Podcast Transcript

interview Clifford.mp3


Buzz Knight [00:00:01] I’m Buzz Knight, the host of Taking a Walk Music History on Foot. You can find us at Apple Podcasts or Spotify or the Podcast Playground or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also go to taking a walk dot com for all episodes and all transcripts. Today our guest is Stephanie Clifford, an award winning investigative journalist and best author. Her first book, Everybody Rise, was a New York Times bestseller. Her new novel is called The Farewell Tour, the story of fictional country music singer Lillian Waters. Let’s take a walk with Stephanie Clifford next. Well, Stephanie Clifford, it’s so nice to be taking a walk with you in person.


Stephanie Clifford [00:00:48] I know what I want. A post-COVID treat, Right.


Buzz Knight [00:00:51] It’s just terrific. It’s a beautiful day. So set the scene where we are, though.


Stephanie Clifford [00:00:55] We are in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, which is, I think, the crown jewel of Brooklyn. Olmstead designed like Central Park. We’re passing through here the shots of children walking through some sort of girls schools at play on our right. And this is near my house. I get to come here. I try to come here every day for a little piece and certainly to watch my two big dogs play with the kids, all that. So I love it. And and we’re in spring migration. So if we see any coverage of it stopping to talk about them.


Buzz Knight [00:01:30] That’s perfect.


Stephanie Clifford [00:01:31] Yeah, it’s great.


Buzz Knight [00:01:32] Well, I have to thank you, first of all, because one of the great joys is when someone listens to an episode of taking a walk and then reaches out like you did, to offer up an opportunity to talk about your book, The Farewell Tour. So thank you. I’m so grateful.


Stephanie Clifford [00:01:51] I’m one vehicle, too, I think, and I love the idea of an actual walk while you talk to people. I think it just brings in a different kind of more relaxed element and mindfulness of you because, you know, so I think the whole thing is cool.


Buzz Knight [00:02:06] And a lot of people listen and they go, Well, wait a minute, It sounds like you’re actually like huffing and puffing a little bit. And I said, Well, it’s because we’re walking.


Stephanie Clifford [00:02:14] I know now we’re echoing because we’re going through a tunnel.


Buzz Knight [00:02:17] Echo, echo. How many times did you do that when you were doing your time? Right. Oh, my God.


Stephanie Clifford [00:02:23] They’re actually for music was just gets great acoustics. So they’re often great violin or cello players just sitting there in the tunnel, which is a neat, neat thing too.


Buzz Knight [00:02:35] So before we talk about your book, let’s talk about your journey, how you became an investigative reporter. And where did all this start?


Stephanie Clifford [00:02:45] Sure. I was always super nosy, like Harriet the Spy was my was my hero as a kid. And I was always making notes in journals about, like, various plots that I thought were happening within my house or within the neighborhood. Nothing ever was. So it’s very interesting that when I found out that you could be a reporter and that that was a real job, I was like, Well, that I think is what I want to do. And so I did the high school paper at at the college paper, and I started at a magazine right out of college as a fact checker. Eventually I got to the New York Times where I covered business and then I covered courts. And at the Times I wrote my first book, Everybody Rise. And then I had to sort of make the choice of do I stay at the Times and not have time to read a second book or do I leave? Try to combine journalism and novel writing in some fashion, which is what I decided to do. So I now write about courts and crime for The Atlantic, The New Yorker, several places, and then combine that with novel writing.


Buzz Knight [00:03:52] So where did music become part of your life?


Stephanie Clifford [00:03:54] It’s always been so I mean, I play I’ve played piano since I was like four. I fell in love with country music in particular, which the farewell tour is set in that world. When I was in high school and I spent a summer at a summer job in Arkansas working trail maintenance, and we on the way up in the Watchtower Mountains, we only got one station and it was country. And that sort of forced immersion into it made me realize that everything I’d heard about country because I hadn’t really listened to it before that was wrong. And in fact, it was this incredibly rich, beautiful genre that I hadn’t really given much credit or time to. And so I came back from Seattle, I came back to Seattle. This is the height, the grunge era, and I was like buying Tammy Wynette. So yes. And nobody ever does. Like, never. We’re going to do like an underground Nirvana show. And I was like, I’m listening to George Jones so that I learned guitar after that because I wanted to learn some of the country, like the Kris Kristofferson songs, the George and Tammy songs, and that that was sort of where my love affair with Country started.


