If you’re a fan of Southern fiction, summer reading, or both—and seriously, who isn’t?—you’ve probably had a Kristy Woodson Harvey book in your beach bag. Her latest, A Happier Life, is brand new this week, and Harvey—a familiar face to many readers from her virally popular Friends & Fiction web show and extensive event lineups along the coast—is hitting the road again. But first, she took time to answer The Career Authors 11 to give us a glimpse inside her writing life. (Spoiler: It really is a happier one.)

  1. What book changed your life? A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I read it for the first time when I was in fifth grade and, even though I don’t think I could have put it into words yet, it was the book that made me realize the power of stories to connect us to people completely different from ourselves. It’s still my favorite book, and I reread it every few years. I always find something new to love it about it.
  2. Was your first published book the first manuscript you ever wrote? My first published book was Dear Carolina in 2015. My first manuscript was about a woman who is engaged to the perfect-on-paper man and ends up falling in love with a less-than-perfect newspaper reporter who interviews her about something for her job. It’s dual POV, and now that I think about it … Maybe I should dust that one off and give it a rewrite!
  3. Stephen King says, “The hardest part is just before you start.” What’s the hardest part of writing for you? I think it’s that last ten percent of editing to get it just right. If I’m self-diagnosing, I think that’s because my subconscious knows once I finish it, it’s going to be out in the world, it won’t be all mine anymore, and I’m going to have to prepare myself for other people’s opinions. But, also, that’s usually the point when the next story is taking over my brain, and I’m ready to move on!
  4. Do you know the story’s ending before you start? Sometimes I do. Sometimes I think I do and then it’s so different when I’m finished that it shocks even me. But, mostly, I have no idea, and that’s a part of the fun! I get to discover the story as though I’m reading it for the first time.
  5. When you’re having a difficult writing day, what do you tell yourself to get through it? You have done this before, you always feel this way, and it always works out.
  6. Do you read your reviews? I do before the book is published just to get a handle on how people are feeling about it. After it’s published, I read some but not every single one. I know there’s nothing good to come of reading the bad reviews, but I can’t help myself! And the nice reviews really are nothing short of incredible and make me want to keep going! So, all you good review writers out there, you’re keeping a writer writing!
  7. Besides being persistent, what’s your best advice for a new author? Figure out who your reader is, what he or she wants to read, and interact with them when you can. So much of my career has been a grass roots effort of consistently connecting with readers whether it’s online or on tour. I love them, and I am still here because of them!
  8. What’s your definition of writer misery? A super short editing deadline. (But not writing! That I can handle!)
  9. What’s your definition of writer happiness? That moment when you read through a draft, you get to the end, and you have that swell in your chest, the instant where you think, It’s finished. That’s a good, good feeling.
  10. What’s your favorite book on writing? The Creative Act by Rick Rubin is just so special. It’s not on writing per se, but I relate to every single sentence.
  11. What book are you reading right now? The Summer Pact by Emily Giffin. I love everything she writes, and this one is so fantastic!


Kristy Woodson Harvey is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 novels including A Happier Life (new on shelves this week!), The Summer of Songbirds, and The Peachtree Bluff Series. Her books have been among Good Morning America’s Buzz Picks, Southern Living’s Most Anticipated Reads, and Katie Couric’s Featured Books. She is the cocreator and cohost of the web show and podcast Friends & Fiction with fellow NYT bestselling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Kristin Harmel, and Patti Callahan Henry and co-founder of the interiors site Design Chic, with her mom, Beth Woodson. She lives on the North Carolina coast with her husband, son, and dog, Salt, where she is (always!) working on her next novel.