Interview with Chris Cander - A GRACIOUS NEIGHBOR

Interview with Chris Cander - A GRACIOUS NEIGHBOR

In this interview, Chris and I discuss A Gracious Neighbor, the short story that inspired her novel, how we never really know what goes on behind closed doors, why she created her own definition of gracious for the book, her writing process, mean girls and how some never grow out of that phase, and much more.

In this interview, Chris and I discuss A Gracious Neighbor, the short story that inspired her novel, how we never really know what goes on behind closed doors, why she created her own definition of gracious for the book, her writing process, mean girls and how some never grow out of that phase, and much more.

Chris's recommended reads are:

  1. Still True by Maggie Ginsberg
  2. Ghost Music by An Yu
  3. Fellowship Point by Alice Elliott Dark

Check out my Summer 2022 Reading List.

Support the podcast by becoming a Page Turner on Patreon.  Other ways to support the podcast can be found here.    

If you enjoyed this episode and want to listen to more episodes, try Amy Mason Doan, Lyn Liao Butler, Saumya Dave, Kathleen West, and Steven Rowley.

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[00:11] Cindy: You are listening to the Thoughts From a Page podcast, which is a member of the Evergreen Podcasts Network. My name is Cindy Burnett, and I love to talk about books with anyone and everyone. While listening to my podcast, you will hear author interview, youth, behind the scenes conversations about various aspects of the publishing world, theme discussions with other book lovers and more. For more book recommendations and a complete list of all of my interviews, check out my website,, and follow me on Facebook and Instagram at @thoughtsfromapage.  In 2022, I would love for you to join my Patreon group. I offer at least two bonus episodes a month and a monthly advanced read and pre-publication author chat. For those on Facebook, I host a special Patreon Facebook group where we all chat books. Thanks so much to those who already participate and I hope you will consider joining us. Before we get started with this episode, I just wanted to say I'm thrilled to pieces to be back, and I hope everybody had time to catch up on some past episodes that they had missed out on before. Today I'm chatting with Chris Cander about a gracious neighbor. Chris is the bestselling author of The Weight of a Piano, Whisper Hollow, and Eleven Stories. She also wrote the children's picture book, the word Burglar and the Audible originals, Eddie's and Grieving Conversations. Her new novel, A Gracious Neighbor was released in July of this year. Cander's fiction has been published in twelve languages. A former fitness competitor and model, she currently holds a fourth dan in Taekwondo and is a Certified Woman's Defensive Tactics instructor. She lives in Houston with her husband and two children. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Welcome, Chris. How are you today?

[01:49] Chris: I'm very well, thank you so much for having me.

[01:51] Cindy: I am so glad you're here. I can't believe after all this time, this is the first time you're coming on my podcast.

[01:58] Chris: I know, and I'm so delighted because I've been watching following your success with everything and so I'm honored to be here and really delighted at how well your podcast is doing in general.

[02:10] Cindy: You're so nice and I always enjoy seeing you since we're both in Houston and you were just recently one of the authors at our literary salon, which was so much fun. And now I'm excited to talk more about a gracious neighbor.

[02:21] Chris: Thank you.

[02:22] Cindy: Well, what I usually do is have authors start out by talking a little bit about the book for those that won't have read it yet. So can you give me a quick synopsis?

[02:30] Chris: Yes. So A Gracious Neighbor is set in West University Place in 2019. That's where we both live. And the protagonist is Martha Hale. She's an affable wife and mother, and she is desperately trying to penetrate the social circles of her neighborhood. And she's having a really difficult time, which is making her even more lonely than she already is. Next door, a new build has just gone up and sold and in moves in the glamorous Mini Foster, who happens to be a former high school classmate of hers. And this inspires Martha to pick up their would-be friendship. But it ended up being trickier than she anticipated because their memories and their realities don't necessarily align. But undeterred, pretty soon, her preoccupation with Mini's life and success is becoming an obsession. And she starts to make some very questionable choices and notices a darkness and some shame lurking inside Minnie's perfectly deceptive home. And she realizes that even Minnie's life isn't as perfect as she would think. So this is really an exploration of the judgments that neighbors, and specifically women, pass on each other and the ways that we kind of stay on the outside, or some people feel themselves to be on the outside, always looking in.

