theme, though they do have suspense of some type in them. You see, when you first start writing, you’re given a lot of latitude in what you write. Readers, editors, agents, and booksellers don’t have expectations that you, the writer, must meet. But once you start publishing works, you set expectations and then you must feed them. This is why many authors’ most original works are in their earliest projects. They have the freedom to publish what they will.
The more you publish, the more expectations you’ve set. So what you write takes on the form of a pyramid. The base starts out wide, where you have a lot of latitude, but the higher the career ladder you climb, the less latitude you have—you’re working up toward the point of the pyramid.
I’ve blazed a lot of trails in the last two decades but I’ve done so at a cost. The redemption that’s enabled me to keep publishing is that I retained specific novel elements—suspense, mystery and romance with a healing theme—and those things remained in every book I wrote, regardless of genre. The novel’s focus determined its genre. That enabled me to continue to write outside the box and still meet expectations. Like any thinking author, I never wanted to disappoint readers.
And yet all along odd stories captured my imagination and then my heart and those that wouldn’t let go needed to be written. To ignore them was impossible, to publish them at that time, also impossible. Publishers want more of the same only different. These Sunday books weren’t the same and were definitely different. So I wrote them with no intention of publishing them, just because I loved them. Just because they nagged me and captivated me and stole my heart and wouldn’t let go and I knew if I didn’t write them I’d regret it. I like to avoid regrets whenever I can. So I wrote, read and was content with that.
Now much has changed in the industry and I have the opportunity to publish them. GIRL TALK is the first Sunday book to be released to other eyes. Yet the expectation to readers hasn’t vanished. After nearly thirty books, it’s pretty firm. So I needed a signal—some way to let readers know that this book was my book but it was different. I created a new name and linked it to mine to be that signal. Kali Kaye was born. So on the cover of GIRL TALK, you’ll see “Vicki Hinze writing as Kali Kaye.” That’s my signal to readers that this is one of my Sunday books.
I’m excited about this. I wrote GIRL TALK in 1993. Just thinking about it makes me giddy. After all these years—nineteen years—of pulling it off the storage shelf of Sunday books to read it now and then, finally someone else will have the opportunity to read it, too. Absolutely, I’m giddy, and hopeful the story of these four girls growing up in the 1960s and 70s will steal your heart as they stole mine.
So what about this story did that—stole my heart?
To truly grasp that, you need to be immersed in what it was like being a girl on the brink of womanhood in the 1960s and 70s. Things were so different for females then. Careers, relationships, social mores. These were girls and then women on the cusp of sweeping change and change is never without pain or confusion. Never without trials and challenges and condemnation. If you were a working mom, you were condemned for neglecting your family. If you were a stay at home mom, you were condemned for being a financial drain on your family. Much that is talked about openly today wasn’t even whispered about behind closed doors then, and that led to many Forrest Gump type moments. Half-truths and misconceptions were related as facts, and only time and personal experience proved what was what.
Every generation has its trials and its moments, but few generations packed so many into such a short period of time as that of these four girls. Each of them faces them in their own way, struggles to find their feet and their way in the world, just as girls do now. But because this generation did what it did, the next has fewer battles and more information and knowledge: it’s better armed for battle.
Some will claim the reason is because society gave them information or knowledge. They’re wrong. It’s because the last generation of women had friends who stood by them, right or wrong. Friends who cared enough to kick their butts then held their hands and walked with them through the fire. Friends.
Family is one thing. But friends are freely chosen and drawn into our inner circle. They know us in ways our family doesn’t because we must protect our family. Women have to be the strong ones, the ones who fix what’s broken, right what’s wrong. Other women know that none of that happens without significant costs. Often family does not know this, and we would not have them know it. It is friends who listen and share wisdom and guide us through fires and lift us up when life beats us down. And that is the core of the epistolary story, GIRL TALK: Letters Between Friends.
I can’t guarantee your reaction. I can tell you that I saw snippets of myself in all four of the girls. I laughed at the girlish misconceptions and felt wistful about illusions shattered—something we all endure—and I wept at the challenges no girl or woman should ever have to face being endured at great cost. Mostly, I came to better understand them all and to respect them for the dignity in their struggles. And in doing so, I came to deeply appreciate those in my life who have been my long-term friends.
My hope is that GIRL TALK: LETTERS BETWEEN FRIENDS does these same things for you. And with that wish, I release it to you…
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