The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer

Witches and Evocative Contemporary Settings with Kate Pearsall - Bittersweet in the Hollow

November 13, 2023 Marissa Meyer Season 2023 Episode 178
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Witches and Evocative Contemporary Settings with Kate Pearsall - Bittersweet in the Hollow
Show Notes Transcript

In this week’s episode, Marissa chats with Kate Pearsall about her debut YA mystery (with magic!), BITTERSWEET IN THE HOLLOW. Also discussed: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), creating an evocative and lush setting, using real locations as inspiration but changing details to suit the story, the brilliance of using gravestones for character names, how the setting of a small town can influence the story, using charts and graphs to diagram character relationships, adapting magic and folklore to deepen the story and so much more!

Isabel Ibañez’s episode (#56) 

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[00:10] Marissa: Hello, and welcome to the Happy Writer. This is a podcast that aims to bring readers more books to enjoy and to help authors find more joy in their writing. I am your host, Marissa Meyer. Thank you for joining me. We are still looking for some initial podcast sponsors, so if you're interested in advertising here on the Happy Writer podcast, let us know. You can contact us via slash podcast. What has been making me happy this week is that my good friend and former podcast guest Rory Shea hosted a murder mystery dinner last Mean. I think I did a murder mystery dinner when I was, like, a teenager. I have vague memories, but I hadn't been to one in a long, long time, and it was so much fun. We were all given characters to play. I turned out to be Misty Visions, the fortune teller, and surprise, surprise, I was also the murderer. And going into the party, I felt like I didn't want to be the murderer. That felt like a lot of pressure, but in the end, it was so much fun because the victim was just like, you're a fraud. And so all I had to do was be really upset that no one believed my tarot readings, and it was great. And I had the best time. Everyone was in costume, and it was just this wonderful end to the Halloween season, which has been great. So. Thanks, Rory. We had a blast. I am also so happy today to be talking to today's guest. When she is not writing, she can be found willfully indulging her curiosity by disappearing into museums, exploring new places, and becoming deeply submerged into obscure topics that inevitably make their way into future work. Her debut novel, Bittersweet in the Hollow, came out last month. Please welcome Kate Pearsall.

[02:23] Kate: Hello. Thank you so much for having me.

[02:26] Marissa: Thank you for joining me. Congratulations on your debut novel. It's been out for a few weeks now. How have things been going?

[02:35] Kate: It's been a whirlwind. The book came out October 10, and I am also on deadline, so it's been a busy time but really exciting. And I think with your debut book especially, you don't really know what to expect, so everything is new and different and exciting, and it's been a dream come true.

[02:57] Marissa: That's so great. It is weird how they always have the books coming out at the same time that we're on deadline. I wish publishers could figure out a different way to do that. Were you, like, trying to write? Did you go on book tour?

[03:12] Kate: I had a few tour dates. Not a big one, but yeah, a little bit.

[03:16] Marissa: Okay. Were you able to take time off from writing and focus on promoting this book and being on tour and enjoying all of the first new things, or was it like, get back to the hotel room, crank out some words and some revision?

[03:31] Kate: I definitely took a few days away from writing to just focus on the book launch and kind of soak that all in. But yeah, then it was immediately back to work.

[03:41] Marissa: Yeah. Well, I hope it's going well for Book Two, and we'll talk more about book Two later. Before we get to that, the first question I would love to hear is your origin story. How did you become a writer?

[04:00] Kate: I think I've always been a writer, even as a child. I have two sisters and one of three girls, and we would entertain ourselves by writing stories either for each other or together. We lived out in the middle of nowhere and had like, three TV stations, so there wasn't a lot of other options. But I didn't really seriously consider pursuing publication until probably 2017 when I started really looking into how does that process work? Is it something that's even possible? Do I think I could do this? And until that point, I had not written a full length novel. So from that side, I'm pretty new at it, but as far as writing and storytelling, I feel like that's sort of always been part of me.