[03:59] Cindy: And also the idea that you don't ever really know what's going on in someone else's house.

[04:04] Chris: Definitely we don't know what's happening behind closed doors. And really, it's a challenge to question if we are accurately perceiving the people around us.

[04:15] Cindy: Well, I have talked with you many times about this book, so I know the inspiration, but I would love for others to hear it because I think it's really interesting.

[04:24] Chris: Thank you. Yes, I have origin stories for each of my novels and this is one of my favorites. So in 2019, in December, Sasha, my daughter, who was then a college or a senior in high school at a women's only college, college prep school, handed me a stack of pages and said, mom, you've got to read this. And it was a 1917 short story written by a woman named Susan Glasgow, the most famous Pulitzer Prize winner that you've never heard of. It was called a jury of her peers. And in the story, a farm wife named Mini Foster Wright has been taken to jail for the possible murder of her husband. And the sheriff, the county attorney and a male neighbor arrived at their lonesome country residence to look for a motive and evidence that will convict many of this crime. And accompanying them are two women who have been brought along to collect some of the personal items to deliver to the accused. And those two women are Martha Hale, who is the neighbor's wife and friend to Mini Foster in childhood, and then the sheriff's wife, Mrs. Peters. And what's really interesting in this early feminist story is that looking around the unkempt kitchen, the men are seeing evidence of many shortcomings as a wife. But the women actually are beginning to understand that the disarray that they see there is a reflection of men's mental state. And so as they're discovering clues, they're noticing that there is evidence of an oppressive, abusive husband acting against his wife. And they begin to reach conclusions about Mini's guilt and judge her actions to be justified. And they understand Minnie's plight because they have dealt with their own versions of male domination in their own lives. And Martha at one point says, we all go through the same things. It's all just a different kind of the same thing. And so sexism and misogyny are central themes of her original story, but I was really struck by the dramatic evolution of the relationships among her female characters both on and off the page. Martha and Mrs. Peters go from initially very negative assumptions and misjudgments to empathy and even law breaking support of many. And so the idea that now, over 100 years later, women are still often misjudging and mistreating one another was the impetus for reimagining the story in a modern setting. I decided to pluck her entire cast, turn the century names and all, out of 1917 Iowa, and plot them into 2019 West University Place.

[07:05] Cindy: And one thing you and I have not discussed, and I was just thinking as we're talking about this, is what are the rules regarding using a story like that? I mean, I see people all the time taking Jane Austen's stories and either extending them or writing about a particular character. But obviously she wrote a long time ago, what happens when you want to use a short story like this?

[07:26] Chris: Well, there are rules about it, but once it's been out in the public domain for 100 years, you're free to deal with it however you wish, because it was published in 1917. It was 102 years old when I started imagining it or imagining rewriting it. And so I was free to do so. And what I did was I knew in the beginning that I was going to write toward an ending that was very parallel to the original short story. So I wrote 285 pages that preceded what would end up mimicking the original short story. I had to imagine a whole backstory for all of these characters. And fortunately, it was public domain, so I didn't have to get any permissions to use it.

[08:19] Cindy: That's great. I thought it was 100 years, but as we were talking, I just wanted you to reconfirm that. I figured, obviously that you could do it or you wouldn't have done it, but I couldn't remember exactly what the time frames were.

[08:30] Chris: But I will show you a little interesting bit of trivia. In the beginning of the novel, right before the prologue, I open with a definition of the word gracious, because what that does in the book is it shares four different views of how we define gracious. But I wanted to use what was available in the, and I wrote and asked for permission to do that, and they didn't give me permission. And so I had to actually write my own definition because I wasn't allowed to do it without paying something like $50,000.

[09:08] Cindy: Really?

[09:09] Chris: Yes.

[09:10] Cindy: So you can't just take a definition from Merriam-Webster or or whatever and put it into your book.

[09:17] Chris: Not unless it's over 100 years old.

