When I learned I could have a conversation with Nancy Thayer, I thought -- what an opportunity. I've never read beach fiction or romance novels. I can get a master class from one of the masters. That's how I went into this interview - hoping for a master class in romance writing.

But after Thayer defined romance in one simple sentence (you'll have to listen to find out) -- she quickly turned the conversation to the subject she cares most about: family. The normal family.

How does Nancy Thayer define normal? In a way that will likely enable you, whatever your circumstances, to look at your family and say -- that's normal. There's room for romance in the normal family. Thayer makes sure of it. But romance is never the primary goal.

The first family Thayer wrote about, in her highly acclaimed 1980 debut novel, Stepping, was about "a woman with two stepdaughters, two small children, a professor husband, and an almost lover." She called that somewhat autobiographical -- minus the "almost lover" part.

"As I have come to know more and more," Thayer tells us here, "being part of a family can often be as hard as crawling on your belly with the machine gun in your hand."

About halfway through our interview, Thayer kept getting pinged on her phone. Her daughter, the novelist Samantha Wilde, wanted to talk. What could be so urgent? It almost felt like Sam was Zoombombing us. So we invited her in to bomb away. And that's when she revealed how her mother -- in her writing and her parenting -- approaches adversity. We think you'll find her insights empowering.

There's a bonus here. If you watch until the end, you'll see the unexpected major media debut of the newest and youngest member of Nancy Thayer's family. Normal and extraordinary.

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