[04:48] Marissa: So then once you started getting more interested in possible publication and thought, maybe let's give this a shot, how did the process go? Was this your first novel that you ever wrote and finished? Did you have a few practice novels?

[05:08] Kate: My first novel was, I think, Nanorimo 2017. So I quickly wrote one in 2017, the month of November, and then revised that one and shoved it in a drawer and never looked at it again. And then Bittersweet in the Hollow was actually National Novel Writing Month project for 2018. I believe that I then revised 2019 and then submitted it to the Pitch Wars Mentorship Program and was accepted into that program. And that was sort of also a whirlwind with working with an amazing mentor and polishing up the novel. And then it went into the agency showcase where a lot of agents seemed really interested in it, and that's where I signed with my agent from that point. So it was kind of, again, another whirlwind.

[06:04] Marissa: No, that's a fairly condensed origin story.

[06:09] Kate: Yeah, it was a surprise for me, too, I think, that it worked out that way. And it was really exciting to take all of that life experience of writing because I also wrote professionally as a marketing copywriter, so that was my day job as well. So I wasn't new to writing, but I was new to novel writing.

[06:33] Marissa: Interesting. Can I ask that first novel that you did in 2017, was that kind of in the same vein, the kind of supernatural murder mystery esque?

[06:46] Kate: It sort of was. It was a heavily outlander inspired time travel novel that ended up having magic and murder in it. I did not actually outline it at all before I wrote it, so the murder just kind of turned up. So I think magic and murder seem to appear in all my books, whether I intend them to or not so far.

[07:15] Marissa: All right, well, with that, now that we know there's magic and murder in this book, would you please tell listeners about Bittersweet in the Hollow? Sure.

[07:24] Kate: Bittersweet in the Hollow is the story of Lyndon, who is a girl who can taste the emotions of others, and she grows up in this very rural Appalachian town in the shadow of the vast national forest, where a year before she disappeared, she doesn't have any memory of what happened. But now another girl has gone missing, and so she enlists the help of her sisters, who each also have their own unique ability to find out who or what is responsible.

[07:53] Marissa: So the first thing I want to talk about is the setting. It is one of those books that feels so real. It feels like I've been reading it this morning, and I feel like I've just been there. I've been in this small town, I've been in these creepy woods. All of the details of the diner and the farm seem so well realized, and I would say it's definitely one of those books where the setting becomes its own character. So just talk a little bit about your approach to setting and world building in this book. Sure. Yeah.

[08:31] Kate: Thank you. That was a big goal of mine, was to have the setting really feel like a character, because I love stories like that, too, where it feels like you are actually there and experiencing it. And I think to that point, this story was very largely inspired by the setting. It's set in a tiny town in West Virginia, which was inspired, I think, long before even I realized, because when I was a child, I would beg my mother for bedtime stories about her childhood growing up in rural West Virginia. So I think part of that was just being so familiar with that area and wanting it to come across to the readers and to be also, I think in a lot of novels, the idea of the forest is something that's scary and creepy, especially in Appalachian stories, where it seems so possible that something could be hiding there.

[09:28] Marissa: How much was the setting developed in the first draft versus through revisions? Because there's just so many lush details? Is it the sort of thing where you take a long time crafting every paragraph and getting the descriptions just right, or do you feel like you're constantly adding in new stuff as you revise and edit?

[09:50] Kate: I think it's a little of both. I love the writing. That's one of my favorite parts of the actual crafting of the sentence level work. So for me, those sort of descriptions are like, what gets me excited to do the revision.

[10:10] Marissa: Have you traveled to rural West Virginia, or is this all kind of pulled from stories from your mom?

[10:16] Kate: Oh, no. Yes, I've traveled there a lot. My family still lives there. They are from this area where my mom grew up. My family has lived for hundreds of years, so my grandmother is still there. My aunts and uncles are still there. So we go quite frequently.

