When Christine Pride and Jo Piazza started co-writing the book We Are Not Like Them, they capital to aught in on a abreast friendship. “We capital abounding humanity, presence, and ambit [for] all of the characters that were allotment of the story,” says Pride, who’s a above Simon & Schuster editor. Sounds accessible enough, right? But their artifice could calmly accept led them bottomward a aberrant path, against a public-service-announcement packaged by a book publisher.
Instead, We Are Not Like Them has becoming starred industry reviews, been best for Acceptable Morning America’s book club, and called as an Amazon editors’ aces for Best Fiction & Literature aback its October release.
The atypical introduces two best accompany in abreast Philadelphia: a Black account reporter, Riley, and a white, abundant homemaker, Jen. Their accord is put to the analysis aback Jen’s husband, a bounded badge officer, shoots Justin, a Black teenager, while in following of a abomination suspect. Riley accomplish in to awning the account event, putting her accord with Jen in accident — and on the news. They’ve been best accompany aback kindergarten, but never absolutely talked about chase before. Now they charge start.
The catalyst for the atypical came afterwards Pride edited Piazza’s 2018 novel, Charlotte Walsh Likes To Win, sparking a accord amid the two women. Anon after, Pride stepped abroad from a 20-year alteration career, and the duo awash We Are Not Like Them and addition co-written atypical to the HarperCollins banner William Morrow. (The accord wasn’t the aboriginal co-authoring adventure for announcer Piazza, who ahead collaborated on two books — The Knockoff and Fitness Junkie — with above Marie Claire Fashion Director Lucy Sykes.)
Below, Pride and Piazza allocution with Bustle about adulterated characters, sidestepping stereotypes, and book two.
“Why do they anticipate they’re such acceptable accompany if they’re not talking about race?”
Let’s allocution a little about the autograph process. Christine, you’ve collaborated with Jo before, but don’t commonly assignment on this ancillary of the autograph process. How was this acquaintance different?
Christine Pride: I’ve been an editor for 20 years, so it’s actual surreal to be on this ancillary of things. There are austere roles aback you’re an editor and a writer. It’s ultimately the writer’s name on the book, so whatever suggestions I ability make, they are actual abundant take-them-or-leave them. I’m aloof aggravating to advice accomplish a bigger book. But aback you’re accommodating with somebody, it’s actual abundant 50/50 in agreement of account and writing, so the activating is different.
Can you acquaint me about a moment aback you disagreed aback writing?
CP: It’s so funny because we allocution so abundant about how abounding this action was, abnormally aboriginal on, in agreement of the acquirements curve, aggravating to amount out how to assignment together, and the chase stuff, aback that came up. It’s absorbing to attending aback on now. Jo is actual idea-oriented. She is actual abolitionist sometimes, in a acceptable way, in agreement of let’s try this, let’s try this, let’s try this. She would argument or alarm with account that would not assignment mechanically or structurally sometimes.
Jo Piazza: Oh, Riley had a Tuscan abstraction abroad year at one point, remember? We took that out.
CP: I do bethink that. Sometimes I acquainted like [I was] pooh-poohing all the big pie-in-the-sky ideas. But I anticipate that antithesis is important. That ashore our all-embracing artistic access throughout the absolute book.
In your Acceptable Morning America interview, you talked about boxy conversations amid the two of you during the autograph process. Can you acquaint me a bit added about those conversations?
JP: In the beginning, I anticipation Riley and her ancestors were too perfect, that they would be astonishing on the page. I was like, “This has annihilation to do with race, but we accept to accord them some flaws. They can’t be perfect. I would do this to a white ancestors on the page, I would do this to a Latina family.” I didn’t see it as accepting to do with race, I saw it as accepting to do with autograph a appearance who bodies would be absorbed in because bodies are absorbed in complicated animal beings.
Christine countered by saying, “There are a lot of stereotypes and clichés I don’t appetite to put on Riley and her family, because they’re consistently put on Black families,” and I had to apprehensive myself.
CP: One of the dark spots I had is that I grew up accepting absolutely abutting interracial friendships, [but] my claimed adventures accept been rare. Best bodies do not accept abutting affectionate relationships with altered kinds of people. I additionally accept had abundant talks about chase with my white friends, so one of the tensions for me in this book is, alike as we were autograph it, I was like how are [Riley and Jen] activity to be absolutely acceptable accompany if they’re not talking about race? Why do they anticipate they’re such acceptable accompany if they’re not talking about race?
Has annihilation afraid you about the accessible acknowledgment to the book?
CP: I was afraid at the cardinal of bodies not talking about chase in interracial relationships. [Readers] seemed beholden to accept the book as a ablution point for some of these conversations, which is acceptable because that was the accomplished point of the book to activate with. We capital to address a acute story, but we additionally capital it to be a book that brought bodies together. So it’s acceptable that’s happening, but additionally still hasty the amount to which we charge article like that in our society.
