Interview with Christie Tate - B.F.F.: A Memoir of Friendship Lost and Found

Interview with Christie Tate - B.F.F.: A Memoir of Friendship Lost and Found

In this interview, Christie and I discuss B.F.F., all of the book's great pre-publication press, why friendships were so hard for her, social media's impact on relationships, how the title and cover came about, how her family responded to this book, and much more.

In this interview, Christie and I discuss B.F.F., all of the book's great pre-publication press, why friendships were so hard for her, social media's impact on relationships, how the title and cover came about, how her family responded to this book, and much more.

Christie's recommended reads are:

  1. How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz
  2. Dear Santhuran by Akwaeke Emezi

My Read-Alike Request Recommendations for We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange:

  1. The Last Romantics by Tara Conlkin
  2. This Is Home by Lisa Duffy
  3. Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close


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

B.F.F. can be purchased at my Bookshop storefront.     

Ask Me Anything question for me for April's episode? Submit it here.

Want to submit a Read-Alike Request for the podcast? Submit it here.

Connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter


Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


[00:11] Cindy: Welcome to the award winning Thoughts from a Page podcast. A member of the Evergreen Podcasts Network hosted by me, Cindy Burnett, a voracious reader and book columnist who provides you with casual author conversations, book recommendation episodes, and insider information on all of the newest releases that I have read and endorse, and on the publishing industry in my behind the scenes series. With so many books coming out weekly, it can be hard to decide what to read, so I find the best ones and share them with you. For more book recommendations or to find my backlist of interviews, visit my website at 

In 2023, I have a new segment on my Tuesday episodes called readalike Requests. Listeners can submit a book they loved and tell me why they loved it, and I will suggest some similar reads. There is a Google Form included in today's show notes if you would like to send in a request. 

If you love to read, I hope you will consider joining my patreon group to access additional content, including bonus episodes and early reads with pre-pub author chats. For March, there are two books. Colleen Oakley's new book, The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise. And Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl by Renee Rosen. And for April, my selection is the Comeback Summer by writing duo Ali Brady. The link to join is in the Show Notes. 

Today, I am chatting with Christy Tate about her second memoir, BFF: a Memoir of Friendship, Lost and Found. Christie is a Chicago based author who grew up in Dallas. Her first memoir book was published in October 2020 and was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. BFF is one of my February Top Five Buzz Reads picks. It is a thought provoking read. I hope you enjoy our conversation. 

And now for my Read Alike request segment. Today's request is from Megan, and she's selected We Are the Brennans by Tracy Lange, a book that explores the staying power of shame and the redemptive power of love in an Irish Catholic family torn apart by secrets. I am a huge fan of We Are the Brennans, as is my 22 year old daughter. We are both frequently recommending it to people, so I was excited to find Read Alikes for it. Megan enjoyed We Are the Brennans because it is a story centered around a family with complicated relationships. She also enjoyed that there were mystery elements and some secrets involved that were revealed slowly as the book went on. 

My first recommendation as a Read Alike is The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin, one of my favorite books of 2019. In The Last Romantics, Conklin traces the lives of four siblings across the span of their lives, alternating between a far future year 2079 and earlier moments in their lives and relationships. I enjoyed the futuristic time period, which only plays a small part in the story. Conklin explores family dynamics and relationships, as well as long held secrets much like Lang does and We Are the Brennans. 

My next recommendation is This is Home by Lisa Duffy, a beautiful book about the meaning of family and finding one's home. Lisa weaves together characters that include extended family as well as found family and creates the most wonderful book about the importance of connection and the meaning of home. She also touches on other issues, including PTSD, grief, marriage, trouble and more. I think it is a great read alike for We Are the Brennans because it taps into the same theme of how families interact and their impact on each other. 