[10:33] Marissa: I love that. Do you feel like the town that you created is it very heavily inspired by an existing town?

[10:43] Kate: To some extent. I took pieces from the town where my mom actually grew up. The name of the funeral home is the same. Some of the character names I actually pulled from the cemetery where my grandparents are buried. But a lot of it is also from my imagination. I wanted it to be a town that was fictional. I didn't want to have to be bound to any real geography or existing environments. I wanted to be able to put them near the river and by this national forest. So that part is all imagination. Sure.

[11:22] Marissa: I love that you mentioned the names and I think that is such a cool detail that you pulled some of the names from actual cemetery gravestones because this book has like the coolest names of any book I think I've ever read. I love the names. Thank you.

[11:40] Kate: Yeah, that was a really fun thing, too. There are some really unusual names in West Virginia, and I first was looking within my own family tree for some of those names and then I also found a lot in the cemetery there too. But there's some very unique names that I have never heard anywhere but there.

[12:01] Marissa: Yeah. Do you have a whole naming list that you would refer to?

[12:07] Kate: I did, and I also would frequently send texts to my mother and be like, can you send me some more family names? Because I need a name for these three characters. What do we have?

[12:17] Marissa: Oh, I love that. So while we're talking about the names, so it has this very small town vibe. Of course, everyone knows everything and lots of families have been here for generations. And so we kind of have this history of this town tracking back for a couple hundred years. What were some of the pros and cons of writing in a small town? Because I love how you all centered around the James family and these sisters and their mom and their grandma and the history of the family. But then you also get all of the you get some prejudice from the small town, the people around them who think they're witches, who they might be cursing people, but then you have people on the other side who are like, no, they're helping us. So it's just like a really interesting little what do you call it? Microcosm blanking on the right word here. But you know, where they're like all in a fishbowl and you throw them together and then see what happens.

[13:24] Kate: Right. And I think for a mystery too, that was really fun for me because the town is a character, but then also so many of the side characters become larger characters than I expected them to. And there's only so many people in this tiny town, and I think that has its own unique challenges, but it also has some special characteristics that really help contribute to the fact that this is rural and it's cut off. And I think that helps feed this idea of unusual things are possible and happening that maybe wouldn't be possible in a more connected, bigger city.

[14:12] Marissa: No. And I can see, too, how when you look at the murder mystery aspect of the plot, having it in a small town with a relatively few amount of characters, it kind of lends itself to this idea that it could be anyone and also anyone could be next. And every bad thing that happens is going to influence everyone around them. I mean, everyone's lives are kind of so tied together and on top of each other.

[14:43] Kate: Right? Exactly. And that was something, too, that was really interesting for me to explore, is how all of these different relationships sort of interconnect and weave together amongst the members of the town now and then also in past generations and what that means for the story that we're telling right now.

[15:03] Marissa: Yeah. How did you keep it straight? Like, do you have a family tree somewhere? Not a family tree, but like a chart of all of the characters and how they relate to each other.

[15:14] Kate: I have many charts.

[15:18] Marissa: I love charts.

[15:19] Kate: Charts and graphs and huge sheets of craft paper that I just write. Different family trees and who's connected to who and different character interactions and how they know each other or how they don't know each other or how they're going to know each other in the future. So, yeah, definitely a lot of charts and graphs and documents on my laptop.

[15:47] Marissa: Yeah. And then you'd mentioned that for your first novel, your first Nano novel, you didn't outline it. Is my assumption correct, that this one then you did have an outline going into it?

[16:00] Kate: I did have an outline. I have converted to the outline method because I need to know what's happening next, especially, I think, in a mystery because there's so many things that you have to know at the beginning and sort of sprinkle in to justify your ending. But I cannot outline a lot. I know some people have extensive, extensive outlines. If I were to write, like a 50 page outline, then I wouldn't want to write the book. So in order to just keep it interesting and let things unfold but also know where I'm going next, I usually just have sort of like a roadmap outline.

