What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?
Alli: Tara Soto is Back by Tara Jenkins Reid. Not my favorite Tara Jenkins Reid (Daisy Jones and the Six is), but I loved the exploration of how famous women are perceived if they speak honestly about their talent, work ethic and success in a public forum.
Asha: Atomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum. Amazing crossover of science, mystery and drama that would appeal to a vast audience.
Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?
Alli: I am recently obsessed with the Stoic philosophers and have been diving deep into the interpretations of Seneca’s and Marcus Aurelius’s writings.
Asha: I have been re-reading with my niece Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor to help her wade through some of the tragedies in the book while appreciating the beauty with which it’s written.
Do you re-read books? And if yes, what was your last re-read?
Alli: Rarely. But I did recently re-read Shondra Rhimes’s Year of Yes.
Asha: I do. Because I read so many sci-fi series that if the next one takes some time to come out I need to re-read the one just before it to remember what happened. I am re-reading book fourteen of the Jane Yellow Rock series called True Dead.
What are your go-to genres?
Alli: Memoir and Women’s Fiction.
Asha: Urban fantasy and Women’s Fiction.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Alli: A Very Young Dancer by Jill Krementz.
Asha: Earth Children’s Series by Jane Auel.
What books are on your bedside table right now?
Alli: The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman and Brian Holsopple, A Visible Man: A Memoir by Edward Enninful, and A Star is Bored by Byron Lane (I keep meaning to read this one, but never seem to get around to it.)
Asha: Our book, Never Meant to Meet You. I need to read it again since we will be talking about it a ton!
Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?
Alli: Too incriminating to answer. I get most of my books from the library!
Asha: I bookmark because my dad and I used to share books, and he would dogear the heck out of them, and it drove me nuts!
What is your ideal reading setting?
Alli: Sundays, a chill in the air, curled up in a big comfy chair, with a blanket over my lap and no one in my house to disturb me.
Asha: I would read eating cereal, on the bus, at recess and under the covers at night as a kid. If I have a book in my hand, it’s the ideal time to read for me.
Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?
Alli: Iconoclast Bookstore, Hailey, Idaho. The owner will stop everything to talk about books with any customer from age 5 to 95.
Asha: Queen Anne Books, Seattle, Washington. The location is like being transported to a quaint French village. Shout out to Tegan Tigani, who works there – LOVE HER!
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Alli: When I entered Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, the first thing any visitor sees (or at least it was at the time, back in the early Nineties) is a big installation of metal words that says, “We Shall Forgive, but We Shall Never Ever Forget”.
Asha: I think reading books by Alice Walker and poetry by Langston Hughes. For me, these two authors were the first time I realized that beautiful words belonged to my community.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Alli: Last spring I went to New Orleans for the first time because I love how the city, as well as the state of Louisiana, is portrayed in historical and modern storytelling. Walking by Ann Rice’s house in the Garden District was exhilarating, and I don’t even care for vampires!
Asha: Going with Alli to the places where we set our books to feel the culture and vibe to make our stories as authentic as we can.
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
Alli: For sure writing in coffee shops. Ambient noise helps me focus. Editing happens one-on-one with Asha anywhere, anytime. Usually, one of our kitchen or dining room tables.
Asha: At my kitchen table with an insane view of Lake Washington’s Andrew’s Bay and Mt. Rainier in the background. Same, same as Alli for editing.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Alli: Energizes because Asha and I have so much fun and laugh our asses off. Plus, when the story really starts flowing, time is fluid, and you can’t get the words out fast enough – there is no better feeling in the world.
Asha: Energized because the more we write and edit the closer we get to sharing our stories with readers. The momentum is exciting.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Alli: Yes, waaaaay too much. And then I re-read and re-read them, usually with too much chips and salsa at my side.
Asha: I read them. The good ones make my day and the bad ones remind me that I too don’t like every book.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Alli: I didn’t have a younger writing self. My writing journey did not start until my mid-forties and by that time I had learned that any goal worth achieving takes a ton of work and dedication, and even then it’s not a guarantee.
Asha: Do not be so shy to show off your writing work.
When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
Alli: Anything outdoors. Trail running, hiking, skiing, swimming in the ocean. Then when I have exhausted myself physically, I can morph into a total couch potato and watch movies and TV series with rapture.
Asha: Cooking up a storm for my extended family.
What are your three favorite things right now?
Alli: The book The Daily Stoic, the TV show The Bear, watching my daughter who is a freshman in high school play volleyball and cheer my younger daughter who is in sixth grade at her Nordic ski races.
Asha: Catching up on the show House of the Dragon, learning to make tasty smoothies, decorating my new house.
Your favorite travel destination and why?
Alli: I have two. London for the theater and proper high tea (I love British history) and Costa Rica for surfing and hours of ocean play.
Asha: I LOVE New York City. The pace is so different than the Pacific Northwest and of course the arts.
What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?
Alli: Grilled cheese sandwich on thick-cut sourdough bread with sharp cheddar cheese and real butter. Total contradiction, but I like it with a really cold fountain of Diet Coke over crushed ice.
Asha: A ribeye steak and a Cesar salad. Accompanied by an espresso martini.
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
Alli: I love to laugh to the point of crying around the dinner table, so I would say Asha Youmans, Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle, Wanda Sykes, Melissa McCarthy, and Hasan Minhaj.
Asha: Chef Ned Baldwin, my agent Liza Fleissig, my brother-in-law Chris Youmans, my friends Sara Kietzer, Daphne Love, and of course Alli Frank!
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, and who would play you?
Alli: Mom-Com. And I would be played by Debra Messing. Always Debra Messing since her Will & Grace days.
Asha: An adventure comedy. And I would be played by Sheryl Lee Ralph.
What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
Alli: The Bear – OBSESSED!!! I have watched it one and a half times.
You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?
Alli: The key words here are “have too”, no one wants to hear me sing. But if I’m being forced into it, then my favorite song, Cleopatra by The Lumineers.
Asha: Black Velvet by Heart. I can kill it.
If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?
Alli: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. For me, this is the funniest novel of all time.
Asha: Misery by Stephen King.
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