Time Travel via Wine with Dani Shapiro, Bestselling Author of Signal Fires

Dec21st

Introduction

How do food and wine play a role in Dabi Shapiro’s latest bestselling novel, Signal Fires? As a writer, what’s it like to encounter others experiencing your work? Why do certain wines seem to transport us back to a specific moment in time?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Dani Shapiro, bestselling author and host of the Family Secrets podcast.

You can find the wines we discussed here.

 

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Join the live-stream video of this conversation on Wednesday at 7 pm eastern on Instagram Live Video, Facebook Live Video or YouTube Live Video.

I’ll be jumping into the comments as we watch it together so that I can answer your questions in real-time.

I want to hear from you! What’s your opinion of what we’re discussing? What takeaways or tips do you love most from this chat? What questions do you have that we didn’t answer?

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Giveaway

Three of you in the U.S. will win a copy of Dani Shapiro’s fabulous new book, Signal Fires.

 

How to Win

To qualify, all you have to do is email me at [email protected] and tell me that you’d like to win the book. I’ll select the winners randomly from those who participate.

Good luck!

 

Highlights

  • What can you expect from Dani’s latest book, Signal Fires?
  • What makes Dani’s style particularly interesting?
  • How did the story develop, and what inspired Dani to pick back up where she left off in 2020?
  • Why was patience such an integral part of Signal Fires becoming successful?
  • What’s the story behind the real-life CT restaurant that inspired Theo’s restaurant in Signal Fires?
  • As a writer, what’s it like to experience others reading and being moved by your work?
  • How do the unconscious connections threaded throughout a work of fiction create opportunities for readers to co-create with the author?
  • How does Virginia Woolf’s influence show up in Signal Fires?
  • Why do certain wines seem to transport us back to a specific moment?
  • What does Dani love most about having her podcast, Family Secrets?

 

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About Dani Shapiro

Dani Shapiro is the author of eleven books, and the host and creator of the hit podcast Family Secrets. Her most recent novel, Signal Fires, was named a best book of 2022 by Time Magazine, Washington Post, Amazon, and others, and is a national bestseller. Her most recent memoir, Inheritance, was an instant New York Times Bestseller, and named a best book of 2019 by Elle, Vanity Fair, Wired, and Real Simple. Dani’s work has been published in fourteen languages and she’s currently developing Signal Fires for its television adaptation. Dani’s book on the process and craft of writing, Still Writing, is being reissued on the occasion of its tenth anniversary in 2023. She occasionally teaches workshops and retreats, and is the co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy.

 

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Transcript

Dani Shapiro 0:00
The invisible and unconscious connections are one of the things that makes writing fiction so extraordinary. I did not sit back and think  ah Avalon. I’m going to relate this to the MFK Fisher’s story and mythic Avalon. Doing that would create a heaviness in the work itself. If you’re writing nonfiction, I think it can be very helpful to recognize something as a metaphor. Like I just recognized in our conversation the pattern on the dining room table. But when you’re writing fiction to be overly conscious of moments like that is to break the spell.

Natalie MacLean 0:54
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? Well, that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Maclean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started.

Welcome to Episode 212. How do food and wine play a key role in Dani Shapiro’s latest best selling novel Signal Fires? As a writer, what’s it like to encounter others experiencing and reading your work? And why do certain wines seem to transport us back to a specific moment in time? You’ll hear those tips and stories in Part Two of our chat with author Dani Shapiro. You don’t need to have listened to Part One first. But if you haven’t, go back and listen to it after you finish this one. Three of you in the US are going to win a copy of her book. All you have to do is email me at [email protected] Maclean.com. And let me know you want to win. I’ll choose three people randomly. Now a quick update on my upcoming memoir Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking too Much. Why have you changed some people’s names, a Beta reader asked me recentl.  Many memoir writers changed the names and physical characteristics of those mentioned in their books to protect their privacy. But what if a Google search reveals the person’s name because there are family members such as a husband, wife, brother or sister. Changing names doesn’t provide anonymity, but it still creates one layer of privacy as many readers won’t make the effort to look up the names or they just don’t care.