[16:44] Marissa: So is your outline focused mostly on the actual plot and what's going to be happening in every scene or this is a murder mystery and also it's a Cold Case murder mystery, which I think is its own beast. Even in the murder mystery genre. So did your outline also have, like and here we drop this clue, and here we hint at this suspect, or did you go into that level of depth?

[17:12] Kate: To some extent, I think especially in the first draft, I focus mostly on the main mystery, and then as much as I know at that point. But then, of course, as I write, things change or things emerge. And then I also go back to my outline when it's time to revise and update that also and put in more things that I know. I want to explore other things that have happened on the page that weren't in the outline, that I know that I have to seed in at the beginning. So I'm also revising my outline before every new revision of the book.

[17:51] Marissa: Did the book ever surprise you? Like, throw you a big curveball that you were like, now, what am I going to do with this information?

[17:58] Kate: I don't know if it happened when I was writing, but I don't know if you experienced this, but when I am finished with a book, it's like it's been erased from my mind. So when it was time to do past pages, I was reading through the book, and actually, one of the twists surprised me. I was like, oh, I did not see that coming. Which I was like, Good job, Sal. That was a surprising experience.

[18:26] Marissa: No, that is hilarious. And I know exactly the feeling that you're talking about. And I don't know that's ever really come up on this show before. But I know for me, I'll have times where, for whatever reason, I'm thinking about a book that I wrote years ago and where I'll remember there was, oh, that one plot hole that was really sticky. And I really, really was struggling to figure out, how do I resolve this? And I can't remember how I ended up resolving it. And I just have to trust that CAS Marissa did figure it out. And there's still not, like, a gaping plot hole in the book, but there's sometimes when I'm like, how did I fix that? What did I end up doing there?

[19:06] Kate: Right. Yeah. It's interesting how we spend so much time writing and revising, and then it's just like, it's on the page, it's gone, and it does not exist in my head anymore.

[19:19] Marissa: Yeah, no, you do forget. You absolutely forget. Yeah, no, that's so funny. The writer's amnesia. I also feel like, I mean, we spend hours and hours and hours and hours on every book, and yet when I look back, I feel like I can't actually remember the act of writing. I must have done it. Clearly this book exists, but where did those hours go? It's a weird thing.

[19:42] Kate: Yeah, I've heard that about childbirth, too, of, like, you go through this intense, painful experience, but then afterwards, you can't really remember it. You're birthing your book.

[19:54] Marissa: Also the difference between, I don't know, 10 hours versus ten months. Right? All right. I love that this book has some really cool mythology in this small town. The people talk about the moth winged man, this dark, eerie figure that always seems to show up when bad things happen. And is he real? Is he not real? Is it just a person in a costume? And so there's another kind of layer to this mystery going on. Was that your own invention, or is the Mothwinged man inspired by some existing mythology?

[20:37] Kate: The Mothwinged Man is inspired by the Mothman, which is West Virginia's own cryptid claim to fame. And actually, I changed the name because I wanted to signify to readers that it wasn't exactly the Mothman. I wanted them to know that the information and the history of what they know about Mothman is going to be different. So I changed the name a little bit. But he was inspired by, again, stories from my mom, because she was a child when in the late 1960s, the Mothman sightings happened in West Virginia. And for her, it was so interesting when we talked about this, because now Mothman is, like, bigfoot. It's sort of like this campy, fun, funny character. We don't really think of it as, like, a real monster that exists. But then when she was a child, she was seeing it on the news, being reported as this scary thing that we don't know what it is, and it's nothing we've seen before. And so I was really intrigued by that idea of this creature that now has a different sort of vibe around it than it did then, and what that would have been like to experience at the time of, like, this is potentially a real threat, not just like a joke.

[22:04] Marissa: So I'll just throw out there, I am a bigfoot believer. Are you a mothman believer?