The last book I am recommending as a read alike to We Are the Brennans is Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close, a thought provoking family story told mainly through the eyes of two sisters and their cousins in Chicago after the 2016 election and the Cubs winning the World Series. The novel tells the tale of the Chicago clan who run a restaurant and are dealing with the death of their patriarch, and how that impacts each family member differently. My one caveat to this book is that it is somewhat political, so check it out ahead of time in case you don't like the focus of the politics. I think it is a very close read to We Are the Brennans. For those who love We Are the Brennans, Tracy Lang has a new book coming out in August 2023 called The Connolly's of County Down, another family saga that I can't wait to read. Thanks, Megan, for submitting a read alike request, and I hope you enjoy these recommendations. And now on to my conversation with Christy Tate. 


Welcome, Christie. How are you today?

[04:16] Christie: I'm doing great. I'm so excited for our conversation.


[04:19] Cindy: I'm so excited as well. And I was telling you before we started recording that I listened to the audio for most of your book, so I feel like we're friends already. I hear your voice and I'm like, oh, I know her.


[04:30] Christie: Oh, I love that. Yes, let's be friends.


[04:33] Cindy: Exactly. Since that's the topic of the book as well. I thought that was kind of fun. But you've had a starred Publisher's Weekly review. You're on the February Indie Next list, so things are looking really great for BFF.


[04:45] Christie: Yeah, I feel really grateful. I feel actually honestly kind of weepy about it. I'm a second child and I can't think of my books any other way but through the metaphor of children. And my first book came out of the gates with a lot of bluster and joy and celebrity endorsements. And I've been very quietly worried about my second child not living up to the hype of her big sister. And so every moment of connection and attention that this book gets just hits my little second born heart.


[05:20] Cindy: Oh, I love that. I have three children and my middle daughter is kind of that way, always wanting to make sure that she is not forgotten.

[05:27] Christie: Yes, exactly. I was a middle child. Second and middle. Exactly. I feel you.


[05:32] Cindy: Yes. So let's start out by you giving me the elevator pitch for the book, just for those that won't have read it yet.


[05:40] Christie: Sure. So BFF is the story of how once I sort of straightened myself out romantically, which took about three and a half decades, I was happily and healthily in a partnership. I sort of looked around and I saw that I had what I called a friendship graveyard and I didn't know how to have long term relationships. I ghosted. I felt like I'd been ghosted and there was a lot of fragments that were very distressing. And I realized all that work I did to find a romantic partner was the same kind of work I was going to have to do to straighten out my female friendships that were platonic. And I was daunted and annoyed. But ultimately I did the work. And this book is the story of the work that I did and my growing into being a good friend among other things.


[06:32] Cindy: It had to be so disheartening after you felt like you put your heart and soul into the romantic relationship side of things that it worked out, you're like, okay, I've done all of this to realize, okay, I'm going to have to start over on the friendship front.


[06:45] Christie: It was totally disheartening and at least now when I reach a plateau in a certain area, like once friendship was sort of under control, well, guess what? There's another train coming. And that one was, how am I going to do my career? How am I going to straighten out my relationship to ambition, money and balance? It seems like there's always something, which could be good news or it could be bad news, depending on my mood.


[07:12] Cindy: Well, that's true. And then also motherhood. Like, there's so much pressure with that and being a good mother. And I mean, you talk some about that in BFF, but I just think there's always that kind of voice in your head, am I doing what I should be doing as a mother?


[07:27] Christie: 100%. And that my children are in middle school, so I haven't launched any children yet. But what I find really sobering on the motherhood front is parents of kids who are college, 18, older, and they keep saying it never ends. They're going to need you in different ways. There's no finish line as in so much of our work as humans, there's no finish line in my relationship with my friends or food or mothering, and I want to stay in the ring. So the work continues.


[07:59] Cindy: Well, I totally agree on “there's no end in sight” because I have two in college and one still at home and I was just having this conversation with some friends over the weekend that I swear, sometimes they need me more now than they did when they were in high school. I think there's that kind of separation time in high school and they want to be independent and they want to do their own thing and feel like they can do it all. And then they're out of the house and they want to ask you questions all the time or talk to you all the time, which is great. I am certainly not complaining about that. I love that they want to talk to me and I want to continue to have that great relationship with them, but it's just different than I thought it might be.


[08:31] Christie: Oh, my gosh, I can't get enough of parents with older children, just giving me a little preview. I need all the previews I can get.