Buzz Knight [00:05:12] And we were writing music back then.


Stephanie Clifford [00:05:14] No, I wrote music for the first time for this book, actually. I hadn’t written music before this, but I’ve always made like a, you know, just tinkering around on the piano or on the guitar made up songs. But for this book, because it’s about a country honky tonk star, I started to write about her writing process, and then I was like, In order to do this properly, I needed to actually sit down and write their songs and think about what she would be thinking about in terms. Of the bridge and the chorus and all those parts of the songs, along with, of course, the lyrics.


Buzz Knight [00:05:51] What’s your going to do here? So you wanted to walk the walk? Yes. Right.


Stephanie Clifford [00:05:57] I like it.


Buzz Knight [00:05:58] Were you scared, though, of that writing process?


Stephanie Clifford [00:06:02] Weirdly, no. Like, I get I get so intimidated about writing articles. If I if I let my, you know, reptile brain take over. I certainly get nervous about novels, but this was just like there was zero pressure and zero commercial pressure. I was like, If this doesn’t work out, then I’ve tried writing a song and that’s fine. If it does work out, then I’ve got a little more information about what Lily and my main character goes through. So it was actually so freeing because it just felt like fun. I felt like I could tinker and take all the time I wanted and add in little licks from other songs that I was listening to and try to represent what she would have been writing again in the fifties and sixties and seventies.


Buzz Knight [00:06:50] So did you visualize Lillian first before you started the whole process of writing the book?


Stephanie Clifford [00:06:57] I knew I knew sort of the touch points I wanted her to hit, so I knew that I wanted her to be born in Washington State, where I’m from. I knew that I wanted her to leave home at age ten. That was actually a real thing that my own grandmother did, and we never knew why. My grandmother, like a lot of women, a lot of people from that era, just didn’t talk about anything traumatic or upsetting. And so she would just say, I left. I started work. That’s it. And so I knew I wanted Lillian to do the same thing in order to not not really solve the mystery of why that grandmother left. I don’t know why she did, but to look at what that’s like, to have to be on your own from age ten on. So in the book, Lillian moves into town to become a hired girl, which is sort of an underpaid servant, and starts supporting herself from age ten and never returns to her family. But I wasn’t sure about her career, actually. I was thinking I knew I wanted her to have a career that would put her into the world, that would have her grappling with what it means to be a woman in what was then primarily a man’s working world. I am getting out of breath here. Fast, fast. I needed to do cardio training before this.


Buzz Knight [00:08:18] We could do a saunter.


Stephanie Clifford [00:08:21] You’re a city walker.


Buzz Knight [00:08:22] Yeah. I love walking.


Stephanie Clifford [00:08:26] And so I have played around with, like, maybe she could be a nurse. Maybe she could work at Boeing, which was obviously based out there then. And those weren’t really working. And then I came across I always read the obituaries in The New York Times.


Buzz Knight [00:08:40] Sure.


Stephanie Clifford [00:08:40] So they’re just like full of fascinating detail. And there is an a bit of a country music producer out of Washington State. And like, as I said, I’d been a country music fan. I’m from Washington, but I didn’t think there was any link between the two. And in looking into this, I found there’s this wonderful moment in the 1950s when Buck Owens, the founder, founder of the California countryside, was up in Washington when Loretta Lynn was out there, when Don Rich, who became Buck’s electric guitarist, this incredible guitarist, was out there and I was like, oh, my gosh, that’s it. If I can get familiar in to Tacoma, Washington, in the 1950s, then suddenly she’s grappling with being an artist. She’s grappling with her songs and her music and her stage presence and who she is and who she presents as, and it becomes this really rich, interesting story. And like a side note that I didn’t think about at the time but has been such a boon, has let me really dive into country music history and learn so much more about it.