[09:20] Cindy: I did not know that. What a cool piece of trivia. Not so cool for you, because you're like, I had to come up with a definition of gracious. But that's really neat.

[09:28] Chris: It is really neat. But it was actually a fun challenge because having to come up with I wanted to have enough in there to substantiate the idea of how I wanted to use gracious or why I used it in the title and how it referred to each of the characters. So may I read to you what I chose to write?

[09:50] Cindy: I'd love for you to do that.

[09:51] Chris: Okay. So gracious as an adjective. One, courteous, kind, and pleasant. Two, elegant and tasteful, especially as exhibiting wealth or high social status. Three, condescending. Four, merciful disposed to forgive offenses and impart unmerited blessings. So each of those four definitions come into play at various times in the book, and I think that, number one, courtesy's, kind and pleasant definitely refers to Martha, right? Through whom we see the entire it's entirely told from her point of view. And then number two, being elegant and tasteful would be mini, and then condescending would be the kind of chorus of neighbors that have not necessarily been gracious, but it's more of a tongue in cheek, back handed use of the word, I think, especially in the way that they've treated Martha. And then the fourth, I think, comes back to Martha again, especially at the ending, the way that she forgives the offenses and the trespasses against her.

[10:58] Cindy: I'm just completely fascinated by this definition thing. I'm mind blown. I'm just sitting here thinking, I just had no idea. What a cool piece of trivia. And thank you for reading those definitions and how clever of you to have to come up with them.

[11:12] Chris: Well, thank you.

[11:13] Cindy: So let's talk a little bit about writing the book. How long did it take you to write it?

[11:18] Chris: Well, it really was fairly quick. In fact, I think it was the fastest I've ever written a book. I went from having the idea to holding advanced reader copies in my hand in two years, so the actual writing probably took me ten months. It just so happened that it coincided with the beginning of the pandemic, and so everything in my life, as with everyone else, came to a shuddering stop. And although I don't generally write very much more than, say, 350 words a day in real life, maybe I doubled that because I didn't have, first of all, another book to promote at the time, and I didn't have a lot of social engagements, because nobody did.

[12:06] Cindy: We were all sitting home.

[12:08] Chris: We're all sitting home. And I sat outside in my backyard. And I spent a great deal of time dipping into this other world. Which was a real blessing because there was so much uncertainty at the time that I don't have to explain that everybody understands it. But being able to escape into this other world. Which also happened to be my literal neighborhood. Was a wonderful way to deal with the stress of the unknown during that time. And ironically, another bit of trivia. Susan Glasgow's story was published in 1917, which was just a year before the pandemic of 1918. So there was a really odd parallel that happened completely unintentionally.

[12:54] Cindy: I think it's so crazy that the pandemics were about a century apart, obviously off by a little bit, but truly, the fact that it was 102 years after the last one.

[13:05] Chris: Right. And so the fact that I just happened to be writing at the beginning of a pandemic, she published hers a year before the pandemic started. I thought it was such a cool serendipitous. I don't know. Little tickle from the universe.

[13:21] Cindy: Absolutely. Do you have a writing process? Do you have a place that you always sit or can you write anywhere? What does that look like for you?

[13:29] Chris: Well, generally I write in my office, which is where I am now recording this podcast. And I don't know if you've been able to hear it throughout the recording, but I have a set of pentatonic wind chimes that hang outside the window, and that's sort of the music that I write to. But for this one specifically, as long as I could until it got too hot, I sat outside the backyard and listened to the birds and listened to the sounds of my neighbors, especially in the beginning of the shutdown when not a lot of cars were driving. And so you could really hear just ambient noise. That was real human life and real natural life. I could listen to the squirrels chirping in the trees and the sounds of the acorns dropping on the ground and birds singing to each other. But there you just can hear the chimes now. I love it.

[14:18] Cindy: I'm like, oh, there are the chimes right now. They're like. Don't forget us.