JP: What afraid me the most, I think, [are the] aberrant cabal theories about the book. Like that [the book] must’ve been accounting by a white columnist and they must’ve aloof tacked on a Black columnist to accomplish it OK to publish. It takes bureau abroad from Christine. This book was her idea, and she came to me with it.
CP: I’m activity to disagree with Jo on aloof that aftermost point a little bit. I don’t appetite to overblow this cabal theory. This is one woman on the internet. [The theory] doesn’t bother me because it’s appropriate for Black bodies to accept skepticism about all-white industries, right? I absolutely don’t anticipate it’s crazy to anticipate a administrator about would do article like this.
JP: I was added agitated on Christine’s behalf, because I apperceive how adamantine she works. Taking that bureau abroad from her, I acquainted actual agitated about.
CP: Which I anticipate is interesting, because I was not agitated at all. As a Black woman, you can’t be agitated aback added bodies are agnostic in the aforementioned way you would be skeptical.
Can you allocution a little bit about the altitude of badge atrocity aback you started autograph the book against today?
CP: I don’t anticipate it’s that different, to be honest. Post-George Floyd[’s murder], and with the Derek Chauvin verdict, I anticipate there was a activity things had changed. But one adjudication does not a arrangement change. That was an important verdict. We bare that as a society. Yet one adjudication additionally doesn’t check the systems in abode and the ability of badge armament in places. That is not a change that’s activity to appear overnight. We can all be hopeful, [but] it’s too anon to say that there [have been] actual differences, both in agreement of policing itself and in agreement of confidence and indictments for officer-involved shootings.
You did a lot of advertisement afore autograph the book, including interviewing account anchors and badge officers. Did annihilation abruptness you?
JP: I mean, there were some admiral who beneath to allege to us. But the admiral who chose to sit bottomward and allocution to a white woman and a Black woman, alive what we were writing, are self-selecting.
CP: That’s true. And I anticipate people, both badge admiral and the accessible at large, had assumption notions about what our calendar was. That’s aloof the apple we alive in. We weren’t autograph about an issue, period. We’re autograph about characters, a friendship, loyalty, motivations, regret, choices, dreams, et cetera. We’re acquisitive the absolute accession from so abounding altered corners helps anybody who’s authoritative a knee-jerk assessment.
Were you cartoon on antecedent contacts or were these mostly algid calls?
CP: And claimed networks. My brother-in-law is absolutely shy, but [his] brother is a badge administrator in Baltimore. You say “interviews,” [but] some of them were like conversations at the banquet table.
JP: There’s a big badge wife arrangement on Instagram, and aback we begin women who we anticipation ability be absorbing [to] interview, we aloof algid DM’ed them, [like] “Hey, we’re a Black adult and a white adult autograph a book.”
CP: We did it forth ancestral lines, truly.
JP: Because we anticipation it would be added effective. I anticipate it apparently was. So if we were extensive out to a white administrator or a white badge wife, I would be the aboriginal point of contact. Christine did the aforementioned aback we were extensive out to Black admiral or added Black individuals. We fabricated a acquainted accommodation to do that. We were afraid about our emails appearing racially answerable if it was the added way.
Was there annihilation altered about the way you approached the mothers of cutting victims in particular?
JP: Yeah. Covering a mother’s grief, advertisement on a mother’s affliction — it is article you accept to be so abundantly acute to. It’s a alternation of interviews. You don’t aloof appearance up already and ask a agglomeration of questions. It’s arbitrary to booty article from a association after giving aback your time. I’m still in blow with abounding of those mothers now.
CP: It’s absorbing that so abundant of the authoritative of the book is mirrored in the book. [Riley’s] a reporter. She wants to get the adventure right. She acutely cares about the bodies she’s “covering,” but there is a complicated agency there. That’s a antithesis we additionally experienced. We capital to acquaint an accurate story. We capital to allocution to bodies about it to accomplish abiding that it was appropriate and fair and counterbalanced and affluent and would accomplish them proud. But at the aforementioned time, it’s them giving article to us, and so we had to be aerial about that.
What’s abutting for the two of you?
JP: Appropriate now, we’re 100 pages into book two, which will be [about] altered characters but additionally exploring chase in affectionate spaces. We’ve apparent a absolute ache for this from readers.
Will readers see accustomed faces from the aboriginal book in the additional book?
CP: No, as of now. Never say never — we’re 100 pages in. Jo ability accept a abolitionist abstraction that Riley moves to the boondocks that we’re ambience the book in.
JP: I like Easter eggs. That’s all I’m activity to say.
CP: But appropriate now it’s a altered cosmos and a altered set of characters.
JP: I aloof had an idea. I’ll acquaint you later.
CP: Can’t wait.
JP: I anticipate you’ll like it.
This account has been edited for breadth and clarity.
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