Buzz Knight [00:09:43] And you also delve into the fact that Bakersfield, California, was this other hotspot for country, right?


Stephanie Clifford [00:09:51] Yes. Yeah. Bakersfield is where Buck Owens is from. It’s where Merle Haggard got his start and a lot of other Gene Shepard sang out there. A lot of great country singers of the era were kind of in that Bakersfield scene. And Lilian, she meets up, she meets Buck, becomes friendly with him. He moves down to Bakersfield to continue his career, and she goes down and tries to make it on the honky tonk circuit there. And it was that was really exciting to learn. I knew about Owens, the songs. I knew Merle Haggard’s, but I don’t think I had a super clear picture of that California country sound, the sort of electric and rhythm and back slap. And I learned about other musicians like Rose Maddux, who I hadn’t known her work before, and now I listen to her constantly. It’s just incredible. And she was she was a real pioneer. Air on the California countryside.


Buzz Knight [00:10:45] So who are some of the women that inspire you with their grit and their resilience? Because obviously, this is a story of tremendous grit. Yeah.


Stephanie Clifford [00:10:56] Part of that was an homage to the women of my grandmother’s generation, and I think not just of my grandmother from Washington, but my grandmother here who was born in New York, like how much they had to do just to keep going and how little they could talk about it. Like when I read some of the memoirs of country music singers and stars, when they often would go through something really traumatic, the woman led early in their life and just and just treat it in a paragraph or something in the book and then not talk about it again. And I was curious about that whole mode of being for four women from that generation and how how little they could talk about some of what they went through. And I really admire a lot of the woman out of not just out of Nashville, but in the sort of Americana country scene today who sing so beautifully about what’s going on in their lives in very real terms. I think of Amanda Shires who you interviewed, I think of Allison Russell and how how it gives them so much strength to sort of name what they’re going through and talk about it and sing about it. And I wonder what it was like for all those women who couldn’t do that or who were taught not to do that.


Buzz Knight [00:12:17] Yeah, it is an interesting time right now with the fact that there’s so much. Genre that’s being sort of busted in terms of categorization. And I know that’s a central part of the book as well. Can you talk about that?


Stephanie Clifford [00:12:34] Yes. Lillian is is from a honky tonk background. And by the time she finally gets to Nashville after after going through Washington and Bakersfield, she’s 40 years old and she. I did that on purpose because I think we have all we all sort of know or can guess the story of the engineer coming to Nashville and being told, you’ve got to wear this, you’ve got to dress this way, you’ve got to sing this. Lillian at 40 really knows the trade off she’s making and she’s willing to do it. And I thought that was a much more interesting story. She is an electric guitar player. She has a Fender Telecaster that she adores. And at her first recording session in Nashville, she has a producer, Coiro, who’s really good for her and a lot of ways. But Coy says, like, put that thing away. I can’t I can’t sell a 40 something divorcee and I certainly can’t sell a 40 something divorcee playing electric guitar. It’s like 1963 in Nashville. And Lillian puts it away and she says, moment where she’s putting it back in its case. And all the other musicians can’t even look because they know what it means to have to put away your instrument. Yeah, And but she at that point has worked so hard with so little success that she’s willing to do it and she’s willing to make the trade offs. And she knows by the time she’s on the book, obviously it’s called the Farewell Tour. By the time she’s on her farewell tour in 1980, and she knows that this is going to be her last chance probably to perform. She’s been diagnosed with career ending vocal problems, but also, if she ever wants to sing sort of the truth about her life, this is going to be her chance to do that. And so she has to decide, am I willing to do that? Am I brave enough to do that?


Buzz Knight [00:14:27] You mentioned Amanda and the character in the farewell tour, the fiddle player. I can’t help thinking a little bit about Amanda and her spunk, but talk about the character.