[14:21] Chris: Don't forget us. So this is where I've written all of my novels, for the most part, and my real, true, happy place. But as far as the process goes, I don't have a very strident one. I just have a pretty modest but achievable goal of writing about 300 words, 350 words a day. I don't have to exceed that, but I really try not to fall short of it on a daily basis. And of course, I allow myself vacation time and weekends off. And if some family emergency or sickness happens, that's fine, but it's allowed me to be consistently productive. I'm now writing what will be my 7th novel. I have one that's unpublished completely and one that has been partially published in audiobook format through as originals. They're just two of the chapters. Two of the eight chapters have been published that way. But the one that I'm working on now will be my 7th. And that small daily goal has really served me well.

[15:30] Cindy: So many authors have commented that if you let it go for too long, it's really hard to get back to it. So I think your point of writing, even just a little bit every day, prevents that from happening.

[15:41] Chris: Exactly. I mean, it's just like exercise. Just keep your muscles flexible and you don't have to do a lot, but just a little bit keeps you in the game and makes it easy to return to your desk or to the gym. If we're going to continue with the.

[15:55] Cindy: Metaphor the next day, I think that's exactly right. It's a momentum, almost.

[16:00] Chris: Really, it is.

[16:01] Cindy: Well, who was the hardest to write and who was the easiest?

[16:04] Chris: Well, interestingly, I think that Mini was the hardest to write because I never wrote anything from her point of view. I wanted to have the whole book be from Martha's perspective, because if you read the book, and I know you have, but she becomes very unreliable at certain points, and yet I was always in her head and I felt like a lot of Martha is me. I shared a lot of history with her. I lived in Largemont. I grew up in a blended family. I went to the University of Houston. I moved into Westview in 2005. I also have always felt like an outsider. And although I have amazing friendships, I don't share that in common with Martha. I could definitely understand and empathize with her feeling of being a social outcast and struggling to feel like she fits in somewhere. But many being tall and thin and glamorous, I do not identify with her. And I didn't know exactly what she was feeling at any point in time. I just knew how Martha felt about her. So it was a challenge to write her in an empathetic way, not identifying with her and not really being able to get into her mind because none of the chapters were written from her.

[17:28] Cindy: Point of view and really writing her from someone else's point of view. So it's not even like it's from a neutral third party narrator or just a normal third person, but from Martha's perspective instead.

[17:39] Chris: Exactly. I mean, it's like looking through double paned windows or some other kind of lens that was a filter. Because I had to know the entire time that it was Martha's view that we're seeing this through, that we're only understanding or misunderstanding many because of how Martha sees her at any given point.

[18:02] Cindy: Her own perspective and the things that she is slowly getting wrong some of the time.

[18:08] Chris: Absolutely.

[18:09] Cindy: Well, who was the easiest?

[18:11] Chris: I think the easiest was Martha because, as I said, I could identify with so much of her history and the experiences that she had socially, and I really grew to love her. I think that although she makes some really hyperbolic and exaggerated choices and I did that for the sake of fiction, and for drawing a point to illuminate the point that I was trying to make. I made Martha do some pretty crazy things, but I felt like throughout the entire novel, she was consistently striving. She was trying to do right by her neighbors and her family, and she was desperately trying to become a helpful person, a helpful member of society. And I fell in love with the fact that she was kind of fumbling her way toward all of that. And so she was hard to write at times, too, because of the choices that she made. But I just felt such a connection to her.

[19:19] Cindy: Well, I think it's interesting, too, when you're in high school, in middle school, and you've got all the girl drama and you're thinking, I'm going to grow out of this, and then you get to be an adult and you realize you never grow out of it. Some people are always mean girls, and so it's interesting to try to explore those dynamics sometimes.

[19:35] Chris: I think it really is. I mean, that was so striking to me because I graduated high school early. I mean, I actually technically quit, but I had enough credits to graduate and went to college because I just felt like such a misfit in high school and thought, if only I can get to college, I'll feel better, I'll find my tribe. And then I graduated from college without having found that. And I started my professional career and I didn't find it. And really, it wasn't until I was in my 40s that I found my tribe, and I found them here in West U in the setting of this novel. And I feel so blessed because I don't know if it was just coincidence or maturity or just letting go of expectations on my part, but I found not just one, but several groups of really amazing women that fulfill my life and heart in such important ways. And poor Martha is still out there trying to do it well.

