Karla, Then and Now
Karla: Jeff is such a nice guy, and easy to talk to, but it was sometimes hard sharing such personal, and for some of us, difficult stories of our lives. That being said, there was a lot of laughter, too. It was a challenging process, but we are pleased with how the book turned out.
Kelly, Then and Now
You say that your story is their story, Kelly. I'd qualify that: their story - or the one they would love to have had - if they had been lucky enough to have such a friendship group since childhood.
Kelly: We've heard from many women across the nation, who tell us about their friends. I hear from women almost weekly that they are the "Kelly" in their group. Most readers identify with the women in the book, and that's why it is having so much success. Perhaps most women aren't part of such large groups of friends as the women from Ames but, according to the messages I see posted, close-knit groups of women exist everywhere, and these female connections are important, significant relationships. I would venture to say that women with close friends find these connections as important as marriage and family relationships. In many cases, friends outlast marriages.
Did you ever have doubts that this man, or any man, could really understand the deep female bonds that you have enjoyed over the years?
There are people who disagree with me on this point and argue that a woman should have written about the women from Ames. I wonder if those same people would argue that female journalists shouldn't cover football because they haven't played the sport?
Sorry to get so feisty about this topic. That might be one of the reasons Jeff labeled me as outspoken.
There's nothing wrong with feistiness. I'm glad you spoke frankly, Kelly. I almost didn't ask the question but knew that people are curious about it, so I went ahead. Did you find yourselves bonding with Jeff over the course of the writing of the book?
Karla: I'm sure you have already figured out while interviewing Jeff how funny and witty his is. It has been such a pleasure getting to know him
Kelly: Yes, I came to respect and admire Jeff during the writing and also the promotion of the book. On top of being a caring, sensitive person, he is very funny. One of the most rewarding experiences of the book is having Jeff become a friend. His writing feels life-changing to me, and I believe that his legacy will be columns and books that ignite very positive events.
Of course, the book has also brought the women from Ames together for a variety of functions, and several times Jeff has helped this happen. The women and Jeff spent time in Omaha and Portland for book events, and, for this teacher, travel during the school year is such a nice perk. It was wonderful to spend time with my girlfriends at both these functions; nothing feeds my soul more than being with them. A day at the spa can't possibly revive and refresh me as much as time spent with my friends.
Friends are the best! I know I couldn't live without mine. When you grew up, were you two aware that you had something special going? Did you ever imagine that you would be such close friends all these years later?
Karla: I knew I had a great group of friends in high school, but I don't think I really thought about how unique and special it was then. Even as an adult, I don't think I gave it too much thought, until this book came out. Talking to so many people through book clubs and appearances throughout the country, I have learned that a lot of people didn't have one friend they have stayed close to, let alone a large group, like ours. Now, I realize and appreciate how special it is.