Stephanie Clifford [00:14:40] Yeah. Corey, who’s the fiddle player on the Farewell on the last tour. So she that was a character that was so much fun to write because she started literally as a side person in Lillian’s band. I didn’t think of Perry having much of a role besides playing fiddle on this on this last tour, and then she just kept developing more and more and having more to say. So she shows up. Lillian has been brought up as Lillian’s born in 24, so she’s been brought up a certain way. Corie shows up sort of braless, you know, loose hair hanging down. I mean, Lillian immediately disapproves, but as she hears Corey play, she realizes she’s not only very good, but incredibly hardworking, which impresses Lillian. And the two of them start to talk to each other and eventually to become friends. And Lillian develops. But at first, I think there’s a grudging respect. And then as an actual pure respect for Corey and her work and her Terry is also a songwriter, and Corey pushes Lillian in other ways, where she’s from a different generation. She’s from a generation that asks questions about the past that faces difficult things. And and Lillian comes to find out that Terry’s mother had been interned in the Japanese-American internment camps in the West. And Carey wants to stop by one of the camps where her mother was interned. And take a look at it. And Lillian’s immediate response being from another generation is like, why would you do that? That might be upsetting. And Kerry says, that’s that’s what we have to do. We have to face the past and we have to talk about it. And I think Lillian, in seeing Corrie face is really difficult. And part of her her own past gets the courage then to ultimately go back to Washington and grapple with Lillian’s past.


Buzz Knight [00:16:45] That’s quite a storyline. Like God and the way the relationship unfolds is really fascinating because it’s pretty edgy at times.


Stephanie Clifford [00:16:53] It’s pretty edgy. Terry stands up for herself in a way that a lot of people don’t with Lillian, because she’s really in such a strong personality that kind of if you don’t if you don’t push back, she’ll bowl you over. And I think Lillian also, you know, she’s built up all of these walls around her. She’s had to in order to survive. And she connects with Corey as she connects with Charlie, his her bandleader, her longtime friend, her kind of musical equal. And she left. Down a little bit of that and realizes she doesn’t have to be this tough, impenetrable person all the time.


Buzz Knight [00:17:32] Talk about how being an investigative reporter helped you in this process, because you you really go deep in terms of the music and, you know, the weevil blues. Well, Rainey and the talk about how that really helped you writing this being so detailed and fact checking.


Stephanie Clifford [00:17:49] Yeah, I mean, one part is the fact checking. That was my first job out of college, and that’s a job where literally you’re going through a magazine piece written by somebody else underlining every fact and confirming it with a third party source. So you learn research and you learn what’s accurate and you learn what trustworthy sources are. And with something like this. People rightly take music so seriously and take country music seriously as they should. And I was like, I, I do not want to get a single thing, Like, I don’t want to get a date wrong. I don’t want to get a record label wrong. I don’t want to get a technology wrong. So I spent a ton of time in libraries. There’s an excellent performing arts library here in New York, and they the librarians there are so fantastic where they brought out like acetate so I could see how big an acetate was. So I could imagine would Lillian be bringing an acetate, which was were demo records back in the day in her purse or what? You have to have like a special bag for it, or would you just be carrying it a day? I also wanted to kind of subtly but clearly show some of the influences on country music. So you mentioned, but we have a blues that’s a song people hear is when she’s a kid at a Walla Walla farm where she lives in Washington, which is quite rural and I think. There’s been a split in the sort of country music and other kinds of music since since the Bristol sessions. And I wanted to kind of underline all the things that bring music and people together so that Lillian, listening to this record recorded by Ma Rainey, would completely understand what a weevil was, why it was problematic, why it have the blues about it, because she’s they’ve got both levels and they’re in their flower too. So I wanted to bring in some of the other influences on country, like blues, like rock, like jazz. And as Lillian is teaching herself about country music, which is largely when she’s in Tacoma and during World War Two, she is working at a radio station and she spends a ton of time in the library there just listening to different records. But she’s also listening to Charlie Christian, and she’s listening to George Barnett. She’s listening to all of these things that are not classically country, but certainly influenced the sound.


