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Friendship by the Book: A Q & A with Katie Lee, author of Groundswell

Published: July 14, 2011 | Last Updated: August 22, 2022 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading
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is Katie Lee’s first novel. This romantic story is about a struggling young
screenwriter, Emma Guthrie, who is suddenly thrust into a world of wealth
and celebrity when she falls in love with a dashing actor. Emma marries and seems
to be living a fairy tale life until she accidently learns her husband,
Garrett Walker, has been sleeping with her friend.


The couple’s bitter divorce
plays out very publicly in the media as Emma’s self-esteem and
trust are sapped by this unthinkable betrayal, by both her husband and friend (somewhat reminiscent of the true
story of Shania Twain). Emma retreats to a small town in Mexico to heal, and unexpectedly
discovers an inner strength that allows her to rebuild her life and find a
deeper type of love.


While the story is fictional, it
offers an interesting glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. At
the same time, the book also grapples with the real issues women face — famous
or not — as they search for lovers, friends, and their sense of selves. I
found the book hard to put down once I started it. It’s a great book to
get lost in at the beach or in your backyard this summer.


little bit about the author:
Katie Lee is an accomplished cookbook author
and food critic. She’s also the food and lifestyle contributor for The Early
and has appeared on Oprah, The Rachel Ray Show, The Nate Berkus Show, CBS
Sunday Morning
, Extra, and Iron Chef America. She also writes a regular column for
Cosmopolitan. Katie Lee met
“Piano Man” Billy Joel when she was only 21 years old and married him two years
later. After five years, the couple had a high-profile separation and Katie’s own
career took off.


I was very pleased that Katie agreed
to discuss how her own life and friendships influenced her book:


Irene: Betrayal (both by a husband and
a best friend) is a powerful theme in Groundswell. Are there any
particular reasons why it plays such a prominent role in your first novel?

Katie Lee: Betrayal is one of my biggest
fears. Betrayal happens on many different levels all the time, and there
is no worse feeling than realizing someone you thought you could trust has gone
against you. I picked it as a theme for Groundswell because I think everyone
can relate, and what could be worse than a husband who cheats with a best


Irene: Why did you make the leap from
cookbooks to novels? 

Katie Lee: I have always wanted to write a
novel, and I tried many times but could never find the right story. One
day, I was walking on the beach, and the idea for Groundswell hit me. I went
into the house and started writing and never stopped.


Irene: Have
you ever been betrayed by a girlfriend? If so, can you talk about it a bit and
about the feelings it engendered?

Katie Lee: Oh, yes, unfortunately, but I
think we all have. I once had a “best friend” share private stories that I
had told her in confidence to another mutual friend.  I think the worst
part, aside from the actual betrayal of trust, is that this experience affected
my future relationships, as I was hesitant to be as open with my other friends.


Irene: How
old were you when you met Billy Joel? How were your life circumstances similar
or different from Emma’s?

Katie Lee: I met my ex-husband when I was
21. Like any author, I’ve drawn inspiration from my own life, and my
friends’ lives, but it is fiction. I have been a part of situations, some
glitzy and glamorous, that you just cannot make up, so some of that is in
there. The story of Emma and Garrett is their own; thank god it’s not


Irene: Do
you think friends play different roles when a woman is married as opposed to
when she is single or divorced? Were you able to maintain your friendships
during a high-profile celebrity marriage? Were there any special challenges?

Katie Lee: I think friendships, true
friendships, morph as our lives change into what we need them to be. I am
very lucky to have some really great friends, who have been there for me during
my ups and downs. I will say that being a part of a celebrity marriage
makes finding new friends more difficult, as some people have ulterior motives.
I had to become much more perceptive, and figure out who wanted to be my friend
for me, and not because of who I was married to.


Irene: In
the end of the book, Emma derives support from her closest friends that allows
her to grow and find herself? Is there a parallel you can talk about from your
own experience?

Katie Lee: I have a great group of friends
that rallied around me when I was going through my divorce.  But, like
Emma, I think we both “found” ourselves on our own, making a connection with
nature.  For Emma, it was when she went off to Mexico by herself and
learned to surf. For me, it was the summer I spent alone in the Hamptons,
also learning to surf.  Surfing and the ocean were big inspirations for
the story, and I thought a lot of the E.E. Cummings quote: “For whatever we
lose (like a you or a me) it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”


Irene: What
is the relationship between your work and your friendships? Do you make close
friends at work or do your close friends work for you, as did Grace in Groundswell?
Do you think that work and friendship is a volatile mix?

Katie Lee: I’ve made some real friendships
with people I work with, like at The
Early Show
and at Cosmopolitan,
and I love the women I work with at Gallery books. I don’t have anyone
who works for me though (except a housekeeper who comes in one day a week), so
I can’t say that I have friendships with people who work for me, but I’d
imagine that’s a fine line to walk.


Irene: Do
you have any other thoughts to share on female friendships? 

Katie Lee: When it comes to friendships, it’s
quality over quantity. I’d much rather have a few really close friends
than a bunch of acquaintances.


by the Book is an occasional series of posts on The
Friendship Blog about books that offer friendship lessons.

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  1. best quotes says:

    This novel look interesting specially this story is very natural definitely like to but this and read it. And it is really difficult to avoid such friends

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