[08:39] Cindy: Well, and it's so different from when we were young because you could pick up the telephone and call and that was about it. Now it's 24 hours a day, constant communication. They can text at any hour. There's much more connection that way than there used to be.


[08:54] Christie: Yeah, I don't know. I feel very overwhelmed. Like, am I going to have to get Snapchat to talk to my kid? I don't know.


[09:01] Cindy: No, I still don't have snapchat.


[09:04] Christie: I will await further instructions.


[09:07] Cindy: Well, why did you decide to write the book?


[09:10] Christie: I started writing BFF in January of 2019, and my first book was sort of off, cooling off. I had given it to an editor to help me sort of see what else needed to happen, and I was twiddling my thumbs. And I knew I wanted to write about friendship. And it was scary to me because I hadn't figured everything out. I was still in the process of healing and repairing a lot of the relationships, not all of them, but some of the key ones that I write about. But I just knew that the subject of friendship had been interesting to me all my life, really, because I always felt on the outside of it. I thought friendship was supposed to be natural, especially if you were a girl. I had the idea it should be natural and easy and effortless and you were supposed to just glide into a group of friends wherever you went, and you kept your old ones with you and you just kept collecting friends. I didn't know how to do that. That wasn't how it was panning out for me. And so this subject interested me so much and I could see a lot of arcs in my life as a friend and among friendships. So I thought, this is a good subject for me. It's big enough that I could feel it could be book length and that I was going to have to do the same kind of reckoning and being honest that I had done in my first book. And I just felt like in my first book, the centerpiece was like, oh, the boys, the men who did me wrong, where's my husband? And I just wanted all the women just to take center stage. And the way to do that is to really forefront friendship.


[10:50] Cindy: Well, you led me right into my next question, because in the book you talk repeatedly about struggling with relationships from a young age, like friendships and things like that, which you just mentioned. I find it so fascinating that connection comes so easy for some people and so much harder for others.


[11:06] Christie: I could not agree more. And I noticed it as early as second grade. Some people were just the girls on the playground, they were just so effortless and they were jump roping and they looked happy. Now, some of that surely was projection. I don't know what they were actually subjectively feeling or what was going on inside their heads and their little bodies and minds, but I have asked myself that question. That's one of the central questions of BFF. Why was it so hard for me? And that led me back to looking at how I felt in my family, my role in my family. I was the first girl who was born and I also had a little sister. And my perceptions of who I was as a girl in my family undoubtedly shaped my ability to bond with other girls. And I had to really untangle that. Otherwise the story doesn't make sense or who wants to read the book? I don't know why it happened, but here's what it was. I wanted to go, I wanted to try to answer that question and give myself an answer. In addition to readers. 


[12:11] Cindy: Have you talked with your parents about all of this?


[12:13] Christie: Yes. Oh my gosh. The parents of Memoirists deserve a special massage and a special spa. It cannot be easy to have a child when my parents are of a generation where they are private, they are polite, they are Southern. This notion of “you tell it all on the pages of a book” is not something that can be that comfortable for them. So I give them credit. They read my work, we've talked about this. And I am grateful that some stuff I can't say till I've written it in a book and then I hand my parents the book. I'm not sure that's like approved by the Mental Health Association, but that's how it's worked in our family. And I'm grateful for their ability to see me and hear me.


13:04] Cindy: That is great because you don't talk a lot about that, which is totally fine, in the book. But I was just curious as I was reading because my parents are of that same generation, uber private. We don't talk about stuff that involves the family outside, but obviously our generation and the ones beyond us, definitely not. It's just different. So I was curious how they responded. And then you talk about not having a close relationship with your sister. What about your brother?


[13:28] Christie: My brother is so, he's such an alive person. He'll say anything. He'll do anything. We could not be more, I mean, I'll pretty much say and do anything within the realm, but we're pretty close. Our kids are close, we spend holidays together. And it's really been very helpful for me to see I can love and respect someone who's completely different from me. Career, politically, every single thing about our lives is pretty different. And I can see that he's operating from love and a joy and connection in the same ways that I am. It just looks really different. So that's been a very special adult relationship for me.