They’re reading the book to be entertained by the story. And that’s why it’s an accepted practice in memoir whereas writers of autobiographies and biographies usually use real names because these are works of history, or investigative journalism. The truth in these books focuses on what happened. The truth a memoir focuses more on personal reflection and transformation. How did the author change as a result of what happened? What might the reader learn from the author’s experience? Someone reading about Winston Churchill’s brilliant wartime strategies likely won’t find as much personal application as they will reading about someone who handled divorce, depression or drinking too much.

Next week, I’ll talk about some of the people in my memoir whose names I had changed initially, but then reverted back to real names in later drafts after a long struggle with this issue. In the meantime, here’s a review from Sharon Laquere, a beta reader from Ottawa. “The author was brave and vulnerable and sharing her story I saw related to her many times throughout the book. The writing is also gripping sometimes I would think, damn woman, I need to go to bed, but there’s one cliffhanger after another. Okay. Okay, just one more chapter. Having watched her videos before I heard her voice throughout. Only Oprah and Michelle Obama had been able to do that for me. I was also shocked about some of the revelations about the wine industry. So grateful that she had the courage to share that information with wine drinkers like me. If we know better, we can do better and we can vote with our wallet. While I got to read a beta copy, I can’t wait to read it again in 2023 with my book club. There are so many parts of this book that are relatable”. Thank you, Sharon.

I’ve posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch in the show notes at NatalieMacLean.com/212. This is also where I share more behind the scenes stories about the journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication. If you want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript. Email me at [email protected] Okay, on with the show.

Natalie MacLean 5:26
I want to get to some of these other questions because we’ve gotten carried away, which is always a great thing. So you are currently writing the screen adaptation for Signal Fires, your latest novel which is just wonderful. I loved it. I listened to it twice. I’m an audiobook person and you narrate it, which is wonderful. So give us the, if you would, the movie trailer pitch for the book. What people get to expect.

Dani Shapiro 5:49
Signal Fires revolves around seven characters and they all are neighbours to families on, neighbours on a street in a town north of New York City called Avalon, a made up town. And these characters all have profound impacts on each other, sometimes knowing why and sometimes not yet knowing why. And in certain ways I mean the novel has been described about as being about a family that keeps a secret. And that is certainly true. There is one element of the novel where one of the families decides or makes the choice, if it’s even a choice. There’s a tragedy for which there are no consequences for this family. There are terrible consequences for another family, but no consequences for them. And out of fear, out of shame, out of protectiveness, many things, they never speak of it again either inside or outside the walls of their home. And the novel is very much about the way that the keeping of that secret the unspoken, the not speaking about it really impacts and shapes all of their lives, mostly the children who were teenagers when this tragedy happens. And then we track them through their lives and the ways in which their guilt and their shame and their silence kind of ended up kind of contorting and creating difficulties for them, even though they have on the surface very successful lives.

But I feel like the novel is much more. There’s magic in the novel, and that comes in the form of this boy who lives across the street from his family who moves into the neighbourhood years after these events have taken place. And the children have grown and even moved out from across the street. And he befriends the Father. And they have this very unique and beautiful bond that we come to understand. I was just very interested in what happens to a place over time and to people who live in a community, in a neighbourhood, on a street. Why? Because they had children at the same time or they moved out of the city to the suburbs of the country at the same time or whatever. They might not have a lot in common with each other on the surface of things or at all, and yet they are a community and they’ve kind of thrown their lot in with each other. And then over swaths of time over decades, people move away, new people move in, and have lost any sense of the memory of what might have happened in that place. So I was really, really interested in exploring the way that time revolves and moves around this particular street. And these particular peoples’ lives over the course of 50 years but not in any way chronologically.

Natalie MacLean 8:53
No, not linearly which I loved. I love that whole concept that you’re exploring with looping time. But I have to just pause for a moment say Waldo is my favourite character or many reasons. I mean he is wonder embodied personified. And he reminds me of a couple people. I have one son, he’s just turned 24 and when you started talking about Waldo sort of being off on his own, I don’t know if it was a baseball game or soccer game, but my son was like that. But he wouldn’t be looking up the cosmos, he’d be looking down at stones and moving them around as chess pieces because he loved chess and he’s kind of off on his own world in that way. But also, I don’t know has anyone mentioned that Waldo to me reminds me of Owen Meany. You know A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. So same age, intellect, high squeaky voice and there’s a baseball game where he accidentally kills the mother of his best friend. Anyway, it was all these resonances coming through.