[22:11] Kate: I believe in the possibility of things. And it was so interesting because one of the other things that really inspired me for this book was discovering that the Appalachian Mountains and the Scottish Highlands were once connected, and a lot of the immigrants who came and settled in West Virginia were from the Scots Irish background, like my ancestors. And so it was really interesting to me to think about what folklore was similar, like, what stories they brought with them, and if potentially they may have brought something more than stories. And in Scottish folklore, there are very similar creatures to what the Appalachian folklore is. In the area, there is a creature that's similar to the Mothman, but it's called, like, a church grim. It's usually a dog, but it can take the form of any creature, and it signifies death. So that was really fascinating to me that this is something that is relatively new here, but potentially could have history. So you never know.

[23:28] Marissa: You never know. No, I love that sort of thing, and I'm fascinated by how folklores do so often overlap, and it's not always really clear how are such similar stories appearing in such different places. And I just find the whole thing so interesting.

[23:43] Kate: Me too. It's fascinating.

[23:46] Marissa: All right, let's talk about the sisters. There's four sisters in this James family. They are so great. And you mentioned also having sisters. Was that a strong inspiration? Like, were you kind of able to model their relationships off of your personal relationships or were you like, I don't want to touch on family feelings, so I'm going to make them totally different from me and my sisters?

[24:15] Kate: I think they're definitely different. They weren't necessarily based on me and my sisters. But I do think some of the relationships between the sisters or how sisters act with each other comes from experience of having sisters. They are sometimes mean to each other, but also they will always protect each other no matter what. And it was really interesting to me to explore that dynamic of not just siblings, but specifically sisters. And also there's generations of sisters in the story. So there's the four sisters that are the main focus of the book, but then there's also their mother and her sister, and then the grandmother and her sister. So it's generations of sisters as well.

[25:03] Marissa: And I don't think it's ever touched on in the book, unless I'm forgetting now. But is there a reason that the James family has so many girls? Is that kind of part of the lore that you were trying to establish?

[25:18] Kate: I think for me, it was just about exploring again the dynamic of the relationships with the women in the family, their original ancestor who came to the town and what she faced and then through the generations who all have these unique abilities that sort of make them useful to the town but also separate from it and outsiders and how those relationships grow and change. And the difference in the relationships that the sisters each have with their mother and with their grandmothers. So I was just really interested in exploring those female relationships.

[26:00] Marissa: Yeah, no, it makes for some really neat dynamics and how everyone microcosm. That was the word. Anyway, what were we talking about?

[26:11] Kate: Sisters.

[26:12] Marissa: Yeah, no, it's so fun how there's these mirrors and these parallels in the relationships and yet also how they're so unique. But you really get the vibe of this just being a really tight, loving family.

[26:27] Kate: Yeah, definitely. And I think part of what keeps them so close is that they're sort of outsiders in this town and they have their unique belief system and history. But for Lyndon, who's the main character, she needs to sort of find herself both within the family and outside of it. Like, she's been brought up in this folklore and history that she doesn't really have any choice in until she gets to the point where she needs to determine her own place in it.

[27:05] Marissa: So you briefly touched on how each of the women in this family has a very unique gift. Are they witches? I don't know. They have a witchy vibe to them. I don't know if we'd go out and say that they are witches, although maybe you do. But they each have these gifts, and Lyndon, for example, can taste other people's emotions. And I just thought all of the gifts that her and her sisters have were so interesting and different from a lot of what we think of as typical special abilities, superhero type skills. How did you go about coming up with what each sister would be able to do?

[27:54] Kate: I feel like for some of them, I didn't necessarily come up with it as much as it just came to me as I was writing for Linden specifically, I'm really fascinated by food as a lens for history and culture, and especially with Appalachian food. It is very similar to Southern food in a lot of respects, but it also has a lot of unique features that are just Appalachian. And so I wanted, again, to tie into the setting and the community and the small town and the history and the culture of that area. So I wanted her to have an ability that somehow related to food. And the thing that I felt would be the most difficult for her would be to taste what other people were feeling, which then she really struggles with. Is this invasive to people and questioning if even this ability, which is part of her, is something that's bad or wrong about her?