[14:10] Cindy: That is special because, boy, from the last four or five years, those type of relationships, family or otherwise, can be really tricky when you're on different ends of various spectrums.


[14:21] Christie: Yes, I mean, we have very carefully we're threading the needle like lots of families, and I'm just grateful that we had the skill to do it.


[14:32] Cindy: Absolutely. And what about your sister? Have you repaired any of that? Or maybe repair is not even the right word. Have you approached her? Are you interested in making that relationship better? Or is it one of those things that it's just great the way it is?


[14:47] Christie: I think somewhere in the middle, I think I have longings for connection and closeness that I don't first of all, I don't always know what to do with that. And not all “it's not the person I'm longing for isn't always longing for me.” And with my sister, I've sent her a copy of the book with a note, and I have not heard from her and I assume best intentions. Like, she's busy. She too is very private. And one of the questions that came up in editing the book with my publisher was sort of like, well, we want the update here. And out of respect for her privacy, I have not been willing to go there. And in order to preserve the space of repair, we figured out a way to tell the story without having to infringe on her request for privacy. And beyond that, I hold out hope for more closeness, knowing I honestly probably have a little more work to do before I can make the kind of overtures I dream of.


[15:50] Cindy: I figured that's probably what was going on, but I was just curious as I was reading.


[15:55] Christie: Sure.


[15:56] Cindy: And what about how you handle talking about friends? Obviously, a memoir is your story about yourself and your life, but a memoir about relationships is going to involve a lot of other people. How did you approach that? Do you keep their names? Did you change their names? Did you tell them you were writing? Like, how did that work? I'm always so curious.


[16:16] Christie: Yeah, that's a great question. I'm always curious too. And in this case, there were four friendships I knew I was going to be writing about. And some of those four I was close with, and some I was not. And I knew somewhere along the way, I was going to have to have a conversation. And with the people with whom I was a little more estranged, that's probably too strong of a word, but who I wasn't in close contact with, I'll tell you, I stalled, I stalled, and I finally had to ask myself, what are you waiting for? Their names have been changed, identifying characteristics. Nobody would know it was them except for me, right? So I wasn't worried about the outside ethics, but I was concerned about the ethics and the friendship and the relationship. And what I ended up doing is calling them up and having conversations and saying, can we go on a walk? Can I bring you this book? And with two of the characters, the most recent adult ruptures that I participated in, I don't want to say I caused them because two people cause ruptures, but where my behavior was, the least allaudible of my adult life, I went. I brought them early copies. I had told them about the book so they knew it was coming. One of them, I showed some early writing. And I have to say, it's funny that I stalled on that, because what came back for me was an incredible, incredible amount of support and love and enthusiasm where both of them were adamant, like, don't change a word. I love what you're doing here. Like, I got their blessing and then some, and I feel a lot closer to them. And we all got together, all the characters in my book who are real people, and I got together in early January, and I was so overwhelmed by the love and friendship offered to me that I didn't know that was going to be a byproduct of this book. I didn't know the book would actually be a tool of repair because we had conversations we wouldn't have had if I hadn't written the book. And it didn't have to go that way. Lots of people write books and people don't like what they wrote. This is the grace that these friends offered me. I mean, I give the credit to them. I don't think it was my writing style. I think it was that these are women who do their work. They've got lots of support. They're working on their own mental health journeys and therapy, and everybody wants to grow and do better and love better, and we all reconnected on that common enterprise.


[18:58] Cindy: But I think you're a little hard on yourself sometimes in terms of what you've contributed or not contributed to a relationship. I mean, I think that's part of what you talk through in the book. And I think if I had had a rupture, or even as you're saying, like something maybe a little smaller than that, like we just fell out of contact and somebody was this devoted, in a good way, to letting me know this was important to me. I'm sorry that we separated or fell out or whatever is happening and have devoted all of this energy and time and thoughtful comments, I would be thrilled.


[19:32] Christie: You are not the first person to tell me I'm a little hard on myself. And I appreciate that comment because I keep saying to people, no one's ever written about me, so I don't really know how to. I don't know what lens, or how to even put myself in their shoes. But the truth is, most people aren't so rapidly private or invested in secrecy that they don't want these stories out there. So I think that's been demonstrated to me over and over again, and I'm grateful for the lesson.


