"Q&A With Jo Piazza & Christine Pride: We Are Not Like Them"

"Q&A With Jo Piazza & Christine Pride: We Are Not Like Them"

Photo credit: Brittney Valdez
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Author: Jo Piazza

Author Bio:


1.  How did you and Christine Pride find each other and decide to write this book?

Christine was my editor on my last novel Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win. She was an incredible editor and we became close. She actually accompanied me on part of my book tour (very rare for an editor) through the American South. While driving and chatting and stopping at places like Dollywood we talked a lot about race and friendship and the seeds for a novel started to grow.


2.  This is the third book you’ve written alongside another author. How have you grown as a collaborative professional with these experiences? 

I’ve learned to be a better partner over the years. Writing a book together is a lot like a marriage. It involves so much more than getting words on a page. You need to have great communication, patience, empathy and be willing to work your ass off to make it the best book possible. Writing this book together wasn’t always easy but Christine and I were so dedicated to it that we worked through everything it threw at us and the process genuinely made our friendship stronger.


3.  Who or what inspired Jen and Reilly’s friendship?

Jen and Reilly’s friendship is obviously completely a work of fiction, but Christine and I are both incredibly loyal friends to a gang of women in our lives and we naturally borrowed from our own friendships to craft the bond on the page.


4.  How do you use your daily routine to keep you on task and focused?

I’m a stickler for a good to-do list. I make a list the night before, rank the order of things I want to do and check them off. I also make myself write a set amount of words every single day to keep the muscle strong.


5.  What is at least one takeaway you hope everyone understands after reading "We Are Not Like Them"? 

That talking about race IS hard. It is. And it is uncomfortable and can be awkward but it is so necessary. We wanted to give readers some new ways to have the conversations that may have been difficult for them in the past by talking about our characters and what they are going through.


Photo credit: Christine Han

Author: Christine Pride

Author Bio:

"Christine Pride is a writer, editor, and longtime publishing veteran. She’s held editorial posts at many different trade imprints, including Doubleday, Broadway, Crown, Hyperion, and Simon & Schuster. As an editor, Christine has published a range of books, with a special emphasis on inspirational stories and memoirs, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. As a freelance editorial consultant, she does select editing and proposal/content development, as well as teaching and coaching, and pens a regular column—“Race Matters”—for Cup of Jo. She lives in New York City."


6.  If there is one message you want to make sure people understand from your book, what would it be? 

As a Black woman, I hope this book helps readers understand what it’s like to be Black in America-- how racism is a fact of life on your mind every single day. I hope White readers might get a better idea of the toll it can take on your life (and your relationships) and Black readers will be affirmed in seeing their experiences play out on the page, particularly since that’s still relatively rare in commercial fiction.


7.  Finish the sentence: “Words are most powerful when _____”? 

They stop you in your tracks and make you say, “yes, that.”


8.  When did you first fall in love with storytelling and writing?

I’ve loved both since I was a little girl so I don’t even remember a beginning-- probably since I could manage to write letters.  I thought I was going to be a broadcast journalist, which is what I studied in college. I was interested in telling human stories and loved the idea of interviewing people.  But life had some twists and turns, as it’s wont to do, and brought me to book publishing, which, turns out, could not have been a more perfect career path.


9.  What did you love most about writing “We Are Not Like Them”? 

The challenge of it.  I had edited lots and lots of books over the years but never written one. Turns out, it isn’t easy!  It really called me to question...everything.  My talent, my choices... my sanity!  The whole journey pushed me way out of my comfort zone and I hadn’t experienced that for a while.  But that’s a good thing in life, to embark on something new, to accept the possibility of failure and disappointment and do it anyway.  I loved that facing the challenge of it ended up being so gratifying.


10.  What does your ideal writing environment look like? 

Oh, I’m so not a person who has the writing desk overlooking a beautiful vista, surrounded by inspirational quotes, and a hot cup of tea, with a vintage typewriter just out of sight.  In general, I like a loud coffee shop, where I can people watch during breaks and eat overpriced pastries.  And even when it comes to coffee shops, I’m a total wanderer.  I also wrote a lot on my couch with HGTV in the background (which is exactly my current setup as I answer these great questions!)


Jo Piazza & Christine Pride

11.  What’s your best advice for getting over writer’s block?

Jo: I don’t actually believe in writer’s block. It may be because I was a New York City newspaper reporter for so long and I was trained to sit down and get words on a page every day or get fired. You just get it done, even on the days when it is hard and maybe you will have to throw those things out, but you did it and that means you will do it again the next day. Writing truly is a muscle and you have to use it for it to be strong.


Christine and I also encourage one another and push one another to write better all the time. We are no longer afraid to critique the other one (in a kind way) and to tell the other that we think they can write even better than what they may have put on the page.


12.  What’s the best book you have read this year so far? 

CP: It’s been an incredible year for memoir, which is one of my favorite genres and there was two books that leaped to my all time favorites list in 2021: Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley Ford (which was a book I tried to buy as an editor at S&S) and Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad. Fiction wise, we both loved Leave the World Behind.


JP: It’s so hard to pick a favorite because I enjoyed so many books. I simply adored The Last Thing He Ever Told Me by Laura Dave. I read it so fast and thought it was just delicious. I also adored Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason. (CP: Me too, on both!)


13.  What’s the best advice you have ever received on happiness? 

CP: That gratitude leads to happiness.

JP: That happiness is something we create for ourselves and we can’t depend on outside forces to provide it for us.


14.  Do you plan on writing more books in the future? 

Yes!  We hope to keep writing novels that examine race through the lens of personal relationships.  We’re at work on our next book which is about a Black woman in Alabama, who finds an abandoned white baby.  It’s about race and motherhood and the (sometimes desperate) sacrifices we make for ourselves and others.


Places To Find More From These Authors:

 Instagram (Jo Piazza): @jopiazzaauthor

Twitter (Jo Piazza): @jopiazza

Instagram (Christine Pride): @cpride

Linkedin (Christine Pride): Christine Pride


Get Your Copy of We Are Not Like Them Today!

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