Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Kristy Woodson Harvey Interview - Under the Southern Sky

Photo Credit: Jay Ackerman

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the USA TODAY bestselling author of six novels, including Feels Like Falling, The Peachtree Bluff series, and Under the Southern Sky. A Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s school of journalism, her writing has appeared in numerous online and print publications including Southern Living, Traditional Home, USA TODAY, Domino, and O. Henry. 

Kristy is the winner of the Lucy Bramlette Patterson Award for Excellence in Creative Writing and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Her work has been optioned for film and television, and her books have received numerous accolades including Southern Living’s Most Anticipated Beach Reads, Parade’s Big Fiction Reads, and Entertainment Weekly’s Spring Reading Picks. Kristy is the co-creator and co-host of the weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction. She blogs with her mom Beth Woodson on Design Chic, and loves connecting with fans on She lives on the North Carolina coast with her husband and son where she is (always!) working on her next novel.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
The night before DEAR CAROLINA, my debut novel, released, I was so nervous about it coming out into the world. Unable to sleep, I got up and checked my email. I had a note from an early reviewer saying that reading the book had given her the courage to tell her children that she had had a baby as a teenager that she had given up for adoption. She said she felt free, like she could finally start living. And I remember thinking that if the book tanked and everyone hated it and my career ended, that one person’s life being changed was more than enough.

What inspired you to pen your first novel? 
My husband and I had just gotten home from the hospital with our brand-new baby boy, and I remember looking down at him and thinking, What would have to happen in a woman’s life for her to be able to give this up. It was like being struck by lightning. The voices of Jodi, the birth mother in the book, and Khaki, the adoptive mother, came to me right then and there, and I just knew the entire story.

Tell us your latest news. 
Well, I am SO excited about launching UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY, for one. This is my favorite book I’ve ever written, and I can’t wait for it to be in the world. But, also, I just announced that—after much consideration and about a million beautiful, incredible notes from my fabulous readers—I wrote a fourth Peachtree Bluff Book! CHRISTMAS IN PEACHTREE BLUFF releases October 26, and I had the best time revisiting Peachtree and the wonderful Murphy women!

In your newest book, UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY; can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about the novel? 
It’s the story of Amelia, an investigative journalist, who inadvertently discovers that a cluster of embryos belonging to her childhood friend Parker and his late wife Greer have been deemed “abandoned.” Parker is then put in the position to have to decide what to do with the last remaining piece of the woman he loved so much. The story is told from the perspectives of Parker, the father, Greer his late wife’s journal entries, Amelia, and Amelia’s good Southern meddling mama, Elizabeth. Each character has a secret and, as those secrets are revealed, they determine what will ultimately happen to the embryos.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel? 
The unique ways in which we create our families and how just because our life doesn’t turn out like we expected doesn’t mean it can’t be amazing all the same!

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Amelia and Parker? 
Writing a male POV, in particular, was pretty terrifying! I had to really pare his speech down, and I kept making my husband read his chapters. It hadn’t occurred to me before how different it would be to write a male character than a female.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 
Greer from UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY and Gray from FEELS LIKE FALLING. They are both super successful women who made huge strides in the media industry. I think they would have a lot to talk about!

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 
Our house was seriously damaged during Hurricane Florence, so we were out of it, moving around, for more than 18 months. We moved eleven times while I wrote UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY, which was more than a little distracting!

  • 1. This isn't a house. It's the fabric of my family, woven thread by thread, memory by memory.
2. Writing a different story is what life is all about.
Under the Southern Sky, Kristy Woodson Harvey
3. Sometimes the nothing moments are everything.
4. I’ve given into the pull of the moon, to the song of the sea, to the magical divinity that exists, under the Southern Sky.
  • 2. If I was honest, I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so sure, in my heart, in the depths of my soul, in all the places that really mattered.
  • 5. Love was here. Love was now. There was no sense in pining for what could have been.
  • 6. And somehow. If you’re really lucky, you’ll do what I did: you’ll find your way back home.”
  • 7. She will know. Mothers always do.
  • 8. They always have a place here, they always have a port of call, they will always have a home on this land, in this safe harbor, under the southern sky.
  • 9. Decide your own future before someone—or something—decides it for you.
  • 10. This was a love as old as time.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives? 
Fall in love. It was the first thing that came to mind!

Best date you've ever had? 
My first date with my husband. He took me to a little restaurant in Chapel Hill called Elaine’s. I was twenty and in college, so that was super fancy. It was just so easy and effortless and fun. I knew I would marry him.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go? 
I want to say college, but I can’t imagine life without my son. So maybe go back to college for a bit but then still get to come back to this point too!