[20:05] Cindy: Absolutely. And I felt that way through your book that I think a lot of times I was like, oh, I feel so bad for her because she's so hard on herself, and I think sometimes we're just that way. But I think you have a lot of great friends, and that shines through in the book, and you've done a ton of work to make sure that you maintain those friendships.


[20:25] Christie: Yes. And I think that quality that you're rightly picking up on, the being hard on myself, honestly, that can be a real impediment to friendship. Like, if I'm constantly beating myself up, I'm a little bit less available for connection and levity and like, let's just go. You don't have to be perfect. That was another idea that I picked up along the way, and it became an impediment. You have to be perfect or you're out. Nobody says that. Nobody says you have to come to all my events, write me a card on my birthday, celebrate me, do all the right things. The stakes were not as high as I thought, and I wasn't failing as bad as I thought I was. But there was something about that way of thinking that was part of my pattern of not being as available for connection. Because I'm busy beating myself up.


[21:11] Cindy: Exactly. Reliving those moments, worrying what it's going to be like when you get there, instead of just enjoying the ease of seeing people constantly deciding, did what I say sound okay? Are they not going to like it? Are they going to like it? It's hard to get out of your head, and I totally get that. But it can definitely be an impediment, as you said.


[21:29] Christie: Yes.


[21:30] Cindy: You talk a lot in BFF, and we've talked a little bit about it, about how much work friendships are. Do you think that social media has helped that or made it worse?


[21:40] Christie: Oh, that's such a good question. I think that social media has its place because I do think what social media did for me is it pointed me toward my longings. Right. So it used to be complete torture. Scrolling through Instagram, I would see groups of girls from my high school, oh, now they're all at an airbnb in Colorado. Oh, now they're in Mexico. And I would lose sleep and feel left out. Even though I haven't talked to these people in 20 years. Where's my Cancun Crew? And so I would say that was not great if I had stopped there. But I was able to let that point me towards a longing. Right? Like, oh, if you want that, build it. If you want people to go to Cancun, the truth is I didn't really want to go to Cancun with a big group. That was the first step.


[22:33] Cindy: Yes, exactly.


[22:34] Christie: Yeah. I wouldn't mind having a book club in my own house. So it helps me get clear about what are my true longings. And if I were serious about longing for that, how do I build it? I had to come to grips with something very basic, which is, you can't build the relationships you want by looking at other people's late at night. That is not a recipe for building the life that I want. And I just think in general, social media for me just had to play a really small part in my life. I think of it as a business tool and not a friendship tool because I just get into trouble within 2 seconds. This happened just the other day when I was doing my business on Instagram and I saw a friend of mine had boosted someone else's posts. That's great. I was like, all boats rise, right? But I'm still a petty person. I'm still insecure, I still have my character defects. And I was like, well wait a minute. That friend has never boosted my book or my project. And I was like, oh, okay, you have misused this. Get off, like, you're grounded. There's just so many pitfalls for someone like me, for me in social media that I really need to conduct my relationships on the phone. Text is even better. And making commitments, my commitment. A couple of years ago as I was writing BFF, my commitment became face to face. Even friends who live far away. My commitment is to see them once a year. If I have to fly across the country, then that's what I will do. Because that's the commitment. Because it just can't be done on Facebook.


[24:12] Cindy: I do think that's right. It always makes my heart go out to teenagers, particularly girls, but boys as well. They're trying to navigate all that in middle school and high school and it's hard enough for adults.


[24:23] Christie: Totally.


[24:24] Cindy: Like why am I not included in that dinner? I mean, I think that is a very common concern and worry even for adults. And so then it just makes your heart break for the younger ones. But what I have loved about social media is it has helped me keep up with friends from college, friends from high school. I know what's happening in their lives way more than if we didn't have social media.