[29:01] Marissa: No, and I think it's fascinating how she deals with it and how she kind of I mean, it becomes a part of her character arc and her development, too, but also plays into her relationships. And when you can taste what other people are feeling, I mean, it opens up so many interesting windows into the other characters that she's coming in contact with. But a great little detail in this murder mystery, because just because someone is experiencing guilt, well, of course, our little reader brains go, oh, guilty. But then you can tie in all of these other things that might be going on in their life that you haven't clued us into. And I thought it was so clever.

[29:47] Kate: Oh, thank you so much. Yeah, I thought that was really fun in the writing process as well, is she has this special ability, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's an advantage in all instances. It also is sometimes a misdirection of what she thinks something means isn't necessarily what it really means.

[30:10] Marissa: Definitely. On a similar note, and I love that you bring up the food because the food was so cool to read about. Definitely some ingredients and recipes that I am not familiar with. Clearly, I need to spend more time in West Virginia. Just like the different witchy details. You have excerpts from this book that talks about different recipes use this herb for heartache or forage for these types of mushrooms, for blah, blah, blah. And then there's a little bit of spellcraft and just like really lovely little hints of magic, but in a way that it feels so tied to the earth, so tied to their history. Did you do any research for that? What was kind of your process for bringing that all to life?

[31:06] Kate: Yeah, I did a lot of research, actually. There is this series of books that my mom has had since the 1970s when it first came out, called Foxfire, where a bunch of students in this small town went and talked to their older relatives and asked them about these sorts of traditions like farming traditions and cures and all this sort of old culture in the area and recorded all of it. So I had those books as a resource. And then there was also a similar project that was done by a collection of universities in the area where they recorded audio of these sorts of conversations with relatives and local community members and saved all of those recordings. And again talked to them about the traditions in the area and the folk cures and the uses for different plants and herbs that were in the local environment. Because for a lot of the history of the area and because of the makeup of the area, it's a lot of rural mountains that are difficult to access. And so there weren't a lot of doctors in the area that could get to everyone in all of these small communities. And so oftentimes it was the older women who were historically called granny women, which is another tradition in the Appalachia, who were healers and midwives, and they would go and harvest different things and sort of truly make their own cheers. So including that, again, was really important to me to capture that sort of unique culture of the area and then also to tie it even more closely to the environment and the history and to sort of, like you said, make it so their abilities and the sort of history is possible. I feel like even especially at the beginning, people could read and be like, oh, yeah, I know someone who can do something like that. She always knows how other people are feeling, or she always knows when someone's lying. And I think that that's so interesting to me, too, of how, again, when we were talking about bigfoot and mothman things are possible that we don't necessarily know. It's possible that people are out there like this family.

[33:43] Marissa: No, I think that's a great point. And even though there is a fair amount of quote unquote magic in the.

[33:49] Kate: Book.

[33:52] Marissa: It'S not fantasy magic, there's not lightning bolts coming out of fingers and this sort of thing, it's very subtle and feels very steeped in folkloric traditions and old superstitions. And a lot of these things that in our modern science based thinking, we. Kind of want to write off, but I always have this sense that if it's been around for hundreds of years, there's probably a reason we're still following some of this advice. So I'm always like, you know what? Who knows? Maybe science just hasn't figured it out yet.

[34:29] Kate: Right. And anything that we can't explain scientifically is magic.

[34:35] Marissa: Exactly. Magic is real. Okay. So I feel compelled to point out, obviously, we've spent a lot of time in this interview talking about this setting and bringing to life these really yummy details. It's also just like a really fun, fast paced murder mystery. There's, like a really swoony romance in it. So I just wanted to throw that out there because sometimes I feel like in a chat, I'm leaning so far into the craft of one side that I forget to point out also there's exciting things that happen.

