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  • Hey, it's Marie Forleo, and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business

  • and life you love.

  • My guest today, she's a legend, and she continues to inspire me, and millions of other to live

  • joyfully and boldly, and with our hearts wide open.

  • Elizabeth Gilbert is the number one New York Times Best-selling author of Big Magic, and

  • Eat Pray Love, as well as several other internationally bestselling books.

  • She's been a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award

  • and the PEN Hemingway Award.

  • Her new novel, City of Girls is a rollicking, sexy tale of the New York City theater world

  • during the 1940s.

  • Liz freaking Gilbert, ooh.

  • Ooh.

  • All we do is make sounds.

  • We don't make words...

  • Exactly.

  • I'm so freaking happy that you're back.

  • I mean, the last time we did this in this format, you were launching Big Magic.

  • Yeah.

  • And a lot has transpired in the world in your life.

  • Yes.

  • It's a whole different world in every way.

  • It was a whole different world.

  • In every way, okay.

  • Our lives were different, the world was different.

  • Very much so.

  • But anyway, I love you.

  • I've missed you.

  • I love all of our adventures.

  • I'm wearing your earrings.

  • Yeah, so can we talk about that for a minute?

  • Yeah.

  • I think we should just begin with that.

  • Tell us.

  • I'm wearing Jersey Marie's earrings because I needed a little extra badass power today.

  • So, I was like, "Can I borrow some of..."

  • And reached into your box and got the biggest possible ones that I can actually see in my

  • peripheral vision.

  • And you know that the earrings are not the right size unless you can see them from your

  • peripheral vision.

  • Yeah, no.

  • Those are Jersey Marie's earrings and they have special power.

  • It is so funny.

  • I'm showing Liz some jewelries to pick from, I'm like, "Oh, do you want to see these smaller?"

  • She's like, "Those."

  • I was like, "You went straight for Jersey Marie."

  • I like those ear bangles.

  • Yeah.

  • Give me those.

  • It's the best ever.

  • And I have to congratulate you.

  • So, Liz and I were hanging out talking in my dressing room, and I have to say, so City

  • of Girls, you guys, this book.

  • You need to get your hands on it.

  • Get your hands on this book for you and your friends.

  • It's phenomenal.

  • Thank you.

  • By the way, Josh is thanking you because he's always on my butt because he's like, "Can

  • you just stop reading self-help and personal development books?

  • Can't you just read a novel?"

  • And so when I was reading this, he's like, "Are you reading a novel?"

  • I'm like, "It's Liz Gilbert's new novel and it's fantastic."

  • Oh, thank you so much.

  • What was the inspiration?

  • Talk to us.

  • Okay.

  • This is a novel that is set in the New York City theater world of the 1940s.

  • It's about showgirls, playboys, actresses, dancers and more than anything else, it's

  • about promiscuous young women who are behaving with incredible sexual recklessness and reaping

  • consequences.

  • Wreaking havoc, creating all sorts of problems.

  • And it's a story I've wanted to tell for a really long time because I've always wanted

  • to write a book about promiscuous girls whose lives are not destroyed by their sexual desire.

  • And that is a very hard book to find in the classics of western literature.

  • Because usually, you get really punished.

  • You step out of line, you get really... you're under the wheels of the train.

  • You get poisoned, you're dead in a gutter, you're kicked out of good society, you're

  • ruined, ruined.

  • It's always stories of girls and women being ruined because they dared to want to experience

  • sexuality.

  • And that has not been my experience and it's not been the experience of a lot of women

  • that I know.

  • And I also didn't want to write a fake romantic sexual story where there are no consequences.

  • So, I had to kind of figure out how to walk this line.

  • How do I create this story where I have a character who's behaving with abandon?

  • Stuff happens to her, but she's able to survive her own choices, which I think all women do

  • and can.

  • The whole idea of a ruined woman is a kind of fantasy because, god, if that were true,

  • we'd all be ruined.

  • Who among us would still be here if we couldn't survive our own choices and our consequences

  • and sometimes even terrible punishment?

  • We can survive it.

  • So, that is what the book is about.

  • But where did the idea come from?

  • How long ago did you start feeling in your heart or in your mind or somewhere, just that

  • this needed to be born?

  • I was at my great-aunt's house, god, I want to say seven or eight years ago.

  • And she handed me some out of print books that she was getting rid of.

  • She's at that age where she's like, "I'm 90, I'm dying.

  • Take everything."

  • And so every time you leave her house, you've got piles of stuff.

  • And amongst these books were a collection of essays written in the 1930s and '40s by

  • a guy named Alexander Woollcott, who was a theater critic at the time.

  • And there were interviews and profiles of famous actresses who I had never heard of

  • because they were theater actresses.

  • They were British and American divas, these stage divas, opera singers.

  • And the world that he was talking about just seemed so impossibly glamorous to me.

  • He was going to the Ritz Carlton to have lunch with a visiting British actress who is starring

  • in Lady Macbeth and he's writing this whole profile of her and what she's wearing and

  • what they're drinking.

  • And I was like, "I want to play in that world.

  • I want to go back to New York City Midtown, sparkling champagne cocktail, showgirl theater

  • world and put my promiscuous girls right at the center of it and see what they get up

  • to."

  • And so was this a time period...

  • I'm so curious about the research in this because not only do I instantly just get pulled

  • into the story, it's so much fun, you are such a...

  • I'm not blowing smoke up your ass, you are fricking Liz Gilbert.

  • Your writing is impeccable and I just felt instantly pulled into this time machine, and

  • it was so glorious.

