Any fans of This Is Us out there? If so, our guest today is going to be a huge hit! For those non-watchers, don’t worry, you’ll be hooked by the beautiful, heartbreaking writing! Join me in welcoming Kristy Woodson Harvey!
It's spring, which makes me think of baby chicks and bunnies and fresh green grass—in short, babies! But it’s a difficult truth that babies don’t always come as easily as spring. And IVF is what starts the whole story in UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY, your newest release. You have a journalist, Amelia, doing a story on abandoned embryos and finds one of her childhood friends and late wife (who only recently passed away) on the list. Talk about a double whammy for Parker, he struggles with the loss of his wife and then has to determine what to do with her embryos. What’s the most important message you wanted readers to get from Parker’s life and struggles?
First, I love this so much. So well said. For me, this book is about family—the one we create and the one we’re born into—and how incredibly important it is to define what that looks like for you. Both Parker and Amelia come into this story with really finite ideas about what family looks like, and it changes for both of them. That’s a message too, I think: We’re allowed to change our minds!
Life after loss is crushing and debilitating, and it takes time to heal. But seeing that it’s possible to be happy again, even if it’s in a book or on TV is important. Another important piece you wrote about is old friendships. There’s something about a connection with another person that’s known you since you were a kid. How much does that play a role in Amelia and Parker’s friendship?
Oh my gosh, YES. Isn’t there something about that connection? I wrote in one of my Peachtree Bluff books that those are the people who knew you before the world got its hands on you and told you who you should be. There is a level of vulnerability we have with those people, I think, because they know the good, the bad and the ugly and they’re still here. Amelia and Parker’s relationship is interesting because she was always the older girl he was a little in love with, but, for her, he was the annoying kid brother next door. I love how they get to see each other in a new way throughout the course of the book.
UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY doesn’t only have powerful relationships, it’s also got beautiful scenery! Most of the book takes place on the North Carolina coast. How did you make the location and homes feel so real?
Oh, thank you! I live on the NC Coast, so I feel like my whole life is research in the best possible way! I made the houses up (I have an interior design blog, Design Chic, so I’m always picking houses I want to write about!) but the peninsula is based on where we were actually living at the time. Our house in Beaufort was damaged during a hurricane, so the location of one of our rentals inspired the story! It was so peaceful and beautiful—and, if you remember the nighttime kayaking scene—I made my then eight-year-old take me out at ten at night to go through the exact route I talk about. I wanted it to feel authentic. And now I have this great memory!
I’ve never been to the Carolinas, but I love when a book brings a location to life in such a way I feel like I’ve been there. Which is maybe why your release is called Southern fiction? I’ve read countless small-town romances, westerns, and women’s fiction in all sorts of locales, but this isn’t a term I’m familiar with. Does it simply come from the location of the story?
I think it means different things to different people. Some people consider that it has to do with Southern locales and others consider that it’s written by Southerners. In this case, it’s a double whammy! I’m a born and bred Southerner and I love writing about the South—in particular its sweet small towns.
UNDER A SOUTHERN SKY really does have it all! We’re so excited for this book to be in everyone’s hands so we can all be laughing, crying, and cheering together. Thank you so much for stopping by the blog, Kristy! Cheers to UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY and healing friendships!
Thanks so much for this fabulous interview, Lexi! It was so fun! I hope your readers enjoy UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY.