Every week, host Adam Sockel interviews a popular member of the literary world about their passions beyond what they're known for. These longform, relaxed conversations show listeners a new side of some of their favorite content creators as well as provide insight into the things that inspire their work.
They grow up so fast with Kerri Maher, author of The Paris Bookseller
Kerri Maher is a bestselling author and mom to a newly minted teenager. In this chat, we discuss the experiences she's had raising her daughter, taking her to Paris, and her new book All You Have to Do Is Call, an essential read about the Jane Collective and women's rights.
You are listening to Passions & Prologues, a literary podcast. For each week, I interview an author about a thing they love and how it inspires their work. I'm your host, Adam Sockel, and today's guest is Kerri Maher, author of the just released, All You Have to Do Is Call. You may recognize Kerri's name as the bestselling author of The Paris Bookseller as well.
All You Have to Do Is Call is a really, really powerful and important book. It is set in Chicago in the early 1970s, and it is all about Jane, which is an underground women's health organization composed entirely of women helping women.
This is a real thing that actually was created, and in this time of people inexplicably continuing to think that they control the rights that women should have and the decisions they can make. This book is just extremely important as a reminder of the places that our country has been and the places that our country may be going.
And it's a really, really important book about women's reproductive rights, women's rights in general. And I just love, love, loved the book, and I love this discussion. Kerri the time of the recording, which was last week, was celebrating her one and only child's 13th birthday.
So, we got into a really interesting discussion about her raising her child and just the myriad things that happens through the first 13 years of raising a kid.
We talked a lot about my nieces and nephews, talked about emotions, the things that kids go through in the first growing stages of their lives, and just so many really interesting things that we all go through, whether we have children or not, because every single one of us has been a teenager.
Really loved the conversation, really loved the wide-ranging aspects of it. Again, she is the author of the bestselling, The Paris Bookseller and she had a chance to take her daughter to Paris. And so, that was a really fun aspect of the conversation as well. I was there earlier this year, so we got to share some “war stories” about our various trips to Paris.
Just a really wonderful conversation. I really think you're going to enjoy it, and All You Have to Do Is Call, it's not only an extremely important book, it's an extremely wonderfully, well-written book, so I think you're going to love that. And it just came out so you can go get it right now after you listen to this episode.
If you're looking for another book that I am absolutely devouring right now, I am currently enjoying The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp. This has big, big, big, like Hercule Poirot energy, very Agatha Christie. It's the story of a quirky group of seniors who attempt to solve one murder while covering up another.
They all live in this one single house, and the book opens with a mystery of a murder that has happened in their house, don't really know what's going on, but then another one takes place in their circle of friends, and then all of a sudden, they are left scampering from place to place trying to figure out what's going on.
It's a group of people, and this isn't a spoiler, who all of them have some sort of background in the world of espionage. So, they're senior citizens at this point, but they have some experience trying to figure out these types of things, and hijinks ensue. It's a little bit dark, but it's super funny. I really, really am enjoying it. So, I think you will as well. So, that's The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp by Leoni Swann.
As always, you can get ahold of me on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube finding me under Passions & Prologues, or you can shoot me an email at email@example.com. Love hearing from you all. I love your thoughts on the weekly episodes on your passions. Feel free to connect with me wherever is convenient. And as always, thank you guys so much for listening.
Not going to keep any longer here in this intro. Let's get to my conversation with Kerri Maher, author of All You Have to Do is Call on Passions & Prologues.
Okay. Kerri, what is something you are super passionate about that we're going to discuss today?
Well, first, Adam, I want to thank you for having me today. This is really a fun opportunity to chat about a passion as well as books, which is one of my passions. But today you're actually catching me, today is my daughter's, my one and only child/daughter, her 13th birthday.
Congratulations on having a teenager.
I know. And so, I'm kind of really full of that at the moment. The fact that she is 13 and officially a teenager is kind of a mindblower for me. And when you're a new parent, you're just worried that like, “Are we at least going to get to tomorrow? Am I going to get to the crib and she's going to be alive still?” So, I still remember all of that.
But now, it's a totally different kettle of fish. And she was recently diagnosed with celiac disease, and so I made her a cake last night. I haven't done a lot of baking in the last several years of my life, but I made her — she asked for a specific kind of cake, a confetti cake, so I made it, it was gluten free.
Anyway, and there are presents on the kitchen table. She started this morning at her dad's place, but I'll get her after school today.
I guess, so one of my passions actually, and I talk about this so much with other writers I know who are also parents, is there's an amazing synergy I think a lot of times between writing and parenting but also there are real challenges. And these milestone moments when your kid becomes a teenager, and you really want to celebrate those things. So, there it is. So, that's what I'm full of today.
So, a few things. This is really strange. One, so I'm the youngest of four children. I have two sisters and one brother. Today, is actually my eldest sister's birthday. We have hit the ages though, I'll be respectful and not say what her age is.
But in addition to that, my other sister Megan, who I know listens to this often (so Hi Meg), she was diagnosed with celiac decades ago before anyone knew what gluten was, so we basically lived in a house where everything said GF or non-GF. And we had the gluten-free pasta and all these different things.
And in addition to all of that, I have nieces and nephews who are the ages of 16 through 2. So, I've tangentially seen this growth of all of these kids go from, like you said, little babies where we're getting photos and we're so excited to go see them. And really, it's just like holding a little sack of potatoes to now, like, my 16-year-old niece is one of my best friends. She's one of my favorite people in the world.
And so, I want to get into all of this. So, first thing, I know it's going to be like painting with broad strokes, but how has it been watching your child's kind of grow into a tiny human and then an almost tiny pre-adult here?
I mean, it's hard to answer that question without a bunch of cliches. So, I'm just going to say that the cliches are true, and here we are. So, I made a choice to only have one. And that was the right decision for me. I have enjoyed every single stage of her development.
When I was still married to her dad, we would talk about that. We would be like, “Oh my gosh, she's squishy and the sack of potatoes, but she's doing all this stuff and that's really fun.”
And then suddenly, she was two and walking around and doing things and that was so fun too. And then suddenly, we were a little worried for a little bit there that she didn't seem to be talking, and then she talked and then she wouldn't shut up.
And all of it has just been nothing short of amazing, like how does this happen. But then you get to 10, the double digits, like how did it get here? And I remember when I was pregnant, lovely friends will throw you a baby shower.
And the people who had been there before me would say, “The days are long, but the years are short,” and nothing has proven more true in my life, because, I mean, listen, we're talking about the positive things.
There are really hard things about being a parent. And one of them is like paint dry boredom, like, “Oh my God, really, we are going to play Elsa and Anna.” It was exactly the right age for Elsa and Anna, we're going to do that again. Okay. Or, “Let's get out the Play-Doh.” I was drooping over some of these things when she was a kid.
But then suddenly, your kid is 10 and you're like, “Wow.” And then they're 13. And from what I understand, from the parents who have gone forth before me, I am now on the downward part of the rollercoaster. I mean, so she's 13 today and tomorrow I'm going to be sending her to college, this is what I've heard.
Listen, again, tangentially, I'm an uncle, I am not a father. But I will say, it's crazy how I think back to when we were kids and I always have thought about this thing where people say both the time and emotions is like, when you're young, it's like filling up a glass of water. And when you're young, the glass is smaller. So, our emotions will tend to overflow over this glass of water.
But also, it's like, the time fills up the glass so quickly. But it feels like it's taking a long time to fill up that glass of water. And then as you get older, you realize, “Oh my God, a year is really not that much time.” A school year is really not that much time.
I remember summer felt like it took, thankfully a long time when I was a kid. And now I was having a conversation with my parents this week. Because my parents have an above ground pool that they've had since I was a little kid.
And my dad who's in the 70s, he was like, “Hey, if you have some time this week, I want to close up the pool.” And I'm like, “What are you talking about?” He's like, “It's the middle of September, all the grandchildren are back in school. It's getting cold, no one's going to use it.”
And I think you're so right with that. Like I said, it's a cliche, but it's true. Like talking to my siblings who have kids, they're like, “Yeah, it was exhausting getting Eliza to sleep tonight. But then it's also like the next time we see them, they're like six inches taller.” And I'm like, “What is happening with this?” It's crazy to think about that.
I've never heard that metaphor of the cup. That's such a great metaphor for time and also emotions. And when you're littler and your glass is small, it is easy to overflow all of that. Just sort of, it's true for adults too.
I mean, my cup has gotten bigger as I've gotten older, and I'm less likely to kind of overflow these days.
So, have there been things … there's this other author, Drew Magary, who I've interviewed a few times, he's a really wonderful writer and he also works for this website Defector, where he writes about sports and life.
And he is in his mid-40s, I think, and he has a couple of kids. And the last one just got done with middle school and for all of their childhood, he's been walking each of these kids to this specific bus stop. So, throughout all of his kids, it's been the equivalent of over a decade of walking to the same bus stop.
And he jokes about how some days he's just sitting on his phone, and he is not really paying attention, but all these families meet at the same bus stop. And he didn't realize it until it had happened and gone by as like he was starting summaries. He is like, “That's the last time I'm ever going to walk to that bus stop with my little kids.”
And I think he's very good at remembering, he does a really good job with these articles that he writes about accepting it. He's like, “My youngest one is going to high school and my oldest one's getting ready to go to college, and that's okay.”
But it's these little things like, “Oh, I'm not going to walk to that bus stop again with my family, that's just over.” But being excited about the things that are to come for them. So, for you, with your kiddo, is that something you try to think through?
Like, “Oh, let's capture this memory, let's remember it.” Or are they just like, “Mom, I don't want to do any of these things.” What are we talking about here?
That's kind of a mixed bag. Like Eleena kind of goes through phases of being really excited to do things with me. Like we went to Paris together for her April break and so we will get excited about doing some of these specific things together. We've watched all of the seasons of the Gilmore Girls together twice. So, there are these kind of wonderful things that mark the passage of time.
But I love this bus stop image and point, because it really — yes, there's the Gilmore Girls in Paris and things like that, but really those bus stop moments, the fact that they are every day and we take them for granted, things like that are important and they have a real cumulative effect. Eleena also takes the bus from here.
So, when she was in elementary school, I always had to meet her at the bus. But that stopped when she went to middle school last year, last year she was able to get off the bus and come to the house herself. I mean, although I was very glad actually not to have to wait out there in the rain, always with the dog.
And there was something so wonderful and wholesome about standing there with the dog. The dog knew what was happening. We talked about the dogs before we started taping. I have a Labradoodle. He's with me right now. I'm petting him right now.
So, I would put the leash on the dog, and we would go out and he knew exactly what was going on and he would like … he's a Labradoodle, but he would stand there like a pointer, waiting for that bus. And so, there was a little twinge when that kind of stage of our lives was done. And I'm trying to think like, yeah, I think that basically answers your question.
So, you mentioned Paris, actually, my partner and I just went to Paris actually in June as well. We did a big European trip and she used to live there for a while and teach, and obviously people who recognize your name probably recognize it from The Paris Bookseller. So, I have to ask, did you take your daughter to Shakespeare and Company?
Oh, yes. And in fact, so this was fun. So, this is like a world's colliding kind of moment. So, when I told her we were going to go to Paris for a couple of days, actually, maybe she had said this before, she knew I was writing about The Paris Bookseller and about Shakespeare and Company. And at one point she said, “You know mom, the tote bags from Shakespeare and Company are really in right now.”
And so, she was so excited to go to Paris and get a tote bag from Paris, Shakespeare and Company. And even better, because I had been there before and actually signed books there as one of these, kind of like, “Oh my God, pinch me, this is my life kind of moments.”
But when I brought her, it was not as big of a deal, but I did sign the stock that they had. And Adam, the wonderful manager, they were doing some construction, and they showed us what was happening, and then he offered her a tote bag. And she was just like, “Yes, please. I would like that tote bag.”
That is amazing. Did she put a note at the — for people who haven't been to Shakespeare and Company in Paris, it is one of, if not the most famous bookstores in the world.
100 %. Yep.
And in addition to being just absolutely dripping with history and all these photos of all of these throw a dart at a wall of author names, that person has been there. But they also have, what I really loved was in the upstairs, there's a place where you can basically leave a sticky note. You can write a note and you can sort of put it on the wall. Did your daughter do that?
No, we didn't do that. Why didn't we do that? We did buy a $10 lock and put it up there at Montmartre at Sacré-Cœur. But no, we didn't do the sticky note. But I mean, it was a wonderful experience, from top to bottom, the whole thing.
I mean, taking her to the store, I always like to interject this. It's not the original store, which my book is about, and my book explains all that. But it has, as you said, it's dripping with history of its own.
And you throw a dart at any wall of writers, basically in the last 100 years, and they've all been to one or the other of the stores. It was really a magical kind of thing. Where else did you guys go other than Paris?
So, we went to Ireland, Scotland and Paris. So, I live in Cleveland, and they're just started this year having flights from Cleveland to Dublin, to the point where we don't have a ton of direct flights from Cleveland. We're a smaller hub.
So, it literally took us less time to get to Dublin from Cleveland than it would like me to get to Los Angeles most days because of the layovers. So, we did a red-eye into Dublin. We spent one day in Dublin. We took the train to Galway, which is, if people haven't been to Ireland-
I’ve been to Galway. It's magical.
So magical. If people haven't been, and I'll be really quick because you're the guest here. No one wants to hear about my European vacation, but Ireland is tiny. We took a two-hour train ride across the entire country, through the entire country, and you're on the other coast.
So, we spent a few days in Galway, and then we went to Edinburgh, which ooh, the best city I've ever been in. Just astoundingly magical. Spent some time there, and then we went to Paris for a while.
So, it was so, so wonderful. When we were in Galway, we spent so much money at the … there's a Irish sweater shop in Galway.
Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes.
We spent so much money on stuff there that we had to ship all of our sweaters home.
Of course, you did. I went to Galway. I've only been there once; I've only been to Ireland one time. It was during my junior year abroad that I spent in London on one of the breaks. Maybe it was early in the summer. Anyway, I went to Ireland, I went to Dublin, and I went to Galway. Those were the two places I went. I took the same bus.
And when I went to Galway, Galway has an amazing literary history of its own. It has a great bookstore called Kennys Bookshop, where I saw Frank McCourt, talk about Angela's Ashes at Kennys bookshop. It had just won the Pulitzer.
I was walking around Galway thinking, “What do I want to do?” I was going to be there for one or two nights. It was one of my nights. I was like, “What am I going to do?” I'm staying at a youth hostel; I didn't know anyone.
I passed by, and in the window of this bookstore is this Irish American writer named Frank McCourt is going to come, and he won the Pulitzer. And I was like, “Oh, that sounds like something fun to do. I'm going to do that tonight.”
That is so cool.
And I've always remembered that experience, always.
We saw much less exciting and much more random. There is a semi well-known character actor and voice actor. His name's Richard Kind. The best person I can describe it for people who might know is in the movie Inside Out in Pixar. He plays Bing Bong, the imaginary character.
Oh, I just wrote about Bing Bong in one of my sub stacks. That's so funny.
So, Richard Kind, he's also from Scrubs. And he is in all these, I think he is in Just Shoot Me! He's just like this weird … I'll put a link in the show notes to Richard Kind, but he's just this very strange person.
And I literally saw him from a distance wearing a bright green Shamrock sweater. And I looked up and I was like, “I think that's Richard Kind.” And then I heard him say to one of his people that was with him, like, “We got to go over there, the shop's over there.”
And it was this voice that, if you know Richard Kind's voice, you know Richard Kind's voice. And he walked by, and I told my partner, I was like, “That was Richard Kind.” And she looks at me and she goes, “I have no idea who that is.” So, I had to explain it. Anyway, just very random Galway stories.
It's one of those places where things like that happen.
So, getting back to your daughter though, I want to know, I'm curious how raising her, does it inspire your writing? How does it affect your writing process?
Obviously, like I said, your latest book, All You Have to Do Is Call, talk about in just a moment is very much surrounding, women's reproductive rights and the Jane Collective and all of these different very important moments in women's history.
And so, I'm just curious, what inspired you to write that? Did it have anything to do with having a daughter who is now a teenager? How are those two things woven together for you?
Well, she wasn't a teenager when I started writing it or got the idea. I mean, so I think globally, I love where I have landed in my writing career. I write historical women's fiction, and there are many of us doing this. Writing great novels about amazing women in history. And I think globally, that project is so important for young women to read these someday.
Eleena has not yet read one of my books unless she has in secret. She can, I haven't said that she can't or shouldn't, but she just hasn't. She's reading Colleen Hoover, but that's okay. It's where she is right now. Reading is reading.
So, anyway, I think globally, I feel like it's important to be writing women's fiction about strong women making their own independent choices and way in the world. So, in that sense, I think I'm always thinking about her.
When it came to writing, All You Have to Do Is Call specifically, when I first got the — so she's turning 13 today. I got the idea for it like five years ago. So, she was younger, and I didn't actually start writing it until three years ago, she was 10.
And I did sort of think to myself, “I don't even know if she knows what it is,” she was an early bloomer, so she knew a lot of things about women's bodies and things at that by 11 for sure. But I was like, I didn't really know what to say to her about it. She always asked me what my books were about.
So, when I initially told her, she was like, “Mom, what do you …” after the Paris Bookseller and stuff. She's like, “What are you writing now?” And I'm like, “Okay, well, so I'm writing about a group of women helping other women in Chicago in the 1970s.” And that was enough of an answer for her.
And in fact, actually that was the answer I started giving people and during interviews and book clubs and stuff, because I actually think it's become more clear after Dobbs.
But when I first started writing pre-Dobbs, I would find myself in a room full of women, like at a book club or something and they would say, “What are you writing about next?” And I had this like, beat, I was like, “Oh, I don't really know what the thoughts are of all the women in this room. I can't take for granted that I'm preaching to the choir.” So, that was the kind of answer that I gave for a long time.
And then Eleena, to bring it back to my daughter, she got to be old enough and was developing opinions of her own and stuff, which were liberal leaning unsurprisingly given who her parents are, where she's growing up. And so, I was able to say more fully what the book was about. And so, she thought that was cool.
No, that's amazing. I think you're right about Dobbs changing, not just the ability to speak more openly about women's right to choose, women's corrective rights.
Listen, I'm from Ohio, you want to talk about a state that has been galvanized by this specific topic. We just had a special election back in August that got a ton of national attention very much because our government, which is very right-leaning unfortunately, was trying to basically stack the odds against anybody being able to change the U.S. Constitution or the Ohio Constitution.
And it was all leading up to our November elections, which is all about women's reproductive rights. And it was them basically trying to stack the deck pre. And so, you want to talk about a state that people assume is very right-wing because it's so gerrymandered. Sorry, I'm getting into the weeds about Ohio politics now I guess.
No, it is important. I mean, this is all related and it is important. And Ohio does seem to be trying to resist.
Yeah. And it was such a catalyst. Because it was an August special election, which they had just voted like a year earlier to take off/remove the ability to do a special election in August ever because it's just not cost effective. It costs a lot of money; a lot of people don't turn out.
And then issue one came about, and so many democratic people come out, not even just democratic, but basically people who were like, “No, it's women's rights to choose this. Why are we even having this conversation?”
So many people came out that I remember when the polls closed, and I remember going on Twitter to be like, “Okay, I'm just going to track this all night.” And within 15 minutes everyone was like, “Well, it's been decided this is a win for democracy in Ohio.” And it was like, “Holy cow.”
So, I do think, obviously you had no way of knowing five years ago you got the idea that this would be the time. I feel like your book is coming out at a perfect time, especially in September, like I said, leading up into elections in November.
And so, just for people who might not be aware, we've kind of been talking about it and not directly about it. If you want to kind of introduce, All You Have to Do Is Call. Because we're kind of talking about separate aspects of the book without talking about the book.
So, All You Have to Do Is Call is loosely based on the women of the Jane Collective. So, for readers who have followed me from my first three books, my first three books were like a sort of a sub-genre of historical called biographical fiction. So, it was about real-life women who really lived.
All You Have to Do Is Call, takes the kind of idea of the Jane Collective and the fact that they existed in Chicago in the early 70s and just uses that as the framework, the characters are entirely made up.
So, the characters are not the original founders of Jane, something like that. So, it's a departure in a lot of ways from my first three books. It's also a departure in that it's got three women narrating the book. So, it's three narratives that are braided together.
And so, we have Veronica, who is one of the founders of Jane and an abortion provider. And this is all taking place, pre-Roe, so this is an illegal women's health clinic.
Veronica, who's a founder and provider, her very old good friend Patty who is a housewife and mother. And that has been her life's work and she's been really happy with it. But when the novel opens her, that's all beginning to unravel.
And she's a character who was raised Catholic and isn't crazy about abortion. She's not that when the novel opens. She's horrified to learn that there's an illegal abortion clinic in her neighborhood.
And then there's Margaret who, she's a young tenure track professor at The University of Chicago, an English professor, and she starts volunteering for Jane. And she also gets involved with the ex-husband of another non pov character named Siobhan.
So, Siobhan and Margaret founded Jane together, and Siobhan is divorced from a man named Gabe. And Gabe and Margaret begin a romantic relationship at the beginning of the book. So, that's kind of the setup.
So, how did it feel writing these different perspectives about something that obviously you feel very strongly about as well? Not only, you said taking on a multi-threaded perspective for the first time, but how did it feel trying to embody these people who may have different outlooks from one another and from yourself, how did that feel as a writer?
Well, I mean, this book really went through a lot of drafts, I got to tell. I mean, it took many drafts and some sort of outside kind of meta writing to get to know them better. And Margaret, Patty and Veronica kind of arrived in my imagination, all three of them together.
But then it was a matter of kind of getting to know really who they were and what their character arcs were going to be and what was going to kind of move their pieces around the chessboard of the novel.
And so, that took me some time to figure out, I had a general overall arc in mind, but actually the very earliest draft of this, I thought it was going to be more of almost like a thriller type. This is not really a spoiler because it is an integral part of the history of Jane. They get arrested.
So, I was thinking about that arrest in early drafts as like, “Okay, it's going to be like, that's the thing that we're driving toward.” And that didn't wind up being the case at all.
It really wound up being a much more very character-driven piece and it's really about the relationships between the three of them and between the important secondary characters in the books, I already talked about Gabe, but Veronica and Patty are also both married and their husbands are important, and then there are other important characters too.
So, did it feel … especially like you said that you were writing this a while back originally, but obviously it's gone through so many drafts and with everything going on in the world, did it feel cathartic to write this? Or were you kind of infuriated being like, “God, why are we still talking about this?” How did it feel?
Well, actually on that note, in the fall of 2021, I went to a women's march in Boston and there are all these people carrying all these great signs and my favorite sign was just … there was some women, probably 10 years older than I was on green particle board and black sharpie, they'd written, “I can't believe we're still fighting for this shit.” I just love that.
So, I don’t know about cathartic, but I definitely felt maybe an increased sense of — so I was writing and revising before and after Dobbs. So, when Dobbs happened, I think I felt an increased sense of responsibility to the story, and this is really a provider novel. It's about the women who are providing this, they call it the service, the service to the women of Chicago.
And providers now are in a real bind. Because at the level of free speech, like their women come into their office and they're like, “We're not even sure what we can say to you about your options.” So, that's a very different situation than the women of Jane were in Chicago in 1970. But what the situation in the 70s was, has resonance with today.
And so, one of my hopes for the book and as I was writing it became more clear to me is that I really hope that providers and the people who love them and support them can feel seen by this book.
There were various stages in which the book could have veered more into the story of the women who were coming to Jane, but I always, just on a gut level — listen, the stories of the women coming to the Jane are integral to the novel, but they're not the focus of the novel.
The real focus of the novel are the women providing the service. And that was always important to me. And it just became more important as the world turned and changed.
It takes a unique set of emotions and emotional empathy and just psychological understanding of other people to realize, in addition to, like you said, taking a risk and even offering these services, but doing it for these people who are in many cases making what will be one of the hardest decisions of their lives.
And knowing that day in and day out, that is something that you're doing for other people. It's something that people probably don't think much about when they discuss women's reproductive rights. And they're talking about the women's right to choose and all these things that are essential. And it makes sense that the people who are making these decisions would be the center of a story.
But you're right. I'm so glad you have this book out about these people that are making the choice to make the choice available to other people. Because it's such a challenging thing that they are going through every single day. To show up with that empathy and that supreme kindness.
This isn't even a question, but just like that essentiality of their existence and knowing how they have to show up every single day, I think is really important to put out there.
People can't see me because this is a podcast, but I'm nodding my head. And I think that as you were talking something else, I just want to mention that was part of what influenced me as I was writing, especially in the early stages.
I started writing this during the pandemic when doctors and nurses were on the front lines of the pandemic risking themselves, their own families, their own safety to provide care. And I found that to be really inspiring also. And I think of the women of Jane as kind of frontline workers in the fight for reproductive healthcare.
And so, I think, the pandemic wasn't part of the genesis of my idea, but it absolutely influenced the way I wrote these characters. For part of the pandemic or for all of the pandemic, I was actually involved with somebody who was a doctor. So, I really saw it.
I mean, I saw the way it impacted people's lives. My sister-in-law's also a doctor, and she had to provide COVID care in a clinic. It was really hard on doctors and nurses and everyone in the healthcare system.
Very, very scary and especially then, we don't have time to get into all the things they then had to go through from people transitioning from like, “Oh, they're heroes to like, oh, they're the enemies,” to all these different … it was for people just for posterity.
If anyone's a little bit younger listening to this, the pandemic was just truly the most insane time of probably any of our lives. It was a lot.
It was a lot. But I think that that call to service is not something everyone has. I'm not really sure I have it exactly, but I was fascinated by it. And I think, as a writer, it was my duty to kind of crawl inside that mindset and explore it in as much depth as I possibly could.
I love that so much. I've taken up a lot of your time. I have two more lighthearted questions for you. One, first I always end our show by having the author who's come on give a recommendation of any kind. It could be a book; it could be a movie. I had someone say, go for a walk. Anything you want to recommend to people that you think they should know about.
Oh my gosh. Well, I mean, alright, can I throw a couple of just like rapid fire things?
So, on the subject of great books about reproductive the history of reproductive justice, I would say Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is terrific. House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson is also terrific. And Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh is also terrific.
On a more lighthearted note, but also a Chicago note, The Bear on Hulu, which is about a restaurant in Chicago. Such a good show, such a good show. Just incredibly well written, beautifully acted and filmed. I mean, just the best the television has to offer, highly recommend it.
And if anyone wants to feel traumatized, there's an episode in the second season where a family gets together and has Christmas, and it is so perfectly shot as a person who has panic attacks goes to therapy. I was like, “Oh my God, I'm so uncomfortable right now.” But it is so beautifully perfect. I love it so, so much. I totally agree with you.
Okay, last question. This is both lighthearted and important. Do you have weekend plans with the kiddo or what's a birthday for a 13-year-old look like these days?
So, we actually celebrated with a couple of friends of hers last weekend. One of the nice things about them getting older is that the parties become smaller. Instead of having a wild 25 hooligans running around your house or a space. Anyway, so she actually really embraced a kind of irony.
So, she always loved these Build-A-Bears. So, she's always loved bears and so she wanted to do Build-A-Bear with some friends of hers. So, we did like a fun Build-A-Bear thing. All five of these, 12, 13-year-old girls absolutely had the best time. And then we went to the Cheesecake Factory.
Nice. That is so wholesome and adorable.
And I had pumpkin cheesecake because it's fall.
It is fall. Listen, people didn't know, we didn't talk about this particularly, but Kerri has on her website, her love of apple picking and fall things. And I'm literally going with my niece and nephews this weekend to pick apples and I am absolutely a basic fall, autumn loving human being. So, I support pumpkin cheesecake 100%.
Cheers to pumpkin cheesecake.
Yes. Kerri, All You Have to Do Is Call is such a phenomenal and important book. I'm so, so thankful that you came on and chatted with me. So, thank you for joining me today.
Thank you, Adam. It was really fun to talk to you.
Passions & Prologues is proud to be an Evergreen Podcast and was created by Adam Sockel. It was produced by Adam Sockel and Sean Rule-Hoffman. And if you are interested in this podcast and any other Evergreen Podcasts, you can go to evergreenpodcasts.com to discover all the different stories we have to tell.