Dani Shapiro 9:52
I haven’t read A Prayer for Owen Meany in forever. That’s an interesting analogy. And also your son. I mean, Waldo is also favourite character.  When I started Signal Fires, my son who’s 23 and my only child was 11. And Waldo isn’t based on him but the idea of uniqueness in our world, the idea of the way that “normalcy” is valued I think was something I was thinking about even back then. And I think about it even more now. But I would see these dads, mostly dads, on the sidelines of you know whatever sporting event and you know my son was not you know, he actually turned out to be a very good tennis player, but he’s not a huge athlete. He wasn’t a team sports athlete. And you would see these dads and they would be apoplectic. Their kids. And I think I understood even at the time that it was coming out of a very misguided kind of love but it was coming out of love. But the misguided part was this is the best way to get through life is to be right smack in the middle. Like to be normal “normal” and to not stand out too much. And while the dad was very much that dad and didn’t know how to be a father to this really miraculous boy. I was just very compelled by thinking about what would happen to Waldo in the fullness of time because, as I’ve come to say recently when I’m doing an event in front of a large audience I’m talking about Waldo, I will say to an audience
“how many people here would like to go back to middle school?”. It’s a really fun exercise because every once in a while there’s one outlier who would say like yeah middle school middle school was like the best. I don’t think I have any friends who would say that middle school was their shining moment. For the most of them high school either. And I wanted to dig into that, to think about that.

And to when the novel really came back to me because I started it as I said when my son was 11. I lost my way and I put it in a drawer. And at some point during the pandemic, within the first year, I was cleaning out my office closet and I found it again. And I reread it and the thought that made me be able to go back inside of it was now it’s 2020. And who would Waldo be? Oh Waldo would be a college student. What would be going on in his life? Who would have become in those 10 years? And who these other characters you know the character of Theo who has a restaurant in Brooklyn, who’s a chef and food is love for him. Who would Theo be in New York City during the first wave of COVID? How would he have reacted to that? And suddenly, these characters it’s like they had been asleep in the drawer and they kind of woke up like various Rip Van Winkles and I just had them again. I had them again. But I really understood, finally, how to tell that story.

Natalie MacLean 13:22
Oh that’s great. You needed time to loop the time and to understand. And now you know there’s some reassurance that it worked out okay. Waldo became you know a great student, then a great career, had a great career.

Dani Shapiro 13:35
Yes, we want to know that Waldo is going to turn out okay. And I didn’t have that information yet fifteen years ago. If I had cracked the novel, if I had “figured it out” it would not be the novel that it became. To go back to patients and the whole idea of patients because this was one I didn’t think I would ever return to. I really didn’t. I wasn’t going and looking for it during the pandemic. It’s more like it came looking for me.

Natalie MacLean 14:03
That is so holistic and everything coming back together again. I love that. So tell us about the real life restaurant that. So Theo you already mentioned is chef owns a successful restaurant, but there is a real life restaurant that you based it on, I believe, and is in your hometown.

Dani Shapiro 14:19
It’s near my town. And what I would say is that I was inspired by it. I think I was inspired by it for years before I ever imagined I would. As a writer, there are times where something enters me and it sort of announces itself and it has a different quality. It has the quality of maybe someday I’ll write about this. But it’s not like I’m sitting there scribbling and taking notes. It arrives more with a sense of its own you know integrity and rightness. And so there’s a restaurant, I live in rural Connecticut, about two hours north of New York City not far from the Berkshire Mountains in a very beautiful part of New England and about 45 minutes from our house, which is nothing in our parts to drive for a really good meal. That is completely a reasonable drive.

There is this restaurant called RSVP. It’s been around for I think a little more than 20 years maybe. And it’s owned by two men, a couple named Guy and Charles. And it’s their baby. They do everything. There’s someone who helps with dishes but the constant is that it’s Guy and Charles. It’s an open kitchen. Charles does all the serving and all of the tables, everything involving table service. Guy does all the cooking. Guy’s French. Charles’s American. They’ve been together forever. And when they opened, there was a New York Times review. That was a rave. And it very quickly became, I think they do have around 12 tables. I mean Theo’s restaurant in Brooklyn is called 12 tables. I never counted in RSVP actually how many diners they can serve. But it’s very limited, maybe it’s a little bit more than that. But when that Times review came out, it sort of blew up and people wanted to come up for the weekend. And they wanted to come from all over the place, from my county from other counties. And it reached a point where the answering machine at RSVP its outgoing message was you know a version of we are fully committed forever. We are fully for the foreseeable future.  We occasionally do have cancellations. So you know feel free to leave your information. But if you don’t hear back from us that means we don’t.