[20:34] Cindy: And it's difficult because I think there are two separate issues finding your tribe, which does take people a while sometimes, and it can really vary for people, but also just tackling issues related to mean girls. That's something that just you talk a little bit about that with some of the neighbors, and some people just never grow up.

[20:52] Chris: No, it's true. And I wonder what pain may have experienced in their lifetime that prevents them from growing up and forces them to continue to behave in a way that resembles a mean girl. But you're right. They're out there, and they're right around.

[21:08] Cindy: Us sometimes, and that could be anywhere. I mean, it's not just West University Place. I mean, I've seen that throughout my whole life. And just learning to navigate them, and that's something I've made sure my girls understand as well. Just learning to navigate those type of people is an important thing to understand how to do.

[21:22] Chris: And you're right. And they do exist in neighborhoods beyond West View and beyond Houston and beyond Texas. I mean, they are everywhere. And it is an important thing to learn how to find them or how to notice them and then to kind of protect yourself from them.

[21:42] Cindy: Yes. Avoid them as best you can.

[21:44] Chris: Exactly.

[21:45] Cindy: Well, you have written a number of books. Do you have a favorite?

[21:48] Chris: And I know other writers have said this, it's like trying to identify a favorite child. I've loved all of my books for different reasons, because I can remember who I was as I wrote them. And I've evolved every book I've written I've become a different person just because of my experience in life and being older and getting older. And so I love them all for different reasons. But I will tell you that I have a real affinity for eleven stories which came out in 2013, and which was this kind of little novel that the Engine that could, this little novel that could. And I still get requests to speak to book clubs about that book. And I have such a tenderness in my heart for the characters, especially the protagonist, Roscoe, who connects all of the individual chapters and the characters within them. So it's a little double entendre. It's eleven stories, but it's an eleven-story apartment building, and Roscoe is the superintendent and the protagonist. And the story opens with him playing the trumpet on the roof, and he falls. And the question of whether it was deliberate or accidental is never answered in the story. But as the story unfolds and Ruska is falling beyond the windows of each of those eleven stories in the building that he's lived in and served for his entire life, you begin to piece together clues about whether or not it was intentional and why.

[23:32] Cindy: That sounds like that would make a great book club book.

[23:35] Chris: It is a good book club book because there is so much controversy about that particular question. But also there's a lot to talk about within each of the chapters. They focused on whoever lives in that apartment that he's passing, and not necessarily concurrently. There are people that has been incredibly memorable in Roscoe's life, and lots of interesting stories and people and lots to talk about.

[24:07] Cindy: I think it's really interesting and compelling when a building becomes a character.

[24:11] Chris: I totally agree, because there's something that's fascinating about not only its architecture, but what draws this cast of characters to it. And that's true in real life as well. Why did the people that end up in a particular neighborhood show up there? And how did their interactions affect and inform the lives of the people who live there?

[24:35] Cindy: Absolutely. I just think those things are fascinating. How do I well, what are you working on now?

[24:41] Chris: So I'm about halfway through a new novel called The Young of Other Animals, and it's very different from a gracious neighbor it's different from all my other books. They all are very different from each other. If anything, I think it might resemble the weight of a piano a little bit more, but not for obvious reasons. It takes place in Austin So, another Texas based novel, and it is the story a dysfunctional relationship of a mother and daughter, and it centers around a violent attack that the daughter suffers at the beginning of the novel. But it begins to unravel the relationship between the mother and the daughter and kind of solves the question of why the attack was perpetrated. And I don't know a whole lot more because I've literally just crossed the halfway mark. I have some ideas, but I don't know exactly. I never know how they're going to turn out because I don't like to think too far in advance. I like to think about a chapter ahead, maybe, and then just see where the characters and their stories take me.

[25:59] Cindy: I love all these books set in Texas.

[26:01] Chris: Oh, I'm so glad.

[26:04] Cindy: It's always so much fun to read about your home state, I think.