[24:43] Christie: I totally agree. And there are unexpected bursts of joy in social media that I don't know how we would get that. Like, there's one of our high school friend’s, mother just passed away after a long illness, which is very sad. I have all the information, I've seen the obituary. I could have found that on my own. But what's also happened is people from high school are posting old pictures of us from the 90s when we were dressed up like the Village People or trying to put on a skit at school. And that's so much joy to look back and touch the 15 year old version of myself and the girls. I went to an all girls school and relive those moments. I don't know how you do that without social media. And it's brought me great joy this whole week. And I feel connected to those people in a way that I wouldn't without those visuals.


[25:37] Cindy: I agree. And I've lost both my parents in the last year and a half, and I don't want to have to reach out to every single person and be like, here's the obituary, here's what happened. So it was wonderful to be able to put it on Facebook. Everybody could know that way. And then I'm not having to relive it with every conversation, every text, every everything. And I also appreciate that on the flip side, when I see it for friends so that I know and I can drop them a meal or just reach out to them or whatever it is, it's just a great way to disseminate information like that to a large group of people.


[26:07] Christie: Oh, absolutely. I have found so many meal trains, which is the barest minimum for someone who's going through a great loss. And for me, it's a great joy to be able to participate by feeding someone from across the country to send them some falafel or whatever. I find that I don't know. I wouldn't necessarily be on there. Maybe I wouldn't have made the circulation list for whatever reason. But I can still contribute. Or people who are raising money. A friend of mine has a son who has juvenile diabetes and she runs the Chicago Marathon and she puts her fund. She might not send me the fundraising page because it's super awkward to ask people for money, but I can see it on social media. I can contribute and be a tiny part of juvenile diabetes research and her son and her run that part, I would never want to do away with that.


[27:02] Cindy: It's just balancing it. And I totally get that. We've talked a little bit about this, but I'm assuming it was very cathartic writing, both BFF and group.


[27:11] Christie: Yeah, there is a lot of catharsis involved. There really is. There's like a series of catharsis, and I never know where they're coming. And it's funny where I'm in this position now. My book is coming out in a couple of weeks, and I have certain fears, like pre-publication, like, oh, what's going to happen with this? Or what if readers don't like that? And the fears that I have, the greatest, don't come to pass. And that's like an incredible experience, and it's such a strange thing to put a book out into the world, but the catharsis really does come. One version of catharsis is when readers write in and they say, this exact thing happened to me, and I have never seen anyone write about it. And then I have this connection with a reader who also binged on apples or ghosted a friend or struggled in a relationship when the topic of fertility became a really hot button issue. Those connections are I mean, they're fleeting, they're with strangers, but they really helped me understand that the work that I put out into the world might make someone else feel a little less lonely. And that's the greatest. I mean, there's no other word for it than honor.


[28:25] Cindy: It's not a self help book, but it does provide some guidance for people trying to understand relationships.


[28:31] Christie: This past week I was with a group of writers. I was running a workshop, and there were 14 writers there. And this topic of “it's not really a self-help book” came up. And I'm like, “oh my God, it's totally not a self-help book.” And I looked around the table and I was like, “how many of you people want friendship advice from me?” And everyone shook their head like, no way. And I was like, “oh, good, I've done my job.” Because I really do feel like I don't want to tell people what to do. I don't know what you should do in your friendships. I'm more than happy to tell you what I've learned, what I've learned almost all the hard way because that's the way I do things. But I really just want to share my story. And I like the topic, but I don't have anything figured out. And I certainly, one time I walked into a bookstore and I saw my first book in the self-help section, and I asked them, I was like, can you please move this? Someone's going to be very disappointed if they think that my writing is self help.


[29:30] Cindy: I don't think it's self-help in terms of that genre, but I do think that you write about things that a lot of people experience. And I think it's so nice to read something where you could identify and say, “oh, that's happened to me. I'm not the only one.” And then you do give guidance on how you've handled certain things and what's worked for you, and you give guidance on how to be a good friend. I mean, talking about the meal train and when somebody is sick in the hospital and things like that. So I do think it's definitely not self-help. I'm not a self-help reader. It's a memoir. But I think you come away from it with lots of good tips, and also, I think a lot of people will say, “gosh, okay. It makes me feel so much better that I'm not the only one.”