  • 1. The setting of Dogwood, Amelia’s childhood home, which is very central to the story, was based on a peninsula in Hoop Pole Creek in Atlantic Beach, NC where we lived off and on while I was writing this book.
  • 2. Speaking of, our house was severely damaged during Hurricane Florence so, during the time I wrote Under the Southern Sky, we moved eleven times, from rental house to rental house!
  • 3. A friend inspired the idea for this story when she and her husband were struggling with what to do with their leftover frozen embryos. She said, “You should write a book about this!” And here we are.
  • 4. Originally, Elizabeth, Amelia’s mother, wasn’t going to be a protagonist. But, about a quarter of the way through, her voice just popped up, and I knew she needed to be in there.
  • 5. Aunt Tilley, Amelia’s eccentric aunt who—as southerners call it—“got the vapors” decades earlier, was my favorite character to write.
  • 6. I also knew from the very start of the story that, somehow, Aunt Tilley would hold the key to unlocking everything that happens. And she did!
  • 7. My friend Kristin Harmel was the one that suggested that Amelia and Greer have a secret between them—one that no one would suspect. I loved writing that part!
  • 8. I read dozens of real-life Modern Love columns and used them as the model for Amelia’s Modern Love column that closes out the book.
  • 9. Each of the embryos in the story—the teddy bear, flower, four-leave clover and ladybug—were named for what they looked like under a microscope. And those representations were specifically chosen for a reason. You’ll have to read to find out what that reason is!
  • 10. My childhood best friend and I used to say that we would grow up, get married, live beside each other and have babies that would one day get married so we would be related. It didn’t quite pan out, but our thwarted plans inspired Olivia and Elizabeth!
What is one unique thing are you afraid of? 
I don’t know if I’m afraid of anything specifically unique. I mean, I’m afraid of plenty of things, but I think they’re all pretty ordinary. Although… line edits. I’m afraid of line edits. That one’s probably pretty unique.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer? 
In 2019, when the third book in the Peachtree Bluff Series released, we had a “town takeover” in Beaufort, NC where I live. I had been on book tour for five weeks, so I essentially came home and this town had put together two days of incredible events—including double decker bus tours of “Peachtree Bluff” which I got to lead, lunches, dinners and cocktail parties. I wasn’t sure about doing it, but every event sold out and 600 readers from all over the country came. It was incredible!

First Heartbreak? 
I think it has to be that first rejection letter from an agent. You’re prepared, but also every one makes your dream feel farther away. (Wait… Do you mean as a writer? That’s how I answered, obviously!)

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before? 
One hundred percent true love with a guarantee of heartbreak. No doubt about it.

One of Country Living’s 20 New Books You Don’t Want to Miss This Spring
One of Bookstr’s 8 Most Anticipated Reads of 2021
One of Frolic’s 12 Most Anticipated Books of 2021
One of BookTrib’s Most-Anticipated Reads of 2021
One of Brit + Co’s Books You Should Read with Your BFF

​Two childhood friends discover that love—and family—can be found in unconventional ways in this timely, moving novel from the USA TODAY bestselling author of the “beautifully Southern, evocative Peachtree Bluff series” (Kristin Harmel, internationally bestselling author of The Winemaker’s Wife).

Recently separated Amelia Buxton, a dedicated journalist, never expected that uncovering the biggest story of her career would become deeply personal. But when she discovers that a cluster of embryos belonging to her childhood friend Parker and his late wife Greer have been deemed “abandoned,” she’s put in the unenviable position of telling Parker—and dredging up old wounds in the process.

Parker has been unable to move forward since the loss of his beloved wife three years ago. He has all but forgotten about the frozen embryos, but once Amelia reveals her discovery, he knows that if he ever wants to get a part of Greer back, he’ll need to accept his fate as a single father and find a surrogate.

Each dealing with their own private griefs, Parker and Amelia slowly begin to find solace in one another as they navigate an uncertain future against the backdrop of the pristine waters of their childhood home, Cape Carolina. The journey of self-discovery leads them to an unforgettable and life-changing lesson: Family—the one you’re born into and the one you choose—is always closer than you think.

From “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Under the Southern Sky is a fresh and unforgettable exploration of love, friendship, and the unbreakable ties that bind.

You can purchase Under the Southern Sky at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Under the Southern Sky by Kristy Woodson Harvey.


  1. The craziest thing I ever did for love was I got engaged after knowing my husband 10 day and got married 3 months later. Been married over 50 years now.

  2. I took a hopper from the Olympic peninsula to Seattle to surprise someone at the gate. It was stormy so the ride was very bumpy. Yes, I am married to that guy.

  3. Thank you so much for this incredibly fun interview!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Going on a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon for my husband's birthday and I am terrified of heights/flying!

  5. Met my best friend's brother and dated for 10 days before he left for an overseas assignment. He came back home and 2 months later we married.