And what happened over the years is we would go fairly regularly because we were very close friends with an older gentleman and his wife whose kids went to school with our son. And the older gentleman was the great Czech filmmaker, Miloš Foreman. And Miloš, he loved nothing more than dining out. Nothing more. His favourite moment in the day was opening a restaurant menu you know and seeing what and Miloš loved RSVP. And we loved Miloš. And we loved RSVP. I mean but it was a lot to go. We went regularly. We had a pretty regular Sunday 5pm 6pm dinner at least twice a month. We went there for years. What happened is that the place became like a club. You would see the diners there and think oh I wonder what her story is or I wonder what his story is. It was very, very familiar, very much like family. They would come to know oh this person is allergic to scallops or this person won’t eat the bread or very funny stories like super famous people coming in there with incredible bottles of wine here. I’m not going to name names. And you know we’ve come in the next week and Charles would come over and say so and so was here and she put an ice cube in her Puligny- Montrachet. Things like very eccentric and wonderful. And it really captured my imagination.

And then all those years later, when I created this character, Theo, and at a certain point I wanted him to have his own restaurant that was this very unexpected success that he wasn’t gunning for that. It happened. I wanted and that’s when I modelled it after RSVP. And also the extreme dining part of it. The fact that there’s no menu. You come and you come in and you partake and you don’t know what’s next. And you don’t know how many courses it’s going to be. And some people love that. And some people feel like they’re not in control.

Natalie MacLean 18:43
Well, very freewheeling like the stars. But you have to put yourself in the hands of the chef and for anyone I found in the hospitality industry, chefs, sommeliers, winemakers, they just want to nurture you sometimes obsessively so. But they want to take care of you, feed you, give you something to drink. So Theo expresses his love through cooking. And you know he cooked with his mother. And we see him in the kitchen peeking through the curtain at the diners. He’s very pleased that they’re enjoying their meals, but he’s not really interacting with them. Do you find that there’s at all a parallel between writers and readers in terms of reading the book that sort of thing?

Dani Shapiro 19:19
That’s so interesting. That’s so interesting. I’ve never made that connection. I, in a way I mean Theo  watching the diners eat. For him food is love. And because of his own history and complexity of his history, he has a hard time loving and being you know sort of letting himself really be known. So it suits him just fine to be creating this act of love for his patrons who he really thinks of as family. And to be peeking and seeing that you know the couple of table eight you know wasn’t speaking when they came in and now they’re holding hands, or the woman who was recently widowed and comes in on her own is more comfortable and enjoying their food and wine in a more relaxed way. And so he’s always observing.

One of the things that’s interesting about writing books is that you don’t really see people reading them. I mean, every once in a while there’s this amazing moment like somebody would text me a picture of someone standing on the subway platform reading Signal Fires you know. Someone telling me that they were in an airport and saw you know three people reading Inheritance or like that kind of thing. I love hearing that. It’s actually never happened to me. I would go up to that person like a crazy person. That’s me. That’s my book.  I wrote that.  You don’t see that.  And it’s you know unlike performative arts where, my husband’s a filmmaker, nothing makes him more nervous but also more gratified then pacing in the back of a movie theatre and experiencing the responses of an audience.  You absolutely do not get that with a book. So in that way, I think it’s why book tours are so wonderful for writers is because, horror stories aside, we really do get to connect with our readers and have someone look us in the eye and say you moved me, your work moves me or your work is important to me.

Natalie MacLean 21:29
Absolutely. I mean, one of my most memorable emails was someone saying I saw this woman leaning on the bus stop and she had purple pigtails, hair, and nose ring and everything. And she had your book and she was laughing. And I thought wow that wasn’t who I envisioned reading the book, but I loved that she loved it or you know emails from someone like a man who was at sea with the Navy. And he said you know just made the days go by by reading the book. Is these small things.