[30:10] Christie: Yeah, that would be my greatest hope for anything I write.


[30:13] Cindy: And I'd rather read that than somebody trying to give me advice.


[30:16] Christie: Anyway, whenever I come across even just an article or a meme, even a meme about, essentially, advice, I always want to know, what's your story? How do you know exactly?


[30:27] Cindy: Why should I believe you? Or take that as the truth?


[30:30] Christie: Totally.


[30:31] Cindy: Well, how about the title and the cover? I'm always fascinated with how both of those come about.


[30:36] Christie: Yeah. So I was walking down the street one day. I remember exactly where I was. It's like a block from my house. And all of a sudden I could just feel the title BFF in my bones. I was like, oh, I'm going to put this as the title, thinking, oh, well, maybe the publisher may change it. That's always an iterative process. But I just kind of knew in my bones that that was the title it was going to be, and it ended up sticking and working. And then when they showed me the artwork for the cover at first I was like, oh, I had visuals that were honestly more juvenile. Like I was like, “what about a friendship bracelet that's kind of frayed?” And my editor, who was very kind, she was like, “okay, the problem with that is it's going to look like a YA book.” And I was like, all of a sudden, I understood the interplay of BFF and the images, the bubble gum type images. I was thinking of frayed or not, we really don't want this to look like it's for a middle schooler, because there's a lot of merchandise for middle schoolers around best friends and friendship concepts. So the boldness of the green and the letters sort of oversized. And I would never put green and light blue and yellow and purple together. And the brilliant artists who designed the cover they just all of a sudden I could see it. It's big, it's cumbersome, it's oversized. That's sort of the letters. That's how I felt the story sort of was. And my relationship to friendship, that somehow it all works. But the individual parts are a little bit like head scratching. Put all together. It really works.


[32:24] Cindy: I think it definitely works. And I get that on the YA because you do have to be so careful. Certain things really signal YA. And you might not think about it up front, but when somebody says that, you think, “oh, yeah, they're going to immediately think this is for younger girls.”


[32:38] Christie: Totally. And as soon as she said that, I was like, “oh, all my ideas are terrible. You're right. Do not listen to me.”


[32:44] Cindy: They're not terrible, but they're just for a different thing. And I think it's hard to think about that. Sometimes certain things signal different types of genres.


[32:52] Christie: Yeah, absolutely.


[32:53] Cindy: We haven't talked at all about Meredith, who is the BFF in the story. What would you like to tell me about her?


[33:00] Christie: Meredith is sort of, I call her the spine of this book because she was the first person to sort of tap me on the shoulder after I settled down romantically. And she said, “oh, maybe now it's time to look at your other relationships.” And I was sort of like, “huh?” I just remember looking at her, and we ended up becoming friends, and she was a very unlikely friend for me. She was 20 years older, and I still had a very immature way of thinking of friendship. Like, oh, it's like I was a 6th grader, and she was a senior in college. We can't be friends, but in adulthood, you can be friends with whoever you want. And I had missed her for many years as a friend, which was not totally surprising, and she just invited me. She was interested in working on her friendships, too. Like me, she was a middle child. She had a sister who was like, a golden sister, and she thought of herself as the defective one in her family. And we both together excavated our past, our friendships, our families, and we figured out kind of where we had gone wrong and where our thinking was really self destructive. And as we were doing this work, we were also being friends to each other. And it was the most iterative process. It was very meta. We'd be talking about our friendships while doing friendship and becoming friends. And it was the great joy of my life to let her in and change me. It's really remarkable how one person and their suggestions and their bids for connection and their invitations can just change your life if you're willing to accept them. That's what I hope to always carry forward, that I learned from.


[34:48] Cindy: Meredith and how amazing that you found Meredith. What a gift.


[34:52] Christie: Absolutely. I mean, there we met in a recovery program in Chicago. Twelve Step. There's people coming in and out of there. There's 30, 50 people in meetings, or even if there's 14. She wasn't my peer. She didn't look like me. We didn't have that much in common. So we thought when we sat across each other for, like, eight years, and then all of a sudden, it was like, “hey.” And the spark came to us, and I guess the rest is history. And it was, again, a huge honor to put her front and center in my book, because that's exactly the place she deserves.