Buzz Knight [00:20:25] And I couldn’t help but think that it’s it’s crazy during the time that William was growing up that there were bank failures. And the irony is struck me thinking about now.


Stephanie Clifford [00:20:39] Yes. Yeah. That she grows up on a Depression era farm that has a mortgage and her dad is sort of torn between logging, which is his real love. And he inherited this farm that he’s supposed to run that has little interest in running. And so, Lillian, like, at one point she sees the actual mortgage paper and she realizes there there’s no way they can make it. Like, she doesn’t know that much about her family’s finances, but she knows they’re not going to make the mortgage. And the banks are failing. People in town are selling all of their possessions for nothing. So the whole era of the book was so fascinating because you go from the Depression to World War Two to JFK assassination, which which plays a role in the book. And it’s just a super rich, the super rich decades of history.


Buzz Knight [00:21:35] Did you do some research at the Country Music Hall of Fame?


Stephanie Clifford [00:21:39] I did a little bit of the it was during COVID, most of it, so I couldn’t go. But they have they have great online resources. Bakersfield, the Cal State Library there has incredible resources about the Bakersfield Sound with a bunch of oral interviews of different producers, musicians. So those were both fabulous resources. And then I was able to go to Walla Walla and Tacoma in person to do research on those towns and get a sense of what they were like in those areas.


Buzz Knight [00:22:15] Another fabulous Nashville museum that’s often unheralded, and I think it sort of speaks to the richness, the way you pursue the genres in the book is the African-American Music Hall of Fame. I don’t know if you’ve ever checked it out. No, it’s pretty remarkable. And I think people sort of forget about where where the roots played played a role.


Stephanie Clifford [00:22:36] Yes. Yes.


Buzz Knight [00:22:39] When you first went to Nashville, when was that?


Stephanie Clifford [00:22:45] The first time I went was for a wedding. So it was.


Buzz Knight [00:22:47] Oh, you were one of those people.


Stephanie Clifford [00:22:49] Those people in 2008 or something.


Buzz Knight [00:22:55] And but you talk about the rhyme and to to to tour the Ryman when you were there.


Stephanie Clifford [00:22:58] Yeah. So all of tootsie’s all of the spots for so incredible and I should note, I just got to go back to Nashville for an event there For the book. For the book. Oh awesome. And the Country Music Hall of Fame happened to have this Western exhibit. So I walk in and there’s Rose Maddox’s costume, There’s Gram Parsons from the cover from.


Buzz Knight [00:23:20] The Burrito Brothers.


Stephanie Clifford [00:23:21] Creator Brothers Brotherhood, I think Gilded Palace of Sin. But quite.


Buzz Knight [00:23:25] Sure.


Stephanie Clifford [00:23:26] That white nudie theater is just unbelievable to walk in and see like Gram Parsons guitar. All of these things were so cool.


Buzz Knight [00:23:34] Yeah, we had Paul Kingsbury, who’s the sort of the curator there, the historian of the Country Music Hall of Fame. So I did see that exhibit and and I think it was really beautifully done.


Stephanie Clifford [00:23:46] There, really. And it’s so neat to hear that music overhead because he don’t hear it in public, really. Right? You don’t hear like Gram Parsons playing at a grocery store and suddenly you’re hearing Gram Parsons and Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. And it’s so incredible to walk through and just hear that It was.


Buzz Knight [00:24:06] Just recently discovered Gram Parsons went to Harvard.


Stephanie Clifford [00:24:10] Yeah, that’s right. Didn’t you drop.


Buzz Knight [00:24:11] Out? Yeah.


Stephanie Clifford [00:24:12] Oh, yeah. That home staff sure did.


Buzz Knight [00:24:14] He sure did.


Stephanie Clifford [00:24:15] Well, the interesting ones drop out.


Buzz Knight [00:24:17] Yeah. So as you as you think about the state of music and females and country music and you think about Lillian, what would she say about it today?