Dani Shapiro 21:59
Yes and they’re small and they’re also not, right. Those are.  Signal Fires like that is actually really what it’s all about is.

Natalie MacLean 22:08
It is. The universal. The specific that just goes up to the universal. It just makes it fills your heart. Yeah. Also I noticed that Theo, like most chefs, checks their plates like have they cleaned off everything because that’s the customer’s way of saying I love you back. And again, maybe perhaps it’s when you get that email as a writer that just I loved your book. I finished it in one sitting or whatever. Maybe there’s some parallels there. But again not the same.

But I’m not sure if you’ve read anything by MFK Fisher, I think one of America’s greatest food writers. I don’t need to qualify it with food because she even said when I write about food I write about the hunger for love. She was right on. But she has a wonderful story about was called “I was really very hungry” about a visit to a small bistro. And the chef and the server are just obsessed with her eating everything and they send her way too much food, way too much drink, but to refuse was to refuse their love. So that just when I read about Theo that I was just thinking about those stories. And again, it was kind of really resonant. So anyway, I’m just going to make some loose connections. She finishes the meal. She’s lost all sense of time she walks out in the early evening dusk, I think she was in there for lunch, on her journey to Avalon and Burgundy. But Avalon is, of course, the mythical island where King Arthur goes to die but never truly dies. So again a sense of eternal in this looping time. Avalon is the name of your town. Did choose that deliberately? Does it have resonance for you in terms of looping time? Or was there some other reason you chose it?

Dani Shapiro 23:41
I think that the invisible and unconscious connections are one of the things that makes writing fiction so extraordinary. I did not sit back and think ah Avalon, I’m going to you know relate this to the MFK Fisher’s story. And you know the mythic Avalon. Actually for me doing that would probably create a weight or a heaviness. And the work itself or you know the way that I think of it often in terms of metaphor is it’s actually very different. If you’re writing nonfiction, I think it can be very helpful to recognize something as a metaphor. You know, like I just recognized in our conversation the padding on the dining room table. As you know, it was padding as existed was also a metaphor, right? But when you’re writing fiction, to be overly conscious of moments like that is to break the spell. So Avalon was the just the right name for this town. And that belongs to readers now who can read all of that into it because it’s there but I was not conscious of that particular connection. And one of the things that happens over the lifespan of bringing out a novel is that readers start pointing out those connections. And as the novelist you begin to realize oh well there’s a reason I called it Avalon and not you know East Sandwich. You know that would have been. But you know there’s a reason why. There always are reasons why because we are operating on all of these different levels. We’re operating on a conscious and subconscious and unconscious level. And you know that takes us all the way back to the you know to the olfactory and.

Natalie MacLean 25:34
That primal brain. You don’t know where these messages are coming from or why they’re there but they’re there. Absolutely. And I do think readers do co-create I mean obviously when they read it, they bring their own experiences to the book. But those associations you’re exactly right, like they bring those. And you may not even be conscious but it becomes a richer, deeper experience, perhaps for you as well hearing back those associations you didn’t realize were there.

Dani Shapiro 26:01
Yeah because at a certain point the work belongs to the readers. And it’s always exciting for me when I hear readers arguing about a character of mine for example or a moment because I’ve done my job. My job was to make these people real and to have you care about them and have them become part of your landscape. And once I’ve done that, I can’t possibly sit back and say like no no no you’ve got that. He wasn’t like that. Or you know that’s not why that happened, because there’s such a beautiful contract between writer and reader in that way.

Natalie MacLean 26:40
Absolutely. It’s their book now. Right. And you’ve quoted Virginia Woolf. Of course you know moments of being the looping of time. She was a wonderful modernist. And I didn’t realize this till I was sort of looking into her more but you know she was friends with T.S. Eliot and the lines I remember from him were always, you know, we shall not cease from exploration and at the end of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know that place for the first time. That’s always one of my favourite favourite stanzas. And it’s like that’s the looping of time. It’s life experience. It’s like coming back and then knowing it again but on a richer, deeper level. And your Signal Fires brought all of that back for me. It was just marvellous.