[26:06] Chris: I think so, too. And it's funny that this is the first time I've done it. I don't know why it felt safer to write about places that I didn't know as well, and I'm just now feeling confident or comfortable setting them in my own backyard.

[26:24] Cindy: Well, and that raises another question. Have you had a lot of friends and neighbors say, oh, I see myself and this character? Is that so and so in that character, in A Gracious Neighbor?

[26:35] Chris: Well, I know that there was a lot of concern, a lot of buzz around it before the book was released, but I will assure everyone that it is not based on any actual people. Any coincidences or any similarities are purely coincidental. But like I said, I think that Martha is mostly based on me. And I have a funny little story. One of my early readers is always my sister, and I gave her the book and she read it and immediately called me and said, Dude, because we call each other dude. She said, Dude, am I Martha?

[27:14] Cindy: Dude, I'm Martha.

[27:17] Chris: I'm Martha. But I've had other people say, Am I Martha? I think we're all here. We can all identify with social awkwardness, and we can all identify with wanting so hard to fit in and not quite feeling like we're doing a good job of it and striving to penetrate social circles. So I want readers to feel connected to her in the best possible way, not with the crazy things that she does, but with the idea that we're all a little bit misfitting and we're fortunate when we find our people. And it's okay to take some time to do that. It's okay that we don't always fit into the social circles that we're thrust into. And yet I feel that we should be more empathetic about the people that are sitting by themselves at the lunch tables and we should try to embrace those people because we're embracing younger versions of ourselves.

[28:19] Cindy: Nobody likes to be sitting by themselves when everybody else is chatting. So I always try to turn that around if I see someone else doing that and encourage them to join me because it's no fun to be the odd person out.

[28:29] Chris: It's definitely not fun. And I know very painfully what it feels like to be the one sitting alone.

[28:36] Cindy: And I think that's something that I have really tried to impart to my children as well, because I think it's so nice to learn that at a young age that it never hurts to be kind. It's always so much better, always so.

[28:46] Chris: Much better to reach out and make a connection because I think that's what we all want in life. I mean, that's why we read, that's why life is meaningful, is for the connections that we make. And keeping people separate or feeling separate in our own hearts is never the way to go.

[29:03] Cindy: And I think that it's always surprising because you can find a lot more connections with people than you think you will. So if you just go and try that, you'll end up being like, oh, we have this in common, or we have that in common, or you learn something. I mean, there's just no downside. Only upside.

[29:17] Chris: Only upside. I totally agree with you.

[29:20] Cindy: And what was it like to have your book in People Magazine?

[29:23] Chris: Oh, my gosh, that was so cool.

[29:25] Cindy: I opened it up and I was like, oh my gosh, this is so exciting.

[29:30] Chris: I was so excited because my policy gave me a hint that it might be coming out in People, and there obviously is a chance that it wouldn't happen. But she told me that the editor in chief and the books reviewer really loved it and so I was so thrilled to see it there because people read People.

[29:54] Cindy: I read People for years, like through high school and college and law school. And after that, I mean, I had a subscription forever. And finally when my kids were young, I canceled it because there was no time to read anything and I had not had it for a long time. But then I started getting involved in all the book stuff again and now I really follow which magazines pick which books, and I really enjoy seeing that. And in the midst of all of that, we had a subscription to something else. I'm not even sure what it was. And it got converted to People because whatever the magazine we subscribed to was, which I think was something my parents had gifted us, no longer existed. And so they converted it to People. So I'm thrilled to pieces because I'm enjoying people again. I open it up immediately to the books, and as soon as I go through the books, which I'm excited to see, then I. Go to all the TV shows because there's so darn many TV shows these days trying to figure out what to watch. So I'm thrilled that I have people all over again. I feel like I've come full circle.

[30:46] Chris: It's a fun magazine. I mean, I love it. I admit it. It's not intellectual fair, but it is very entertaining and it's super fun to see recommendations, like you said, for TV and movies and certainly books. And I'm just delighted that they chose to put a gracious neighbor in me, too.

[31:07] Cindy: It made me smile when I opened it up.

[31:09] Chris: Thank you.