[35:28] Cindy: Well, I love that, and I'm glad that we got to talk a little bit about her.


[35:32] Christie: Yes. Thanks for asking.


[35:34] Cindy: Well, before we wrap up, I would love to hear what you've read that you really liked.


[35:37] Christie: Oh, my gosh. I have started out January with some of the greatest books that I just love them so much. I read this really quirky book called How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water. It's by Angie Cruz. It's a novel. It's absolutely stunning. And it's a little bit experimental, and I won't ruin it, but it's interesting. It's about class, about a woman, a woman who's immigrated to the United States, and sort of what that life looks like when you are an older woman trying to make it in America. That was amazing.


[36:14] Cindy: That was one of my favorite books of 2022. I loved it. Yes.


[36:19] Christie: Oh, my God. It's stunning, right?


[36:21] Cindy: And you know what's interesting? We were talking, I can't remember if it was before we were recording, once we started recording, but how much I liked your audiobook and that I really enjoyed listening to your voice and you tell your story. I have not done the audiobook for Angie Cruz's book, but everybody has been raving about it. And because it's not that long, I'm thinking about going back and listening to it because I just thought it was phenomenal. I loved the structure, I loved the story, I loved her humor. Even though there are a lot of heavy subjects in the book, I just felt it was very well done.


[36:48] Christie: I totally agree. And I haven't talked to anybody about it. You're the first person I've talked to about it, so I'm so happy that you know it and love it as much as I do. And you're right, it's really short. It's very hard to do something so stunning in so few pages, but she really pulls it off, and I'm in awe. And I might have to get the audiobook, too.


[37:08] Cindy: Well, and I can see where you would like it because you've spent a lot of time working on things and in therapy and counseling. And really she treats the sessions with the woman who's the job counselor as counseling sessions. She just comes in and starts telling all her problems and talking about everything. And I just love her.


[37:26] Christie: Yeah, she is a totally memorable heroine. And another book I just finished that blew my mind, another experimental sort of structure. It's called Dear Senthuran and it's by Akwaeke Emezi. It's a memoir in letters, and it's another sort of slim volume, like 240 pages, and it goes so many places. It's structured as letters, but you don't need to know who she's talking to. And she talks about her early literary fame and mental illness and her relationship to this country and the country where her family is from. And there's just nothing like it. I'm sort of on a kick where I like books that aren't like other books, and I've been very pleased so far.


[38:16] Cindy: Tell me the title of that one again.


[38:18] Christie: Yes. Okay. It's Dear, like, deer. And then I think it's pronounced Senthuran. S-E-N-T-H-U-R-A-N.


[38:28] Cindy: Okay, I don't know that one, but I always love differently styled books, so I'm going to have to look that one up.


[38:33] Christie: Yeah. It's really totally fresh and memorable and very deep. And she's also a very self assured writer. She really believes in her own destiny and greatness, which is so refreshing not to hear. It doesn't come off as pompous. It's just like, oh, she's going to step into her talents and her vision and her ambition. It's so wonderful to hear a woman talking like that. It's really any creative person should check it out because it's absolutely a shot in the arm.


[39:07] Cindy: Okay, good. Well, Christy, I am so glad you came on The Thoughts From a Page Podcast. I loved BFF, and I can't wait for other people to read it as well.


[39:16] Christie: Thank you so much. It was wonderful talking to you.

[39:20] Cindy: Thank you so much for listening to my podcast. If you liked this episode, and I hope you did, please follow me on Instagram @thoughtsfromapage. Consider joining my Patreon group to access bonus content and support the podcast. Tell all of your friends about the show, and rate it or subscribe to it wherever you listen to your podcasts, I would really appreciate it. The book discussed in this episode can be purchased at my Bookshop storefront and the link is in the show notes. I hope you'll tune in next time.

Christie TateProfile Photo

Christie Tate


Christie Tate is a Chicago-based author who grew up in Dallas. Her first memoir, Group, was published in October 2020, and was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. Her second memoir, B.F.F., will be published in February 2023.