Stephanie Clifford [00:24:30] That’s a great question. I think she would be frustrated by the top 50, which is still, I think, only ten 12% woman. But I think she would also look outside the top 50 and look at all of these artists. Margo Price, Rhiannon Giddens Look at what they’re doing and how, how kind of proudly and strongly they’re telling their stories and the stories of other women and be like, Well, that’s something amazing, that’s fantastic. Like they’re fighting the good fight and they’re winning, even if it’s not, may not be getting onto Billboard Top 50, but it’s it’s just beautiful moving music.


Buzz Knight [00:25:16] So you think she would appreciate the Margo Price’s of the world?


Stephanie Clifford [00:25:20] Totally, totally should. On a tour with her?


Buzz Knight [00:25:22] She would. Oh, no. I would be front row for that one for sure. So what are you working on next?


Stephanie Clifford [00:25:30] I’m starting my next book, so I’m just doing research for it now.


Buzz Knight [00:25:35] You just can’t rest.


Stephanie Clifford [00:25:36] I can’t rest. I’ve got a couple magazine articles in the works that I and sort of starting reporting on. And that’s just that’s that’s most of it.


Buzz Knight [00:25:51] What can you tell us what you’re thinking about? Even in the germ?


Stephanie Clifford [00:25:55] You know, I keep throwing out ideas. If this one sticks, I’ll definitely tell you. But I’ve. I’ve already thrown out three ideas. It’s funny, too. I write books over a long period of time. I admire people who can write them in six months or a year, but that’s not me. And so I have to really want to spend time with the characters. And I had been working on this book about like six people out on Long Island, and about a month ago I was like, I don’t like these people. Like, I was like, I didn’t even want to spend another day with them. Like I got to go through that one. I started fresh there. You have to you have to love and be interested in your characters in it. Like Lillian and Charlie are often still with me, like popping up, telling me what they think about this or about that. And I am so glad to have them still with me that. But I want to really love the characters as much for the next novel.


Buzz Knight [00:27:00] And the music composition part. We touched on it earlier.


Stephanie Clifford [00:27:04] Yeah.


Buzz Knight [00:27:04] So tell me about some of the songs and how they came into your head and you channeled them through. Lillian Yeah, so.


Stephanie Clifford [00:27:12] I think the first song I wrote was Waterloo. Oh, which is meant to be her first number one hit her producer. So I was like, We need you need basically a nickname. Can you tell me about your past? She starts telling him and he says, Why don’t we like we’re going to cut some years off your life anyway, not half of her life, but off of her age anyway. And she mentions there’s this Walla Walla flood when she was a kid and he’s like, okay, Waterloo, Like, we can we can work with that. That’ll work. And so at first I didn’t have any lyrics, any music. It was just this idea that she had a song though. But then like Lillian was like, No, no, no, I want to write this song. I want to figure this out. So I write it first on the. Which is more fluid on piano and then translated as a guitar to make sure it makes sense that the chord transitions and touch would make sense in guitar. There’s another one called Woman’s Work, which she writes. It’s the first song she ever writes, and she’s this is with her band in World War two era Tacoma. They’re playing. They’re sitting around playing Gene Autry. Back in the saddle again, and it’s not working. That sees five women two. Like they can’t get any feeling out of it. And finally they realize like, Oh, we never really got to go in this all like, if we were on a horse, it was for working in the fields or bringing water to and from the fields. If we never just got to go out and ride free. And so Lillian starts thinking about this, and she writes some women’s work from the friends. The women’s work is never done, but it starts with this little like schoolyard chant of these little girls might sing. That’s like took her thinking. And her thinking is like even in schoolyards, boys are throwing balls and getting messy and getting muddy, and girls are playing music on this domestic dance. And so she plays off of that for this women’s workshop.


Buzz Knight [00:29:16] Who are some of the writers you admire?


Stephanie Clifford [00:29:19] Oh, God.


Buzz Knight [00:29:19] Where do we.