[31:10] Cindy: Well, before we wrap up, what have you read recently that you really liked?

[31:14] Chris: Let's see. So I was asked to blurb a couple of books, both of which I absolutely loved and I think readers should be on the lookout for. One was Still True by a woman named Maggie Ginsburg, and I think it's coming out in September. And another is by an author named An Yu, and it's called Ghost Music. And it was a beautiful kind of magical realism that dealt with some strange talking mushrooms and the search for an elusive pianist who disappeared a decade before. And I read something that I think it came out in 2018 by Lisa Halliday. It's called Asymmetry. I don't know if you read it, but I had it on my bookshelf and kind of pulled it off at random. And it was so good, so interesting, thought provoking. There's a bit of a novel within a novel, and then I have on my bedside to read Fellowship Point, which happened to be the Book of the Week in the same week that my book appeared in People. It was the Book of the Week, and it's written by Alice Elliott Dark, and I've heard nothing but amazing things about it. And I can't wait to dig in.

[32:24] Cindy: I know I was so excited to see it right beside your book because I've heard nothing but great things about it as well. In fact, Valerie Kaylor just recommended it in that Wall Street Journal article where they pulled all these different booksellers about great books to read this summer, and that was her selection. So I've started it. It's so big, so I need to get back to it. It's very good. I just keep getting interrupted with other bugs.

[32:43] Chris: Oh, I can't wait. And Valerie has all she has such good taste, and she always has amazing recommendations as to you, I think. So I'm really excited that both of you like it so far, so that makes me even more excited to get to it.

[32:57] Cindy: Yeah, just be prepared to put some time aside because it's like 600 and something.

[33:01] Chris: Pages.

[33:02] Cindy: Yeah, it's a tome, but that's okay. Well, Chris, thank you so much for joining me in the Thoughts From a Page podcast. And I was thinking after we talked at the front end of this, that you're one of the reasons that I launched this podcast. You suggested it to me several times at the beginning of the pandemic along with a couple of other people, and I was like, maybe I should try it. So I really have you to think.

[33:24] Chris: Oh, and I'm so glad that you did because I've loved that you've just thrown yourself into the book world with such enthusiasm and you're so good at it. And I love that people are recognizing your contributions and taking your recommendations and I love that people are listening to the podcast. You do a beautiful job and I'm so grateful that you asked me to be here with you today.

[33:48] Cindy: Well, thank you for your kind words and I'm so glad that you were here as well and I can't wait for everybody to be a gracious neighbor.

[33:54] Chris: Thank you so much.

[33:57] Cindy: Thank you so much for tuning in today. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen to my podcast. I want to quickly share about this wonderful company I am now partnering with. I am always looking for entities that promote and highlight books and recently came across Bookclubs, a company who provides all sorts of resources for established and new book clubs as well as individual readers. My own personal book club recently signed up on Bookclubs and the group has been impressed with all of the great tools the site and app provide. The book club's website is linked in my Show Notes, and I hope you will check them out soon. Also, if you like my show, I would be so grateful if you would tell everyone you know about it and rate it on whichever platform you listen on. It truly makes a huge difference and really helps the show grow. The book discussed in this episode can be purchased at my bookshop storefront, and that link is also in the Show Notes. I hope you will check out some other Thoughts from a Page episodes and have a great day.

Chris Cander Profile Photo

Chris Cander


Chris Cander is the bestselling author of THE WEIGHT OF A PIANO, which was named an Indie Next Great Read in both hardcover and paperback and which the New York Times called, "immense, intense and imaginative,” WHISPER HOLLOW, also named an Indie Next Great Read, and 11 STORIES, named by Kirkus as one of the best books of 2013 and winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards for fiction. She also wrote the children’s picture book THE WORD BURGLAR, and the Audible Originals “Eddies” and “Grieving Conversations.” Her new novel, A GRACIOUS NEIGHBOR, was released in July of this year. Cander’s fiction has been published in twelve languages. A former fitness competitor and model, she currently holds a 4th dan in taekwondo and is a certified women’s defensive tactics instructor. She lives in Houston with her husband and two children. Learn more at