[35:14] Kate: Yeah. And that was my when I first wanted to write this book, I really just took all the things I loved to read about and tried to put them all in a book. Like, I wanted there to be a mystery to solve and magic and romance and a really interesting small town. And it was really exciting to me when my publisher was like, okay, great.

[35:39] Marissa: Let'S go for it, because it's a.

[35:41] Kate: Lot of stuff packed in this book.

[35:43] Marissa: It is. But I think that that's a great just piece of advice, really, for people anywhere on their writing journey. Ask yourself what sort of book you want to read and write that book. It's a pretty safe no, not safe. I don't know. It's a good way to go to make sure that you're including the things that you really love.

[36:04] Kate: I always know that I am on the right track with an idea when I'm drafting something and I will be away from my desk and have this feeling like, oh, I want to go back and read that book. And then I realize it's the one that I'm writing to finish it. That's a good sign that I'm that's a great sign.

[36:23] Marissa: Absolutely. Before we move on to our bonus round, I have to ask here we are. November has just begun. You are a tried and true Nano author at this point. Are you doing Nano this year?

[36:38] Kate: I may do it part of the month, but I have to finish up my revision. So once I turn that in, I will switch over to a new project, hopefully.

[36:50] Marissa: Nice. And you have that one lined up and ready to go.

[36:53] Kate: I have ideas and vibes. I do not have the outline yet.

[36:56] Marissa: So we'll see how it goes. How about I know a lot of our listeners are doing Nano this year. What top piece of advice would you offer to them?

[37:06] Kate: I think my biggest piece of advice is to try to get as many words done early because I tend to wait until the end of the month and then try to pack in a lot of words at the end and also to remember that the goal is just to finish and you can fix everything later.

[37:30] Marissa: All right. Ready for the bonus round?

[37:33] Kate: I hope so.

[37:36] Marissa: What book makes you happy?

[37:39] Kate: One book that just came out that makes me very happy is what the River Knows by Isabella Banyas. She was my mentor in the Pitch Wars Mentorship program, and it's been so exciting to see how much excitement has been building around this book. I'm so proud of her.

[37:58] Marissa: I adore Isabelle. She has been a guest on this podcast, so people who are not familiar go listen to it. She is so great.

[38:07] Kate: She is wonderful and so talented.

[38:09] Marissa: You've hinted about your revisions for a book that you're just about finished with. What can you tell us? What are you working on next and what can you tell us about it?

[38:20] Kate: We have announced the title. It is called Lies on the Serpent's Tongue, and it is a book that is sort of a sequel and also sort of a standalone. Both Bittersweet in The Hollow and the second book will stand alone. But the second book is in the same world. It is a lot of the same characters, but it's told by a different sister, and she is solving her own mystery.

[38:46] Marissa: I love it. You're probably not going to tell me which sister are you? I will.

[38:50] Kate: It's Rowan.

[38:52] Marissa: Okay. Not expect to get that out of you. I love it. Oh, but that gives me some thoughts. I have thoughts about that. All right. Lastly, where can people find you?

[39:07] Kate: They can find me at my website,, and then I am also on

[39:14] Marissa: Awesome. Kate, thank you so much for joining me.

[39:16] Kate: Thank you so much, readers.

[39:18] Marissa: I hope you will check out Bittersweet in the hollow. It is available now. Of course, we encourage you to support your local independent bookstore, but you can also check out our affiliate slash shop slash MARISSAMAYER. And don't forget about our merchandise on Etsy, instagram and tpublic. You can find those links in our Instagram profile. Next week, I will be talking with Jessica Vitalis about her contemporary middle grade coyote queen. If you're enjoying these conversations, please subscribe and follow us on Instagram at Marissa Meyer, author and at Happy Writer podcast. Until next time, stay inspired, keep writing, and whatever life throws you today, hope that now you're feeling a little bit happier.