Stephanie Clifford [00:29:20] Start? Where do we start? John Prine. Certainly. Oh, there’s so many. I love the sort of storytelling quality that the asides in the John Prine. I was just listening. Of course. To Gordon Lightfoot. Yes. And I’ve been listening nonstop to him. But it’s just it’s it’s a song that would work without just like two word asides. But then he just throws in something and you’re just like, like looking at the rain, for instance. It’s looking at the wall, wishing you’d call and tell me you’re okay. And then he pauses. And then he says, That’s all. And that that little twist is just so good. So a lot of the singer songwriters on Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton certainly is just a stunner on every every facet of that. There are just so many. So many songs from that era, especially that just make you stop it.


Buzz Knight [00:30:24] And how about novelists that you admire? Hmm? Where do we start? They’re right.


Stephanie Clifford [00:30:29] Where do we start? There. My first novel was inspired by Edith Wharton. So think of the classic. The classic, or at least Gilded Age novelists. And she she had such an eye for detail and for social status that I really admired. Wallace Stegner, I think write so beautifully about the West in a way that I was really inspired by for this book, because I tried to encapsulate here it’s about a different part of the West. Here it’s about California and Saskatchewan, but this sort of dry, arid west. And I was trying to write about that in a similar way with the Northwest, which is much more bountiful and sort of forgiving as a landscape. But I think his. Like his portraits of marriages are just so. They just cut you to tear apart. You kind of, like, feel like I can’t get up for three days after reading the Stegner book because they’re so fabulous. I thought I read, you know, I read a lot of classic Western literature as I as I researched this book and thought about what I wanted to touch on. So Grapes of Wrath, certainly. And one thing that I wanted to. Shift about that was even in books that I really admire, like Grapes of Wrath. The women are not centric and they’re not really allowed to leave their homes like they’re they’re sort of Ma Joad, as you see her in camp or on the on the truck. But at night you don’t really see her out in the world doing much. And I wanted to take that sort of strong Western woman and put her out in the world and see what happened, which is Lillian. And she argues with everybody.


Buzz Knight [00:32:19] Let’s talk about how you’re engaging with folks in the reading community, both with sort of, you know, book discussion groups, but also, you know, sharing playlists. So how are you connecting with fans and how can folks find that?


Stephanie Clifford [00:32:38] Yeah. So Stephanie Clifford, Dot Net is my website there. You can sign up for a Zoom book club discussion and I’ve done a few of those and it’s really great. I it’s I’ve done bookstore visits and other sort of more formal author events which are also great. But at the Zoom events everybody is everybody’s read the book or pretend in there. So you just get really interesting questions about things I never thought about, like why did you make this choice or Why do you have Charlie do this? Or you know, why not have Lillian stay in Washington just like smart choices, but people talking about it in a way where the characters are almost as real to them maybe as they are to me. And so it’s so it’s so much fun to talk to readers about why you do what you do. And half the time you don’t as a writer, you don’t. They’re not super conscious choices. So you get these questions that really make you reflect on like, Why did I do that? Was that the right choice? There’s a Spotify playlist that takes you through. It’s mostly women, but also some of the influences on Lillian in the book, and that’s also linked on my website. And then I just love hearing from readers. So my contact information is on the website. People have been emailing me with suggestions on how to listen to and it’s it’s been a it’s so fun having a book in the world and being able to finally talk about the talk about it was beautiful.


Buzz Knight [00:34:12] The book is mesmerizing. It’s cinematic, It’s really a triumph. And we put some steps on today to he did. Thank Stephanie.


Stephanie Clifford [00:34:21] Thank you.


Buzz Knight [00:34:22] Appreciate you taking a walk in person.


Stephanie Clifford [00:34:24] I loved and.


Buzz Knight [00:34:26] Taking a walk with Buzz Knight is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.


About The Author

Buzz Knight

Buzz Knight is an established media executive with a long history of content creation and multi-platform distribution.

After a successful career as a Radio Executive, he formed Buzz Knight Media which focuses on strategic guidance and the development of new original content.