Dani Shapiro 27:25
I love hearing that. Also that passage in the book where I do write about the looping of time, that was very much it’s one of the rare times as I was writing that I was conscious and I was thinking about Woolf. Because that particular passage has a kind of cadence to it that is, I don’t mean to flatter myself, but the cadence of it is a kind of Woolfian cadence. And she has a huge influence on me.

Natalie MacLean 27:53
Absolutely. You in kindled re-sparked my love for Woolf. To go back I mean I read her in my 20s. But I thank you, I need to go back again. So this was supposed to be about food and wine. So here we go. I just wanted to touch on a few more things. You know again your loops of time really did throw me because I do think of wine is bottled time, especially when we taste an older vintage. I recall I had the privilege of tasting in 1945 Veuve Clicquot Champagne which was the victory vintage of the war. But the vines were being harvested and pruned and so on during the war. And so you know as I tasted I remember all the people who made this are almost all or at least most are dead. And those vines were really watered with their blood because they were picking as the bombs fell, which is profound to me. But is there a wine that you’ve tasted recently that takes you back in time to the first time you tasted it? I mean you’ve got the wine there from the tasting. But is there one that, it doesn’t even have to be recently, but they’re just you go back in time to somewhere where you first had it?

Dani Shapiro 29:04
I think the closest that I’ve come to that would be a couple of those really amazing Italian ones. You know the Montepulciano but not a particular bottle more. Because we spend about two weeks every year in Italy for a writers conference and because we’ve travelled a lot around the writers conference. It’s a great excuse to be in that amazing part of the world and travel. There are certain Italian wines that bring me back to that place and to that experience, which is a very creative, celebratory, amazing kind of experience that I and my family have had for these 15, 16 years since the conference started. It’s not one particular wine. It’s more of a feeling.

Natalie MacLean 29:54
Yeah. Wow. And that is wine. I do find and I might be forcing this but there’s so many the similarities between reading a book again and having a wine again, and the wine and the book haven’t changed  but you have. And you can kind of mark with mark off who you were and who you are now in the way you respond to it.

Dani Shapiro 30:14
Yes, very much so. That’s not a stretch at all. And also because the trips that we make once a year and also there was a three year gap of us not making that trip because of COVID. And because we stay in the same hotel, in the same room, overlooking the same view in the same sea, and tasting and smelling. And I mean as I’m saying this to you, I can smell the olives in the bar. The very particular olives of you know the Amalfi Coast. And I can taste the house wine that they – can smell it – that they pour in the bar there. And it’s this feeling of just all my life, I always wanted there to be a place that I would return to each year. I never imagined it was going to be Italy. I thought it might be I don’t know Cape Cod. But it’s such a special and wonderful thing to have this sensory re-immersion every year in that place.

Natalie MacLean 31:14
Returning again and again and knowing it for the first time.

Dani Shaprio

Being changed.

Natalie MacLean

Yes. Yes. Well you’re bringing fresh perspective because you’re different. But that’s also wine, again maybe a stretch but wine is seasonal and circular. It’s not linear like time. The seasons of growth return again and again. The way we swirl it in our glas, if we want to get something from it. We don’t just linearly knock it back like a shot. But I am cognizant of time. looping or not and so Dani I do want to mention you have a fabulous podcast Family Secrets. Let me just ask you one brief question about it because everyone should go check it out. What do you love about podcasting about. You know you’re drawn to family secrets. It’s throughout your work, your podcast, your books, your memoirs. What is it you love most about having your podcast Family Secrets?

Dani Shapiro 32:06
A couple of things. One is that I get to have these really deep dive conversations with guests that I’ve hand picked. And time flies when I’m having those conversations. And it’s an honour and a privilege to have them. And I also think that because I approach the subject as someone who had a massive family secret kept from me. I’m coming at it from a place of that’s not journalistic. And it’s not you know. People think ooh family secrets. That’s you know like prurient or something. It’s so completely not that. It’s coming from a place of me, too, and let’s explore this, and what does it mean to keep a secret? What does it mean to have a secret kept? And the podcast is also I keep on hearing from people that it has really impacted the lives of people who listen to it. And so that’s been particularly wonderful and special. It also is very intimate. It is a very intimate conversation that feels sacred to me, that someone is trusting me with that conversation with what is often something that’s it’s been hard. And trusting me to shape it because the podcast is highly produced. And I sort of take the conversation and I add voiceover and I turn it into more of a storytelling kind of narrative, podcast. That’s such a privilege to be able to do that. And to become improbably, a kind of expert in. You know, if you’d asked me when I was 25 years old “do you want to be an expert in secret?” What is that? But I do love the process very much. And also the intimacy of just as I was saying about we don’t see people reading our books. We don’t see people ever hearing our podcasts ever. I mean the idea of somebody on a subway platform with a copy of my book that can happen. They very well might be listening to my podcasts in their ears and I could walk right by them. And I would never know that’s true.