  • And so I was thinking to myself, "Goodness, does Liz know all this stuff about this time

  • period?

  • Or was this, 'Oh, wow, I have this idea, I want to envelop this world, but I also need

  • to do a shit ton of research?'"

  • Shit ton of research.

  • Okay.

  • Yeah.

  • Like four years of research.

  • Wow.

  • And which- What does that look like?

  • Well, it's like everything finding a historian to walk me around Times Square and show me

  • some existing theaters, but more importantly, to kind of have... paint a word picture so

  • he could show me what it used to look like.

  • So, we could stand there and we're right in front of a Nike store, but he's telling me

  • about the theater that used to be in that place.

  • And it was also reading a ton of novels that were written in the 1930s and '40s to get

  • the tone of the way that people spoke.

  • Interviews with former showgirls and actresses and dancers in their nineties about their

  • professional lives and their sex lives, which they were more than happy to talk to me about,

  • which was great.

  • And just an immersion, an absolute immersion.

  • It's almost like learning a second language, learning another time and another place is

  • like learning a new language.

  • So that by the time you write it, you can write it convincingly.

  • Really?

  • Okay.

  • So, it sounds like, and tell me if I'm tracking right because I just, I get fascinated by

  • process because I just think pieces of art like this are so brilliant and fascinating.

  • And we get to enjoy the end product, but I also get really excited about understanding

  • how things get weaved together and how they're birthed.

  • So, it sounds like there was idea, you got excited about this time period, and then you

  • dove into the pool of research hardcore.

  • Yeah.

  • Did you then start writing the story or did the characters start coming to you afterwards?

  • Or was it a blend, where you kind of danced in between?

  • For me, it starts with the location.

  • The first thing is New York City, 1940s, I have to learn the theater world, I have to

  • learn everything about it.

  • As I start researching, the characters come to me.

  • So, I'll get inspired by something that I read.

  • I'll be like, "Oh, it'd be so cool to have a character whose sort of like that."

  • Somebody who's referenced in a letter that I would read who is a playwright visiting

  • from LA and complaining that New York City is terrible in white shoes.

  • That kind of guy.

  • Like a dandy, bon vivant.

  • I'm like, "Oh, we could put something like that."

  • So, it starts to people itself.

  • And then for me, weirdly, the last piece of it that I have is the actual story.

  • First, I have the setting, then I have the people and then I have to figure out, what

  • are those people doing in that setting and what is the story I want to tell here?

  • And in this case, what I've written is kind of a mystery because it starts, the whole

  • book is an answer to a mysterious question where this woman whose now in her nineties

  • gets a letter from we don't know who, from a woman saying, "Now that my mother is dead,

  • I'm wondering if you'd be comfortable telling me what you were to my father."

  • And the whole book is her answer of what she was to this mysterious man and we don't quite

  • know who he is and it takes a long time to get there.

  • But I kind of wanted to tell a mystery story as well.

  • And did you, so again, this is...

  • By the way, y'all, I have to tell you, okay, so this is coming out...

  • Sometimes I forget when I'm recording interviews, I have to think about when we're actually

  • publishing them.

  • This is coming out very soon.

  • So, you all don't know, but Liz was kind enough to read some of the first pages of my upcoming

  • book- Which is so good.

  • I read more than a few pages.

  • I know you did.

  • I know, but- I read a lot of it and I would read more because

  • it's great.

  • I love you, thank you.

  • My point in bringing this up is that she gave me some advice and it was just like, "Marie,

  • for the love of all things holy, please trust Auntie Liz on this one."

  • And I was like, "Girl, I am trusting you," and reshaped the beginning of my book.

  • The reason I'm bringing this up is I'm curious if you knew the mystery piece, if you started

  • there, or if that, it was like, "Whoa, now I know how to start the book in terms of this

  • mystery."

  • I had that pretty soon.

  • The thing that's interesting, and I don't want to give away too much of the book-

  • Of course.

  • But I will say that the entire book is an answer to the question, "Vivian, what were

  • you to my father?"

  • That somebody's written a letter.

  • And I myself did not know that answer until we got to where the two of them meet.

  • And I was like, "Well, I need to find out what they are to each other.

  • I actually don't know."

  • And I was willing for it to be anything, but I decided to let magic take over at that point

  • and to let the two characters themselves show me what they were to each other.

  • And I was surprised myself by the answer to that question.

  • And it's so sexy.

  • Well, thank you.

  • Like, woo.

  • I'm in bed reading this and I was like, "When does Josh get home?"

  • Because again, I am such based on what I do and everything, it's like, I'm reading books

  • about the brain, and I'm...

  • You know what I mean?

  • Spirituality, and all that kind of stuff.

  • And to get lost in a story and then to have it be so hot.

  • And to have it- Yay.

  • That's what I wanted it to be.

  • Yes.

  • And to give all of the feels and then to be laughing.

  • It's phenomenal.

  • Thank you.

  • And I wanted this book, what I said to my editor, when I turned it in, was, "I want

  • this book to go down like a tray of champagne cocktails.

  • I want to make it so that you start that first page and you cannot put it down until the

  • end and you feel like you've been at a party.

  • I want it to have that kind of spirit."

  • And so I'm just so delighted that people are reporting that that's their experience with

  • it.

  • It is.

  • I was like, "Good, that's what I wanted it to be."

  • Yeah.

  • And what's so great, it's when you don't want a book to end, for me, it's like, no, no,

  • no, I want to take it slower.

  • No, no, no, I have to savor every page.

  • I know, I have that feeling too.