Natalie MacLean 34:17
That’s true. And yet, because of that or despite it, it is as you say so intimate. We are millimetres or inches away from someone’s mind brain and we are snuggled up right in their ears. And I just think you know it’s. I don’t know, there’s something about co-creating again. The theatre of the mind because they’re just listening to our voices who fill their minds. I know that the responses I get on email from my podcast are the most profound and intimate, like they will talk as though we’ve known each other since we were children. And it’s unsettling and gratifying time.

Dani Shapiro 34:56
No, I have lots of friends who think that we’re all caught up because they listen to the podcast.

Natalie MacLean 35:00
Exactly. There you go. Oh my goodness. Dani, this has been wonderful. Just I love it. I could go on all night but I know you have a life. So I presume that Signal Fires and all your other books are available wherever books are sold. Online, physical bookstores. Audio, you narrated the book, which I absolutely loved. You did a great job of it. Of course, you’ve got Family Secrets, your podcast. Where can we find you online?

Dani Shapiro 35:30
My favourite platform is Instagram. And on Instagram I’m @Daniwriter. Just Dani D A N I writer. My website is DaniShapiro.com. I’m marginally on Twitter and Facebook. But really Instagram is the place for me if people want to check in with me. Daniwriter. And I have whatever upcoming events that I’m doing and I keep my website pretty up to date in terms of news about my books, about my projects, and about any appearances. So that would be the place.

Natalie MacLean 36:01
Terrific. Thank you so much for sharing so many wonderful stories and insights with us. I so enjoyed our conversation Dani.

Dani Shapiro 36:09
I so enjoyed it, too. I really did. This was great fun.

Natalie MacLean 36:13
Excellent. And the wine was good.

Dani Shapiro

What were you drinking?

Natalie MacLean

Oh.  Hidden Bench from Niagara. Just to let you know a little small boutique winery in Niagara. Pinot Noir is known as the heartbreak grape so I go for the sad ones.

Dani Shapiro 36:29
Why is it? Wait. I know we have to go but why is it always a heartbreak grape?

Natalie MacLean 36:33

Heartbreak great because it’s so difficult and expensive to make. So it’s a thin skinned grape and so it produces wines of great. They’re sublime. In good vintages and terrible in bad vintages, they sort of teeter on the edge with this nervy, edgy acidity. It’s kind of like how I like my wines and my people. All right well cheers, Dani.

Dani Shapiro

Cheers, Natalie.

Natalie MacLean

Okay, bye for now. Thanks.

Natalie MacLean 37:10
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Dani. In the show notes, you’ll find my email contact, the full transcript of her conversation, links to her website, podcast, and books and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. You’ll also find a link to my free Ultimate Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. That’s all in the show notes at NatalieMaclean.com/212.

Email me if you have a sip, tip, question, or would like to win one of three copies of Dani Shapiro’s best selling book Signal Fires or like to be a beta reader of my new memoir at [email protected] Maclean.com. If you missed episode 55 go back and take a listen. I pair wines with personalities on your holiday gift list. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Why does wine make such an ideal holiday gift? Which wines are the best to give, especially when you don’t know the personal taste of the recipient? Are there some wines you should never give us a gift beyond Two Buck Chuck? And how can you match the gift wine to the personality of the giftee? Well, that’s exactly what you’ll learn on today’s episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast.

Natalie MacLean 38:38
If you liked this episode, please email or tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who be interested in the wines, tips, and stories we shared. You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with Jamie Lewis, host of the podcast Consumed. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your class this week. Perhaps a wine that takes you back to the first time you’ve tasted it.

Natalie MacLean 39:09
You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at NatalieMaclean.com/subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers.

 

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